Oulton Park 2018, Race Report.
Well, the weather held off in the end as the drivers of the Peter Best MG Cup headed up to the Frozen North of the country to the picturesque Oulton Park race circuit.
Many of the racers had arrived on the Friday evening in preparation for the Saturday race day, some had even come up on the Thursday so they could make use of the test day being run on Friday. One of these was Class A ZR man Darren Harris, some say he has no hair to aid his slipstream, others say his right foot is too heavy and he keeps burning out clutches! After the last session of the day he had burnt off the last of the material on the clutch and handed the car to his slightly snarly chief mechanic Stuart to fix. Which obviously was a good move considering what was to come.
Kayleigh Twigger was again making good progress during her test sessions as was Hannah Brian who had been testing on the Tuesday, good job really as the drive hub and shaft on her Metro decided it had had enough and spat out all it’s bearings, just giving enough free time to source new parts and have them fitted (by me!) in readiness for Race Day.
We were very nearly up to 17 entered drivers as the morning of race day arrived. But behold, Jon Harker had yet another nightmare befall him and he was on his way home before the qually session had even started. Jon has entered every race this year but has been inundated with issues from his not so trusty MGTF LE500, we can only wish him luck in completing a race at Snetterton…
So, 16 racers went out onto the track in cool conditions for the first session of the day. Matt Simpson in the Miami Blue Tomcat was the best of the bunch and posted a time that was a mere 2 tenths quicker than the ZS of Mr P Burchill, who has suddenly found great pace at his (nearly) local circuit. Quickest Class B driver was Ian Boulton who was well and truly up there and mixing it with the Class C cars and the fastest Class A driver was Darren Harris.
Mike Williams in his 190 Metro came into the pits after just one lap complaining of something rolling round his feet and under his pedals…. Once his fuel filler cap had been found and placed back on the tank he was back on his merry way, only to return to pits yet again with the rear righthand wheel coming adrift from the hub. Back out for a third time he went, but was soon to return to the pits after Mike realised that if he started from the back of the grid again he would have much more fun come race time.
Many of the drivers must have been listening to the whimsical excuses from Nick Arden and were also complaining of not being able to get heat into their tyres.
The temperatures had risen and the day had become muggy as the lights went out for the first time of the day. The first into Old Hall bend was Matt Simpson, but Demon starter Mike Williams who had started from the back of the grid passed 7 cars before the first corner and was on a mission. The Metro of Alan Brooke had chased Matt’s Tomcat into turn 1 closely followed by the guest car of Stuart Tranter who had the Black Tomcat of Buckley right behind him, they were both through and underneath Pete Burchill hanging him out to dry on the outside.
After a very leary moment on the way into Cascades Mike and his Metro set about going through the field like the hot knife through butter (etc etc) and by lap 2 was up to 8th and by lap 6 was 3rd and chasing the duelling duo of Buckley and Simpson.
For a while it seemed like he might just be able to get up to the front two but a quick fix on his exhaust after qually had finally let go and he was black flagged by race control and was forced to pit and end his race.
A fine battle was unfolding further back between Ian Boulton, Pete Burchill, and Oulton Park MG Cup race sponsor, (many thanks to Expert Beauty!) Dave Thomson who were all having much fun fighting over 3rd place.
Matt Simpson was just about able to hold off the hard charging Rich Buckley in the Black Tomcat (black cars are usually faster anyway..) but luck was on Rich’s side during race one as the fuel pump on Matt’s car unbeknown to him was about to pack up & on the last lap of all things, and he slipped to finish second overall. Third overall went to the fastest Class B car out there of Ian Boulton. 2017 Champion Alan Brooke was also unable to finish the race as the rapid metro had a lifter let go and that was his racing done for the day.
Well done to Class C & Race winner Rich Buckley! Class B winner Ian Boulton, and Class A winner Darren Harris.
The MG Cup may have been the last race of the day on the timetable, but as they say the best is always left till last!
Pole position was held by Matt Simpson for the second race in a row, but this was not to last as the issue he had with the fuel pump at the end of race ! was about to bite him in the behind, and was to finally let go straight after the start.
All of the luck on the other hand was gifted to Mad Metro Mike as he assumed his preferred last spot on the grid, and launched himself to 2nd overall by turn 2! Passing 14 cars in the process, and thankfully the footage from his onboard camera as slightly blurred, I can only assume so was Mike’s vision for lap one as well.
All of a sudden the mirrors of Buckley’s Tomcat were very full of the raging Metro and there was very little that could be done to prevent an inevitable pass into the lead. But in the mean time there was enough time for Mike to make an off track excursion at great pace through Cascades, but only to re-join still in second and not having lost too much ground, after gathering up what were left of his thoughts, the Mighty Metro set up a pass into Druids and some very gentlemanly racing room was given by the Tomcat’s driver and Mike slid into top spot.
By lap 5 there was still only about a second between the leading pair as Buckley was not letting Williams get away from him.
The battle for 3rd place overall was becoming an epic 7 car fight with Tranter, Thompson, Nixon, Boulton, Arden, Harris & Burchill all lapping at very similar times and all only covered by a few seconds.
This was proving to be the dice of the day as they all went at it hammer and tongs for 5 laps, that was until lap 6 when at Island bend, a very quick 100mph near flat out left hander, the cars of Nixon and Boulton had an unavoidable coming together whilst trying miss another driver who was having a moment of his own. The ZR and the Tomcat were skittled across the grass and ended up against the barriers at the Shell Oils hairpin. Both drivers emerged from their cars shaken but not stirred.
With all the shenanigans at Island Bend going on this put a large gap between Nick Arden and Kayleigh Twigger and Stuart Tranter had re-joined behind them both. Stuart soon got past the other Tomcat and once past he tried to pull away, but Kayleigh used this opportunity to learn some better racing lines and was soon lapping faster and hanging onto the coat-tails of the Yellow Peril Tomcat.
This was to be the finishing order of an event filled Race 2, and once back in the Paddock everyone was able to assess both the damage and the triumphs of their race day.
Darren Harris was awarded not only Driver of the Race for Race 2, but also Driver of the Day. To top off the day he also managed to break the MG Cup lap record for Oulton Park which was previously held by James Walpole since 2013.
Both Dave Nixon and Ian Boulton were checked over in the Med Centre and after some sore hands and necks for the following few days, both are looking to re build their cars very soon.
We hope to see them both out racing as soon as they are able.
So, there is one last piece of news…….
***The Champion for 2018 is Darren Harris !!***
It is now mathematically impossible for anyone else to catch him up in the title race and so the Class A, and Overall Championship accolades go to him.
With less than 4 weeks to go until the Snetterton 300 Showdown races in the east of England, we hope to see as many of the racers and supporters there.
See you at Snetterton everyone !!.