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Reports > Walter Hayes Trophy 2020

A win for Ben Mitchell and another strong showing from Josh Fisher at the WHT

For the 2020 Walter Hayes Trophy meeting at Silverstone on Oct 31/Nov 1 the WPR team were running four Formula Fords across different classes. Strong showings were expected from Josh Fisher in the Richard Hudson-Evans owned and Classic Auction Review supported Van Diemen RF99/JL14 in the main event and Ben Mitchell in the similarly owned and supported Merlyn MK20 in both the main event and the Pre '82 races. They were backed up by James Colborn (Van Diemen RF88) and Steve Bracegirdle (Van Diemen RF89) who were looking to progress as far as possible in the WHT and go well in the Pre '93 races.

The Walter Hayes Trophy

Qualifying was damp/wet and began with Steve only managing a single lap after a spin and jammed starter motor which would mean a back row start for Heat 2. Josh fared much better qualifying on pole for Heat 3 while Ben impressed with a 10th place start in Heat 4 with James back in 20th place.

In the heats, Steve made up a few places to finish Race 2 while Josh took a close second in Race 3. In Race 4 Ben found the wet conditions suited his elderly Merlyn and finished a strong 8th with James further back in 20th. James and Steve started the Progression race on the third and fourth rows going on to finish 6th and 14th respectively good enough for 13th and 17th row starts in the Last Chance race where they finishd 13th and 23rd, earning James a spot on the penultimate row of Semi Final 1. In Semi 1 Ben had another good race to finish 18th and qualify for the Grand Final, taking fastest lap for the Pre '82 class with James finishing 23rd. For Semi Final 2 Josh drove carefully in the damp and difficult conditions to take third place and ensure a good starting position for the Final.

The Grand Final began in damp conditions but the rain moved in after a few laps. Josh ran with the leaders in sixth place for the first 7 laps but moved up to third as another competitor spun in front of him at Luffield, clipping Josh's rear wheel. The car seemed OK with Josh running third, closely following the leading pair, until the race was red flagged after 10 laps. So the Final became a 5 lap sprint with Josh holding a very close third and ready to make his move after a couple of laps when he was punted from behind at Copse, dropping him back to a disappointing 7th at the finish. After the race it was found that the earlier incident had broken a couple of rear hub bolts allowing some movement in the wheel. The conditions suited Ben and the Merlyn which saw them run very strongly in 'giant killing' mode to take 12th overall (and another fastest class lap).

Pre '82 Races

Ben qualified the Merlyn in second place for both races and in a battle of the Merlyns finished the first race in 2nd and won the second race (with fastest lap) to make it a winning week-end for the team. The team were especially pleased because on the Saturday the speed trap was showing Ben to be down on top speed so, overnight, they adjusted the tappetts and re-set the plug gaps with the engine running strongly thereafter!

Pre '93 Races

James and Steve lined up on the 7th and 13th rows for Race 1, finishing 13th and 22nd. In Race 2 James went one better to finish 12th while Steve wasn't classified after completing 7 laps having had enough of the wet conditions which he has never been a great fan of!

Many thanks to Jeff Bloxham for the fine action shots on track.