CARROLL CHANGES ENGINE AFTER WOEFUL FESTIVAL
Defending winner hopes new powerplant will bring him Walter Hayes victory
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.
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.”
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