De­fend­ing win­ner hopes new pow­er­plant will bring him Wal­ter Hayes vic­tory

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Jack Benyon

Reign­ing Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy win­ner Gra­ham Car­roll is hop­ing a new en­gine sup­plier will help him to chal­lenge for vic­tory on this year’s event.

Last year Car­roll re­turned af­ter a lengthy ab­sence to win the WHT in a Me­d­ina Mo­tor­sport Van Diemen run by BM Rac­ing. But the Scot has been de­vel­op­ing Ralph Fir­man’s new Fir­man RF1600 car this year, and a trou­ble­some de­vel­op­ment pe­riod cul­mi­nated with an off-the-pace per­for­mance at the For­mula Ford Fes­ti­val due to a strug­gling en­gine. His team-mate, Luke Wil­liams, was a fron­trun­ner in the event.

“It should def­i­nitely be bet­ter than Brands,” said Car­roll. “We’ve got a new en­gine, we’ve gone back to a guy in Ire­land who used to build our en­gines. I think the en­gine Ralph uses is a new guy on the block, and these guys in Ire­land have been do­ing it for years. The car was good at Brands, but when I put my foot down I could just feel peo­ple driv­ing away from me.”

Stephen Pat­ton is the builder primed with con­struct­ing Car­roll’s en­gine. His en­gines pow­ered Car­roll to his 2008 na­tional ti­tle, and would have won that year’s Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy too, had it not been for an er­ror from Car­roll when lead­ing the fi­nal that handed the win to Team USA Schol­ar­ship driver Conor Daly.

Boyd is back

Car­roll was a returnee last year, while Wayne Boyd was the favourite for vic­tory af­ter win­ning the 2015 Fes­ti­val. Now Boyd is back at the WHT af­ter miss­ing the Fes­ti­val through his Euro­pean Le Mans Se­ries LMP3 com­mit­ments.

“I did test John Loe­bell’s Van Diemen at Sil­ver­stone a cou­ple of months ago, so it is not like I haven’t had any prepa­ra­tion, but there has been noth­ing re­cently,” said Boyd. “It was a shame to miss the For­mula Ford Fes­ti­val – it is an event I love. I was com­mit­ted to rac­ing in LMP3 in the ELMS in Por­tu­gal. I was put in for the first stint, which I didn’t mind – it meant I got out of the car and was able to fol­low the Fes­ti­val on live tim­ing on the web, which I did.

“The Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy al­ways seems to throw to­gether the best in the cat­e­gory, and if you look at the en­try list this year, there are about 20 guys who are in with a chance of win­ning it. It is an ex­cep­tional event and so long as my cal­en­dar is free, it is one that I will al­ways try to do.”

The cat­e­gory’s best

As part of what Boyd la­bels “the best in the cat­e­gory” is a num­ber of po­ten­tial con­tenders.

Last year’s run­ner-up and podium fin­ish­ers Oliver White and Scott An­drews both re­turn, while fron­trun­ners James Raven (Cliff Dempsey Rac­ing) and Michael Moy­ers (Kevin Mills Rac­ing) both re­turn af­ter col­lid­ing in the fi­nal last year. Niall Mur­ray is fresh off a dom­i­nant For­mula Ford Fes­ti­val win and will be tough to beat af­ter driv­ing away from the other con­tenders at Brands Hatch.

Three-time Wal­ter Hayes Tro­phy win­ner Joey Fos­ter suf­fered a lack­lus­tre Fes­ti­val, but per­forms well at the Hayes. Oliver Askew – part of the Team USA Schol­ar­ship scheme – also im­pressed at the Fes­ti­val, and has com­pleted hun­dreds of laps in the last month ready for the WHT.

One in­trigu­ing en­try is Stu­art Gough, who will re­turn to a Kevin Mills-run car for the first time since 2004. Hav­ing not won the WHT in his 12 at­tempts so far, he be­lieves that his Spec­trum this year will be his most com­pet­i­tive car. The team has won twice using the Aus­tralian chas­sis.

The in­trigu­ing bat­tle of Kevin Mcgar­rity and Bas Lein­ders, who fought for the 1995 Bri­tish For­mula Ford Cham­pi­onship, will no doubt prove spec­tac­u­lar. The two will have Ray GR15S from the Gra­ham Brun­ton sta­ble to do bat­tle.

Robert Barrable re­turns to a fa­mil­iar car, which has been raced by Jor­dan Dempsey this year. The sev­enth-place fin­isher from last year has been kept sharp with a Bri­tish GT cam­paign this year in GT4, and should be in tune with his car quickly. Dempsey takes over the Mo­tor­sport Ire­land Van Diemen LA10, which should have been cam­paigned by Jake Byrne. He pulled out of the pro­gramme mid-sea­son, and Dempsey took over for the Fes­ti­val and WHT. Byrne, who fin­ished in the top 10 at the Fes­ti­val this year, misses the event to at­tend a col­lege grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony.

Small mar­gins

With many fac­tors in the event stay­ing the same, there is a small change to the reg­u­la­tions on min­i­mum weight in the cars.

Pre­vi­ously the WHT was a 420kg min­i­mum, car only. Now the min­i­mum weight is 500kg for car and driver, which brings it in line with the cur­rent BRSCC FF1600 reg­u­la­tions.

“I’m in line with every­body else at 500 ki­los now,” said event or­gan­iser James Beck­ett. “The Hayes has al­ways been car only at 420kg. I’ve al­ways run the event mostly to the Ford [BRSCC Na­tional se­ries] tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions and now we’re fully in line with that.”

There will also be an ex­tra race this year, squeezed into the timetable just be­fore the fi­nal to give elim­i­nated cars ex­tra track time.

“We’ve added a race for the top 36 Post-’89 cars that don’t make the grand fi­nal,” added Beck­ett. “It gives them an­other chance to have a race.”

Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey

Boyd (r) con­grat­u­lates Car­roll in 2015 Mur­ray: Favourite af­ter Fes­ti­val Joey Fos­ter will look to re­bound af­ter poor Fes­ti­val Raven re­turns to the WHT with Cliff Dempsey Rac­ing Car­roll topped last year’s Wal­ter Hayes

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