Brand New Team for Ed
Formula K Europe has signed Ed to launch its attack on the fiercely competitive Rotax classes in 2012.
Ed, the reigning Super One and Kartmasters Champion, will defend his UK titles with Protrain Racing and contest the Euro Max and BNL series, plus selected other events, with Holland-based Formula K Europe.
Martin Blom, Formula K Europe team principal said: “I first met Ed about three years ago when he was racing in the Junior class and he impressed me then. He did it again when he graduated to the Senior category - I like him as a person and for his driving style. We are building up the Formula K team and brand in Europe and now the UK, so I wanted a driver who can win the European Championship next year and Ed has the potential.”
Protrain’s Gary Chapman is also excited by his abilities: “I’m thrilled to have someone of Ed’s calibre racing with us. We’re looking to repeat the success he enjoyed this season in the UK and go one better in Europe. It’s our first time working together, but we’ve known and got on well with Ed and his family for years.”
Chapman added, “The Formula K chassis has been doing very well in Europe and it is looking like the best to be on in 2012.”
Brand’s move to Formula K will see an old partnership renewed, as HRS Racing Engines will supply the motive power. The firm’s owner Nigel Horner is looking forward to working with Ed again: “I’m very pleased. We won the British championships the last time and I hope to do it again and, of course, win the elusive European crown. He’s great to work with and his feedback is excellent. It will be exciting to see our engines and, what is essentially a new product in the UK, being demonstrated by a driver of his ability. “
After weeks of speculation about his future, Ed said that the new deal means a great deal to him: “Every driver wants to be part of a works team and to have more responsibility than just turn up and drive. With Formula K I have an incredible opportunity, not just to lead their bid to win the British, European and Benelux championships, but also to have an input into developing the kart itself. I’ve already tested the kart at Genk and was just a tenth (of a second) off the pole time for the Euro Max round there. That wasn’t in full quali’ trim, so the potential is clearly there. I was very encouraged and the feedback from the chassis is excellent.”
Rivals a-Brand-on all hope as Ed wins S1 title
Ed left his rivals simply vying to be first of the runners-up after back-to-back victories ensured that he won the Ginetta Super One Rotax championship with a round to spare.
Right from the beginning of Saturday’s preliminaries, the Strawberry Racing star was amongst the front runners. Although he missed out on claiming the overall pole-position in timed qualifying by just four one hundredths of a second, Ed quickly stamped his authority on the penultimate round of one of the UK’s hardest-fought kart Championships by winning both his heats in emphatic style –ensuring that he was given P1 on the starting grid for the first of Sunday’s two finals.
Knowing that winning the pre-final would all but assure him of the title, and with a cluster of his team-mates surrounding him, onlookers could be forgiven that they would form an effective guard of honour - but there were no team orders. “Ed’s gameplan was simply to clear off and let the others fight it out between them,” said his team manager Warwick Ringham.
Initially, it all looked to be going well. Ed got the perfect getaway from the line and opened a gap. His advantage was to be relatively short lived. A lap later he was in 2nd but immediately pressing to regain the upper hand. In fact, his fight back was instantaneous. Having lost the lead at the circuit’s first hairpin corner, he grabbed it back at the next.
With clear track in front of him the Brands of Watford-supported driver did everything he could to ensure that he was never headed again. Within a handful of laps, Brand led by nearly two seconds and was cruising to another success. In the closing stages, he wisely eased up to bring his kart home safely and preserve his tyres for the following race.
As it was, he didn’t need them. Thunder and lightning dramatically preceded a heavy downpour sending the drivers back into their awnings to don wetsuits over their overalls, whilst the mechanics frantically changed their karts’ set-ups to cope with the now soaking conditions.
Seconds after the main final’s start, a huge crash at the first hairpin produced immediate red flags from the officials and a general reprimand for not driving appropriate to the conditions. At the second time of asking, the advice was heeded and the field got the race underway relatively cleanly. Out front, Ed had kept his pole position advantage with a thinking rather than gung-ho approach and it paid off handsomely.
Almost immediately he established a commanding lead and from this platform delivered a true champion’s drive. Such was his mastery of the conditions that he was able to able to extend the gap with each new lap.
Fittingly Ed set the fastest lap as he cemented the Championship and punched the air with a single finger angled at his supporters cheering in the grandstand as he passed the chequered flag.
Such has been his dominance throughout the year that Ed – who is appropriately partnered by Vogel and Noot Radiators - can afford to stay at home and miss the final round in Lancashire next month and therefore avoid incurring any unnecessary penalties.
However, one race he will definitely not be missing is the Rotax Grand Finals in Abu Dhabi. The Al Ain track will host what is effectively a World Championship event, and after clinching the British crown and finishing 3rd in the European series this summer, he will be one of the favourites for glory on 26 November. .
Ed wins British Kart GP!
Ed claimed his maiden Kartmasters crown with a lights-to-flag victory at PFi last Sunday (7 August).
After years of trying, Ed Brand finally won his first ‘GP’ plate at the internationally-renowned event. It was also a late birthday present for him, as he celebrated his 17th birthday, whilst preparing for a weekend that started well and just got better.
In timed practice he was second fastest, securing a front row start for the following two heats. In these, the Tony Kart EVRR driver took a brace of 2nd-places to seal pole position for the first of Sunday’s two finals.
He won comfortably, with his team-mate Jack Marshall coming from fourth place on the grid to finish 2nd and make it an all Strawberry Racing front row for the Grand Final.
In front of visiting TV crews and grandstands packed with spectators, Ed led the thirty-five strong field away from the start line. He made good his grid advantage and jumped clear of the chasing pack as it barreled into the tight first hairpin. Marshall was less fortunate and was tagged heavily from behind and momentarily launched into the air. Dropping to 9th, Jack was fortunate to be able to continue and began a remarkable fight-back up the order.
Out in front, Ed was experiencing no such dramas and quickly began to open an impressive gap over his pursuers. Behind him, Marshall was tearing his way through the traffic. As he passed the main grandstand, Ed’s team boss, Warwick Ringham could be seen calmly signalling instructions. Over several laps a simple ‘thumbs up’ let him know that he was firmly in control, whilst Marshall was given a more emphatic ‘catch up’ gesture.
The latter stages of the race began to reveal that Ed lacked the pace of his team-mate – later believed to be a problem with his tyres – and his advantage began to look shaky. The time difference dropped from 1:84 seconds to 1:15 and by the penultimate lap, it was just over half a second.
As the official held out the ‘Last Lap’ board, the stage was set for a nail-biting finish. Ed had to keep his cool, whilst Jack had a target to aim for. Marshall took another tenth of a second from Brand’s lead but a perfectly driven and judged lap meant Ed held his advantage to the finish.
“I’m thankful,” he said afterwards. “I did my job and that was it but it was fortunate that the chequered flag came out when it did. Had the race gone on for another lap then it might not have been me standing on the top step of the podium. I’m delighted though. This is the first time I’ve won and it’s a great feeling. In previous years I seem to have had an invisible arrow on my back saying ‘Hit me here’.”
He added, “This win is a testament to everyone at Strawberry Racing’s hard work, so I’d really like to say a big ‘thankyou’ to Leon McDonald, Warwick Ringham, Paul Spencer, Dave Gregory and Tim Ezzard. I’d also like to acknowledge the generous support of my sponsors Vogel and Noot Radiators and Brands of Watford, so many thanks to them also.”
Ed edges closer to S1 crown
Just one more victory could seal the Super One Rotax Championship for Ed after he triumphed - again - at Buckmore Park last Sunday (24 July).
The Brands of Watford-backed star secured pole position for the first of the day’s two finals with another classy display in the preliminaries - timed qualifying and two heats.
However, after getting the perfect getaway from the start line, he was pressed hard by his team-mate Jack Marshall at the beginning of the pre-final.
In a hard-fought encounter Brand found himself shuffled down to 5th but clawed his way back to a solid 3rd place as the chequered flag waved to maintain his 100% podium record.
As most of the large field exited the Chatham track’s notoriously tricky first hairpin during the opening moments of the main final, Jack glanced over his shoulder to see if Ed had also survived the inevitable collisions created by the large pack of karts all trying to vy for the same piece of tarmac at the same time. He had, and just moments later, Marshall briefly led. Moments later, Ed had pushed him down to 3rd and had the new race leader, Sean Babington in his sights.
Brand shadowed him but a nasty crash involving a backmarker brought the field under ‘full course yellows’ and slowed into a single file. With the stranded kart safely removed the race restarted and the Strawberry pair out-smarted their rival with a neat piece of team-work – Jack pushing Ed past Sean. A second incident again brought the field into single file, and once the green flags waved to indicate the track was clear this time it was babington who tried to push Marshall past Ed. Wise to this Jack blocked him, allowing Ed to scamper clear.
Incredibly, a third accident slowed the field again to further ratchet up the tension. Once more, he aced the start, but could not afford to relax as Jack continued to shadow him. With another driver catching the lead trio, the stage was set for a nailbiting finish. As they crossed the line to start the last lap, the quartet ran in line astern with Ed at the helm, but looking relaxed and assured. Tensions heightened as they streamed out of view into the downhill section, but as he burst back into the ‘arena section’ it was clear that Ed had victory in the bag.
“I made a lot of mistakes but it helped to have Jack behind me,” he gasped after 25 gruelling laps. “This was my hardest win of the year. The team and I put a lot into this weekend and we got a great result.”
Adding, “I think I’ve maintained my gap in the points table - and it’s all thanks to Strawberry who have done a great job to get me there. I’m now hoping to clinch the Championship at the next race which means I can go to the last round with the title in the bag, relax and have fun.”
This weekend sees Ed in action in Denmark, competing in the Euro Max Challenge: “I haven’t even seen a picture of the track! I’m looking forward to it, especially after doing so well at a circuit I really don’t like.”
Heat is on for Ed’s Rivals
Ed turned up the temperature on his fellow Super One Rotax title aspirants with a searing performance in Scotland (26 June).
Sebastian Vettel’s co-combatants in Formula One may be queuing up to already concede defeat to the brilliant young German, but Ed still believes he has a fight on his hands – despite claiming his fifth win of the campaign.
Like the Red Bull ace, he now has a seventy-point advantage and knows that he is firmly in control - but modesty forbids talk of lifting the crown, just yet.
“My winning margin (at Larkhall) was just a kart length. It was a really close race. With three rounds remaining I need a few more good finishes and hopefully I can hold (my lead) to the end. However, so much can happen and for now, I’m focusing on taking each race at a time.”
Ed, who is studying for his A Levels at the Cottesloe School in Wing, Bucks, certainly gave the rest of the field hope when he could only post the fourth-fastest time during qualifying. Normal service was swiftly resumed in the first of his two heats with victory, but any premature celebrations were dashed with a 4th in the following encounter.
His scores from the two preliminary races gave him a second row grid position for the first of the day’s two finals. “I dropped to 7th at the start but worked my way back up to 3rd by the end” was his simple description of his dramatic fight to maintain his perfect record of finishing on the podium in each of the series’ points-scoring finals this year.
As the main final got underway he held on to his initial 3rd place, but keen not to let the Scottish driver John Stewart exploit his knowledge of the Lanarkshire circuit and get away, Ed made an incisive move for 2nd and from there shadowed Stewart.
“With three minutes to go I took the lead. The pace had dropped so I thought ‘I need to get to the front, otherwise the guy in 3rd will catch us’. John knew I was coming through and gave me enough room. From there we worked together and pulled away. It was clever driving from John (not to risk a crash). It was good points for us both.”
He added, “It is all thanks to Strawberry Racing, who gave me such a fantastic kart and engine to put me in this position. That said, leading the Championship now is one thing but to lead it after the chequered flag has fallen at the last race, that’s what matters most.”
Ed now has a four week break before the fifth round (23/24 July), held at the challenging Buckmore Park track in Kent.
Double top for brilliant Brand
Ed is now firmly in the driving seat of the Super One Rotax Championship after taking back to back victories in Cumbria last Sunday (5 June).
These most recent successes maintained the Strawberry Racing star’s near perfect run of form, in which he has triumphed in four of the six races in the Championship - 3rd has been Ed’s lowest finishing position.
In the dramatic Lake District former quarry setting, he narrowly missed out on setting the pole position time during qualifying by just two one hundredths of a second.
Frustration was to follow in the first of his two heats, when an electrical problem caused his engine to misfire and he had to nurse his Tony Kart EVRR home in 17th place. Some swift work by his mechanics following the race cured the problem, and he bounced back with an emphatic win in the following encounter.
With the points for his finishes added up, Ed had qualified 11th overall for the first of Sunday’s two finals.
Undeterred by starting from the sixth row of the grid, Ed quickly made his way up the order. He had clawed his way up to 3rd place, with the 2nd place driver some two seconds clear. He began to reel him in and made short work of catching, and then passing, his rival. He repeated the process again to gain ground on the experienced Scots star, John Stewart.
“He caught John at the rate of three tenths a lap,” said Strawberry Racing team manager Warwick Ringham. “At first we thought, ‘Nah, he won’t do it, the gap’s too great.’ But we were gobsmacked by Ed’s performance. He caught John, passed him and then just drove away.”
After the race, Stewart sportingly acclaimed Ed as “the best driver I’ve come up against.” One seasoned observer also described it as “an exhibition of superbly controlled racing. A ‘How To’ demonstration. It looked like John had it in the bag, but Ed caught him and then ‘bang’! He’d passed him and gone. It was a great drive.”
In the afternoon’s main final, Ed took a perfect lights-to-flag win. “It was all a bit boring by comparison,” he said modestly. “I managed to get away from the line cleanly and whilst the pack squabbled behind me, I opened up a gap and maintained it all the way to the chequered flag.”
In two weeks time (25/26 June) he heads up to Scotland for the Championship’s fourth round, held at Larkhall in Lanarkshire - taking with him a 37 point advantage.
Startline clash prompts brilliant fightback from Ed
Having done everything right, it nearly went so badly wrong for Ed in Germany last Sunday (29 May). Just moments after starting from pole position, he found himself launched skyward - but managed to keep going and claim a superb podium finish.
“It was interesting,” he said with customary insouciance. “The result ended up being okay, but it could have been worse.”
Ed was competing in the second round of the prestigious Euro Max Challenge, a four round international karting championship, held at Wackersdorf in Bavaria. After winning all three of his preliminary heats and the pre-final, the 16-year old Strawberry Racing star duly secured pole position on the starting grid for the main final.
As the large field streamed through the fast left-right flick at the top of the start/finish straight Ed was squeezed onto the circuit’s high kerbs by fellow front-row starter Ben Cooper, causing his kart to momentarily become airborne.
“Ben wasn’t giving up and neither was I. Fortunately, I was okay because Jack Hawksworth straightened me up when I landed. I had dropped to 10th and just a few corners later several drivers had a coming together, so by the time I completed the lap I was up to 5th.”
From there Ed worked his way up another place and now had former Strawberry team-mate Mats Van Den Brand, in his sights: “I managed to get into Mats’ slipstream and overtook him at the end of the main straight, on the approach to a semi-banked hairpin.”
From there Ed reeled in Cooper and passed him at the same spot where he had deposed Van Den Brand. Despite Denmark’s Kaspar Jensen leading by some margin, Ed tore off after him, with Cooper initially keeping him company. However, his rival could not sustain the pace and dropped back, leaving Ed alone in pursuit of the leader. Through each of the 1.27km track’s corners and straights he began to gain ground.
“I got within two kart lengths, but settled for 2nd and a good haul of points,” he explained afterwards. “It would’ve been nice to have won, but I couldn’t risk a crash.”
It was both a mature and sensible decision. With Cooper crossing the finishing line in 3rd, Ed has narrowed the gap at the top of the Championship table to just three points.
“There are two rounds to go and although I’ve not been to the circuits we’re visiting next, I feel that the pace I’ve got and the level of preparation Strawberry puts into each race will put me in good stead.”
This weekend (4/5 June) sees Ed return to the British Super One title hunt at Rowrah in Cumbria.
Second win on the spin for Ed
Ed maintained his perfect start to the new national karting season with a hard-fought victory and a new lap record in Oxfordshire.
Two wins from two events and domination of the weekend’s preliminaries. The Ed Brand Show continued in fine style at the fast Shenington circuit where the Strawberry Racing star kept a cool head to claim his second successive victory in the British Super One Rotax championship.
The large entry needed to be split into two groups for timed qualifying, with Ed topping the timesheets in his session to give himself front-row starting positions for the two preliminary heats. “I went out and won them,” was how he casually described taking back-to-back triumphs and duly earning pole position for the first of Sunday’s two points-scoring finals.
“The first final was the interesting one,” he added with an impish grin. “I was leading and at the head of a stream of eight karts. In one of the corners I was pushed wide and in those circumstances was pushed back to 7th. The train (of karts) simply comes past and you can’t push back in.”
A breakaway formed leaving two karts clear of the chasing pack and Ed aware that he needed to make rapid progress up the order. “The lead pair had broken away and the driver in front was then able to extend a gap over the driver in 2nd. Things were getting a bit hairy and at one point, I went past the grandstand on two wheels. The front of my kart had become hooked on the rear bumper of the one ahead. I managed to free it and when my team-mates Jack Marshall and John Stewart had a coming together moved up two more places.”
Finding himself a distant 3rd, Vogel and Noot-backed Brand chased down the driver ahead but knowing that his finishing position in the pre-final would determine his grid position for the main final, he cannily opted to hold station.
Sitting right behind the driver on pole position and having the vital inside line for the high speed run down to the first, left-hand corner Ed survived the opening moments and briefly snatched the lead. Once again, the lead pair edged away from their pursuers. Having overcome the challenges from behind, he was able to concentrate on catching the leaders. It took him just two laps – in which he established a new lap record of 41.49s - and a further tour of the fast north Oxfordshire track to seize the advantage.
“From there I got my head down, broke the tow and got away. On paper it was a comfortable win and the spectators saw me cross the line four to five kart-lengths clear but I hard to work hard for that one. It was a tough race to win and I couldn’t afford to relax one iota.”
Ed beats Super 1 rivals single-handed
Not even a suspected broken hand could halt Ed’s stunning march to victory in the opening round of the British Super 1 Rotax Championship (12/13 March)
“If he can drive like that when injured, it begs the question what he could do when he’s not?” asked a seasoned journalist.
Ed sustained the injury during a tense battle for the race win on the last lap of a preliminary heat. He had been leading, but a collision denied him the win.
“I could understand the other driver going for the overtaking manoeuvre, but I’d covered the line and we touched. Suddenly he was driving over the top of me and his kart smashed my hand. It wasn’t deliberate, just one of those things”
Incredibly, Ed had only dropped to third - but with a cracked radiator, his engine leaked coolant onto his rear tyre and he had to coax his kart home in 6th place. He won the following heat, despite being in great pain from his badly swollen hand, to secure fifth place on the grid for the first of Sunday’s two point-scoring finals.
After working his way up the order and managing to see off the challenge from the driver behind, Ed finished 2nd - but the 21 laps around the Daventry circuit had taken their toll: “My hand was really painful in the last five minutes,” he conceded quietly.
With little time to recover, it was time for Brand to get back into the seat.
“I knew it was important to get into the lead early. I managed to do this at the start and fortunately there was a scrap behind me. I got the gap (over the chasing pack) but the driver in 2nd managed to close me down. I dug a bit deeper, re-established the cushion over him and got the win.”
He added, “I couldn’t believe I’d won. Thanks to the adrenaline I was more excited than in pain, but when I returned to the pits, I couldn’t take my glove off. My mechanic, Joe Reilly had to help me and when we finally succeeded, my hand was double the size of the other. There was a lot of ice afterwards - and not just in the champagne bucket.”
Ed’s victory drew many plaudits and his Strawberry Racing team manager, Warwick Ringham. “Ed’s a superstar. To drive one-handed all day on Sunday was fantastic. I’m delighted with him.”
Given that he is already being tipped as a contender, does the Brands of Watford-backed driver think he can go on to win the title? “It is still very early in the season and there are twelve more finals to be contested. Hopefully we can continue to get the results, and with Strawberry behind me, go for the overall championship win.”
Ed’s ready for Brand new season
This weekend (12/13 March) sees the British Super 1 Rotax championship get underway at Whilton Mill near Daventry, and Ed is already being tipped as a possible title-contender.
As part of his preparations, he recently competed in back-to-back club events and on the evidence of his performances in them, he certainly expects to be a front-runner from the off.
“I raced at Shenington in Oxfordshire a fortnight ago (20 February) and came away with a 2nd place. I started 7th and had worked my way up the order to take the lead on lap six. It was a hard-fought race where any one of a group of drivers could have won. The slightest mistakes were punished, and at one point I was pushed back to 4th position. I managed to get back up to 3rd on the penultimate tour and took 2nd on the last lap.”
Seven days later, the Strawberry Racing driver was back in action - this time at a ‘shake-down’ meeting at Whilton Mill (27 February).
Ed opened his account with victory in the first of three qualifying heats and went on to record a brace of 9th place finishes in the following two encounters.
“By now the rain was making the conditions out on the track very tricky. When you have 34 karts slithering around at high speed it tests even the best drivers and as a result, there were plenty of crashes.”
Having started from the midfield in his two remaining heats, Ed had shown his mastery of the wet with assured drives up the order – passing eleven karts and sixteen respectively – to earn 3rd place on the grid for the day’s final.
“I was pushed off the circuit and onto the grass at the start and dropped to 17th which fired me up.” So much so that he completed the lap in 11th position. He then moved up another three places, picking off his rivals one by one to claim an eventual 6th place at the chequered flag.
Ed’s Strawberry Racing Team Manager, Warwick Ringham says with a hint of caution “His speed and attitude in both events was fantastic. Do I think he can win on Sunday and then go for the title? Well, you can’t legislate for someone knocking him off or something breaking but if everything goes to plan, I’d say Ed’s definitely top three material.”
Timed qualifying gets underway on Saturday morning followed by preliminary heats. The racing will conclude on Sunday with a heat in the morning and the first of the two finals running from approximately mid afternoon.
Ed scores brilliant ichi-ni* in Japan!
(*That’s a 1-2, if your Japanese is a little rusty)
Ed got his 2011 season off to a superb start with a double-podium in the Japanese Winter Cup yesterday (23 January).
He had travelled all the way to the New Tokyo circuit at Ichihara at the invitation of one of Japan’s leading kart importers, EIKO Motorsport. This was the second time that Ed – who has again signed to compete with Strawberry Racing in Britain and Europe this year - had competed in the Far East, having competed in the inaugural event last year.
“I was very pleased to be asked back to do the Winter Cup, because last year everyone was so welcoming, friendly and showed great passion for the sport. The racing was great also, so I jumped at the chance to return and represent the Tony Kart marque in Japan and because the driving style is very different to that in the UK. I knew it would be fun to rub wheels with some of the drivers I raced last year.”
After adjusting to being back in Japan – particularly the time difference and reacquainting himself with the local cuisine... “Sushi? Erm, I didn’t like it. But then, I don’t like fish - hot or cold” ... Brand quickly made his mark in the preliminaries.
“Things went really well in the opening stages. I took pole position in timed qualifying and then won both my heats to secure pole position for the first final. In that race I was lying 4th on the last lap and had got up to 3rd at the moment when the leading pair had a coming together, leaving me to win it!”
Despite enjoying his third consecutive starting place at the front of the field, Ed found that his rivals were in no mood to let the visiting gaijin have it all his own way. “The final was very chaotic with lots of passing. Three laps from the end, I found myself in 2nd but unable to catch the eventual winner. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable race and a good result.”
Prior to his trip to Japan, Ed had impressed some of motorsport’s biggest names with his performance in the annual Racing 4 Charity indoor kart race held at Autosport International (Europe’s biggest racing car show) held at the NEC, Birmingham. Against a line-up that included Ben Collins, formerly known as BBC Top Gear’s ‘The Stig’, ex-F1 driver turned sportscar star David Brabham and Lords Drayson and Brocket, he qualified in pole position and in the opening stint of the 90-minute endurance race pulled out an 8-second lead over some of British motor racing’s best exponents.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Takuma Sato (former Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri F1 driver) was eager to meet the Englishman who was creating such a stir amongst the paddock.
Ed’s UK campaign begins on 12/13 March at his ‘home’ circuit of Whilton Mill in Northamptonshire with the opening round of the British Super 1 Championship.