FORMULA FORD IN FINE HEALTH AT OULTON
Judging from the evidence at the opening meeting of the season for the BRSCC’s North Western Centre, Kent Formula Ford racing is in a very healthy state in 2012 as no less than 47 cars took to the tarmac at Oulton Park on 31st March to qualify for the combined Avon Tyres National and Northern double-headers.
The first FF1600 Post-89 encounter was packed full of incident. Martin Short made a demon start to take the lead and then, on the second lap, he found himself at the head of the crocodile behind the Safety Car which had been scrambled while order was restored after mayhem had broken out on the run down to the first corner. This accounted for 6 cars. The green flags waved at the end of the third lap but the Safety Car was required again 2 tours later. Second placed Jamie Jardine had rolled his Ray having locked his brakes on the approach to the hairpin at Shell and launched himself over the back of Short’s Van Diemen. With the Rescue Unit having taken Jardine to the Medical Centre, there was time for a one lap trophy dash. This saw Luke Cooper move up from third to first in the final couple of corners when firstly John Murphy spun off at Druids then leader Doug Crosbie had a mechanical malady at Lodge.
Thus Cooper took the laurels and lined up on pole for the return encounter later in the day – alas he spun at the first corner. Four cars then scrapped it out before a lunge for the lead from Jay Wheals delayed the pack as he fought for control of his car in the middle of Old Hall. This handed Neil Winn a decisive advantage. Doug Crosbie secured the runner-up spot from John Murphy who took the final place on the podium a whisker ahead of Ken Thirlwall.
The older Pre-90 Formula Ford encounter provided even more excitement. At the end of lap 6 the first 5 cars were still covered by less than 0.7 seconds. Ian Parkington beat poleman Nigel Dolan off the grid to head the pack however the fastest car was that driven by Stuart Jones. He was in the lead by the end of lap 5 but then he began to be hampered by a mis-fire and Barry Lindley was out in front at the end of the next lap. He held that position until the end. Jones was further demoted by Parkington and was lucky to take third – his engine hesitated on the exit of the final corner but Dolan was so close that he ran into the back of him and lost his nosecone rather than making the pass.
Jones’ car seemed to be on full song when he returned to take a comfortable victory second time around. Parkington was looking good to take the runner-up spot but then he appeared to suffer brake trouble in the closing stages. On one particular occasion a lock-up into Hislop’s Chicane enabled Dolan to close dramatically and it was Dolan who was 0.048 seconds ahead at the finish.
The Logson Group Porsche Championship was another to have 2 rounds at Oulton. Gerry Taylor filled the mirrors of leader Richard Styrin after he had made a slow start from pole. This pressure paid off when Styrin struggled to find a gear on the exit of Shell and allowed his pursuer to pounce. Styrin tried valiantly to get back in front but ended up in the gravel at Druids instead.
Taylor took race 2 with ease. Styrin had to start from 12th but was soon on the tail of second-placed Richard Sykes. This pair circled in close company until the start of the final lap when Sykes dived past a backmarker into Old Hall and Styrin tried to follow suit only to spin – he then drove slowly back to the pits.
The Mighty and Super Mighty Mini contenders along with the CFT Services Ford XR Challenge runners all had one race each. Too many Mighty Minis tried to take the first corner at once with the result that Wesley Dunford was despatched hard into the Old Hall barriers. The chaos left Dan Palmer almost a second ahead at the end of the opening circuit but during the remainder of the event he was caught and demoted first by Chris Slade and then by Kelvin Fletcher.
Elliot Stafford led the initial 4 laps of the Super Mighty thrash before brake problems meant he had to be content with third at the flag. Chris Morgan and Gary Patterson battled all the way to the line. The latter took a defensive line at the final corner but this reduced his exit speed enabling Morgan to pip him by 0.028 seconds.
XR race leader, Michael Heath, skidded onto the grass at the exit of Cascades on the first lap. Fortunately, nearly everyone missed him except for Ralph Fernihough who hit the tyre wall on the inside of the corner. After the marshals had inspected the damage, Fernihough continued albeit well down the order. Heath was already powering through the field up to an eventual third – winning the Fiesta class. The early threeway dice for the lead was settled in the favour of Andrew Lennie’s Escort after Lee Bowron did a 360 approaching Hislop’s and delayed Steve Poole – the latter was beginning to suffer with a smoking engine which later proved terminal. Not only is Chris Flynn’s Transport company providing some invaluable sponsorship to the XR Championship this season but the proprietor himself helped the BRSCC out on Saturday by driving the Safety Car.
The organisers provided some motorised diversity to the spectators with the inclusion of two rounds of the MSA British Superkart Championship. Paul Platt took maximum points in both outings. Jason Dredge was challenging for the lead in the opener when clutch problems intervened. He started the second race too far back on the grid to catch Platt in a contest which saw 3 Invitational Class karts, led by Gavin Bennett, taking the first 3 places. These were higher spec devices which were having a public test session before the European season starts in a few weeks.
The full results are available here OULTON RESULTS