JARDINE STARTS TITLE DEFENCE WITH BACK TO BACK WINS


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Jamie Jardine kept Chris Hodgen, Stuart Jones and a hard charging Josh Fisher at bay. Photo: www.bournephotographic.co.uk

The BRSCC’s North Western Centre organised their first meeting of the year at Oulton Park on Saturday 12thApril. The rarely used short Fosters Layout was utilised and produced plenty of action with the highlight of the day being four superb Avon Tyres National/Northern FF1600 races.

The arrival of Josh Fisher in the Pre90 Formula Ford category had been eagerly awaited all winter but a clutch problem put him out of the first event before he could make an impression. This set the scene for the ex-Class B Formula 3 hotshot to show his metal in the second encounter. As the earlier results had determined grid 2, he charged through from the back and was challenging the two leaders – Jamie Jardine and Chris Hodgen – with a few laps to go. Unfortunately, the latter driver was so busy trying to overtake Jardine whilst struggling with a recalcitrant gearbox that he failed to notice the arrival of Fisher and pushed him on to the grass along The Avenue when pulling out of Jardine’s slipstream. Josh was sent spinning as Dentons was crested. Jardine, who is the defending National champion, went on to take his second win of the day ahead of Hodgen and Stuart Jones. The order on the podium was the same both times although plenty of hard fought, clean racing had taken place.

The action was no less intense with the Post89 runners. The return of Stuart Gough was as warmly welcomed as the arrival of Fisher in the older cars and he beat poleman David McArthur into Old Hall at the start. Gough was unable to break away and McArthur put him under enormous pressure until losing control exiting Fosters on lap 7 – conceding a couple of places in the process – before recovering to take second a whisker ahead of James Raven. This trio were covered by the proverbial blanket for the duration next time they appeared and finished less than 3 tenths apart at the flag. Gough was the initial leader but a daring manoeuvre round the outside by McArthur the fifteenth time they tackled Old Hall set up the inside line for Cascades and enabled him to hit the front. This was the decisive moment in the contest.

With 25 Fun Cup cars taking part in a 4 hour season opener for their championship on the Fosters circuit there was bound to be plenty of action… and so it proved. In the first 30 minutes the 3 cars of John Gilbert/Christian Dick/Sarah Reader, Benjamin Beighton/Chloe Noyce/Christopher Beighton and Marcus Clutton/Peter Belshaw fought it out at the front but one by one they fell victim to significant delays. Clutton/Belshaw were the last of these crews to hit trouble when engine smoke heralded a lengthy pit-stop when they were 40 seconds ahead. With around half an hour to go Abraham De Groot/Stephen Johansen led from Rob Thomas/Simon Bonham but both cars spun off at Lodge when a shower of drizzle made the track greasy. This left a surprised Tom Pattle/Zoe Wenham/Guy Wenham in first position but they were unable to prevent Neil Plimmer/Geoff Fawcett/Tim Wheeldon from demoting them.

A single race got the Demon Tweeks/Sparco XR Challenge under way. Despite competing only sporadically in recent seasons, Mark Robinson demonstrated he has lost none of his pace by leading from start to finish. Jack Minshaw gave him a helping hand by locking up when in second place on lap 2 and delaying the rest of the pack. He recovered to finish fourth behind Ralph Fernihough and Michael Heath who ran bumper to bumper throughout. The top ten were all XR2s with Lee Bowron piloting the first XR3i home. It was good to see a Fiesta Si joining in the fun with Jason Hennefer behind the wheel. He took thirteenth place and we hope to see more cars out in that class soon.

The BRSCC’s marshals had a busy day. In the morning, Steve Chapman was launched over the back of another car and into a series of rolls on the approach to Cascades during Post89 FF1600 qualifying. He was airlifted to hospital as a precaution but released later in the day. The afternoon’s Fun Cup generated plenty of incidents to be dealt with but, remarkably, such was the efficiency of the orange army that only 7 of the 184 laps were run behind the Safety Car. The Club thanks them for their efforts.

FULL RESULTS: Oulton Park Results

Dave Williams