Autosport (UK)

HAYWARD ENJOYS A WINNING RETURN IN CLUBMANS

- STEPHEN LICKORISH

CLUBMANS

Former Clubmans champion Michelle Hayward enjoyed a winning return to racing at Donington Park earlier this month on her first weekend back following cancer treatment.

Hayward won the CSP2 title in 2018, 2021 and 2022 before stepping up to the top CSP1 division last year. But she had to miss April’s season-opener at Silverston­e while she recovered from surgery, with Tom Commander instead piloting the upgraded Phantom P82TR.

Hayward was instantly on the pace upon her return in Leicesters­hire, qualifying on pole and winning the opener. “I’m totally stoked for getting back after everything I’ve been through and to put it on pole and win my first race – I’m chuffed to bits,” said Hayward, who added that the off-season tweaks had made a significan­t difference. “Last year, we were struggling for rear-end grip and downforce.”

Hayward’s weekend then turned sour when she suffered brake failure while leading race two. Fortunatel­y, she was able to scrub some speed by taking to the gravel rather than trying to make the corner, but hitting the barriers still ended her event early. “Having brake failure at 130mph into the chicane was a scary moment,” she said. “Quite often when you start losing the brakes, the pedal starts to go long. But I had no warning.”

The bolt that held the rear caliper together had completely sheared, while a brake bias problem meant the front brakes did not work either, so an upgrade is now planned and Hayward seeks to enjoy more success in the rest of the season.

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