Professional race preparation and management

Reports > Walter Hayes Trophy - Silverstone Nov 3/4 2018

Mixed fortunes for WPR at WHT 2018

The Wayne Poole Racing team arrived at Silverstone for the annual Formula Ford classic, the Walter Hayes Trophy, intent on finally securing the win after being the class of the field with Josh Fisher in 2017 only to just miss out on the final lap in contentious circumstances.

Josh Fisher had two, Richard Hudson-Evans owned chassis available - his usual Van Diemen RF99/JL14 and the spare Van Diemen DP08/JL17. Three fresh Neil Barnett engines were also on hand to provide the best chance of success.

Josh was joined by Andrew Higginbottom, in the team's Van Diemen RF88, making his Walter Hayes debut. With space on the transporter, Graham Cox was persuaded to bring his Renault Clio along for the Allcomers Closed wheel race which would mark the Clio's debut at the track.

Testing and practice didn't go as planned for the two Formula Ford runners. Josh needed two engine changes and only managed one lap in practice meaning he would line up at the back, in 15th place, for Heat 1. Things began well with Josh rising to second place (with fastest lap) but a spin on the final tour meant he was unclassified at the finish and would need to take part in the Progression race to continue further.

Andrew had bee troubled with a misfire during testing and practice so lined up for Heat 6 in 13th. Come the race the misfire had been cured but Andrew felt that he was losing out on the straights to other competitors and was needing to hang on to the tow in order to maintain position. Needing a ninth or better finish to secure an automatic place in the semi final Andrew had a good race, dicing with Paul Barnes for that ninth place so was disappointed to finish tenth.

Things began looking up in the Progression race. Josh started 13th and made up ten places on the first lap! He went on to take the win despite a last minute coming together at Luffield but only sustaining side pod damage. So to the Last Chance race with Andrew lining up 4th and Josh back in 25th. Andrew's strategy was to keep out of trouble and finish in the top 18 for a place in the Semi Final. Josh's was to get as far up the field as possible!

Andrew made another tremendous start, holding third at one point on the opening lap while Josh was quickly up to 11th. Andrew was finding that on cold tyres he could run with the leaders but once some heat got into the tyres his straight line speed deficit dropped him back. However, he hung on well to finish 11th. Josh quickly got into his stride - 25th to 11th on the first lap and went on to finish a close second.

Andrew lined up 33rd on the grid for Semi Final 1 with a mountain to climb to get into the top 18 for a Final place. For a while, iIt looked as if Andrew's super starts could turn this in to reality. In the first part of the race Andrew was up to 22nd before a red flag incident. On the restart anoher fine get away saw Andrew up to 18th at the end of the lap but unfortunately as the tyres warmed up he dropped back to finish a disappointed 25th. But still a good showing.

In Semi Final 2 Josh was 27th on the grid and was up to 14th on Lap 1. He continued to make progress, getting into the top 10 until one of the US Schorlaship runners hit him up the back damaging both rear corners. Josh limped round to finish 14th and with everything to do in the Final.

The Final was run in damp but drying conditions and full of incidents which, for a time worked in Josh's favour. Starting 27th Josh was soon into the top 10 but successive yellow flag and safety car periods saw time and laps running out and by the time the chequered flag was shown Josh was still in eighth place and a disappointing end to the week-end.

Andrew had one final outing in the '82 to '98 race, starting tenth and finishing in the same place to complete a successful week-end.

Graham Cox enjoyed his outing in the Clio, in a field that included LMP and Clubman's cars. A sixth place grid start ended in a fifth place finish and a trophy for second in Class.