Testing on Friday was interesting. I was 3 seconds off the pace. I was very disappointed with this having tested at the circuit earlier in the year. As one of my favourite circuits in the country this was a real shock to me but I hadn’t been in the car since Holland, 2 months beforehand.
Chris Bingham was on the pace with this being his nearest circuit so I just needed to watch what he was up to and get some of the lines from him. Fortunately this was possible where I left the pits shortly after him and got a clear indication where I was going wrong. Almost immediately I was back on the pace and posted some if the fasted lap times of the day.
Chris Bingham and me went out onto the circuit with the main aim of giving each other tows around the circuit. This would help to get a good lap time, however this didn’t really work for either of us early on in the session. We both struggled to get clear laps and kept catching the slower cars in front of us. Chris had managed to put in a fast lap in the session and I was running 6th with one lap to go. I had managed to break free of the cars in front of me and got great times in the first half of the lap. Closing in on the cars in front of me Matthew Whate moved over at a critical part of the circuit to allow me through on the racing line. The last two corners we taken without any other cars in the way where I hoped and prayed that it was enough to be close to my championship rivals at the front……it was, last lap I jumped from 6th to Pole but better late than never! If it wasn’t for Matthew having the foresight and manners to move over at the critical stage of the lap it couldn’t have been done. Thanks Matt!
A great start again enabled me to get to the first corner in the lead. I was then passed by Mike Hart and Kurt Brady in the following laps, with some very close and excellent car control from all competitors. Mike continued to swap positions with me for first place, where Jon Mortimer and Aaron Head fell behind from the lead pack. Mike passed me again into the fast Shell Oil hairpin, only for me to take the lead back later in the lap. Kurt then came into the frame and passes both Mike and me on the same lap. It was now me, Kurt and Mike for the lead until Kurt spun out on the penultimate lap before recovering down the field. Jon Mortimer had now caught up and was challenging Mike and me for the lead. Mike and Jon were tripping over each other on the final lap, which enabled me to block them both into the final corner. I finished 1st in this race, but it was the hardest fought race and one of the most rewarding wins of the year. Jon finished 2nd and Mike a very close 3rd.
As we waited in the assembly area for the formation lap the rain started. I was one of the last to arrive and I knew that all of us had opted for a dry set up. I got a great start and got comfortably into the lead for the first corner. I managed to pull out a small lead on the chasing pack but this was difficult to keep as the lead car. If you are following someone in the wet you can mirror their movements but with a clear track ahead, you have nothing that helps you see the levels of grip in front of you. Mike Hart quickly made ground on me by the end of the lap 1 and passed at the straight with a tow before the end of lap 2.
I kept pace with Mike as we both pulled away from the rest of the chasing pack but his pace in the wet was very good. He attacked the circuit with poise and I was unable to gain back the ground I was losing on each lap. Rather than push to the limit, I settled for a comfortable 2nd place where Aaron Head finished 3rd.
My results from Oulton in the tricky conditions were very hard earned. 1st and 2nd from this weekend was a great result for my Championship challenge.
Next Round Anglesey