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Walter Hayes Trophy, 2016
Programme: ‘Preview’
James Beckett
courtesy and copyright of James Beckett


2016 marks the sixteenth-running of the Walter Hayes Trophy – an event that is now regarded as the very best Formula Ford competition in the world. Each year well over 100 competitors line-up on the grid at Silverstone to participate in the ‘The Hayes’ and this year will be no different. An exciting weekend of wheel-to-wheel racing is guaranteed!

Since its first-running in 2001, the Walter Hayes Trophy has created something of a following. Competitors, officials and spectators have a soft spot for this Silverstone showcase, and is now very much the ‘Blue Riband’ for Formula Ford cars that are all powered by engines produced by the ‘Blue Oval’.

The Walter Hayes Trophy provides some of the best racing seen here at the Home of British Motor Racing each season, and this year’s running brings the curtain down on another exciting season of racing here at the Silverstone Circuit, a track that witnessed Lewis Hamilton score a popular British Grand Prix victory here in July.

Many of the racers on-track this weekend have their eyes on future world championship careers, and it is fair to say that when the Walter Hayes Trophy rolls into Northamptonshire a touch of Hayes Fever engulfs everyone present!

The Walter Hayes Trophy has once again attracted a large number of international visitors, teams from the United States and Canada will line-up against racers from Australia, mainland Europe and Scandinavia, while as tradition dictates a large number of Irish racers will visit Silverstone to join in the fun. Add in a large number of British racers, and the scene is set for an epic weekend of track action. The aim for all is to reach the Grand Final, a race that will take place late on Sunday afternoon, with the winner of the race presented with the Walter Hayes Trophy at a presentation on the podium overlooking the Heritage Pit Lane.

In a thrilling final last year, Graham Carroll swept to victory in a restarted race. The Scottish racer snatched victory with a well-controlled drive, after the race was halted early on. A crash on the penultimate lap saw Carroll unchallenged on the last lap, and he passed the chequered flag to score his first WHT victory, and the second for the Van Diemen manufacturer.

Carroll returns to defend his title this year, and will carry the number 1 on his car. However, his title assault will not be at the wheel of the car he drove last year, but a Firman RF1600 – one of the new creations from the Ralph Firman stable, the man behind the famous Van Diemen marque for so many years!

Carroll struggled during the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, but you can’t rule him out of contention this weekend based on his performance in Kent. A fresh engine, and testing here at Silverstone during the build-up to this event, will ensure that Carroll is in a strong position to defend his number. It will be a fascinating defence.

There is no shortage of front runners to talk about here in this preview. The Walter Hayes Trophy has again attracted the very cream of Formula Ford racing. Looking down the entry list in this programme, it is easy to pick out a potential twenty drivers who could win the coveted silverware this weekend. Two such drivers have travelled to Silverstone all the way from the United States to compete.

Kyle Kirkwood and Oliver Askew are the latest youngsters to visit Silverstone to represent the Team USA Scholarship squad. Each year two talented youngsters are scouted and trained in the USA, and picked to visit England to race in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy. The USA Scholarship, the brainchild of Jeremy Shaw, has rewarded the United States with three overall WHT victories. Kirkwood and Askew both showed talent at Brands in their Ray cars, overseen by Cliff Dempsey Racing, and should be ones to watch here.

Another North American visitor is Parker Thompson. Thompson has spent the 2016 season racing in the USF2000 Championship, and was very fast – but ultimately out of luck – at Brands Hatch. Thompson placed his name on the entry list just over a week ago, and is more than capable of winning the title in his Team Canada Scholarship Ray, another car overseen by the Cliff Dempsey Racing team.

Dominant winner of the Formula Ford Festival, and winner of the Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown and the BRSCC National Championship, Niall Murray will be another hard man to beat. The young Irish racer has Hayes experience from previous years, but this year his seasonal form has been such that he will certainly be in the mix on Sunday afternoon. Driving a Van Diemen RF99, Murray has his car overseen by Formula Ford category giant, Bernard Dolan – it has proved to be a strong combination.

Wayne Boyd and Joey Foster are both former winners of the event. Boyd triumphed here at Silverstone in heavy rain two years ago, while Foster, a three-time winner, has not tasted the victory champagne since 2005. Boyd will drive a Van Diemen for John Loebell’s Medina Sport team, while Foster will compete at the wheel of a Ray GR08 for Don Hardman’s squad.

Local support will be directed towards Michael Moyers, the Northamptonshire racer who has come so close to winning the Walter Hayes Trophy previously only to have victory snatched away in the Grand Final. Moyers rolled out of last year’s Final, after having led the race prior to its mid-race stoppage. Runner-up to Roger Orgee in the Castle Combe championship this year, Moyers has high hopes for success at his home track, and will be in action at the wheel of his regular Australian-manufactured Spectrum for the Kevin Mills Racing team. The Silverstone faithful will cheer long and hard should Moyers make the front at the end of Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Mills Racing will field two further Spectrums, one for Stuart Gough, a former BRSCC champion, and regular racer in FF1600 trophy events, and another for Scott Andrews. Andrews, from Australia, visited the Walter Hayes Trophy last year as the Canadian F1600 champion and after the post final exclusion of Peter Dempsey, found himself classified as a podium finisher in third.

Oliver White has been the class of the field at Brands Hatch this season, winning all four Champion of Brands races held to date. The Bath racer didn’t fare so well at the Festival, but will arrive here at Silverstone looking to put his season back on-track at the biggest Formula Ford event in the world. White is a two-time Grand Final podium finisher, and so has the experience to guide himself towards the front when it matters most.

Chase Owen and James Raven are two other multiple race winners from this season on the entry list. Owen is the BRSCC Northern champion and Raven has won National races as well as three Mountney SuperSeries for Formula Ford 1600 events. Raven won The Jim Walsh Trophy here on the Grand Prix Circuit in September. Both have their cars supplied and run by Cliff Dempsey Racing.

Ben Norton was the winner of the Castle Combe Carnival last month, and also the final round of the CCRC championship. The south coast racer will drive his regular Spectrum for the Castle Combe-based Wiltshire College squad, while Adam Higgins, Richard Higgins and their father, Bob, will also fly the Castle Combe flag. Brothers Josh and Felix Fisher will also be making the trip to Silverstone from the West Country.

Two of the teams that annually buy into the spirit of the Walter Hayes Trophy are Wayne Poole Racing and Souley Motorsport. The two teams will be running a combined total of fifteen cars in the event, while Pre ’90 winner from last year, Neil Tofts will race a Reynard 89FF for Enigma Motorsport.

Rob Hall, runner-up two years ago, has had a quiet season this year with his new Ray, but can’t be discounted here, while Ian Gough a man who has good WHT form will drive a Van Diemen for James Oldfield’s team.

Graham Brunton Racing will travel from Scotland with a number of cars including Sebastian Melrose and Jamie Thorburn, while star Formula Ford returnees, Kevin McGarrity and Bas Leinders are very welcome additions.

British GT racer, Robert Barrable, is another racer returning to Formula Ford especially for the WHT, while a very welcome name on the entry list is that of Neville Smyth. Smyth was the first Irish racer to visit the Walter Hayes Trophy in 2003, and since then has been a regular visitor to the event. Smyth is somewhat of a Silverstone favourite, and his entry after a two year absence from the cockpit is great for the event.

Also look out for Jonathan Miles, who travels from Australia to compete, Lorna Vickers, the regular driver of the McLaren Safety Car for the British GT Championship, WHT legend, Peter Daly, at the wheel of Dave Morgan’s Royale RP21, Peter Sikstrom from Sweden who takes nearly a week to drive here with his car on an open trailer, Sam Street who has rebuilt his car from a huge accident at Combe last month and the rare Rondeau of Thierry Boissiere.

Others to keep an eye open for are Philippe Le Nech, a regular in the Le Mans press office each year, Adam Fathers making a WHT debut in his first season of racing, former Pre’ 90 winner Richard Tarling in a Van Diemen RF80 and historic racers, Lukas Halusa who will drive a Souley Motorsport entry and Westie Mitchell in a Merlyn.

Local racers to cheer on include Calvert’s Daniel Hands, switching to FF1600 from an F3 car, Daniel O’Beirne who lives near Milton Keynes, and Buckingham-based Fox brothers Dan and Lewis. Dan will drive a PRS 81F, while Lewis will race the Van Diemen RF92 driven to Formula Ford Festival glory in 1992 by Jan Magnussen. The Fox brothers will be raising money for Sir Jackie Stewart’s Racing Against Dementia charity throughout the weekend, by carrying logos on their cars.

The 2016 Walter Hayes Trophy looks set to offer something quite special….. Hayes Fever is sweeping the land!