Professional race preparation and management

Reports > Walter Hayes Trophy, Silverstone November 4/5 2023

So close again for Josh Fisher at the WHT

The 2023 running of the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone was held on Sat/Sun 4/5 November in conditions which were generally overcast and ranged from wet on the Saturday to damp/drying for the Sunday races.

As was the case the year before, the Wayne Poole Racing team entered four cars with the three Richard Hudson-Evans owned and Classic Auction Review backed cars of Josh Fisher (Van Diemen RF99), Ben Mitchell (Van Diemen JL16) and Sam Mitchel in the 'historic' Merlyn MK20 backed up by James Colborn in his Van Diemen RF07.

The Heats were held in wet conditions and in Heat 1 Sam sarted 17th and finished 17th. In Heat 2 Josh started on Pole but a spin at Copse on the first lap saw him drop to 12th but a strong fightback netted a 7th at the finish. Heat 3 saw Ben start 5th but a good first lap got him up to 3rd where he stayed until the end. In the final Heat, James started 13th and finished in the same place despite losing a couple of places in the early going.

In the Last Chance race on Sunday to try and qualify for a semi final place Sam started 16th and moved up to 12th but not quite high enough to make the cut.

In the first Semi Final Josh started 14th and James 25th. Josh was on a mission and was up to 5th at the end of the first Lap and took the lead on Lap 10. He took the win on the road but was later demoted to 9th after a 10sec penalty for 'causing a collision' following a coming together with the car in front on Lap 6 when Josh was lying fourth. James gained a few places to reach 21st but of the running for a place in the Final.

In the second Semi Final Ben started 5th and Sam 32nd. At the end of Lap 1 Ben was punted off at Luffield while trying to take second place and dropped to the tail of the field in 30th place. A strong fightback saw him rise to 14th at the end and make the Final. Sam advanced strongly finishing in 19th but out of contention for a place in the Final.

Just before the scheduled start time for the Final a downpour delayed things for a while. On a wet track Josh started in 18th and Ben in 27th - hardly representative of the pair's pace throughout the event so far. Progress was slow on the difficult and crowded track so by Lap 6 Josh had moved up to 12th and Ben 19th but a red flag and re-start offered the chance of further advances through the field. The re-start went well for both drivers with Josh up to 8th and Ben 16th at the end of the first Lap. On the next Lap Josh made the most of the chances offered up by those squabbling ahead of him to slip through and take the lead. Was he about to break his WHT duck? Unfortunately no as, what remained of the lead group, suddenly found more pace dropping Josh back to fourth. Meanwhile Ben was mired in midfiled traffic but managed to improve further to finish 13th.

Next year!

Thanks to Steve Glendinning for the images