Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Number 13 - Oulton Park

Early morning start from Scotland and a quick hack down the Motorways brought me to Oulton Park for the first time. Immediate impressions were good - another MSV circuit looking neat and tidy and my initial reaction was that there was quite a small crowd as I started spectating at Lodge, but later wanderings took me to Knickerbrook / Cascades infield area where there was a substantial crowd, and I could see why, as it gave a great view of much of that side of the circuit.

This was my second experience of the CSCC package and once again my favourite Special Saloons and Modsports were to the fore. A number of familiar faces from the Mallory Park meeting, but also a few new ones, including the man who took pole, Andy Southcott in his MG Midget, though unfortunately he did not get out for the first race.

Bob Claxton had had problems with his Skoda and so brought along his Renault 21 Turbo instead

and there were a couple of Minis that had not been at Mallory - James Guest (#54) and Anthony Hayes (#85)

The first race saw a close win for Paul Sibley's Elan by just 1.3secs from Danny Morris' Peugeot 309 but in the second race he ran away from Steven Moss' space frame Anglia to win by 10 seconds. Moss and Pete Stevens in the Vauxhall Carlton had had a thrilling battle in race 1 being just 0.054secs apart at the flag (in Moss' favour).

The Swinging Sixties 40-minute with pit stop / optional driver change race was a walkover for Stuart McPherson and Mark Halstead in their Ginetta G4 who were exactly 5 seconds a lap faster than their nearest rival, the Triumph TR6 of Christopher Edwards.

There was very wide range of cars in this race - Ginetta G4s, Triumph TRs (various), Lotus Cortinas, Jaguar Mk1 Saloon and E-type, Ford Anglia, MGB, Sunbeam Tiger, Lotus Elans, Minis etc. and it was interesting to see how the different makes models were very close on time and created some cosmopolitan duels.

Andy Yool (Ford Anglia)

Steve Pickering (Sunbeam Tiger)

One aspect of the CSCC formulae which makes for interesting races and stops one car being too dominant is the application of a 30second success penalty if you win a race - and this applies for the rest of the season - and is cumulative - so win 2 races and the penalty goes to 60 seconds. This spreads the victory laurels around though this was the second consecutive victory by the Halstead / McPherson Ginetta - it might be harder for them in the next race to win again though.

A similar success penalty applied to the previous winners in the Future Classics category - another great variety of saloons and sports cars, including some two car teams. Funnily enough for one of those teams the second car broke down early on in its stint and the driver ran back to the pits and got into the first car that had been out already. Unfortunately in this race an engine blow-up led to oil on the track and a damaging off for Nicholas Olson's Esprit.
The race was restarted over 5 laps and resulted in a win for Darren Smith in his TVR Tuscan Challenge car seen below.

Another very varied field as can be seen from the selection of cars below

Alex Livesley (Jensen Healey)

Mark Lucock (Ford Escort RS2000)

Jack Brownlie and Nick Reynolds (Rover 216 GTi)

Phil Seaman and Geoff Beale (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus)

Paul Connell (Ford Sierra Cosworth Turbo)

John Broadley and Jon Jeffery (Porsche 924)

There was also a "Classic K" race which is for pre1966 GT and Touring cars running to the FIA Appendix K regulations and this was dominated by Lotus Elans though early leader, the Halstead / McPherson example failed to finish and victory instead went to Tom Andrew in his 26R variant.

The final races were the only one make (but not one model) ones of the weekend for Classic Ferraris, principally 308GTBs and 328 GTBs, both won by David Tomlin but only after a penalty for James Cartwright in the first race and a late spin for Gary Culver in the second.

I enjoyed Oulton Park very much - great looking circuit, some great viewing spots and good commentary. I even managed to avoid having to eat a circuit cheeseburger which has been my staple diet all season it seems!! It is a long circuit and not all of it is open to spectators but it is quite compact and as I said earlier a lot can be seen from one or two spots right in the middle with not much distance to travel to get another good viewing point. I would certainly go back again but the limited number of Sunday meetings is a bit of a restriction, as is the distance from home, but with friends close by who gave me a bed this time, it is within the bounds of reason that I will return - I would certainly like to do the Gold Cup meeting.

From Oulton the next stop was Anglesey and the delights of the Fun Cup, Formula Ford and Ford XRs. But that is the next posting!!

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