Jack Mitchell/JAM Photography
Team USA Scholarship drivers Jake Eidson and Joey Bickers experienced divergent fortunes during today's opening salvo of activities for the 13th annual Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford weekend at Silverstone.
The two Americans qualified on the front row of the grid for their respective heat races, and while Eidson made it comfortably through to the semi-final rounds with a solid second-place finish, Bickers' hopes of a strong result were dashed when he was nudged off the road on the Wellington Straight and into a frightening accident from which he was fortunate to emerge unscathed.
Qualifying this morning was held on a treacherously wet track after heavy overnight rain. Bickers once again impressed by topping the timing charts for most of the Heat One session, only to be bounced down to second on the final lap. A few minutes later, Eidson enjoyed an entertaining session in the company of three-time Walter Hayes Trophy winner Peter Dempsey, with the American holding the upper hand by a scant 0.041 second.
Heat 1 began on a damp but drying track with Bickers on the front row of the grid. A fine start saw him into the lead at the first corner, but he was knocked back to second on the opening lap and then made a mistake under braking for Brooklands on lap 2 which dropped him back to eighth. He was beginning to work his way back toward the front and challenging for sixth on lap 4 when he collected the barriers in avoidance of a rival.
“The car was good,” related Bickers. “The conditions were drying so (finding speed) wasn't so much about the car as it was looking for the grip. I haven't had much experience doing that but the race was going well. I was drafting another car and I pulled out and unfortunately was kind of pushed off the track a little bit and hit the wall, so that ended my race.”
Eidson's getaway in Heat 2 wasn't quite so good but he tucked into second behind former British FF champion Scott Malvern. The gap reached almost two seconds before the rain returned and the margin between them dwindled. Eidson finally crossed the line 1.481s behind Malvern and ahead of two-time Formula Ford Festival Champion Ivor McCullough.
“Starting P1 and finishing P2 is not too bad,” said Eidson. “I think we had the speed to be right there with P1 but after Scott (Malvern) got around me at the start he got a small gap. I was trying my best to try and close that gap and I was actually hoping it was going to rain a little bit more because as soon as it started to get pretty wet I was starting to close on him. It was kind of tough but I'm pretty happy with P2 and I think we're in good shape going into the Semi Final.”
Eidson will start fourth in Semi Final 1which will take place at 1:00 p.m. local time. Bickers will have two more opportunities to qualify for the Semi Final, beginning with the Progression Race at 10:10 a.m. More than 110 drivers, 10 nationalities and 15 different Formula Ford chassis manufacturers are represented in this year's Walter Hayes Trophy. Full results from the weekend, including live timing and scoring, are available at www.mstworld.com