SBN Champ Conor Daly Wins Prestigious FFord Race in U.K.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

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More success for Skip Barber School and Series grads: Conor Daly on his way to winning the Walter Hayes Formula Ford Trophy at Silverstone. Photo by Jeff Bloxham

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Conor Daly on the podium with the actual Walter Hayes Trophy. Dad Derek is proud, obviously… Photo by Jeff Bloxham

SILVERSTONE, England – Conor Daly capped an extraordinarily successful Team USA Scholarship foray to England by winning the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on Sunday, November 2. The victory came just two weeks after teammate Josef Newgarden won the Formula Ford Festival Kent Class at Brands Hatch.

Daly is the recently crowned 2008 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda champion, taking five wins; Newgarden, the championship runner-up, won three races and took a series-leading six pole positions.

Never in the history of Formula Ford, long considered the seed bed of future F1 drivers, has an American — let alone two — made such an impression in Europe. That Daly and Newgarden found this success as an outgrowth of their Skip Barber experience speaks for itself.

Daly, who started fourth on the 36-car grid for the 15-lap Walter Hayes Grand Final, held in cold, wet and extremely treacherous conditions, took the lead at half distance when Scottish Formula Ford Champion Graham Carroll slid off the road at Luffield corner.

Daly, 16, from Noblesville, Indiana, controlled the remainder of the race and set the fastest lap for good measure. He became the youngest driver ever to scoop the Walter Hayes Trophy, which is named after one of the originators of Formula Ford. The presentation was made by Walter Hayes’ widow, Elizabeth, in the Clubhouse of the famed British Racing Drivers Club.

The two Americans were both in the second of the event’s two semi-final races, Newgy on pole. After Carroll scored a clear victory in the first race (P2 went to veteran Michael Vergers, who raced Barber Saab in the early 1990s!), Newgarden made full use of his pole position by holding the lead into Copse Corner from Robert Barrable and Daly.

In very wet conditions, Newgarden went on to score an accomplished victory. Daly took advantage of a problem for Barrable to make it an American one-two.

Carroll had earned the advantage of starting on pole for the Final, due to his semi-final having been held in slightly dryer, slightly quicker conditions and thus had the quickest lap time. Newgarden lined up second, followed by Vergers and Daly on row two.

The start was clean, with Carroll holding onto his lead from Newgarden, but only as far as Brooklands at the end of the main back straightaway, where Newgarden took advantage of the draft, then ducked cleanly to the inside.

”I was looking good out front,” said Newgarden. ”Once I saw I had a bit of a gap, I tried to put my head down.” Unfortunately, in the appalling conditions, Newgy went a little too deep into Brooklands on lap 2. An instant later he was bounding through the huge gravel trap on the outside of the turn. Newgarden somehow extricated himself from the gravel (and again when he made a similar mistake a few laps later) but could do no better than an unrepresentative 14th-place finish.

Daly grasped second place from Vergers in a tidy maneuver under braking for Beckett’s on lap 7. One lap later he was gifted the lead when Carroll fell afoul of the slippery track in Luffield.

Daly never looked back, taking the checkered flag 1.295 seconds clear of Englishman Josh Fisher , who passed Vergers with two laps to go. Daly’s success ensured a third straight Walter Hayes Trophy win for Cliff Dempsey Racing, the team that ran Daly and Newgarden for both the Festival and the Walter Hayes.

”It’s been a great experience,” said Daly. ”I want to thank everyone for making this possible for Josef and me.”

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Conor Daly moments after the historic win… Photo by Jeff Bloxham

Rick Roso & Jeremy Shaw

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