It’s been a while since the long trip back from the Oulton Park race weekend. It’s unlike any other race meeting we do in that everything happens on Saturday. Due to noise restrictions, no racing is allowed on Sunday.
That, therefore, compresses all the Caterham championships qualifying and racing into one action packed, hectic, bonkers 9 hour period. It’s no small feet for the organisers, marshals, teams and competitors to make it through but everyone was on top form and the day passed without major drama.
The two Supersport races were absolute classics. Starting with qualification, where 3rd to 9th on the grid were split by a whisker over 1/10th of a second. That’s a serious clump of cars all recording the same time in quali and the race proved that nobody had an edge.
For the majority of both races, the top 12-16 cars all circulated nose to tail – and more often than not, side by side. That there were no major incidents is testament to some great driving. It’s not something that should be taken for granted though and everyone played their part.
For me, both races followed a similar pattern. Clinging on! At times, I thought I could hang onto the front pack but in both cases, when it got to battling, I dropped backwards somewhat into the secondary pack. The racing was fast, close and fair and although the finishing positions weren’t stellar, I came away feeling I’d at least had some good racing.
Next up is Croft – not too far away now. A track I enjoyed in Roadsport. Let’s see how things go in Supersport trim.
Oulton Park is a long way away from home for me. I’ve not raced there before this weekend and have only made the trek up once, earlier this year, to turn some testing laps. However, the track itself is worth the effort.
I think it’s largely regarded as one of the best in the UK and you can see why. It has gradient, demanding corners, it takes no prisoners but is ultimately extremely satisfying to hook together into a good lap.
Testing still wasn’t looking ideal with my lap times some way off the ultimate pace. However, a very lose rear balance on the car wasn’t helping and a setup change going into qualifying felt a lot better.
Unfortunately, an abbreviated qualifying issue due to fog only left 3 laps to put a time in, and I succeeded in not doing so! That left me in 10th for race 1. But with the feeling that more performance would be available for the race.
A reasonable start and a fair opening few corners saw me in good position. Unfortunately, I was in completely the wrong position for a spin by Max going through turn 1 on lap 2. The inevitable carnage that resulted left me further down the order as people took advantage of the situation.
Unfortunately, the rest of the race was spent trying to get the places back lost from the lap 2 incident. I never really got to use the pace I felt I had. Having said that, the battle at the end with Christian was great fun and was nice to come out on top. 6th was the result. Much better feeling than past few race meets and still a feeling of more to come.
Because of Oulton’s noise restrictions, everything happens in one frantic day’s action. That leads to inevitable brain ache as you try and process that you’ve got to do it all again a few hours after race 1 finishes and not with the normal sleep in between!
I guess things weren’t too bad though as I got one of my best starts, coming out of turn 1 in 4th place. And what was most pleasing was that for the first half of the race, it was a legitimate place and I was right with the lead pack and we were gapping the rest.
Henry and Dan didn’t work together well though and at around the half way point, they were slowing our groups progress and letting Jack Brown disappear in the lead. I could also see Christian and Max closing up behind. I took advantage of some more Dan / Henry battling to move forward and I was looking to get past Tim when a combination of waved yellows and fluid down on the track meant I overshot the second chicane.
Normally, this isn’t such an issue, however, to go off under waved yellows and subsequently past marshals pushing a car is an extremely bad thing.
These marshals put their lives at risk for us and so I was absolutely gutted to have let them down. I let it get to me and spent the rest of the race trailing Max as we caught up the lead pack – but the fight had gone. I was sure I’d be out of the results after the inevitable trip to the clerks office.
An end result of 8th BUT with so much more promise that I’ve seen for the past 6 races that I couldn’t help but be fairly hopeful for the coming races at Silverstone.
And the meeting with the clerk? Well, watching the video back, there was no stationary yellow ahead of the double waved yellows and from the first point of being able to see the flags, I took the only course of action open to me. The reason for the run on was fluid down at that corner from another incident and I went by the marshals at around 20mph. No further action taken and so a positive end to a positive weekend.