BRSCC RACES BACK TO LIFE AT OULTON PARK SEASON OPENER FOR 2020
Our North Western Centre had the honour of staging the BRSCC’s first post-lockdown meeting at Oulton Park on 18th July with an action-packed programme of 12 races.
Headlining the day was the club’s premier touring car series which combines TCR UK with the Dunlop TCT Championship. In the opening encounter, Lewis Kent was out in front at the end of lap 1 with his Hyundai i30 but it was Henry Neal’s Honda Civic that had the most pace in the slippery conditions. As Neal was running in the TCT Class, Kent in his TCR entry did not put up too much resistance when he was caught and so Neal took the first victory of the season.
The dryer conditions which prevailed for the second contest were much more to the liking of Kent and he took the chequered flag 9 seconds ahead of Neal. His only concern was keeping his wet tyres from over-heating in the closing stages.
Running alongside the TCR UK/Dunlop TCT Championship this season is the VW Cup. At the first time of asking, Richard Gilbert and Josh Coggan ran in formation to finish 1-2 in their JM Racing Golfs. Later in the day, Coggan was the fifth car home in this class as Gilbert held off Oliver Brown (Golf) to take another win.
A capacity grid of Formula Ford 1600 cars was attracted to Cheshire when the Avon Tyres National and Northern Championships ran together. Neil Maclennan (KMR Spectrum) converted pole position into the lead of a very wet race 1. Initially, the Low Dempsey Racing Ray of Jonathan Browne filled his mirrors but soon Rory Smith was showing great pace thanks to his B-M Racing Medina offering plenty of grip in the rain. He moved up to second and ran side-by-side with Maclennan around the banking at the Shell Hairpin but was unable to make the move stick.
After a brief appearance from the Safety Car, Smith finally overtook Maclennan at Hislops but with a number of cars crashing in the difficult conditions, the red flags came out and the results were taken from the previous lap when Maclennan was still ahead.
Part 2 of the Double Header saw 4 cars battling for the honours. Maclennan kept Smith at bay throughout this time around as a moment on the grass at Cascades for Browne allowed Chris Middlehurst (Team Dolan Van Diemen) to take third.
In the Northern & Super Classic section, BRSCC Chairman Peter Daly (Van Diemen) twice took top honours.
Steven Dailly has won the last 3 Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup Championships however his latest campaign did not begin too well as he was runner-up to Ian Jones in the first outing before the pair both slid off the road at Island Bend on the first lap of the second. This left the door open for Tom Griffiths to add a win to his earlier third place as Ben Huntley and Wayne Flint completed the podium.
Usually, the Caterham Academy contenders take part in a sprint before their first race meeting however the lockdown prevented that from happening this year therefore an extremely slippery Oulton Park provided their first competitive appearance. It is credit to all the drivers that there were few incidents. In the White Group, Dominique Mannsperger worked his way up the order to take the lead from early pace-setter, Hugo Bush, on the penultimate lap before picking his way through some dense backmarker traffic to take the win. Taylor O’Flanagan out-braked Simon Shaw at Lodge to complete the podium.
There was more late action in the Green Group where Chris Skillicorn and Tom Cockerill fought it out for the win. The last couple of laps were thrilling as Cockerill made a pass under braking for Hislops before Skillicorn grabbed the lead back at Lodge. Cockerill then made another pass at Island. He maintained his advantage despite the front running duo both running wide on to the grass the final time they tackled Druids.
The first Milltek Sport Civic Cup encounter was halted after opening-lap contact between Bruce Winfield and Andrew Gaugler sent the latter on a high-speed trip across the grass at Dentons which ended when the barriers launched him into a series of barrel-rolls. Winfield won the restart from Paul Taylor and Alistair Camp but was given a 5 place grid penalty for the second event due to him being adjudged to have caused Gaugler’s crash. This was compounded as the Top Ten finishers from earlier in the day were reversed. Winfield worked his way up to take third at Hislops on the final circuit, coming home behind Morgan Bailey and Max Lewis.
The front row for the first Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge grid of the day was left empty as a mark of respect for former Championship Assistant Co-ordinator, Ken Mellor, who passed away in the Spring. The fastest drivers in qualifying were former title-winners Will Heslop and Mark Robinson both of whom were debuting Fiesta STs. Heslop led both contests but lost control exiting Cascades in the first handing the lead and the eventual win to Robinson, and then received a 10 secs penalty for an out of position start in the second. After Race 2, however, the penalty was subsequently rescinded and Heslop’s on-track win was reinstated. Greg Speight was the first XR2 to finish on each occasion taking third overall, while returning stalwart Chris Jones and last year’s Class B vice-champion Jason Heneffer took a class win each aboard their Escort XR3i’s.
Despite social distancing limiting the number of marshals and officials who were allowed to be on duty, the meeting was run very efficiently. The BRSCC would like to thank all concerned especially as the wet weather provided something of an endurance test.
Full results can be viewed here: Oulton Park Results