This was the first circuit that I had some testing on the day before the race, I had been around the Brands hatch circuit for my ‘ARDS’ test, but this circuit had a reputation for being difficult with adverse cambers and an undulating surface.
We did the largest of the 3 possible circuits, and at over 2.6 miles long it takes over 2 minutes for me to get round in the 318, the M3’s do it in about 1 minute 55 seconds, I was happy to get under 2 minutes 20 seconds.
The other strange item for this weekend was we had qualifying for each race, normally we line up on the second race in the order that we finished the first race, but this time we had two qualifying sessions, one for each race (also meant more track time, which is a welcome bonus)
Just before we got out on our first qualifying session, the circuit had a power cut, it was not just the circuit, but the surrounding area also was blacked out, this meant that the first session was nearly not timed, but they managed to get the timing gear up and running just before we went out on to the circuit. One of the other class ‘D’ cars pulled off the circuit on the 3rd or 4th lap just after the ‘shell oil’ corner. Apart from that qualifying went well, I stayed on the black stuff. We did not get any times though as the printer was still out of action from the power cut, also I had to put in my fuel, and could not refill the container, as the onsite filling station also was without power. When we were all back the car that had stopped on the circuit was returned and we gathered round to see what was wrong, it turned out that the driver had turned off the fuel pump, and without this the car would not start or idle. We also all got weighed when we came off the circuit, and my car had gone down to a better weight of 1160kg (it was 1207kg at Croft earlier this year).
The second qualifying went down well and all the cars made it back to the pits in one piece, the next time we were out on the circuit it was for the first race.
Whilst we were waiting on the grid for the first race to start, there was quite a wait as they had to still recover a car from the previous race that had crashed, when the lights came on and went out, I got a good start and made up a place or two, but noticed waved yellow flags, this meant a car in front of us had not left the grid, and I had to avoid this (it slowed me down a little) this was actually a good thing, as going into the first corner, three of the front runners came together and this caused a ripple effect throughout the rest of the cars, with one of the class ‘D’ cars getting a rear wheel onto the grass and spinning into another class ‘D’ car, they both recovered and continued, as the race went on I had a couple of battles with other class ‘D’ drivers, one of which I passed twice, but they kept spinning due to damage inflicted on the first corner, and this let me past both times. The race was stopped on lap 5, as the leading car blew its engine and came to rest on the ‘Shell oil’ corner and spilt oil around the area, so we came back round and lined up on the grid, I noticed one of the class ‘D’ cars went off down the pit lane, and my petrol level was getting low.
When we restarted we had just 4 laps to go, at this stage I was third in class ‘D’, but there was a quicker driver behind me, that I thought would dive into the first corner, so I took note that if he made up ground on the start not to block his charge, as it could end my race. The car that went into the pits came out after we restarted (he also was low on fuel and was suffering fuel starvation around some corners), I had a good close race for the next 3 laps, and was running in forth position until I was passed, then I could not take the position back as we were on the last lap, and its a difficult circuit to pass people on. So I finished the first race in fifth.
The second race was missing a few of the class ‘A’ cars, so we were assisting the marshals, to ensure that we got out on the circuit as soon as we could. This race was uneventful, I got a good start and got in front of another class ‘D’ car and managed to stay in that position for the rest of the race, it was a tight battle, and a very enjoyable race for both of us, and I do like Oulton park as a circuit and hopefully all those with damage will get it repaired for the next race in two weeks in Thruxton for the final races of the season.