An ecstatic Tom Sargent is celebrating a sensational second-place finish in Round 5 of the Australian Formula Ford Championship at The Bend Motorsport Park on the weekend.
After qualifying seventh, Sargent made a slow start in Race 1 and fell to ninth, but worked his way back to sixth at the finish.
Some great race-craft and awareness in Race 2 enabled Sargent to overtake several cars, moving up to third position by the fifth lap. He gained another place after the race when the second-placed driver was penalised.
In Race 3, a nervous Sargent started from the front-row of the grid in front of a huge Supercars crowd. But the 16-year-old drove with maturity beyond his years – even when he was overtaken and relegated to third, he skilfully used the slipstream on the main straight to re-capture the position.
On the final lap, Sargent’s race could easily have been derailed when he was hit from behind by another competitor, but he held his nerve and brought his Formula Ford home in second place, also taking second overall for the round.
Sargent, in his first season of car racing and just his third round of national Formula Ford competition, could barely believe the result.
“After qualifying, I knew we had a quick car and even after the slow start in Race 1, we were able to get back to where we started, but with the competition being so close, I knew it would be difficult to move forward,” Sargent said.
“But my CHE Racing Team made some improvements on Saturday night, and the car was even better in Races 2 and 3.
“I was feeling nervous before Race 3, knowing I was starting in such a high position and with a big crowd watching. But once the race started, the nerves went away and I just focused on driving.
“To finish on the podium so early in my car racing career is sensational, and to do it at my biggest event of the year with all my Supercar heroes watching on, is just a dream result.
“A huge thank you to the CHE Racing Team, my sponsors and my family, this is a big reward for everyone’s hard work.”
Sargent will next be on track for Round 4 of the NSW Formula Ford Championship at Wakefield Park, 8-9 September.
Race 1: 6th
Race 2: 2nd
Race 3: 2nd