After a not particularly well earned break hoping for Santa to hop down the chimney and with a ‘Happy New Year’ to my avid readers..I am back in the groove for the Oulton Park race. I very much enjoy this place to drive around; it is a classic English circuit with tasty corner’s to lurch around and some nice gradients to add a bit of up and down. It’s not the easiest place to overtake so we should see some close racing and smart thinking as the chaps try and get any advantage they can. I’m looking forward to this one and seeing how our hero’s get on.
Triple A the redoubtable Abdulkheir Al Amri leads the table in the GT class with 487 points. Paul Burgess and Stewart Dick in 2nd and 3rd respectively are locked together with 468 points apiece. The TCR class has Chris Shaw at the top of the tree with 591 and Garry Craig on 419 and Lee Bowden 413.. Not much to choose between Garry and Lee!
As the grid lined up Asimetric had the pole with Triple A and Paul Burgess, who is finding some serious pace in second spot for Ninth Light Racing. Stewart Dick slotting his Asimetric liveried car into 3rd. The TCR grid has Lee Bowden sitting happily at the front for Ignium Motorsport, Asimetric’s Tom Stanley closely followed by Chris Shaw for Ascari Autosport. With three of the top 6 spots occupied by the Asimetric team you have to tip your hat to such consistent performance by these fine drivers but with Lee taking the pole there is a real challenge to Asimetrics dominance. Ashley Gefaell in 4th in the second Ignium car backing up his teammate with a strong qualifying round.
As the cars rolled over the line it’s sweaty palms and adrenaline all round and Paul Burgess had a flyer taking the lead from Triple A and Lee hotly pursued by Tom Stanley in the TCR’s. As the race settled down and with a bit of heat giving some grip from the tyres by lap 4 Tom showed his skill with a fine overtake on this tight and twisty track moving smoothly into the TCR lead.
Pete Bingham at the same time was giving a fine demonstration of just how treacherous a wheel on the grass is here with his long glide into the tyre wall. I can tell you from personal experience just how helpless the driver is in this situation with plenty of time to observe your impending doom while wondering who had removed your braking discs..
Triple A was putting pressure on Paul Burgess while Tyler Newitt had relegated Stewart into 4th; this group separated by inches with any slight mistake likely to have bad consequences.. and so it was with Tyler getting out of shape with a wheel just catching the lethally slippy grass and taking a very unfortunate Paul Burgess with him and finding themselves right at the back of the GT race in 8 and 9th. Tyler showing the other type of class we like to see by giving up places to rejoin behind Paul. Of course Stephan Goebel and Rob Venn were happy enough as replacements; occupying 3rd and 4th behind Abdul and Stewart.
The TCR guys were also racing hard, Xavier Mamucha climbing into 3rd place and Karl Hardy 4th with Lee Bowden now in 5th. Martin Brennan was enjoying a nice battle with David Eyers when he made found out the hard way about the Oulton grass and was moved to strong language in his disappointment as reported by trackside reporter and Martins partner Stacy.
‘Princess Pete’ Bingham had hopped into the pit lane and was now at the rear of the TCR field in 14th spot chasing a recovering Martin Brennan. A fine consistent drive by Roger Morton in his ‘Safeguard by Result’ colours was in 9th chasing Ashley ‘Gravel’ and Scott Malcolm.
Yaz Samaai was having a connection issue and the dreaded ‘Blink’ may have contributed to a small coming together with Tim Otheo’ but no serious harm done while Karl Hardy; running slightly wide had a coming together with Lee Bowden.
Triple A and Stewart Dick had created a small gap at the head of the field an off by Abdul gifted the lead to Stewart, but managed to rejoin in second without damage to the car while Stephan Goebel climbed into 3rd. At the front of the TCR’s the familiar sight of Tom Stanley and Chris Shaw had resumed their season long battle.
Lap 13 saw the start of serious pit stops with drivers refuelling and perhaps taking new tyres. Fuel saving strategy has been a feature of the races with Tyler Newitt and others using it to great effect.
Great to see new driver Joe McDonald finding his feet and doing well; locked in battle with Martin Brennan and no team orders for Result drivers with David Ayers and Roger Morton also going at it hard and enjoying the tight racing. In fact there were battles all over the field with no let up of the hectic pace. Xavier was introducing himself to the armco but a swift run through the pits saw his fast repair put to good use. Poor Martin Brannon had another wheel on the grass and Roger Morton had a coming together with Ashley Gravel. So much happening all over the track with cars entering and leaving the pits creating lots of opportunities to get up close and personal.
As things settled down Triple A had the lead from Stewart with Paul Burgess 3rd. I had the pleasure of Mr Burgess company during practice for the VRA race this week and it’s grand to see him doing so well. The Stanley and Shaw show was still rolling after all the chopping and changing with Garry Craig now in third. Poor Karl Hardy had a small excursion in the dying moments of the race dropping to 9th. A great result for Scotty in 4th, after another well judged race.
Well what a race! Non stop close racing, great skill and courtesy on display from these quality drivers. More to come next week. Congratulations to Triple A for another well earned victory.