Jack Clarke’s gradual transformation into a Formula Two front-runner took a major step forward at Brands Hatch this weekend as he won the first of the two races, then grabbed a podium in the second.
The 23-year-old from Effingham in Surrey has competed in every season since the F2 series was revived in 2009, earning a pair of runner-up spots last year, and was tipped as a possible championship contender at the start of the year by series boss Jonathan Palmer.
The early races of this season produced little to suggest the prediction might come true, but a podium in the previous round at the Nürburgring served notice of an improvement and at Brands Clarke made his breakthrough.
He said: “It’s perfect. I couldn’t have written that. I’ve not looked like knocking on the door of a win this year so to come here and to smash it, so to speak, is a big deal for me.”
His victory came from third on the grid, grabbing an early lead from pole-sitter Tobias Hegewald and Ra
mon Pineiro on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend and never losing the advantage afterwards despite a safety car restart.
He said: “It’s a big deal for me because I always go on about my pre-season and was expecting to have some better results. Nürburgring was a confidence boost to be on the podium and I’m feeling on top of it right now, and I suppose proved that here.
“They didn’t give me much room off the start, and I don’t blame them, because I’ve been getting good starts all season and the gap was just about big enough. My stepfather Julian Bailey won his first Formula 3000 race with that move, so he taught me well.”
In Sunday’s second race he again qualified third and made an aggressive start, but this time wasn’t able to muscle his way to the front and finished behind Pineiro and championship leader Mirko Bortolotti.
He said: “I definitely would have taken a first and a third if I’d been offered it before the weekend so I’m really happy with how things have gone.
“Considering the pace, it’s been a bit up and down this year – so two good results is really great. You have to take one race at a time so I’m just looking to climb up the order.”