Most of the main contenders successfully navigate eventful semi-final contests held in tricky conditions
For those who falter on the first day of the WHT, Sunday morning provides an opportunity for redemption. Unusually, only three drivers of note needed the get out of jail card afforded by the repechage system.
Josh Fisher and Sebastian Job made short work of getting to the front of the Progression race, and were making serene progress to the next stage until contact at Brooklands on the final lap caused Job to spin, but he retained second.
Job tracked Fisher through the Last Chance race, too, but this time behind Matt Cowley, who had earlier outbraked Jack Kemp’s Ray at Becketts to take the lead.
The trio safely moved into the semi-finals, but Job’s progress – and his first season of racing – ended in the first last-72 race, with an early off at Becketts causing gearbox damage.
One of the heat winners was also eliminated in that contest. A distributor issue prevented Felix Fisher from taking the restart of a race halted when Vincent Jay’s Ray became stranded at Maggotts. Before the red flag he had survived a collision with Stuart Gough, who in turn had been touched by Luke Cooper on the approach to Becketts. Gough was also ruled out.
In the first part of the race Michael Eastwell made rapid progress from row three to be second by the end of the opening lap, but he was stymied by a breakage inside a spark plug and he could salvage only 12th. Meanwhile, Michael Moyers continued his strong campaign with a clear win over Jordan Dempsey – who started from row six and did most of the hard work before the stoppage – and James Clarke, who was only one place ahead of the Irishman on the original grid.
Most impressive of all, though, was Cowley, up from 28th to take fourth position on the third of four laps in part two of the race, demoting heat one winner Chris Middlehurst, who was struggling for grip as the rain fell.
The second semi-final didn’t result in any high profile departures, but two of the three heat winners were left dissatisfied. The one that wasn’t was Julian van der Watt, who sealed the lead at Becketts on the opening lap and held it until he lost it to Jake Craig there on the final lap, only for the American to spin down to 11th position at Brooklands, handing the South African victory.
Ollie White was runner-up from Tom Mcarthur, Nico Gruber and Josh Smith, but fifth heat winner Rory Smith had looked set to take second for much of the race. On lap seven he edged Joey Foster onto the grass at Copse, causing the Firman to jump out of gear and the Cornishman to drop back to seventh. Two laps later, Smith went wide there himself and spun, eventually recovering to 10th.
Two places ahead of him, Roger Orgee finished eighth having earlier made “the worst start of my career” to drop into the frantic scrap for the minor placings, from which he never emerged. Josh Fisher’s progress stuttered, but he survived to take 14th after a bash from a remorseful Colin Mullan.