Reports > Heat win, GT podium & good showing in final at WHT 2012 for WPR
Cold & wet at Silverstone for WHT but a win for WPR
As ever the Silverstone National circuit was the scene for the 2012 Walter Hayes Trophy which attracted an entry of over 120 Kent engined Formula Ford 1600 cars for the season closer over the week-end of November 3/4.
The Wayne Poole Racing team had entered the Van Diemens of Steve Bracegirdle, Bon Boyack and Jim Morris, the Swifts of Olly Bull and Ray Smith along with the Nemesis GT of Steve Bracegirdle in the supporting closed wheel race. The biggest news for the team however, was a last minute deal (on the Friday!) to run former Combe Champion and WHT podium driver, Josh Fisher in a Reynard 89FF. This was the car that won the Class C Combe championship in the hands of Tom Margetson and is now co owned by Tom and WPR driver Darren Houldcroft who was looking forward to his first event as a car owner rather than driver.
First out was Steve Bracegirdle in Heat 2, qualifying 18th but racing well to come home 13th and secure a place in the Last Chance race. Next up was Jim Morris, having one of his occasional outings in the ex Darren Houldroft Van Diemen RF88 now resplendent in the customary black Lifeline livery, who qualified 17th and came home 15th to secure a second row place in the Progression race.
Heat 4 saw Ray Smith qualify well in 14th place and Don Boyack a little further back in 20th. Good races from both drivers saw them finish 11th and 13th respectively which guaranteed Ray a third row grid slot in the Last Chance race and a ninth row start for Don. The team had changed the set up on Ray's car with a lot more rear suspension droop and a softening of the dampers which made the car much more to the driver's liking and with a realistic prospect of moving forward into the semis.
In Heat 5 Josh Fisher was finding the handling of the Reynard less than best suited to the conditions and only managed to qualify mid grid in 11th place. However, there aren't many drivers better at setting up a car so changes were made prior to the Heat and very successful they were. A fantastic drive through the field saw Josh take the heat win by just 0.16s from the modern cars of Moyers, Gough and Orgee.
The biggest disappointment of the week-end befell Olly Bull who broke a crank in Friday practice and despite the team working for hours to fit a spare engine it all proved in vain due to the ancillaries of the spare motor fouling the Swift's gear linkage.
Probably the second biggest disappointment came on Sunday morning with unrelenting, heavy rain throughout the morning which left the track awash and the organisers delaying the proceedings for two and a half hours. When racing finally got under way both Jim and Don had decided enough was enough and elected to sit out the rest of the meeting and keep their cars in one piece.
So it was Ray and Steve who lined up for the Last Chance race and hoping to make it into the semis. Unfortunately Ray only made it as far as Becketts on the first lap where he was punted off and his race ended there and then. Meanwhile, Steve, never a big fan of the wet, carried on to finish down the filed and missing out on a place in the semis.
By the time Semi 2 began the track was drier although still damp. Starting from Row 2 Josh made a good start and briefly took second place with an inside move at Luffield. However, as the race went on the more modern cars exploited their advantage and Josh fell back to a still impressive 4th which he looked like holding to the end. But on Lap 8 a coming together with Carroll and eventual final winner Nunez saw Josh finish a disappointed ninth and a mid grid slot for the final.
In the final Josh was embroiled in the usual mid field scramble and held position to finish 17th and notablt the only pre '90 car to make it that far. Still, as he told the commentary team the Heat win after such a last minute deal felt as good as his previous Final podium success.
The closed wheel race was run in very wet conditions and Steve Bracegirdle had a difficult run in the opening laps with a misfire (water in the electrics) but as it dried out and Steve got used to the situation his lap times improved and he moved through the field to take a welcome second in class.