Team USA Drivers Claim Podium Finishes
Silverstone, England – Spencer Pigot and Felix Serralles both earned fine podium finishes during today’s Heat Races for the Walter Hayes Trophy Race Meeting at the 1.639-mile Silverstone National circuit.
Under dramatically different weather conditions compared to Friday, Pigot secured second on the grid for Heat One on a track which was still extremely slippery after heavy overnight rain. A couple of hours later, by which time the sun was shining and the track was completely dry, Serralles also secured an outside front row starting position.
Temperatures remained cool but the action on the track was typically intense as almost 120 Formula Ford drivers contested a total of six Heat races which will determine the starting positions for tomorrow’s pair of Semi Finals.
The first Heat began in chaotic fashion when the starting lights failed as the 21 starters formed up on the grid.
“It was a bit confusing,” recounted 17-year-old Pigot, from Windermere, Fla. “I was expecting the lights to come on. The officials held up the five-second board and then they were just standing around. Eventually one of the guys pulled out a Union Jack flag and waved it, so I went. I was hoping that was the right thing to do!”
It was. The race was under way and Pigot’s #22 Team USA Scholarship Ray GRS08 made the best of the start to lead pole-sitter James Tucker (Van Diemen RF92) into Copse Corner (Turn One). Fellow Englishmen Matthew Parr (Van Diemen RF01), Felix Fisher (Van Diemen RF00) and Robert Hall (Swift SC10) also were in close attendance.
Positions changing frequently among the leaders before Fisher pulled off with engine woes and Parr established himself in the lead ahead of Pigot, leaving Hall and Tucker to squabble over third position.
“It was really close at the beginning but it took me a few laps to get used to the track in the dry because most of my running had been in the wet,” related Pigot. “Once it settled down I pulled away in second but just didn’t have the pace to catch the leader. We’re making some changes overnight to the setup and changing the engine so that should give me more speed for tomorrow. We’ll be starting fourth on the grid for the Semi Final so I’m sure we will be in good shape.”
Heat Six began with the light fading at 4:00 PM, and unlike his compatriot, 18-year-old Serralles did not make a good start from the front of the grid: “I just didn’t rev the engine high enough and it bogged down,” he said.
Serralles entered Copse Corner in fifth position but soon slipped past Matt Rivett’s Mygale and latched onto the tail of a four-car train that immediately pulled away from the rest.
“The car was OK but not great,” said Serralles, from Haines City, Fla. “There was a lot of understeer on the exit of the corners but the engine was strong and I was able to stay with the other guys. I passed one of the them around the outside going into the Complex [for third place] and was right with the other two at the end.
“Finishing on the podium is a good way to start the weekend,” he concluded. “I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how the car goes after all the tweaks we’re going to make to it.”
The remaining Heat Race winners were Noel Dunne (Mygale SJ08), recent Formula Ford Festival winner Noel Smyth (Ray GRS07), two-time Walter Hayes Trophy winner Peter Dempsey (Ray GR05), whose father Cliff also looks after both Team USA Scholarship cars, and Ivor McCullough (Van Diemen RF00).
The Team USA Scholarship has been helping young American drivers since 1990. Past winners include Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Tony Ave, Buddy Rice, Paul Edwards, Andy Lally, Joey Hand, Phil Giebler, A.J. Allmendinger, Bryan Sellers, J.R. Hildebrand, Dane Cameron, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly. The program is supported by Doug Mockett & Company, Road Racing Drivers Club, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Walldinger Racing, Robo-Pong, Highcroft Racing, “The Road to Indy,” Mazda, Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, Honda Performance Development, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Dyson Racing, The Gorsline Company, Integrated Performance Technology, Robertson Racing, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, Buttonwillow Raceway Park, eFormulaCarNews.com, OnCars.com, Speedstar Management, Styled Aesthetic, Manifest Group and numerous past Scholarship winners.