A day of racing at Oulton Park this past Saturday courtesy of the British Racing & Sports Car Club and its North Western Centre produced a fabulous spectacle for all trackside and in the paddock. No less than four new race winners were crowned over the course of the nine races on the timetable, as Mazda MX-5s, CityCars and the ClubSport Trophy all brought the action.

Amongst the contenders in attendance in the GAZ Shocks Mazda MX-5 Championship was 2023 champion Steve Foden, the #1 making a guest appearance on the grid at his local circuit. He would be an interesting new element in a championship battle that was already starting to take an early shape. Adam Sparrow took pole in qualifying, but only held the lead for a lap before Luke Pullen took over in front and led the remainder of the race all the way to the flag. Pullen captured his first win of the season, while behind the order changed after track limits penalties shuffled the rest of the podium places. When it did shake out, Foden took P2 ahead of championship leader Thomas Langford, although the latter would get the points for second due to Foden’s guest status. Jack Noller and William Chadwick completed the top five.

Pullen attempted to pick up where he’d left off in race two, leading again from pole for a lap before Foden slipped in front. The order stabilised through a mid-race safety car before the battle recommenced between the top two, Pullen and Foden going back and forth in their fight for victory. At the chequered flag, Pullen was the one across the line first to complete a superb double win on the day, Foden settling for second place and the two drivers embracing in celebration and respect of a battle hard fought. Langford hovered just behind in third, ahead of Noller and Ewan Thomas.

Paul Bateman proved he was still the man everyone had to try and beat in the Downforce Radio Mazda MX-5 Clubman Championship, even though only one of the two wins up for grabs went his way on the day. His main rival in both was Jack Warry who was looking for his first outright MX-5 Clubman win, and he pressured Bateman hard throughout race one after the pair had started on the front row together. Despite managing to get in front for a single lap, Warry couldn’t overhaul the championship leader totally and Bateman only just picked up victory by less than two tenths from Warry in second. Jonathan Greensmith a distant third, followed by Jake Paice and Martin Tolley.

While race two began as many had expected with Bateman leading from pole, it was judged that he’d jumped the start and therefore received a ten second time penalty as a result. Bateman still led the entire race on track from start to finish, but was closed down in the final minutes by a charging Warry. With Bateman’s penalty demoting him to third, Warry was therefore promoted to his first championship race win ahead of Greensmith in second, while Tolley and Russell Halley completed the top five finishers.

As expected, the Clapham North MOT Mazda MX-5 SuperCup didn’t disappoint in its pair of races on the day at Oulton Park, both of which brought a brand new race winner to the fore. Joe Wiggin followed up fastest time in qualifying which gave him pole for race one, with his first ever SuperCup win – but he had to fight to get it. He was tailed all race first by Aidan Hills and then by Leigh Britten, with the leading pair tangling on the penultimate lap but surviving to take first and second with Hills third. Club class saw successful returns for both Kamal Kalsi and Wilbur Tiley who took the top two spots in race one, ahead of class points leader Aimee Watts in third after she was demoted one place due to track limits time penalties.

Race two initially appeared to be a great chance for Patrick Fletcher to get back to the top step and the points leader would lead the first half, before Hills and polesitter Tom Griffiths demoted him to third. Another magnificent scramble for the podium took place in the final couple of laps, with Wiggin eventually working his way to the front on the final lap and completing his brace of wins. Hills picked up P2 on this occasion, with Fletcher resided to third. Club class victory went to Wilbur Tiley this time as he swapped places with Kalsi, as Watts again added to her points lead with another third place.

There were more first time race winners over in the Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup & Student Motorsport Challenge too. Richard Jepp had led Team Northbrook Racing to two consecutive SMC titles and won numerous races in the category, but had never stood on the outright CityCar podium in any race to date. That all changed in race one as he converted a well taken pole position into a complete lights to flag victory, much to his and the team’s joy and relief. He was never headed for the entire 15 minutes, taking the flag ahead of Joe Moss in second and Stuart Bliss in third, while Jepp also took another SMC win for Northbrook ahead of Brady Pollock for West Suffolk College and returning CityCar champion Elliot Lettis for season newcomers City College Norwich, their first Student Motorsport podium.

Then came the second race where a rapid start from the second row gave Alistair May the chance to leap from fourth to first on lap one, into a lead that he too would not relinquish until the end. Jepp would tail him all the way to the end but was unable to unseat May from P1 and a first CityCar win in only his second race and his first weekend in the car, while Bliss again completed the top three unable to add more wins to his tally from Snetterton. Jepp was again Student Motorsport Challenge winner for Northbrook, with Pollock again P2 for West Suffolk and Jack Wheeler taking silverware for Easy Surrey in third.

The 45-minute SW Motorsports ClubSport Trophy race featured another sold-out grid of 38 cars with a pair of VW Golfs on the front row of Chris Coomer and Jamie Hadley. Racing ran as planned for the first half of the race, before the safety car was called for a car off the road at Shell Oils with broken suspension. The red flag was thrown to allow the remaining minutes of the race to be run without further disruption, and to recover the stricken car quicker from the gravel.

On the restart, David May’s Nissan 370Z took the lead followed by Hadley’s Golf and Andrew Dyer’s Audi TTCup, with Hadley staying on the Nissan’s tail for a couple of laps before retaking the lead. From here, the Golf quickly gapped the pack by at least a couple of seconds, helped by a mechanical issue forcing May to stop just before the end. By the flag, Hadley took overall victory by eight seconds, winning overall and in Class A ahead of Class B winner Dyer in second in the TT. Phiroze Bilimoria’s VW Scirocco picked up third outright ahead of Coomer’s Golf in fourth and Rob Andrade in another Golf completing the top five.

Other class winners on the day were Rob Walker’s Mazda MX-5 Mk3 in Class C, Jonathan Salem’s MINI Cooper in Class D and Chris Fantana’s Mazda MX-5 Mk1 in Class D.

Written by Scott Woodwiss


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