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Classic Formula Ford Features Walter Hayes Trophy

Racing a Kenny Acheson tribute car in front of Kenny Acheson himself

When Warren Hughes agreed to race Jonathan Lewis’s Royale RP26 in Kenny Acheson’s colours, he did not realise he would be competing in front of Acheson himself.

He had already qualified in seventh spot for the Carl Hamer pre-final at this weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy when the Northern Irish former F1 driver showed up.

According to Hughes, it was Acheson’s wife who saw the Royale mentioned in a news article and told him about it.

Hughes had a chat with Acheson in the garages before the Carl Hamer Trophy pre-final.

“It’s not the same car, ” clarified Hughes. “It’s almost a tribute car”.

“He still owns the original car. He’s got quite a few of his old cars. His old F3 car and a Sauber Group C car as well.”

It’s mega that Jonathan (Lewis)’s done this and brought it to the Walter Hayes, because it’s attracted the interest from people like Kenny.”

Acheson was around to watch “his” car in action.

“It’s really flattering that someone thought about putting the car in my colours,” he commented on Saturday.

Despite his ownership of several classics, it seems he hasn’t had them out to play for a while.

“This is the first time I’ve seen Formula Ford running in probably 25, 30 years.

“It’s still the heartbeat of the sport and it’s really nice that it’s the same thing that I did when I was a kid.”

Hughes, who has largely retired from active competition but still remains very active as a test driver and driver coach, described the Royale as “great fun”. He finished eighth in the pre-final and fifth in the pre-’82 final, despite his last time in a single-seater being “probably Formula 3000 back in 2000.”

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Uncategorized Walter Hayes Trophy

Harrison wins Carl Hamer Trophy by the tip of a whisker

Samuel Harrison has claimed his second Walter Hayes race win of the weekend by the tiniest of margins from Richard Tarling.

Harrison, driving for Classic Team Merlyn for the first time this weekend, was just 0.004s ahead of Tarling’s Jamun T2 on the line, with the timing system itself having trouble separating them and initially having Tarling as the winner.

The pair were locked in a fierce slipstreaming contest for the entire race, with Tarling getting the better start, but Harrison catching him immediately. Tarling, who has been out of the car for over a year suffering from post-Covid syndrome, was back to his competitive best, always looking to neutralise any advantage gained by Harrison and get his car’s nose in front. Harrison had to show great maturity and calm to weather the onslaught, especially in a still relatively-unfamiliar car.

Ed Thurston was third, driving Chris Porritt’s Merlyn Mk20. He surprised everyone with a huge attack at Brooklands midway through, surging past Tarling and Harrison from third place, then leading a lap to the delight of spectators. Tarling was the first to reclaim his spot from the interloper as Harrison ran wide at Becketts, but he also got his place back. Thurston was third, just over a tenth behind Tarling.

Fourth place was taken by Patrick McKenna, who had been an integral part of the lead group for much of the race. He did make a bid for the lead early on, but was headed off by Tarling. Driving a Crossle 35F run by Mike Gardner, he was the fastest driver on track on paper.

A pair of Royales followed, with Rick Morris’s RP29 on the gearbox of Warren Hughes’s RP26. Both had made progress from eighth and ninth on the grid, with Morris attacking well. Westie Mitchell (Merlyn Mk20) was seventh after a solid race, and Joseph Ahrens was eighth in Tarling’s Van Diemen RF80, having had a better final than pre-final.

The top ten was completed by Peter Barrable’s RP26 and Molly Dodd in Mandie Hadfield’s Merlyn. Dodd had been making good progress up the field, but heavy contact with George Ditchfield’s Elden at Brooklands sent her plummeting down the order. She did well to recover as well as she did, building a big gap to her Simon Hadfield Motorsport team-mate Alex Spooner. He was eleventh in a Hawke previously raced by James Hadfield. Their team-mate Ben Stone, in the Titan raced by Tom McArthur this season, was quick but dropped from fifth to 13th.

Henry Chart was expected to be a major factor in the lead battle in his Van Diemen RF81, but after a brief challenge for the podium, he dropped back and eventually retired.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image copyright Nigel Tye

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Walter Hayes Trophy

McCaughan wins Janet Cesar Trophy

Brandon McCaughan has won the Janet Cesar Trophy for pre-’93 cars convincingly after favoured pre-final winner James Tucker faltered.

McCaughan, driving a Mondiale M89S, was a consistent part of the leading group with Tucker, in a 1992 Van Diemen, and Ben Tinkler’s Reynard 89FF, but he did not stamp his dominance on proceedings until quite late in the race. It was extremely tight between the lead trio until McCaughan got on the front of the pack, triggering a counter-attack from Tucker which only lasted until Jordan Harrison, also in an 89FF made a lunge from fourth and unsettled the leaders. He briefly led but it was a short-lived thing, and when the pack settled once more, McCaughan was leading and did not look back.

Tinkler looked extremely strong in the first half of the race and led several laps, as well as creating some major slipstreaming action with the other two chief protagonists. He did very well to fend off the attentions of Cam Jackson in the closing corners; Jackson nosed his Van Diemen RF90 past Tinkler but Tinkler retook his place just in time and closed the door.

Jackson had started from 19th on the grid after his coming-together with McCaughan in the pre-final. He quickly made progress into the top ten but it was only in the final laps that he added himself to the leading group, almost within attacking distance of the front on the last lap. He was the only driver to dip under the 1:03 mark in terms of lap times and McCaughan really had to pull it out of the bag to keep clear.

Tucker was fourth, nipping at Jackson’s heels as he passed. He actually led most of the race, but was shuffled to the back of the leading pack during Harrison’s attack and lost ground to his two main rivals. His battles with Tinkler were some of the early highlights of the race.

Dropping back after his late grab for the lead, Harrison was fifth. His pass at Brooklands drew gasps from the crowd, but he was not quite able to make it stick long-term. He was running in third until he was passed by Tinkler and Jackson in quick succession. In turn, Nathan Ward (Swift SC92) was a tenth behind Harrison, with a closing Benn Tilley, driving a Van Diemen RF86 for the first time this weekend, in seventh. Tilley had had a somewhat lonely race, but caught up the leaders at the end.

The second pack was very close together and Robert Wainwright’s Mondiale was only just behind Tilley. Richard Higgins (Van Diemen RF88) brought up the rear of that group, several full seconds ahead of tenth-placed Joe Watts’s 1992 Van Diemen.

Darwin Smith was expected to be a major factor in his RF90 but had to retire. Having recorded a DNF in the pre-final, he started at the back, but collided with Paul Tucker’s Swift on the first lap.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image copyright Karen Kissane

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Classic Formula Ford Historic Formula Ford Walter Hayes Trophy

First win for Samuel Harrison in Carl Hamer pre-final

Samuel Harrison has taken his first Formula Ford win in the qualifying race for tomorrow’s Carl Hamer Trophy, from sixth on the grid.

The regular HSCC frontrunner was having his first outing in a Merlyn Mk20: the car raced by championship runner-up Horatio Fitz-Simon this year, no less.

Harrison was locked in a near race-long drafting battle with 2017 Historic champion Richard Tarling, back in his Jamun T2, and Henry Chart, whose Van Diemen RF81 was familiar to Harrison from his appearances in Classic Formula Ford.

Tarling was the quickest off the line and shot past polesitter Chart, setting up the first part of the rivalry. This was in spite of a rush engine change, as a misfire had bent the valves in the Jamun’s engine. By the end of the lap they had been joined by a charging Harrison, just behind them in third. Chart and Tarling initially had the upper hand and exchanged the lead at almost every corner, with Harrison muscling in on the action fairly quickly.

The pivotal moment for the leading group came during the final lap, when Chart spun and dropped to fourth. Harrison seized his chance and put some space between himself and Tarling, holding on for the win.

Patrick McKenna, driving a Crossle 35F for Mike Gardner, was third. He overhauled FF1600 newcomer Molly Dodd early on and stayed within sight of the leaders. Dodd herself was holding her own in the second group with McKenna, Westie Mitchell and Ed Thurston (both in Merlyns), but a late spin at Brooklands dropped her Merlyn right to the back. She fought back to 18th.

Thurston and Mitchell were sixth and seventh, behind another newcomer, Ben Stone, driving the Titan Mk4 raced by Tom McArthur in Historics this season. Stone, who had only ever raced Radicals before, made his way into the top five from tenth on the grid.

A trio of Royales followed, starting with the Kenny Acheson tribute RP26 driven by former BTCC and Le Mans racer Warren Hughes. Rick Morris was next in his familiar RP29, having made up a good few places from 15th. Completing an RP26 sandwich was Peter Barrable in tenth place.

Kelvin Burt, driving the Van Diemen RF80 used by Roberto Moreno and the Formula Ford Festival, got caught up in a three-car collision at Brooklands early on and had to retire. Peter Sikstrom’s RF79 followed him.

Full results at TSL Timing

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Uncategorized Walter Hayes Trophy

Tucker takes the long route to the win in the Janet Cesar pre-final

James Tucker has won the Janet Cesar Trophy pre-final, but did not make it easy for himself.

The Van Diemen RF92 driver was the quickest of the pre-’93 field during the qualifying heats but he faced a massive challenge from Darwin Smith, who shot to the front from fourth on the grid, dropping Tucker into a four-car scramble for second. He did get on to the tail of Smith’s RF90 but could not quite pass, but in the end he did not need to anyway, as Smith’s wheel came off and he had to retire mid-way through the race.

By the end, Tucker had pulled away slightly from the pack, which consisted of Ben Tinkler’s Wolfe Reynard 89FF and young Irish driver Brandon McCaughan in a Mondiale, who got a great start from 12th on the grid. They were second and third respectively. For most of the race, they were joined by Cam Jackson in another RF90, having made up several positions in the opening laps. He ran as high as second before being clouted by McCaughan, who out-braked himself and spun but was able to carry on. Jackson finished, but a long way down in 19th place.

Jordan Harrison, driving an 89FF for the first time in competition, kept up with the leaders admirably to finish fourth, narrowly ahead of Nathan Ward’s Swift and fellow Classic title-winner Benn Tilley in a Van Diemen RF86.

Richard Higgins’s 1988 Van Diemen was next over the line, then eighth-placed Robert Wainwright in a Mondiale. There was then another big gap before Jaap Blijleven (Reynard 88F)Gaius Ghinn appeared. Ghinn had done well to recover from a spin at Brooklands in his 1991 Van Diemen.

Matt Wrigley narrowly missed out on the top ten, finishing just 0.255s behind Ghinn in his Reynard 89FF.

Previous Carl Hamer Trophy winner Alex Fores did not finish, having got his Jamun caught up in a three-car pile-up at Brooklands in the opening lap. Alex Ames lost a wheel from his Reynard in the same incident.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image copyright Tucker Motorsport

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Classic Formula Ford Features Historic Formula Ford HSCC Walter Hayes Trophy

Walter Hayes Trophy: historic ones to watch

The Walter Hayes Trophy is set to begin in just over twelve hours. The last entries are in, heat draws are done and cars are ready.

There’s a strong Historic and Classic contingent in both the main draw and the two pre-’93 finals. Here are Vintage Formula Ford’s top names to look out for.

Samuel Harrison (Merlyn Mk20)

Harrison has landed a really good drive with Classic Team Merlyn, using the same car that took Horatio Fitz-Simon to second in the Historic FF1600 championship. He has been testing the car today and is really happy with how it drives. The Yorkshire teenager has become a much more consistent driver in the second half of the season and with such a good car underneath him, will be looking for a win.

Ed Thurston (Merlyn Mk20)

Thurston has won the Carl Hamer Trophy before, triumphing in 2018 in a Classic Team Merlyn Mk20 like the one that Harrison will be racing. This time, he has taken over Chris Porritt’s Mk20 for the weekend. The car has recovered from its off at the Silverstone Finals and Thurston will be his usual competitive self on a track he likes. His only disadvantage will be his lack of single-seater seat time this year.

Jordan Harrison (Reynard 89FF)

As long as it stays dry, Harrison will be tenacious and very quick around the National loop. The 2021 Classic champion has never raced the 89FF before, but he has had time to test the car, which belongs to Mark Bates. He will be renewing his rivalry with Cam Jackson, also in action in the Janet Cesar Trophy in a Van Diemen RF90, and Ben Tinkler in a similar 89FF. If the track is wet, he may struggle.

Molly Dodd (Merlyn Mk20)

The WHT will be FF2000 racer Molly Dodd’s debut in a FF1600 car, although she has been testing and impressing Simon Hadfield, who will run her this weekend in his wife Mandie’s car. Going from a winged car to the aero-unassisted Merlyn has been a challenge, as Dodd has had to get used to sliding, but she is thoroughly enjoying the adventure. Her cheerful refusal to be intimidated by anyone on track will really help her.

Mark Armstrong (Van Diemen RF85?)

2019 Classic champion Armstrong is a very late entry but he has run well at the WHT in the past, qualifying for the final. He is running as a team-mate to Dodd with Simon Hadfield. Although he has done very little racing in the last 18 months, having sold his own Van Diemen, he has plenty of experience of the track itself, having served as chief instructor at Silverstone’s racing school.

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News Walter Hayes Trophy

Jackson to race ex-Neil Cunningham Van Diemen at the Walter Hayes

Cam Jackson is set to race a Van Diemen RF90 first used by Neil Cunningham at this weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy.

2021 HSCC Historic Formula Ford champion Jackson will be entered for both the Trophy itself and the Janet Cesar Trophy for pre-’93 cars.

The car is owned by Dave Morgan and was instrumental in multi-champion Cunningham’s early success, taking him to fifth place in the 1991 Formula Ford Great Britain championship with Morgan’s Central Racing Services team. It was also the last car that he drove competitively before his death from motor neurone disease in 2016; he made a guest appearance in the Formula Ford SuperSeries at Donington in 2011.

Jackson commented that this is “about the only era of Formula Ford I haven’t raced,” having won both Historic and Classic titles and also raced more modern machinery at the WHT itself. His only experience in a 1990s car is some testing in the Lanan 1904 belonging to his father Simon, who will also be in action in the Janet Cesar Trophy.

The Lanan will not be the only car Jackson potentially races against which he has driven. The Van Diemen RF80 he drove in Classic Formula Ford last year will be out again, this time in the hands of sportscar ace Kelvin Burt. Formula 1 and Indycar driver Roberto Moreno drove the car at the Formula Ford Festival.

(Image copyright Heroes of FF1600)