Greetings and welcome to England for the next round of the series. Oulton Park is a well beloved track with a layout that on the surface should give the agile Porsche 718 Cayman a leg-up against the sheer power of the M4 Beemer. In recent weeks the dominance of Andrew Hopley driving the BMW has come under more threat from the resurgent Porsche with great results from Tyler Newitt and Stewart Dick. It’s becoming clear that it’s very much ‘Horses for Courses as the different tracks can favour one car over the other.
We were happy to welcome a new driver to the fray in the shape of Martin Brennan. As the partner of ‘Queen of the Chat’ Stacy Backfire’s No1 fan, he has been persuaded by watching the Backfire crew do their thing every week to invest in a rig and join the drivers for his first outing. Well done to both of them.
The nature of this tight twisty circuit means passing places are at a premium and I was expecting some cheek by jowl racing as people tried to make progress.
As the grid formed up it was the usual suspects of Andrew Hopley and Stewart Dick with Stewart claiming the top slot this week and Kevin Viemont, Abdul al Amry and ‘Double R’ Romaim Rateau filling out the top 5. In the TCR Tom Stanley and Chris Shaw were continuing their season long battle for for the front of the grid, Mark Heron, Scott Malcolm, and Karl Hardy completing the front runners.
As the lights changed to green everyone got away cleanly, Stewart being hotly pursued by Andy with triple A in 3rd. Chris Shaw was under pressure from the start with Tom Stanley taking advantage of the hole in the air that Chris was making for him. Chris and Tom have been demonstrating all season that they were the cream of the TCR crop, and it looked like more of the same as Tom swept past Chris to take the lead. These two have been locked bumper to bumper for race after race; with very little to separate these two talented drivers.
With a courageous and well timed move Andrew passed Stewart into first place and the lines were drawn..
At around the same time Martin Brennan was introducing himself to the local walls and dealing with his misfortune with good grace..as reported by Stacy. Then, just as the race seemed to be settling into familiar lines, race leader Andy Hopley made a rare error, a wheel off the track leading to a visit to the tyre wall. This little excursion cost him 6 places as he re-joined in 7th. As was mentioned in the commentary these kind of mistakes are extremely rare from Mr Hopley and all of a sudden the race was wide open.
Pete Bingham ‘Princess Pete’ to his friends, was once again gracing the grid with her royal presence. Continuing the themed paint jobs provided by Clyde, this weeks KY Jelly car was running in 9th position and going well while one slot ahead Tyler Newitt who had been very quiet during the first laps was enjoying a dice with Paul Burgess. No surprise because the field had been racing hard since the lights went green with battles everywhere. Tom Stanley was still locked into a bumper to bumper contest with Chris Shaw
Scott Malcolm meanwhile was having a ding dong with David Eyers and got into third place with David in 4th in their class. Karl Hardy was having his own troubles staying on the track and was accumulating ‘off tracks’ like they were going out of style reaching the heady heights of 2 drive through penalties in one race. Thinking on his feet Andy Hopley opted for an early pit-stop and probably couldn’t believe his eyes when the Safety Car appeared..
Like them or not a ‘Random Yellow’ throws everything into the air and then we wait to see where it lands! Clyde was quick to point out this could be a stroke of luck for Andrew Hopley and so it turned out. Princess Pete had pitted early and everyone assumed he would get a wave through to the front.. but it was not to be, and he languished in the centre of the pack.
As the dust settled it was clear that The BMW M4 of Mr Hopley had moved forward and the re-shuffled bunch had Paul Burgess in first position and Tyler Newitt in second with Andy in third and not hanging about from the re-start, moving straight into the attack and not taking long to secure second then first position from a fiercely resisting field. Quite a ride for Andy and Tyler Newitts quiet first half now explained by the fuel saving strategy that had put him into second.
Meanwhile the erstwhile leaders of the TCR race messrs Stanley and Shaw had found themselves sliding down the order as Karl Hardy and David Eyers slid up it. Probably all that KY jelly on the grid but none of it was affecting Garry Craig who had slid right to the top of the pile. His consistent driving allied to a bit of luck putting him in the lead of the TCR’s as the race was drawing to a close With David and Karl retaining their second and third places.
Up ahead Andy Hopley was leading Tyler when a wheel on the grass let the vigilant Stewart Dick through to secure his second place with Tyler holding on to 3rd. Whew!
Well! this was all I expected it to be really. This is a tight demanding track and there will be casualties along the way. But for Up’s and Downs and sheer great viewing this is hard to beat. Congratulations to Backfire and all the drivers for providing a feast to enjoy. Roll on next week.