Professional race preparation and management

Reports > Walter Hayes Trophy - Silverstone November 1/2 2014

Mixed fortunes for WPR at the WHT

The Wayne Poole Racing team once again arrived at Silverstone for the 2014 running of the Walter Hayes Trophy with a full complement of cars.

There were the familiar Van Diemens for Ray Smith (the ex Don Boyack/Vincenzo Sospiri festival winning RF88), Don Boyack (a newly rebuilt RF89) and Steve Bracegirdle (RF89) along with Richard Hudson-Evans' Reynard 89FF for Josh Fisher, Calum McHale's Mygale SJ01 and Doug Crosbie's Van Diemen RF00. The team also brought along Steve Braegirdle's Nemesis GT for the closed wheel race.

Friday testing took place in glorious warm and sunny conditions. The Fisher car suffered engine problems so a new one had to be put in while the Boyack car was experiencing 'new car' niggles with he clutch, a misfire and handling and these all got sorted towards the end of the day. However, with the forecast for the week-end looking wet and windy Don decided to withdraw and keep the pristine car ready for 2015.

Practice saw another engine problem arise for the Fisher Reynard and the team faced a difficult decision. Richard Hudson-Evans had recently acquired the Josh Barnett Van Diemen RF99 (with an NES motor) with the intention of running it for Josh in 2015. The car is unusual in that it was built at the start of 2011 using a late 1999 chassis as the basis and features a full rear chassis modification designed by Barnett Racing and manufactured by Universal Racing Services.

So, with Richard's and the CoC's agreement the car was quickly scrutineered and ready for the heat although it meant that Josh would have to start from the back of the grid for Heat 6. A strong drive through the field to finish 5th was a very promising outcome and although there hadn't been time to make many adjustments Josh was hopeful going into the semis particularly as the conditions were likely to be wet.

In Heat 5 Calum had a good race and by finishing 10th just missed out on an automatic place in the semis but it would mean a front row start in the Last Chance race. Steve also went well and a 13th place finish would mean an automatic place in the Last Chance race without the need to run in the Progression race.

Doug and Ray were out in heat 2 with Doug running well to claim ninth and a place in the semis while Ray finished 11th "about the best I could do with a large gap to the bunch ahead" and a good grid position in the Last Chance race.

The Last Chance race had to be re-started and run over 7 laps and saw Calum make a good get away and lead over the line at the end of Lap 1. However, on a very greasy track and the full pack behind him Calum had a gentle spin at the exit of Luffield on Lap 2 dropping way down the field. Undaunted, Calum recovered well, making up some of his lost places and finished 14th and thus earning a place in the semis. Ray had an excellent race, driving quickly and consistently making up places to finish a strong ninth. Steve was less fortunate and with the conditions being far from his liking had an early spin, dropping back to finish 25th.

In the first semi final Josh made a good start and settled into a hectic battle just behind the leaders and was looking to make a move near the end. Unfortunately Josh got tangled up with a car ahead of him at Becketts losing a lot of ground but in spite of this he managed to recover to 18th and a place at the back of the grid for the final. Ray ran another fast and consistent race right up until the last lap when a spin ended his race and meant he was unclassified. In the second semi final Doug spent the race near the back of a very large mid field group but stayed out of trouble to finish 18th and make the final at the back alongside Josh. By starting the semi at the back it was always going to be hard for Calum to make up much ground and he duly ended up finishing 29th.

Starting the final on the last row Josh and Doug had it all to do. Josh initially made good progress toward the middle of the field but a long period of yellows at Luffield prevented further progress until he ran wide at Woodcote dropping to the tail of the field where he finished 27th, one place behind Doug.

For 2014 the organisers laid on a 'historic final' for the pre '90 cars which hadn't made it into the main final. Ray continued his good run with another pacy and consistent race to finish 7th while Steve had another spin but still finished 16th. Steve fared much better in the 'all comers closed wheel' race with the Nemesis and despite the wet conditions drove quickly to finish eighth in a big field. Standout performance in this race was sometime WPR driver, Olly Bull, who had jumped in to a Caterham CSR after the Juno he was down to drive broke its chain in practice and finished a magnificent third after an entertaining battle with Dave Cotne's monster Can-Am March 717.