National reports: Silverstone; Brands Hatch
THE SAYING GOES THAT IF AT FIRST you don’t succeed, try and try again. For Michael Moyers, those words have never held truer meaning. On three occasions the 32-year-old had led the Walter Hayes Trophy finale, and each time bad luck or a blip in concentration had cost him the prize he craved the most.
That was before a last-lap pass on Castle Combe Formula Ford rival Josh Fisher in a dramatic and heated 2017 final secured an emotional and popular win.
“It feels like the weight of the world is off my shoulders. It’s not going to get any better than this and I’m going to let this sink in,” said Moyers.
“I think it has helped, to be honest [not thinking about winning]; it’s been kind of in the back of my head. I wanted to win the race but it was more of a subconscious thought. My primary objective was to enjoy myself and race hard.”
The 2017 edition of the Hayes looked like it might follow in similar fashion to previous failed attempts for Moyers. He excelled on the Saturday with pole for his heat on a wet but drying Silverstone National circuit before dominating the race to win by more than four seconds – the biggest margin of victory across all six heats.
The Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum
011C driver didn’t have everything his own way in the semi-final, however, enduring a race-long duel with recent Formula Ford Festival winner Joey Foster.
Victory for Moyers slipped through his fingers on the last lap as he misjudged his braking and ran slightly wide through Brooklands, handing the win to Foster. The loss of victory would have further
implications as that turned pole position for the final into third place, with Foster on pole and Fisher in second.
It was Fisher’s Van Diemen RF99 that got the jump off the line and led the field through the opening tour as poleman Foster’s Ray GR08 dropped to fourth behind Oliver White (Medina Sport JL17) and Moyers, and White stormed to the lead on the second lap with a pass around the outside into Brooklands.
For the next 11 laps of the 15-lap final, White, who has twice finished runner-up in the Hayes, held the chasing pack led by Fisher and Moyers at bay, aided by yellow flags at Brooklands for three laps.
The warning flags were the legacy of a spin for Stuart Gough aboard another Kevin Mills Spectrum, which triggered a crash between Cameron Jackson and brothers David and Thomas Mcarthur, the latter sent into a spectacular barrel roll that caused significant damage to his Van Diemen LA10 but no injury to the driver.
As the yellows were brought in on lap 10, Foster’s charge in fourth ended, a disintegrating distributor forcing him into the pits and retirement.
For two laps in succession Fisher tried unsuccessfully to sweep around the outside of White at Brooklands, their roles reversed from their semi-final, where Fisher had kept White at bay.
But with so much at stake, the inevitable happened on the penultimate lap. Fisher went to the outside at the end of the Wellington Straight, the rear-left of his Van Diemen making contact with the front-right of
White’s Medina Sport.
Moyers took his chance to move into second behind Fisher, while chaos ensued in the pack. White’s damaged car slowed into Luffield and was hit from behind by James Raven, with Josh Smith collecting the Medina, and both Smith and White retiring.
But all eyes were on the front of the field heading onto the last lap. With a great run onto the back straight, Moyers
took the lead just before the waved yellows at Brooklands, allowing him to secure a long-overdue Hayes victory.
“When I saw the three cars had broken away I thought, ‘I’m going to watch this for a few laps’, because I could see contact happening,” said Moyers.
“I nearly got drawn into it myself and then I saw my pit board said one lap to go and I thought, ‘Right, this is the lap’. I got a really good run out of Becketts and I was already ahead before the yellows.”
In contrast to Moyers’s joy, there was bitter disappointment for Fisher, who has now finished on the Hayes podium four times, but never on the coveted first step. An appeal against Moyers’s overtake failed and the 2017 Castle
Combe FF1600 champion was left to rue what could have been.
“Michael got the tow on me on the last lap and for me there was yellow flags out, he was pulling alongside but I wouldn’t say he was ahead [before them],” said the Wayne Poole Racing driver. “I didn’t even know it was the last lap. But I spoke to Michael after the race, shook his hand, agreed it was a cracking race and said, ‘What will be will be.’”
Raven’s Ray managed to hold onto third place – ahead of Kevin O’hara and
Chris Middlehurst (both in Van Diemens) – and he was rewarded with a Mazda
Road to Indy Shootout ticket as a result of being the first eligible driver across the line.
Sixth went to the Ray of Team USA scholar Jonathan Kotyk, ahead of Luke Cooper, whose Swift was battling a misfire all weekend. Matt Round-garrido, winner of heat one, took eighth aboard his
Medina Sport JL17, while Kevin Mills Racing team-mates Roger Orgee and Michael Eastwell completed the top 10.
While most of the pre-event favourites
comfortably made it into the final, others weren’t so lucky. Last year’s winner Niall Murray was involved in a crash with Sebastian Melrose in semi-final one, while 2017 National FF1600 champion Luke Williams finished eighth in heat five, but pulled out of the event citing engine problems for his Firman.
But for Moyers, such problems never plagued him for once on an almost perfect weekend. “I had a feeling that this was going to be our time,” said the delighted winner. “I got my head down and did my job.”
Fisher led Hayes final on opening lap before White (#94) passed him
Moyers (#25) passed Fisher on last lap
Fisher takes the lead of final from Foster (#155)
Tom Mcarthur is sent spinning through the air after contact in Hayes final