Oulton Park from what I have heard features on most drivers top tracks in the UK list and for good reason. It’s an absolute gem of a place. Proper old school track which is a good mix of elevation changes, high and low speed corners with not always much run off. Due to the technical nature it really separates the drivers with technical ability from those that rely of the tow of the car in front to keep up.
After the mixed results at Croft and Silverstone I went into Oulton Park with a very simple game plan. Don’t crash or have my car fail on me! Which meant don’t take unnecessary risks and good points is better than no points.
Turned out the weekend would go better than I had hoped for.
Quali – P1
Quali was the start of a surprising weekend result wise. The usual suspects formed part of a quali team to try and get some fast laps in. However due to the large difference in speeds between drivers it was difficult to get a clear lap in. I did what I thought was an ok lap and was a little surprised when I heard the time the fastest driver set. Even more shocked to find out that it was me that set it!
Obviously in motorsport the one universal truth is the circuit timing is always correct. While my vbox onboard based on GPS could have suffered a ‘blip’ and be wrong. In any case I would have started on the first couple of rows and it probably had little impact on the race result. I did find it slightly amusing as I was saying I couldn’t possibly of done that lap everyone was telling me to shut up and take it anyway!
Race 1 – P2
Starting in pole I nearly made a complete arse of myself when I moved my left foot when the light turned red instead of went out. Luckily I stopped myself with only a gentle rock forward and didn’t trigger a false start. However as I backed off the light changed and I bodged it with too much wheelspin and settled into 2nd place. Over the first few laps Dan F and I started to pull a slight lead on the front group.
Typically I was trying to hard and a couple of mistakes saw me back in 4th. Shortly after the safety car was deployed for a large chunk of the race after a 4 car accident. All the drivers were unhurt which is always the primary concern on your mind after seeing the damaged cars.
On the restart Dan F pulled a bit of a lead and James M managed to jump Justin while I stayed in 4th place. After a couple of laps it looked like Dan F had pulled a gap that no one would close and I was able to pull a double overtake into 2nd place. From that point forward it looked like the battle for second would be between James M, Justin H & Dan H and me. We would go on swapping positions multiple times a lap. All of a sudden Dan F was back in our sights and I was shocked to see his wheel make a bid for freedom and go bouncing across the track.
As it was near the end of the race they red flagged it. Due to the count back under red flag rules it meant that Dan F kept the win. While I secured 2nd place which was a great result for me and was happy to be on the podium again. Twice in a year makes it my best season so far!
- P1: Dan French
- P2: Matt Sheppard
- P3: Justin Heap
Race 2 – P2
In the build up to the race the front group agreed we should try and be ‘sensible’ for the first part of the race and try and pull a gap on the rest of the pack. From a spectator point of view I’m sure it makes the racing look less exciting. However from a drivers point of view it’s a great strategy plan. If you can split the field instead of a 7 car fight for a podium you can turn it into a 4 or maybe even 3 car fight which guarantees a good result.
I managed to bodge the start again but held onto second place and just sat in the middle of a 4 car train behind Dan F while ahead of James M and Justin H. For 2/3rd of the race we just held positions earning a 6 second lead over 5th place. It was fun but tense as the anticipation of someone breaking the truce built as the end of the race got ever closer. When you are behind someone and clearly have more speed because of the tow effect it takes a lot of patience and restraint to back off and coast behind a car in a race!
James M was the first to make a move when I messed up the first chicane and got a poor exit. Decide it was better to back off and wave him through that cost us both time and allow Dan F to pull away (sorry Dan!). After picking the wrong person to follow a few corners later Justin H managed to get past Dan F and I.
At this point I was back in 4th place but happy to watch the 3 cars in front of me race extremely hard on the assumption that within a couple of laps someone was bound to mess up. Sure enough Justin H out braked himself handing me 3rd place back. While all this fighting had been going on we had been lapping 3 second a lap slower than before. Leading to me having to go on the defensive against Greg. The fact we had lost 6 seconds in 2 laps to the people behind is a case in point about why working together is a good idea early in a race to increase your chance of a good result.
Crossing the line the order would be James M, Dan F, Matt S, Greg M all within 1 second.
However this race would be just as controversial as quali and race 1. James M had managed to hit 3 track limit sensors and picked up a 5 second penalty dropping him to 5th. Promoting the rest of us up the grid. Really put a dampener on the result as James had really earned that win in a tough race. Racing really is a cruel sport most of the time. Still a 2nd place means it was my best race weekend ever.
- P1: Dan French
- P2: Matt Sheppard
- P3: Greg Monks
Oulton for me was my best ever race weekend results with pole in quali and 2nd place trophies in both races. Finishing both races with a strong result was just what I needed after failing to finish the second race at the Silverstone and Croft rounds. Even better is the car had no damage which makes my bank balance even happier.
The 2019 270R championship is shaping up to be a year to remember. So far no driver has had a clear run of great results. I’m sure that will continue as several drivers have been plagued with bad luck this season James M, Tom A & Oli P have taken bad luck to a new level. Graham M, Toby C have both suffered from tracks they didn’t know as well as others. Those are just 5 of several people who I expect to start taking podiums which will prevent any of the podium finishers so far running away with the championship.
Next round is at Snetterton on Saturday 29th June.
Photos from Jon @ Snappy Racers.