Kevin O’Hara: The Walter Hayes Trophy

November 22, 2012 by Kevin O'Hara  

If you had asked me two weeks prior to the Walter Hayes Trophy this year if I was planning to do it I probably would have laughed at you. It was a very late decision and meant a very busy ten days of preparation on a car that hadn’t turned a wheel in over three years! But given the opportunity to do the most competitive Formula Ford 1600 race of the year I wasn’t going to say no.

It could be said that when I arrived in Silverstone on a miserably wet Wednesday evening that I was slightly unsure as to how the weekend would go. That was even more so the case after I got only 2 full laps in the first practice session on Thursday morning due to red flags. Thankfully though by the end of the day we were right on the pace of the fastest cars in the wet. Friday again started off very wet but as the day went on it dried up. We had a lot of work to do to get the Aigle Music, Enya car working in the dry but we were within half a tenth of the fastest time and right amongst the big names.

We were the final qualifying session on Saturday morning and we got caught out by the track drying much faster than we had anticipated. This left me in seventh place on the grid for my heat, much further down than our testing pace had shown in what was one of the most competitive heats.

Come the race itself it was totally dry and with a good start I had made one place already by the end of the first lap. By half distance I was in fourth position catching Joey Foster. A lap later I was in third challenging for second when I managed to avoid a collision which allowed to me to get into second. A lap and a half left and the gap was too much to the leader but second was a good result from my starting position either way. I was very happy with my race craft in the heat and that is due in no small part to the caliber of the Irish Formula Vee class which I have raced in for the past 2 seasons.

I was woken on Sunday morning to the sound of a lot of rain pounding down on the roof of the truck and drips of water falling down into my sleeping bag! I wasn’t very sad it was the last night I would have to spend in the back of our freezing truck but I was excited for the race despite the weather. After a few hours of delays due to the immense amount of water that had fallen during the night it was time for my Semi Final. I was to start fifth on the grid just behind Peter Dempsey. At the start I had too much wheel spin and lost two positions but after a few laps had made my way back up to fifth position when I came together with Callum McLeod going for fourth position. It was a bad end to a great weekend but I have to be very happy with the pace in a car that we had such limited running! It gives me a lot of confidence for next year as I had the pace to run with the best and as my dad would say.

“I had a few lessons you wouldn’t learn in school!”

Until next time,

Kevin


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