Norton and Andrews headline the bad luck club at this year’s Walter Hayes
“I wasn’t really expecting the contact, and it was bloody scary when it came!” said Ben Norton of his Heat One clash with Team USA’S Kyle Kirkwood. The American had spun him out of the lead as the pair headed toward Brooklands, sending Norton’s Spectrum sliding back across the track. Miraculously, everyone missed him.
The WHT hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Norton recently, and this incident followed his elimination in last year’s Semi Final after a similar clash with a Team USA car.
“I was slipstreaming Ben and then he moved left and closed the door, so I tried to move right but caught him,” said Kirkwood, who finished the race 16th with Norton’s exhaust silencer wedged underneath his front-left suspension.
They were joined in Sunday morning’s Progression race by a host of other top names that had all fallen foul of lady luck. After two clashes at the Festival, Stephen Daly hit oil into Becketts in Heat Six and ended up vaulting over the nose of James Raven’s car.
Joining them at the back was works Spectrum driver Scott Andrews, who suffered a dismal weekend that started with a gearbox failure in his heat, and Scotsman Jamie Thorburn, whose engine exploded in his.
Kirkwood made a flying start from ninth to lead by the end of the first lap, as Norton jumped from 18th to second. Kirkwood pulled clear as Andrews and Norton fought. Andrews drew ahead, but Norton pounced when he was delayed by traffic in the last corner. Daly took fourth ahead of Raven and Thorburn.
That put the six survivors onto the back of the 36-car Last Chance Race, with the top 18 heading to the semis.
This time Andrews made the best start, to run 17th early on before working his way through to the lead with a fine move around the outside of Bob Higgins at Luffield. Daly followed him up the order to snatch second ahead of Kirkwood and Norton. Raven and Thorburn also qualified for the semis in seventh and eighth.
Sadly things turned sour for both Norton and Andrews shortly after. Andrews failed to make the final after being spun out of his semi, and then retired with damage in the Consolation race ( see below). Norton did make the final, but opted to withdraw fearing damage in the difficult conditions.