The BRSCC’s North Western Centre kicked off its 2023 calendar with a superb day of racing this past weekend at Oulton Park, where a fine mix of endurance and sprint racing entertained spectators track side all day. Two championships began their campaigns with exceptional action, while two more were heading into their sophomore event.

After the opening four hours of the season at Silverstone on the GP circuit to warm up for next month’s 24 Hour race, the Silverlake C1 Endurance Series touched down at Oulton Park for another three and a half hours of long distance fun. Many of the teams were back from Silverstone, while others decided to take the extra time to prepare for the C1 24 instead, but a 35 car field ensured that the International circuit would still remain busy.

Scuderia Pollo Rosso picked up pole position by three tenths from WRC Developments, the top teams the only ones to go sub 2’20 in qualifying to lock out the front row. From the outset, Pollo Rosso managed to hold the lead from pole but were quickly joined by JW Bird’s #347 car on the opening lap from 3rd on the grid. Out in front, the leading pair wasted no time in gapping the rest of the pack and by the end of the first hour they were some 24 seconds clear of Trojon Motorsport’s #421 car in 3rd.

Both Pollo Rosso and JW Bird pitted within a lap of each other shortly after the first hour had elapsed, leaving Trojon to take over for the majority of the next hour until they made their first stop themselves to elevate their #508 sister car into P1 which they held passing through the end of hour two from Emax Motorsport, who had quietly crept up to 2nd ahead of BPC Tuning while Pollo Rosso and JW Bird were 5th and 9th respectively.

A safety car at the beginning of hour three allowed Trojon #508 to pit, promoting Emax to the lead for the restart and when both they and WRC Developments #318 also headed for pit road, JW Bird had their #347 car out in front as another safety car was called. From here, it almost looked as though a first win would be on the cards for the team although they were choosing to leave their last pit stop late. Then another late safety car threw a spanner in the works allowing Emax to close up in 2nd place.

Both Trojon and JW Bird then made their final stops from 3rd and 1st, allowing Emax to move up to the lead and remain their to take a 5th C1 Endurance race win in the last six races, having won the last four of 2022 on the bounce. Jelly Snake Racing had done well to end up a superb 2nd on the road, but a five minute penalty for not serving the minimum pit stop time after the safety car promoted JW Bird back to P2 and Trojon’s #421 car to P3 in their place. Now the preparation really ramps up as the series’ centrepiece 24 Hours at Silverstone is next up!

With an excellent mix of new faces and established challengers, plus another £20,000 GB4 Championship prize on offer at the end of the season one of the top three best teen drivers, the National Formula Ford Championship was all set to blast off for 2023 at Oulton Park with the prospect of another exciting and competitive season.

Just how competitive it was going to be was partially answered in qualifying, when Brandon McCaughan took pole in the morning qualifying session by just under a tenth and a half from 2021 champion Chris Middlehurst, while the top 8 cars were covered by less than half a second between them. This definitely set the tone for the rest of the day’s on-track action.

While McCaughan got the jump at the start of Race 1, Middlehurst’s race didn’t even last a lap as he was forced to retire before being able to complete it. Out in front, it looked as though the lead battle would be between the Oldfield Motorsport teammates McCaughan and Lucas Romanek, the latter taking over the lead on Lap 2. What followed was an incredible six car fight for the podium places as Romanek led while McCaughan hustled him to find a way back past, as Morgan Quinn, Jordan Kelly, Elliot Budzinski and Nolan Allaer were all locked onto their tails for the rest of the race.

Despite a couple of last gasp attempts in the final laps and a photo finish sprint to the line, Romanek held on to pick up the first win of the year and held of McCaughan by a mere 0.078 seconds at the flag. Quinn collected a superb 3rd place, while Kelly, Budzinski and Allaer ensured the top six crossed the line covered by just 0.862 season. An incredible race to start the season!

Race 2 was a little more straightforward for Oldfield Motorsport, as Romanek and McCaughan ended up in a fight of their own out in front. While Romanek held the lead over the first five laps, both he and McCaughan swapped it between them over the next three laps, until Brandon was able to put up a defense stern enough to remain in P1 to the chequered flag to collect his first win of the year.

Behind them, there was another tightly knit train of cars scrapping over the final podium place. Quinn made it his own initially, until Lap 5 when Budzinski took over and then was forced to look in his mirrors in the final laps for a resurgent Middlehurst, who had charged from the back of the grid to eventually take 4th behind the American, who claimed his first National podium.

The BRSCC’s Super Classic Pre ‘99 Formula Ford Championship began its new era as a series just for chassis built between 1967 to 1998 with a visit to one of its traditional venues – Oulton Park in Cheshire. The initial take up for the opening round of 2023 was healthy with just over 20 cars turning out and an excellent variety of chassis makes and ages were on display.

Morgan Dempsey ensured he made a flying start to his comeback to Formula Ford, as the father of last year’s National champion Jordan claimed pole in qualifying ahead of defending Super Classic A class champion John Murphy. The first part of the race saw Dempsey in control, but it was quickly curtailed after an incident for Stuart Six and Seamus Wild brought out the red flag. This left enough time for a five lap sprint to claim the first win of the season.

From the outset, Dempsey lept into the lead and was already a second clear by the end of the first lap, and then two seconds the next. From here, Murphy was able to maintain the gap as he continued to give chase, but Dempsey had enough to keep him at bay and score the outright and Super Classic A win, with Andrew Schofield completing the overall top three alongside a Super Classic B win too. Scott Guthrie battled well to finish 9th as the sole Super Classic C car, while Scott Rawlinson finished one place higher in 8th as the Super Classic D victor

The second race was a little more straightforward for Dempsey, as once again he took the lead from pole and was able to extend a gap of almost three seconds in the opening two laps. From here, he steadily increased it by a few tenths per lap and was able to charge home to his second outright and Super Classic A win of the day by more than six seconds in the end. Part of this came courtesy of the fight for 2nd as Murphy and Schofield initially diced over the place in the early stages, but a mistake for Schofield dropped him back down to 5th in the end.

Murphy would take another 2nd place, but only just as Paul Mason made a late push to catch and pass him only to fall short by 0.128 seconds. Schofield’s P5 still gave him the Super Classic B win, while Scott Guthrie again made it to the flag in one piece in the sole Super Classic C car in 10th, and Scott Rawlinson drove superbly to finish a mighty 6th overall in a dominant Super Classic D victory.

The second SW Motorsports ClubSport Trophy race of the season saw a hearty capacity 38 car grid descend on Oulton Park, with many returning drivers back from the opening race on the Silverstone GP circuit, plus some more brand new faces and a few local regulars too.

As it had been back at Silverstone, the front row was once again occupied by the same two cars – the BMW M3 of Matthew Bolton and the Audi TT Cup Racing car of Scott Parkin, only this time it was Bolton on pole. It looked as though these two would have the race on lockdown from the outset as they sprinted away from the rest of the pack behind them, led by Phiroze Bilimoria in his VW Scirocco who quickly found himself in no man’s land as he gave chase.

Bolton continued to lead until the safety car was called, prompting the BMW to pit first and promoting Parkin to the front briefly before he also joined the mass of pit stops under safety car conditions. When racing got underway, it was another Audi TT Cup Racing car of Paul Bancroft that took over in P1, but only for three laps before he too made a later pit stop. After Anthony Park also took his turn to lead, Bolton was back in front once the pit window had finished and it looked as though he was on course for victory.

However, the conclusion to the race proved a sting in the tail for Bolton, as a late spin dramatically reduced the gap to both Bilimoria and Parkin and while Matthew was still able to cross the line first on track, his misfortune didn’t end there. A time penalty of a short pit stop time pushed him down to 3rd, handing Bilimoria the win ahead of Parkin in 2nd, with both taking Class A and B wins respectively. Another Scirocco in the hands of Nick Tasker captured Class C honours, Daniel Silvester took Class D in his Toyota MR2 and David Drinkwater was top of Class E in his BMW Compact.

Scott Woodwiss


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