Luck runs out for Martin

Luck runs out for Martin

The Walter Hayes Trophy

Silverstone 4th – 5th November 2017 

The Walter Hayes Trophy, first held in 2001, is the world’s largest Formula Ford 1600 event and takes place annually on the first weekend of November at Silverstone, the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’. Formula Ford 1600 has entertained at tracks since 1967, and for nearly fifty years has been the leading proving ground in junior single seater racing.

Testing: Positive results in testing with long runs on old tyres and plenty of dry laps showed I had a fast pace. On Friday I completed a qualifying simulation with new tyres, posting a time which was fastest of the day. This gave me confidence going into Saturday.

Qualifying: Torrential rain on Saturday gave us a very wet track with difficult conditions, but  with new tyres I was able to find more and more grip as I posted quick times. With one lap to go I was sitting in second and I knew I had to push hard in the last lap, resulting in being on the absolute limit for the whole lap, giving my all. The car felt amazing, the best it’s felt all season in conditions like this, resulting in my final lap being  three tenths quicker than second place, resulting in pole position.

Heat 1: I made a fantastic start from pole in the still very wet conditions and was able to build up a sizeable lead in the first lap. As the session continued the track began to dry and I was able to increase my lead further. I was over-the-moon with my win – confident I could win the Trophy.

Semi-final: Starting in third in a strong field meant I had my work cut out for me if I was going to win the session. Sunday’s weather was much dryer than Saturday meaning this was going to be a tightly fought race. With a  great start I moved up to second place.

My first taste of FF1600 Hayes Trophy racing came on the back straight, four cars drafted past me which I was unable to defend against.

Close racing continued with positions swapping constantly. Red flags were waved after a big incident at Brooklands resulting in a race restart. I lined up in sixth and defended my position to the end of the race.

Final: My results in the previous sessions meant I began in twelfth, surrounded by the best drivers in Britain. Another great start gave me four positions in the first lap. Dissaster struck only a few laps in when my engine began to fail. I was a sitting duck, losing positions rapidly as I desperately tried to defend,  then my luck ran out completely on the back straight where the engine finally gave up. I coasted off circuit and had to sit the rest out.

That engine has served me well this year, winning a title, and strong podium finishes in the National Championship.

After a frustrating end to the FF1600 festival I wanted to show people I deserved to be running up at the front of the grid. Grabbing pole position and taking a heat win really did make me feel as if I had a chance of winning this event.