Home Featured Middlehurst wins dramatic Walter Hayes Trophy final

Middlehurst wins dramatic Walter Hayes Trophy final

by Steve Whitfield

Photo: Ida Wood

Team Dolan’s Chris Middlehurst took victory in a wild Walter Hayes Trophy grand final which was red-flagged halfway through and featured a lead clash.

Middlehurst led home KMR Sport duo Michael Eastwell and Andrew Rackstraw in the restarted nine-lap contest, with Eastwell having earlier been involved in a collision which put Simon Hadfield Motorsport’s Michael Moyers out.

There was drama even before the start, with Wayne Poole Racing’s Josh Fisher demoted further from 18th on the grid to 24th after his penalty for a semi-final collision with Jason Smyth and Rory Smith was doubled to 10 seconds.

Alex Ames pulled out before the start, having been due to line up 15th, with a pre-race rain shower leaving the circuit wet.

Eastwell that made good use of pole position to lead into Copse from Middlehurst, who was given a slight nudge from behind by Moyers.

Foster maintained fourth but then found himself sandwiched between Julian Van der Watt and Andrew Rackstraw into Brooklands but remained ahead.

Middlehurst got sideways on the outside of Becketts on lap two, allowing Moyers to briefly draw alongside. After tucking back in behind, Moyers then capitalised on Middlehurst getting out of shape under braking for Brooklands to sweep around the outside, completing the move despite a moment of his own on a wet kerb.

As the cars bunched up behind them, Van der Watt ended up off the road at Luffield and dropped to the rear of the field.

Foster meanwhile nipped inside Middlehurst before moving alongside Moyers through Woodcote, with Middlehurst making it three-wide as they completed the second lap. Moyers prevailed to hold on to second into Copse, while Team Dolan’s Jonathan Kotyk spun while trying to pass Rackstraw for fifth.

Foster made another bid for second at Brooklands but got ran wide, allowing Middlehurst to challenge him into Luffield, but Foster used the inside line to remain ahead.

The squabble for second increased to four cars as Rackstraw joined the action, while Eastwell pulled out a one-second lead at the front.

The battle settled down over the next couple of laps, allowing the second-placed train to close back in on Eastwell before a number of incidents further down the field caused the safety car to be deployed before officials decided to red flag proceedings.

Ammonite Motorsport’s Hugh Esterson retired in the gravel at Luffield, while Lewis Fox and Isaac Canto da Silva’s races ended at Brooklands.

Following a short delay the action was restarted in improved conditions, with Eastwell repeating his earlier start to lead once more with Moyers slotting into second ahead of Foster, while Middlehurst dropped behind Rackstraw and Luke Cooper into fifth.

Moyers dived inside Eastwell to snatch the lead at Brooklands, with Eastwell then fighting back through Luffield and Woodcote. Remaining wheel-to-wheel, the pair collided into Copse, with Moyers becoming slightly airborne and spinning into the barriers with suspension damage.

Middlehurst emerged from the chaos alongside Eastwell approaching Becketts but the pair ran wide allowing Josh Fisher – who had made his way up to 12th before the red flag and continued to make up ground at the restart –  to incredibly snatch the lead on the inside. The safety car was then deployed again seconds later, with Sam Street having joined Moyers in crashing out.

Green flags were waved with four laps to go with Fisher still leading from Middlehurst while Eastwell and Rackstraw diced for third. Middlehurst tried to outbrake Fisher into Brooklands but ran wide, while Cooper took fourth away from Rackstraw and Josh Le Roux climbed to sixth.

Fisher and Middlehurst battled into Brooklands again on the next lap and Eastwell dived inside the pair but couldn’t make it stick, with Middlehurst emerging with the lead ahead of Eastwell and Fisher.

Rackstraw challenged Fisher for third towards the end of the penultimate lap, eventually getting by as the pair crossed the line, but his team-mate Le Roux spun down the order at Luffield. Cooper moved to the outside of Fisher into Copse but got sideways on the grass and ran wide, dropping down to ninth.

Middlehurst led the final lap to seal victory ahead of Eastwell and Rackstraw, the trio separated by less than one second.

Fisher finished fourth ahead of Joey Foster and Team Canada scholar Logan Placza. Adam Higgins was seventh ahead of Cooper and Charlie Mann, with Brandon McCaughan coming from 25th on the original grid to 10th.

Restarted race result (9 laps)
Pos Driver Team Time
1 Chris Middlehurst Team Dolan 12m30.006s
2 Michael Eastwell KMR Sport +0.366s
3 Andrew Rackstraw KMR Sport +0.722s
4 Josh Fisher Wayne Poole Racing +1.647s
5 Joey Foster Don Hardman Racing +2.137s
6 Logan Pacza Graham Brunton Racing +2.269s
7 Adam Higgins Beastworx +3.039s
8 Luke Cooper Swift Cooper +3.108s
9 Charlie Mann Mann Motorsport +3.896s
10 Brandon McCaughan Oldfield Motorsport +3.923s
11 Robert Wolk KMR Sport +4.718s
12 Jordan Kelly Team Dolan +4.732s
13 Ben Mitchell Wayne Poole Racing +4.850s
14 Ayrton Houk Ammonite Motorsport +7.932s
15 Ben Cox Souley Motorsport +8.298s
16 Tom Bradshaw Nigel Grant Motorsport +8.465s
17 Julian Van der Watt KMR Sport +8.927s
18 James Clarke Enigma Motorsport +11.017s
19 Tom Hawkins TM Racing +11.101s
20 Chris Acton Souley Motorsport +16.718s
21 Jonathan Kotyk Team Dolan +20.712s
22 Joe Ahrens Enigma Motorsport +20.944s
23 Felix Fisher TM Racing +27.933s
24 Nolan Allaer Ammonite Motorsport +32.522s
Ret Tom McArthur B-M Racing
Ret Josh Le Roux KMR Sport
Ret Alex Berg Graham Brunton Racing
Ret Michael Moyers Simon Hadfield Motorsport
Ret Sam Street KMR Sport
Ret James Littlejohn Simon Hadfield Motorsport
Ret Jeremy Fairbairn PWR1 Racing
Ret Lewis Fox Team Fox Racing
Ret Hugh Esterson Ammonite Motorsport
Ret Spencer Shinner Oldfield Motorsport
Ret Isaac Canto da Silva Team Dolan
Ret Alex Ames Sema Racing
Fastest lap: Rackstraw, 1m08.154s