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All Smiles for Team USA at 2016 Walter Hayes Trophy

Team USA scholarship drivers Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood finished second and fourth at the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford 1600 two-day event at Silverstone last weekend.

In the 16th running of the annual event at the home of the British Formula One Grand Prix, the Team USA drivers, who are supported by SAFEisFAST, each took part in a series of qualifying races and the Trophy’s Grand Final for Cliff Dempsey Racing.

Askew won both his heat and semi-final events, which meant the 19-year-old lined up second on the grid for the headline race. Kirkwood had to qualify through the ‘Progression Race’ on Sunday morning after he did not make it into the top nine finishers in his heat on Saturday.

But the 18-year-old from Jupiter, Florida, won that elimination round to get through to the ‘Last Chance Race’. Despite starting 33rd on the grid, Kirkwood moved through the field to finish third and join his teammate in the semi-finals.

Askew started his semi-final from pole and held on to win after a pulsating six-car battle in the closing stages with three-time Walter Hayes Trophy winner Joey Foster, Silverstone specialist Michael Moyers, Team Canada Scholarship representative Parker Thompson (who finished second in this year’s USF2000 Championship), Luke Williams and former British Formula Ford champion Richard Tarling.

Kirkwood also made it through to the Grand Final by finishing 12th in his semi-final. Niall Murray was the winner of that race, which was completed in a faster time than Askew’s and so the Irish driver started on pole for the finale as a result.

Rain hit the Silverstone track shortly after the semi-finals had been completed to add to the difficulty facing the 36 drivers starting the Grand Final.

Murray, who won the 2016 BRSCC British FF1600 Championship and the Formula Ford Festival, edged out Askew at the start, while Kirkwood fought his way all the way from 23rd to 11th after just one lap of the 1.639-mile Silverstone National circuit.

Murray escaped at the front of the pack and went on score a clear victory, while Askew initially came under pressure from Foster before weathering that challenge and pulling well clear of the chasing pack to finish second.

“These have been the best three weeks of my life,” said Askew after being presented his trophy by three-time Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity and what Jeremy Shaw [Team USA Scholarship founder] stands for – that being the support of young American drivers who work extremely hard to work their way to the top.

“The race today was very tense. The conditions were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, so I had to adapt from the lights going out. I stayed in second from start to finish and tried to keep it on track for the last few laps to bring home a very memorable result.

“With five podiums out of six races here in England, I am definitely going home with a smile on my face. I hope to use this experience for the future and I hope to keep progressing in the world of motor sport.”

Kirkwood had continued to make progress toward the front after his rapid first lap and he had moved up to fifth place by lap 10 of the 15-lap race. He then climbed briefly into third place on the penultimate lap, only to be overtaken by veteran Josh Fisher on the final tour.

“I gave up third place,” Kirkwood explained afterwards. “I saw Fisher was faster than me but I didn’t know what position we were in or how many laps were left. I couldn’t see my pit board because of all the spray from the rain, so I didn’t contest the position.

“I figured I would tuck in behind but then when we went across the line he threw his hand in the air and I realised it was the last lap. It’s frustrating but it’s still been a great day. I’m happy with the result, especially compared to how it was looking yesterday.”

Speaking after the Grand Final, Shaw praised the efforts of the two Team USA drivers.

He said: “I couldn’t be happier with the performance of both of our boys and that of Cliff Dempsey Racing. I’m told they did a fabulous job of representing their country and the scholarship program in last night’s Silverstone Club drivers’ forum and they have driven magnificently both in the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy.

“If they can continue to create opportunities for themselves, there’s no doubt these two young men have extremely bright futures ahead of them. I also want to say a big thank-you to all of those who have made the Team USA Scholarship possible.”

Published on 08 November 2016 at 02:56PM by , tags , , , ,

Tough day for Team SAFEisFast at iRacing Sebring

Team SAFEisFAST went to Sebring on a high from its recent success at the 24 hours of Daytona. The team entered two Daytona Prototype’s and one McLaren GT3 car. There were also a lot of new faces on the team to fill the roster for the three cars, which will continue for the remainder of the 2016 season and some of the longer races.

Sebring iRacing

The #18 DP team (Kevin Enderman, Pablo R Silveira, Wyatt Winfield, Dave Beland) was qualified in fourth place by Kevin Endermann and at the start he moved up to second and was fighting for the lead. Enderman was faster than the leader and after being patient he was able to gain the lead for 45 mins before the end of his stint.

Enderman handed over the car to Silveira, who continued on with a solid run. He reported he had three moments but they did not result in any spins or damage. Silveira then handed the car over to Winfield. He put in laps and the team managed to stay around the battle for fourth and third as the pitstop sequences were worked out.

Winfield handed the car back to Silveira at around the halfway point of the race. He was in fourth when he had a bit of a moment with a lapped BMW. There was some light contact that caused the other car to spin, but both continued without major problems.

After that, Beland got in the car for the first time in fifth. Beland reported that he had an uneventful double stint in the car until his final pit stop when another Daytona Prototype dive-bombed him as he was about to pit and they made contact. This almost caused Beland to spin the car. Although he was able to save the moment, he made an unsafe pit entry during the recovery and received a 15 second penalty as a result.

As the race finished the #18 car crossed the line in 5th place with a two-lap cushion to sixth place.

The #9 DP team (Jeremy Robles, Sergey Pupko Jr, Drew Bickel) had qualified in second place thanks to Robles, but at the start he got passed and moved back to third. Later that lap, at turn 17, he capitalized on a mistake and attempted to regain second but then a bit of a bad moment with a GT car that spun Robles and he made contact with the wall. The resulting pit stop to repair the damage lost the car one lap.

Pupko Jr took over as the car was in 11th place and over his 90-minute stint he managed to battle back to fifth place as he showed good pace (the same as the leader) and to fight back up the field.

Bickel then got in the car, but about 10 laps into his stint his computer monitor went black, which forced him to restart the PC. During the time it took to re-boot his computer the team was losing laps. Bickel got back in the car and was pushing hard we he went wide into the grass at Turn 16, lost control of the rear and spun into the inside wall. This caused an eight-minute suspension repair.

Robles got back into the car and battled hard with laptimes that were again on the same pace of the leaders. He had put in almost a full 90-minute stint when his house’s electricity went out. As he races on a laptop which is hooked up to a flat screen TV he could still hear the car running, but there was no power flowing to his TV or steering wheel. Fortunately, iRacing just reset the car to the pit lane without damage as Robles had no internet connection.

Pupko Jr then jumped into the car for 45 minutes while Robles fixed his issues and had no problems. Robles then came back for another 45-minute stint and both drivers were battling back in ninth place. After that, Bickel got back in the car after making some changes to his graphics driver to prevent the screen freezes.

Bickel was pushing pretty hard because the car had the pace. He passed most of the top five and even the leader to gain laps back. He then caught up to seventh and passed him on the track and pulled out a 10-second gap before he needed to pit.

Robles got back in the car and emerged in eighth on the same lap as the car running in seventh and he moved up to sixth when the two cars in front both pitted.

Bickel returned to the car for the final hour and had a two-lap cushion over the car behind and when the team running in fifth pitted he made up one lap and was right behind them on the track as he crossed the finish line in sixth.

Victor started for The SAFEisFAST GT team in an all GT field of 42 cars. He made it to lap nine when he had a slide and tried to save it, but he hit the wall and caused 13 minutes of repair time. After the pitstop the car lost a bit of speed but wasn’t too compromised overall.

Jason Hall is a new driver to our GT team and he produced a strong and uneventful stint, which featured only a small spin but no damage. Caeton Bomersbach is another new driver and he took over the wheel after Hall. He did kept it clean, but a small spin at one point meant he had to fight his way from 33rd place to 29th.

Chris Beaufait also joined the team and he kept things clean and putting in a steady pace throughout his stint. He gave plenty of room to lapping GT cars and keeping the car clean during his stint.

Mathieu, one of the original team members when SAFEisFAST was founded who left the team to manage his own HPD prototype team, was welcomed back for this race. He did two full stints (60 laps) with zero damage and no drama.

After that, Bomersbach got back in the car and was putting in consistent laps. But as he let the leader by he went a bit wide and picked up some dirt on the tyres (a new feature to iRacing) and this caused him to spin and some small repairs. Bomersbach then felt a bit tired so he handed the car back to Mathieu to fill in for him.

Ed did his stints and without much practice time due to work. He had no major issues and near the end of the race the team was really working hard to gain back ground. Ed handed over to Bomersbach, who took over for the final hour. He came out of the pits in P22 and kept that position to the end of the race.

All three teams had strong races and battled through the hard times. Endurance racing is all about making the best out of what you given with and adapting with it. 12 hours is a long race and Sebring is one of the toughest tracks in the world.

Team SAFEisFAST Final Result: DP #18 Team: Position 5th

DP #9 Team: Position 6th GT3 Team: Positon 22nd

Published on 29 March 2016 at 10:39AM by , tags ,

Pagenaud Set for Honda F1 Test?

French IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud may be in line for a Formula One test with Honda, as the Japanese manufacturer ramps up preparations ahead of its return to the series with the McLaren team.

Pagenaud, who currently races under Honda power for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, has impressed in IndyCar this season taking two wins. Known for his testing abilities, the Frenchman has been heavily involved with the development of numerous Honda racing engines. With Formula One using new 1.6-litre turbocharged engines with complicated energy recovery systems, Pagenaud’s experience could prove invaluable.

Speaking with Racer magazine, the IndyCar Series front-runner was positive on his chances of the test happening, saying: “I’ve been in touch with some people, some promising things are happening, so we’ll see.”

When asked whether his previous testing experience and engine knowledge would be an advantage, Pagenaud commented: “I think that would be one of my biggest values. I would love to test with the hybrid system, especially for someone like me who loves technology, so I would like to help in any way.”

Pagenaud has been a keen supporter of SAFEisFAST.com, featuring in a number of tutorial videos. Check out his tips on maintaining focus and concentration throughout a race in the video: The Mental Edge.

Published on 04 August 2014 at 09:38AM by , tags , , , ,