Max Esterson: That Winning Feeling

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

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Published on November 03, 2022 with No Comments

Victory at the Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival (JEP).

BRACKLEY, England – My return to Formula Ford a few weeks ago at the world-renowned Formula Ford Festival was a huge success and definitely worthwhile! With the entry list split into four groups, I was put into Heat #1 which was one of, if not the most difficult group with this year’s FF1600 National champion, Jordan Dempsey, and 2020 FF Festival winner, Rory Smith being my main competition. I had a fantastic start to the weekend with pole in qualifying by nearly half a second in the wet and then a win in the heat race after a race-long battle with Dempsey and Smith.

The following day I was then placed into Semi-Final #1 which combined Heats #1 and #2 and I started second on the grid. Second was actually the place to be as it seemed to be a bit easier to get a good launch off the line in the wet compared to being on the right side in pole position. With that said, I got by Formula Ford legend Joey Foster on the run to the first corner and then pulled a two-second lead in the very slippery conditions. After falling back to fourth at the start, Foster began to eat away at my lead and by the last lap he caught up. I had to defend hard into the last corner to make sure he wasn’t able to slip up the inside. My Semi-Final win was another tough one and included the winners from seven prior Festivals, and meant that I would be starting from pole for the Grand Final.

Conditions were difficult all weekend.

Over the course of the day the track had mostly dried, but the right side of the grid was still a bit damp, so I was a bit worried about getting wheelspin starting from pole. On my practice start I got a good feel for how aggressive I could be and when the lights went out I absolutely nailed the start and got away. By the end of lap two clouds rolled in and there were a few drops of rain. By the middle of lap three the skies opened up making the track extremely slippery. I barely managed to keep it in on track going through Surtees and once again had to fend off Joey Foster behind. A few cars went off during the chaos causing the safety car to come out and eventually the race was red flagged. Unfortunately it was just too dark to restart the race, so I was declared the winner after just a few laps. Despite the shortened distance, I did everything I had to do to win during the weekend: pole, 12/12 laps led in the Heat, 14/14 laps led in the Semi-Final, and led every lap of the Grand Final. In hindsight I’m glad I was put in difficult Heat and Semi-Final groups as I got to fairly face off against the tough competition before the shortened Final.

Big thanks to the Ammonite Motorsport team.

I’m so thrilled I was able to cross this one off the bucket list. Being the first American to win the main event of the Formula Ford Festival as well as only one of five drivers to win both the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy means a lot to me. After finishing a close second last year as part of the Team USA Scholarship I thought that my best opportunity to win this race had possibly slipped away. Second was not really an option for this and I’m glad it all worked out for Andy Low and everyone at Ammonite Motorsport after finishing second the previous two years. It’s also the third year running that the team has had two cars finish inside the top five, with teammate and Team USA Scholarship driver Thomas Schrage with a strong effort to finish fourth.

There’s one more chance this weekend to take another big win. This time we’ll be at SIlverstone for the Walter Hayes Trophy where I will try to defend my title from last year and try to become the third driver to win the Festival and WHT in the same year. I’m excited to start testing and will post all relevant schedule info and ways to watch the event on my social media pages.

A huge thanks goes out to all of my supporters and especially iRacing for making these two races possible. It’s great to be back at the front!!

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