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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 , , , ,

Honda Performance Development to fund karting champions

SAFEisFAST partner Honda Performance Development (HPD) is helping to boost the career of up-and-coming karting racers.

One of the initiatives supported by HPD gives the next SuperKarts USA S1 class champion financial assistance to make the transition into the inaugural Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pro Racing Formula 4 US Championship series in 2016.

HPD has teamed up with SCCA Pro Racing and Crawford Composites to assist the S1 champion make the next step in their racing career by providing discounts to help with the cost of an F4 car and its engine, as well as the series’ entry fee.

The winner will receive a $3,500 discount towards an F4 chassis, a series entry fee waiver to the value of $6,000 and an F4 engine lease, which is provided by HPD, worth $6,600.

As the awards package was announced, Robert Clarke, President of SCCA Pro Racing, said: “The fundamental premise of the F4 program is to create the opportunities to develop that next generation of racers. From our strict cost controls to our driver-development efforts, the F4 US Championship is focused on accessibility, affordability, and competitive racing.”

“This awards package is another example of how HPD endeavours to support the grassroots racing community,” said Jeff Barrow, HPD’s commercial motorsports manager. “Many of the great Honda racers got their starts in karting, and we see this as a natural bridge between the two series.”

“SKUSA is pleased to have a cooperative alliance with SCCA Pro Racing and the F4 United States Championship,” said Tom Kutscher, owner and CEO of SuperKarts USA. “Both entities represent the premier organisations in their respective circles, and Superkarts USA is pleased to provide the platform for young talent to flourish. For those interested in pursuing a career in motorsport, or those looking to continue in karting, we couldn’t be more pleased.”

The awards take immediate effect with the order of the Crawford F4 chassis, the signing of the Honda F4 engine lease agreement and a commitment to the full 2016 SCCA Pro F4 championship program, which consists of 15 total races at five venues, beginning with the inaugural race weekend at Lime Rock Park on 27-28 May. For more information on the F4 US Championship, click here.

Published on 02 December 2015 at 01:00PM by , tags , , , , , , ,