Home Featured Max Esterson wins frenetic opening Walter Hayes Trophy semi-final

Max Esterson wins frenetic opening Walter Hayes Trophy semi-final

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Ida Wood

Max Esterson prevailed in a four-way battle to win an eventful first Walter Hayes Trophy semi-final at Silverstone.

The Team USA scholar finished just a tenth of a second ahead of Team Dolan’s Chris Middlehurst, with Kevin Mills Racing’s Tom Mills and Oldfield Motorsport’s Lucas Romanek just behind.

Esterson beat poleman Middlehurst away at the start to lead for Low Dempsey Racing, with Joey Foster and Team Dolan’s Matt Cowley retaining third and fourth.

Cowley took third exiting Luffield on lap two, before Foster regained the position into Brooklands next time by, but Cowley again managed to move ahead.

Middlehurst took the lead away from Esterson at Brooklands on lap five as, just behind, Mills got involved in a three-way battle behind and ended up making contact with Cowley who got crossed up and collided with Foster. The latter lost his nose cone and several places, while Cowley spun down the order.

Esterson regained first place from Middlehurst at Brooklands on lap eight, the pair joined by Mills, who had climbed from 13th on the grid, and Romanek.

Mills moved up the inside of Middlehurst into second with four laps remaining, but then lost out the BRSCC National Formula Ford 1600 champion at Luffield the next lap.

The positions remained the same until the finish, with the top four separated by 0.8s at the chequered flag.

Racing returnee Jonny McMullan came from 10th on the grid to beat a train of seven cars to fifth place for B-M Racing, 0.1s ahead of Team DDR’s David McCullough.

KMR’s Megan Gilkes had an eventful race, losing places from fifth on the grid by running wide on lap one. After coming out on top when battling with Luke Cooper, she came home seventh ahead of B-M’s David McArthur. 

Felix Fisher only made the semi-final by winning the Progression and Last Chance races, and climbed from 27th to finish ninth to progress to the final.

Foster finished 10th despite his car damage, while Cooper ended up 11th ahead of the recovering Cowley.

Ivor McCullough had been involved in the battle for fifth until a late spin dropped him to 13th. KMR’s Nick Gilkes was 17th, while PWR1’s James Clarke was the last qualifier for the final in 18th.

Race results (12 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Max Esterson Low Dempsey Racing 12m29.045s
2 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan +0.138s
3 Tom Mills Kevin Mills Racing +0.283s
4 Lucas Romanek Oldfield Motorsport +0.784s
5 Jonny McMullan B-M Racing +7.630s
6 David McCullough Team DDR +7.732s
7 Megan Gilkes Kevin Mills Racing +8.327s
8 David McArthur B-M Racing +8.856s
9 Felix Fisher TM Racing +9.733s
10 Joey Foster Don Hardman Racing +9.898s
11 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper +11.030s
12 Matt Cowley Team Dolan +13.215s
13 Ivor McCullough Team DDR +13.658s
14 Lewis Fox Team Fox Racing +14.098s
15 Callum Grant Nigel Grant Motorsport +14.307s
16 Brandon McCaughan Hugh Ried Racing +14.437s
17 Nick Gilkes Kevin Mills Racing +14.462s
18 James Clarke PWR1 Racing +14.685s
19 Tom Hawkins Springbridge Motorsport +14.961s
20 Adam Higgins Riadro Motorsport +18.943s
21 Cameron Jackson Neil Fowler Motorsport +24.028s
22 Alex Ames SEMA Racing +24.080s
23 Richard Higgins Riadro Motorsport +24.424s
24 Robert Wainwright +24.591s
25 Darwin Smith +26.252s
26 Adam Fathers AF Racing +27.562s
27 Matthew Wrigley +29.148s
28 Joe Porter Porter Motorsport +33.242s
29 Ian Schofield +33.686s
30 Molly Dodd Simon Hadfield Motorsport +34.070s
31 Westie Mitchell +34.662s
32 Joseph Ahrens Enigma Motorsport +39.330s
33 James Colborn Wayne Poole Racing +39.548s
34 Stephen Bracegirdle Wayne Poole Racing +49.828s
Ret Jaap Blijleven UCLan
Ret Alex Fores Enigma Motorsport
Fastest lap: Mills, 1m01.471s