Oulton Park: The English Nurburgring. I was ever so slightly intimidated.
It took all four sessions of Testing on the friday with my instructor Ian Ashley (who is a Gold Cup winner around Oulton Park!) for me to get my head round the full circuit with its blind corners, dips and sweeping bends. The track was very technical and leaves very little room for error. But when you get it right, it feels very good.
The car felt so much better than Anglesey, I had a good feeling about the weekend although you wouldn’t have thought it from my qualification performance.
I could not put together a decent lap due to poor lap management by myself and a lot of traffic on the circuit. I took it on the chin and learnt from it. I qualified seventh out of nine cars.
Before the race, I was approached by MotorsTV and asked whether I’d mind if they put one of their Go-Pro cameras in my car. I definitely did not mind! The more coverage on TV for me, the better!
The race was highly entertaining and I had a lot of fun and frolics with my fellow competitors. After the start, I stayed seventh for a lap until I overtook Karl Rossin for sixth (03:19) and chased down Dave Jones for the next position. A silly manoeuvre trying to go round the outside of Dave at the Shell Oil Corner (06:10) saw me drop back to eighth position.
I then maintained position until first Karl spun at Lodge Corner (09:30) and then Dave did likewise at Old Hall (09:53) on the same lap. Suddenly I was in fifth position and dicing with Peter Smith for fourth which was a lot of fun. This carried on for a few laps until I managed to overtake going into Knickerbrook (17:20).
This left me chasing John Broadley ahead for the last podium position. By this time, Alastair Kirkham and Simon Hawksley had got away from the pack. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts I could not get past John and had to settle for fourth spot.
A fun and exhilarating race.
I started from third on the grid instead of fourth as Alastair Kirkham gave up his car for Karl Rossin to use. Karl’s own car had been excluded from the race due to it not passing the minimum height requirement. Something that Alastair felt was unfair and harsh.
At the start, I maintained my third position with Simon Hawksley and John Broadley in front fighting it out for the lead. Simon overtook John after a few laps on the main straight (07:40) It looked like John missed a gear as he had been well ahead up to this point. I then passed him on the very next lap at the hairpin (10:25).
This left Simon between myself and my first victory. I was on to his rear bumper very quickly (12:27) despite debris right in my racing line at Druids Corner. At the point of me readying for the attack, I lost all my rear brakes (upon inspection after the race, they had completely disintegrated!) so I decide to back off and hold on to my second place.
Another opportunity of a win missed but at least a podium position as consolation.
After the debacle of Anglesey, the racing at Oulton Park was what I needed to once again have fun and enjoy what I was doing.
I was very quickly learning to deal with the ups and down of racing. I was still hooked and the next meeting would be my “Home” circuit: Brands Hatch. Bring it on!