Professional race preparation and management

Reports > 2011 Walter Hayes Trophy meeting 5/6 Nov 2011

Matt makes final & Steve debuts Nemesis

The WPR team made the trip to Silverstone for the annual Walter Hayes Trophy meeting with 6 Formula Fords and three GTs.

The team's sports cars had been swelled by one with Steve Bracegirdle's Nemesis RME98 which was taken along for the pre event test which went well so the decision was taken to enter the two GT races on the Sunday. Also taking advantage of the pre event testing were Matt Horwood (Reynard 89FF) getting in 35 laps and Ash Clifford (Mygale SJ01) neither of whom had raced in 2011.

Ash was disappointed not to be faster in testing and could have gone quicker in qualifying but went the wrong way on the brake balance. However, despite being held up by a spinner in his Heat, Ash fought back through the field to finish an encouraging seventh, easily qualifying for his semi final. Matt qualified an excellent fifth for his Heat and in the race was running in the same position when he lost 4th gear. He hung on grimly and was still seventh at the start of the final lap but slipped to ninth at the end but this was still good enough to make the Last Chance race.

Olly Bull (Swift SC92) was in Heat 2 with some of the more fancied runners and went well to qualify sixth. An excellent race, avoiding someone else's off and enjoying some good battles netted fourth place and a promising start position in his Semi Fnal. Also in Heat 2, Darren Houldcroft (Van Diemen RF88) was determined to make the most of qualifying and build up to a good time but was over eager and found the gravel at Copse after only a couple of laps which meant starting his Heat from the back. Still, Darren was phlegmatic about events and observed that "I'm older and wiser now so I can chose where I'm going to have an accident!".  A great start saw Darren make up 5 places and enjoyed a good battle with other competitors to finish the Heat and earn a good starting position for the Progression race.  Steve Bracegirdle (Van Diemen RF89) was out in Heat 4 and qualified tenth but went too soft on the suspension settings for the dampish conditions in the race and was disappointed to finish near the back of the field.

Don Boyack (Van Diemen RF88) didn't enjoy the damp practice conditions but had an enjoyable battle with James Beckett in Heat 5 passing and re-passing each other until Don finally came out ahead.

So to the Progression race and hopes were high on getting a few cars through to the next round - the Last Chance race. Darren, starting well from the second row got tangled with another driver on Lap 2 (see photos) and retired on the spot with a couple of corners damaged. A very disappointed Darren remarked that "our wheels are interlocked at this point, and as he spins (oil I think) trying to squeeze me against the right hand curb Im left with nowhere to go. If only hed taken the normal racing line chances are he would have outdragged me down the national straight anyway (me being forced on the tighter line) and wed have both got through to the last chance race."

Steve got mired in heavy traffic and spun at Brooklands avoiding oil and began a fight back through the filed which included running with Don for a couple of laps but a grassy moment at Luffield dropped Don back. Unfortunately time and laps ran out and 14th and 17th weren't enough to make the Last Chance race.

Matt started Semi 1 in 26th place struggled in heavy traffic for the first half of the race, running outside the top 20. But as the race wore on he began moving up as he got inot his stride and finished 15th and qualifying for the final. In Semi 2, mayhem on Lap 1 saw Olly get hit from behind at Becketts and retire on the spot. Ash got away well and was running strongly in mid field (16th) and having a good battle with Luke Cooper. However, he pulled off on Wellington Straight on Lap 7 unable to get any gears thus ending a promising run. He thought that something had fouled the gearchange mechanism as there was so much rubbish out on the track and may have picked up something.

Thus it was left to Matt to represent the team in the Final. Starting on Row 15 Matt got away well but before the first lap was completed his engine blew and that was it. A big disappointment.

In the GT races Guy Parr didn't make it through practice after mechanical problems while testing went well for Steve Bracegirdle in his Nemesis SME98 and the decision was made to enter the car for the two races. Des Andrews found practice difficult with such a large speed differential between the fastest and slowest cars and having to look out for cars ahead and coming up behind.  In Race 1 both drivers made good starts with Steve just edging ahead. They ran this way in 6th and 7th places for some laps until Steve made the wrong choice by going around the outside at Woodcote while lapping back markers and Des nipped by on the inside and pulled away leaving them to finish 7th and 8th.

In Race 2 Steve again made the better start but managed to stay ahead of Des to reverse the order from Race 1.

All photos courtesy of Jeff Bloxham.

Note: Copyright to these images is retained by the photographer