Max Esterson: Snetterton Recap

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Feature, Max Esterson

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Published on October 14, 2021 with No Comments

Another podium at Snetterton but not quite the one we wanted.

BRACKLEY, UK – The BRSCC Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship came to a close last weekend at Snetterton. As I mentioned last week, the season had all come down to this final weekend with Alex Walker having a sizeable (28-point lead) over myself and Chris Middlehurst, tied for second place in the championship. While still a big longshot to win, the title was really still in play with 104 points up for grabs – but it would take a little luck and running the table to come out on top.

Testing on Thursday and Friday went well and I was really happy with how the car was handling, so much so that we opted to skip the last session to save the car and get ready for the official event – plus the days are getting shorter here and it was beginning to get dark! Qualifying on Saturday morning was a bit of a challenge as I struggled to get a lap with a good draft, of key importance at Snetterton as the straights are very long for Formula Fords. Nonetheless, I managed to put in a decent lap which put me in fifth but behind Walker, Middlehurst, (legend and two-time Formula Ford Festival Winner) Niall Murray and rookie Tom Mills. In the big picture this was fine since the mega drafts in the race would keep me in the lead pack with my two main championship rivals, Walker and Middlehurst.

Hindered by a balky gearbox in the first race.

The car felt great in Race #1 but I unfortunately had trouble getting into first gear in the hairpins which cost me quite a bit of time. Despite another good start, the small fractions of a second lost in each of the two hairpins were enough to keep me from pushing forward and I had to settle for sixth with both my championship rivals finishing in front of me. That said, my chances at the championship were still alive – all three title contenders were still relatively close with two races left.

On Sunday, rain came in the middle of the race before ours, but the track was rapidly drying. On our two warm-up laps, the track was almost completely dry; however, a car spun into the wall on the formation lap and delayed the start and added another warm-up lap. Once we got going again, on the final warm-up lap, heavy rain came and the track became really slippery, made worse because we were on a full-dry setup. Starting sixth, I avoided some chaos on lap one and moved into fifth. A lap later, Walker and Murray tangled while battling for third and fourth, and I was able to get past both of them. In front, Mills was able to pull a gap while Middlehurst settled into second. I ultimately crossed the line in third, taking my 13th podium of the season out of 19 races. With Walker not finishing, the points battle between the top three only became closer. As they say, it was all to play for in Race #3, but it was still a big mountain for me to climb.

I was able to nip through when Walker (41) and Murray tangled in Race 2 (Richard Styles photos).

To win the championship, I basically needed to finish in the first three places, have Walker not finish, and I needed to finish two places ahead of Middlehurst. Shockingly, at the start of Race #3 all of the above was in place to happen! After making a good start and getting up to third place from my sixth-place starting position, my championship hopes took a huge dent when on lap one I spun while someone made a move to my inside going into Oggies, causing me to run wide and spin, sending me all the way back to last place. On the next lap, Walker and Morgan Quinn tangled, ending Walker’s title hopes. It was now between Middlehurst and I, but, try as I might, I was only able to recover to eighth while Middlehurst went on to finish third. The final championship results (after four “drop race” points were deducted) are as follows:

1st: Middlehurst 433
2nd: Walker 421
3rd: Esterson 414
4th: Mills 348
5th: Sharp 347

Low Dempsey Racing has done a great job throughout the season (Jonathan Elsey).

While I didn’t win the championship, being in the fight until the last race in my rookie year is a huge achievement and one of the goals I set out to achieve. Congrats to both Chris and Alex for providing great competition throughout the year! There are definitely some things I would’ve done differently looking back at the season now, but I think the entire Low Dempsey Racing team and I should be really proud of our efforts. The team gave me a car that could fight for wins in every race and we had no mechanical issues in 20 races. While I’m disappointed that we didn’t end up on the top step, our speed and reliability gave me two wins, a pole position, qualified on the front-row three weekends out of seven, had 13 podiums, and scored the most points in the championship before drop scores… Definitely a season to remember!

Thank you to Low Dempsey Racing, Ray Race Cars, iRacing, Max Papis Innovations, Christian Angle Real Estate, and the Team USA Scholarship for all of their support this season. All focus now on winning the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy!

As always, thanks for your support,
Max Esterson

Share this Article