Six South African Investchem Formula 1600 drivers flew the flag high with an impressive showing at the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone in England over the weekend. Four of the six made it through to the 36-car final out of over 100 entries, as double SA Global Touring Car champion Robert Wolk fared best, driving to 8th in the final.
Wolk and fellow GTC racers and former Investchem Formula 1600 champions Julian van der Watt and Andrew Rackstraw, reigning Investchem Formula 1600 champion Josh Le Roux and his 2022 rivals, the experienced Andrew Schofield and young gun Alex Vos lined up in their respective of the four 29-car heats to determine who progressed to the two semi-finals.
It started well for the SA team as Julian van der Watt qualified second and then went on to win heat 1. Andrew Rackstraw matched his GTC teammate to qualify second for Heat 2 with Josh Le Roux seventh, Alex Vos 11th and another SA regular, veteran Rick Morris 20th in his period Firman chassis.
It proved a tough one for Rackstraw, who was bumped down to 15th before he delivered a splendid drive back to fourth. Morris kept out of trouble to climb to 15th, while Le Roux and Vos also lost places in the heat of the action to respectively end 18th and 24th. Which meant that they had to fight back through the Progression races to reach the semi-finals.
Wolk and Schofield qualified ninth and fifteenth for the fourth heat before driving home in 8th and 15th respectively, to both qualify for their semi-finals. Vos however had to race the Progression race, starting ninth and coming home fourth to qualify 31st on the Last Chance race grid.
He joined second placed Morris and Le Roux in ninth in that race as Le Roux drove a fine race to third. Not quite as impressive as Vos however. He enjoyed a meteoric run from 31st to sixth to see all six of the SA team through to their semi-finals. Rick Morris sadly went out when he became the victim of someone else’s accident.
Julian van der Watt started the first semi-final in second, with Josh Le Roux 30th. By the time all was said and done, van der Watt was easily through to the Final in third, while Le Roux delivered a fine run to sneak in, in fifteenth. Rackstraw then lined up sixth, Wolk 16th, Vos 31st and Schofield 33rd for the second semi-final.
Robert Wolk took his turn to deliver a great come from behind race to come home sixth in that race, while Alex Vos once again climbed from the back to 15th to squeak into the Final. 22nd was not enough for Andrew Schofield to make the cut and unfortunately, the competitive Andrew Rackstraw was taken out of the lead dice on lap six.
Four of the six South Africans however qualified for the final. Julian van der Watt would start fifth, Robert Wolk tenth, Josh Le Roux 29th, and Alex Vos in 34th. Vos and Wolk were immediately immersed in a mad multi-car battle just behind the leaders as Robert found a way past the Julian early on, before the two circulated together for a few laps.
Wolk made better of his opportunities in battle to climb to 8 by the finish, while van der Watt ended up eleventh. Behind them Josh Le Roux made steady progress to move up from 29th to 15th and Alex Vos came home 30th.
All in all, the South African team impressed in the 2022 Walter Hayes Trophy, a tribute to the man who mastered Formula Ford among the Blue Oval’s mighty 1960s Le Mans, Cosworth F1 and other projects of the time. American Joey Foster took the win to make it a unique Formula Ford Festival double on top of his Brands Hatch victory.
“Robert took his time to rise into the final top ten,” team manager Ian Schofield concluded. “Julian starred early before delivering a solid Final; Josh and Alex doggedly fought their way into the Grand Final where Le Roux impressed. “Andrew Rackstraw’s eventful weekend came to nought after much promise and Andrew Schofield just missed the Final.
“All in all, the Walter Hayes Trophy was a great South African team effort. “Our four SA Formula 1600 champions and two series regulars arrived at a foreign track with little preparation and starred in a top international competition. “That shows off an incredible depth of talent delivered by the South African Investchem Formula 1600 championship.“
Issued by Motorsport Media on behalf of InvestChem Formula 1600
Image by Heroes of FF 1600