Young American drivers Neil Alberico and Trent Hindman didn't have a lot of luck during the final day of the ultra-competitive Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, but both drivers continued to display their abilities. After the teenagers finished fourth in their respective Semi Final races, Hindman, 16, from Wayside, N.J., placed a strong sixth in the Grand Final with his Cliff Dempsey Racing-prepared Ray GR08, while Alberico, 18, from Los Gatos, Calif., was unable to finish after being involved in an early incident.
The fickle English weather was more inviting on Sunday, with sunny skies replacing the rain and heavy overcast that had prevailed earlier in the week. Following a pair of last-chance qualifier races, the meat of the day's action began with two Semi Final races. Hindman lined up third on the grid for his race and immediately jumped to second on the opening lap before slipping back to fourth behind Josh Fisher, Adrian Campfield and Jonny McMullan.
“Unfortunately, it was the first time on a dry track, so that was a bit difficult, but I had to learn fast,” said Hindman. “Cliff was great on teaching me about the track when it's dry. It was definitely a lot different than what it had been! After finishing P4, I knew we had a very good chance of making something happen in the Final.”
Alberico, meanwhile, was cursing his luck after also finishing fourth in Semi Final 2 behind Northern Irishman Wayne Boyd (a front-runner in this year's USF2000 National Championship), Robert Hall and Felix Fisher.
“I lined up third, got a great start and found myself in the lead after the first two drivers put each other off,” he related. “It was looking good at that point with open track ahead of me and a massive gap behind. Unfortunately, there was a red-flag situation resulting in a full grid restart. After the restart, I was second off the line looking for a way past Wayne Boyd. As I sat behind him nearly half the race he was given several driving standard warning flags for excessive blocking. It was super-frustrating to end up fourth, because I had the pace for a much better result.”
The Team USA Scholarship pair lined up alongside each other on Row Four of the grid for the 15-lap Grand Final. Alberico maintained seventh at the start and moved up a couple of places during the early skirmishes, before being hit from behind, causing suspension damage which forced him out of the race.
“I got off the line with a good clean start and diced my way up to fifth at one stage,” he said. “After only a few laps, Abdul Ahmed drove straight over the back of my left rear going into Luffield (corner), bending the track rod and ultimately ending my race. Between the chaos of Semi Final and Final, it's fair to say those were unfortunate circumstances that were out of our control. And that's where the famous cliché comes from – that's racing."
Hindman also made a good initial getaway. After a roller-coaster ride during the early stages, he became embroiled in a thrilling seven-car battle for the lead that raged for much of the race, and ultimately had to settle for sixth as Campfield scored a surprise victory, finishing narrowly ahead of the heavily favored Boyd.
“I am very happy with P6,” said Hindman. “It was so difficult running with those guys. It was incredible!
“Overall, my UK experience was awesome,” he continued. “I learned so much. Cliff and Michelle [Dempsey] were my parents away from home and the whole team was great! I really have to thank them for all of their hard work and patience. Now, though, it's off back to the U.S. for school and some more USF2000 testing.”
“Thanks a million to all the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship for making such an incredible opportunity possible,” added Alberico. “This may be the end of our British adventure but I'm really looking forward to what we have next in store.”