Charles Head
Provide Design

Oulton Park 11th Oct

OULTON 08 by you.

Last weekend of the season at Oulton, a full days testing booked and all was good.

Testing on the friday before race day Sat, this went well, tho I started slowly in the morning, not really finding “my groove” until lunch, this was helped by words of encouragement from Warren at Topcats who was also racing with us this weekend.  During the test my times tumbled, and by the second test in the afternoon I felt very comfortable with the car, a few tweeks to the suspension setting on the dampers and all sorted for qually.

Qually was dry but a little cold, it was 08:30am and I drove a couple of laps to warm the tyres correctly, Oulton is famous for having slippery patches in the morning under the trees and I did not want this to cause a trip to the fence, which is very close at a number of places if you think about it??  Once the tyres were hot and all was good its time to get “the lap” done, but with 24 other cars out trying to do the same, all at different cycles in the tyre and brake warm up and cool down its always going to cause traffic, and thats exactly what happened, I was unable to get a clean lap, and eventually our best put me 5th on the grid for race 1…

There was hardly time to think with a very tight schedule putting us out for race 1 at 11am and race 2 at 1pm.  Race start was good and I gained a place straight away, now behind the red Sagaris no23, looking for a way past I managed to put the car next to his and perform a clean pass at the right hander called “Lodge corner”, Oulton is a rather narrow track with a few favorite passing places, on the next lap having had the door closed in 3 or 4 corners i managed the pass at the same place on car 99, putting me in second, but having lost time battling with the other cars Mark Hockin in the lead had a nice size gap of around 10 secs, lap after lap i seemed unable to catch the “aero equipped” tuscan, Mark was flying and I could not make any impression upon the gap he had built, infact it seemed to be getting bigger!!  On the final lap there was a horrible loud noise as the exhaust had cracked ne moved, causing the system to “blow” and a resulting loss in power, under hard braking this seemed to sort itself out and we finished a very strong second, with good lap times meaning we looked good for race 2. 

Havin inspected the exhaust system it seemed the split had occured at a joint and needed welding, this had happened because of the force thru the car as I run over the kerbs on the apex of a corner, I do love some kerb, it is for sure the fastest way thru a chicane, tho not the best for the car, so i made a mental note to give the bigger kerbs some room and not batter the car over them after the first couple of laps, 20 mins of smashing into them is risky, sometimes it pays off, sometimes YOU pay.

On the grid for race 2, all good, mind totally on the job, 4500 rpm, lights out, accelerate hard and on the change to second there is a loud bang from the engine, followed by a similar noise from the exhaust as before!  “Oh S***” as I turned into the right hand hairpin called “shell” I noticed smoke coming thru the dash board, then my eyes were running, very fumey.. noise now worse than ever I had no choice but to pull in and return to the truck to inspect, by the time i got there Brian the savior from Topcats Racing was ready, spanner in hand, turned out the side of the car was catching fire because the exhaust had come out of the back box, this damaged had gone un noticed after race 1, with poor access to this area we were unable to fix the problem, and had to call it a day, my heart sank as i thought i had missed out on the points needed to secure third place in class championship overall.  Turned out we had the third spot by 5 points regardless, phew. 

Looking ahead now to winter car prep, and some testing early in the new year, hopefully this will avoid any delays like we had this season causing us to miss the first 2 rounds and go to the next without any testing.  Now we are with Topcats Racing of Aylesbury things seem far more organised, fingers crossed. 

Finally, a massive thanks to all involved, sponsors, supporters and family, racing is a massive part of my life and you all make it even better. 🙂

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