Van der Watt’s Festival winning ways
Cape Town racer Julian van der Watt went to England to race the Walter Hayes Formula Ford Trophy in an effort to bolster his racing skills over the past weekend, but he came home smiling with two wins out of his three races to close off an impressive international race season.
Van der Watt enjoyed a great rookie season in the United States Formula 2000 championship in 2018, but he decided to take a step back to his old Formula 1600 stomping ground in an effort to further hone his driving skills. “We went to Silverstone looking to build up a little wet racing experience,” Julian pointed out. “I still can’t believe it, but we came back with a couple of wins in our heat and in the semi final and I started the final on pole position after not driving a Formula Ford for over a year.”
The world’s biggest Formula Ford event, the Walter Hayes Trophy is an annual once-off Formula Ford 1600 ‘World Final’ run at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit late every year that attracts the best drivers from around the world, with the leading drivers out of six qualifying heats making it through to a pair of semi-finals, before the top 30 cars race the final. Julian started the weekend well with second on the grid for his heat following an incredibly close 10-minute session he had led most of the way.
From there, Julian overcome a race-long battle with UK rivals Tom McArthur and Ross Martin to move into the lead at the halfway mark of his heat, before warding off McArthur’s attentions for the win. That put Julian third on what proved a chaotic second semi final grid, before he cleared off in the lead on drying track. Van der Watt was delayed by backmarkers to allow Team USA driver Juke Craig to close him down before the Californian tried a move around the outside but spun, leaving Julian to the win.
So, Julian sat on pole for the wild ‘World Final’, but that proved a fraught race with much contact that saw van der Watt taking a few off track excursions before being turned into a spin that saw him embedded in a sand trap and his weekend over.
“It never ended quite as we’d have liked, but it was a great weekend all-round,” Julian concluded. “I had to fight for my heat and semi final wins and we started the final on pole position, so we definitely showed we had the pace to win and it’s certainly been a weekend to remember. “A big word of thanks to Kevin Mills Racing for prepping a mighty car all week, an Schofield for all the help in setting up the weekend. not to mention my regular backers, Race Driver SA, Crossley & Webb and OMP for all the support through the weekend.