Van der Watt, Temple impress in England
South African Investchem Formula 1600 champions, 2018 top man Julian van der Watt and this year’s winner Scott Temple ended 11th and 14th out of over 100 competitors from around the world vying for top honours for the weekend’s Walter Hayes Formula Ford 1600 Festival at Silverstone. Van der Watt, Temple and Alex Gillespie who also qualified for the Grand Final, were among a team of South African drivers that jetted over to England for what is in essence the world championship of Formula 1600 racing.
The team comprising Temple on the strength of his SA title this year, van der Watt, Gillespie, Andrew Schofield and Masters men Ian Schofield and newly crowned UK Classic FF champion and occasional Investchem F1600 racer Rick Morris, arrived at a damp and chilly Festival to fly the South African flag on what would prove a great sporting weekend for the country.
Investchem Formula 1600 capo Ian Schofield opted to withdraw his entry Friday morning in order to focus on coaching son Andrew and Julian van der Watt. SA’s champions van der Watt and Temple soon showed great pace with Julian taking second and third and Scott seventh and ninth in their heats comprising 26 cars, as each easily made it through to the Semi Finals.
It proved a tougher job for birthday boy Alex Gillespie and Rick Morris, who squeaked into their Semi Finals through the back door of the Last Chance race, while Schofield narrowly missed out on a Semi Final berth. Gillespie went on to put in a storming drive from 28th on the grid to 18th in his Semi, which made him the last car in that race to qualify for the Final, while Morris just missed out in 20th.
Julian van der Watt meanwhile drove to an impressive third in his Semi Final, while Scott Temple came home 13th on their Semi Finals to see van der Watt fifth on the Grand Final grid, Temple 21st and Gillespie 36th.
The Grand Final proved treacherous on a drying track and while van der Watt slipped back a few places, Temple had made a few up by the time the race was red-flagged following a major accident on lap 4. Sadly by then, Alex Gillespie, who had made up six places from his back row start, was already sidelined by car troubles, leaving van der Watt and Tempel representing South Africa on the now ten lap Grand Final off a grid established by race positions on the fourth lap of the abandoned race.
Julian was clearly still not at one with the set-up of his car and dropped a few more places early on, before settling into eleventh, while Temple put in a stirring drive to make up a few more positions to bring it home 14th in spite of a smoky, shaky clutch. To close the weekend off, in spite of just failing to make the Grand Final, Rick Morris raced to a fine fourth in the Carl Harmer Pre-’81 Trophy, just a week after driving to the UK Classic Formula Ford title.
The South African team can hold its head up high with great results from a trying weekend as the Investchem Formula 1600 circus now takes a break before it all starts again with a new season to crown a new champion in 2020.