Oulton Park Report – 16th October 2021

David McArthur and Jack Wolfenden battle for Formula Ford 1600 honours.
Photo: Rachel Bourne

THRILLING ACTION AT THE DOUBLE FOR OULTON FINALE

The BRSCC’s North Western Centre staged its final meeting of the season at Oulton Park on Saturday, 16th October when there was plenty of thrilling action in Double Headers for three competitive championships.

Ahead of the 50th Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in a couple of weeks, David McArthur and Jack Wolfenden reminded everyone of the fantastic racing this category can provide as they ran at the front of the field in the final two rounds of the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford Championship.

In qualifying, McArthur’s Medina BH19 was half a second faster than the Firman RF17 of Wolfenden – both ran in Class P. The pole-sitter couldn’t make a break when race 1 got underway – indeed Wolfenden was through and into the lead before the first lap was completed with a daring move around the outside at Lodge. This fantastic display of close but oh so clean battling continued for the entire 15 minutes. McArthur retook the lead at Old Hall on the third circuit before Wolfenden grabbed it back under braking for Hislops as the contest moved into its closing stages. The fight went all the way to the final corner where Wolfenden’s defensive line allowed McArthur to carry more speed down the home straight such that he nosed ahead as they crossed the line.

The rematch was another intense affair. McArthur again converted pole into the race lead and wasn’t too concerned when Wolfenden moved ahead at Old Hall on lap 3 because he knew his rival was using a soft set up. He expected to move back in front when the Firman’s tyres began to go off. His decisive move underlined the brilliant race-craft of these 2 drivers as they ran side by side all the way from Druids to Cascades.

Wolfenden hung on in McArthur’s slip-stream and finished 0.134 secs adrift. He had the consolation of being confirmed as Northern Champion.

As was the case earlier in the day, Matthew Chisholm completed the podium in his Class P Van Diemen RF00. He found extra pace in this encounter to keep the leading duo in his sights. It was a performance that earnt him the Formula Ford 1600 Driver of the Day Award.

Nick Barnes did the double in the Super Classic category in his Class B Swift FB89 although he had to fight his way past John Murphy’s Class A Van Diemen RF90 in the second encounter.

There was an amazing start from Chris Jones when the ST section of the first ETSL ST-XR Challenge thrash left the grid as he shot away from fourth to take the lead around the outside at Old Hall. Pole-sitter, Michael Blackburn, headed the pursuit of Jones and made his move at Shell. He got through but not without enough contact to send Jones sideways.

Blackburn then took control of the race and won by 3 seconds. Behind him, Jones ran a little wide at Druids on lap 5 which allowed Chris Grimes to challenge for second at Lodge where he and Jones tried to occupy the same piece of tarmac sending the latter sideways for the second time in this contest. Not only did he lose second to Grimes but Lee Bowron and Sam Beckett also got alongside him down the pit-straight.

Indeed this gaggle of four cars arrived at Old Hall as one. Somehow no contact was made but Grimes was hung out to dry on the grass. When this battle for the runner-up position arrived at Cascades the order was Bowron, Beckett, Jones and Grimes. On the next lap, Beckett straight-lined Hislops Chicane and dropped a few places.

So Bowron finished second on the road but this became first when Blackburn was penalised for the first lap incident. The stewards gave him a time penalty that was enough to drop him to fourth. Another penalty was awarded to Jones for track limit infringements which dropped him to third behind Grimes.

In the XR Class, Simon Robinson qualified his XR2 a couple of seconds faster than anyone else but spun at Cascades on the opening lap of race 1. It looked like he had handed the win to fellow XR2 driver Alex Causer but lap 6 saw the latter lose control exiting Brittens and he collected Lee Shropshire who was in another XR2. Both continued although the incident put Causer behind Robinson who was flying along and manage to deprive Paul Green of the class win on the last lap.

The XRs started race 2 from the front of the grid and Robinson made no mistakes as he took the overall and class honours. In fact the older cars completed the podium with Causer and Jason Hennefer (XR3i) following him home.

There was a big sort out in the ST class at Cascades on the opening lap when Chris Jones and Lee Bowron clashed while disputing the lead in that category. Bowron spun on the grass and ended up in the middle of the track facing the wrong way. Somehow everyone avoided him.

During the course of the 15 minutes, Blackburn worked his way up the order to win the ST category from Jones and Grimes although the latter dropped behind Beckett when 10 secs were added to his race time for an out of position start.

The Fun Cup Championship had a 1 hour sprint event follow by a 4 hour enduro. Both were won by Hofmann’s Lotus although in the first encounter they had a train of cars led by Team Olympian and PLR Racing behind them as they took the chequered flag. Their second victory – the sixth from 8 rounds so far in 2021 – was far more comfortable as Team Olympian lost 18 laps when they collided heavily with a spinning car at Hislops while PLR Racing were pushed down to third by Despatch Bay Express – a team who had been delayed in the earlier contest when their car had to be towed out of the Cascades gravel trap.

The BRSCC which to thank all the marshals and officials who ensured that the meeting ran smoothly with everyone enjoying a splendid day of motor sport.

Dave Williams

Oulton Park Report – 14th August 2021

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A FULL DAY OF ACTION

There was a full day of action when the BRSCC’s North Western Centre were in charge at Oulton Park on 14th August. Our dedicated marshals had a diverse range of machinery to enjoy from the start of qualifying at 8:30 until the final chequered flag was waved just before 18:30.

The two Nankang Tyre City Car Cup races produced notable results as Nic Grindrod, who was unbeaten in 2021 when he arrived in Cheshire, failed to record a victory. In the damp qualifying session he pushed as hard as he dared to secure pole position for the opening encounter which he led from start to finish with his nearest challenger being team mate Ross Makar.

However, in the scrutineering bay, both these cars were disqualified due to a technical infringement and so the win was handed to Duncan Stone with Liam Browning and Andrew Dyer completing the Top Three.

The second outing for the City Cars was the final event on the programme. With Grindrod working his way up from the back of the grid, Stone led with the two brothers, Richard and Stuart Bliss, his nearest challengers. After a red flag, there was just time for a 1 lap dash in which Stone was delighted to take the spoils on the road this time. Due to the disrupted nature of this contest, twelfth was the best Grindrod could manage.

In the Fun Cup Championship the cars are so evenly matched that it was a surprise that Uvio Hoffman’s Lotus won their fourth race of 5 during 2021 when they took the honours in the 4 hour encounter at Oulton.

As winners of the previous round which ran into the dusk at Anglesey, they had to start from the back of the grid but, despite one lap being run behind the Safety Car, they were out in the lead by the end of the eleventh circuit. Such is the nature of Fun Cup, they were unable to get away with Track Focused, Team Viking, PLR Racing and Team Olympian all having spells in the lead.

Team Olympian were out front in the closing stages but they didn’t have the speed that Uvio Hoffman’s Lotus had through Druids and Lodge so they couldn’t open out an advantage thus they were overtaken with a trio of laps remaining. PLR Racing completed the podium.

Dave Cockell had a perfect day in his Escort Cosworth. He took pole and led every lap of both Ford Modified Series contests. Malcolm Harding (Escort Mk2) was runner-up in the first outing but did not finish later in the day when Andrew Shelswell was second in his Sierra XR4i. Piers Grange was twice third in his Escort Mk2.

Dave Williams/Peter Scherer

Anglesey Report – 10th/11th July

HISTORY IS MADE IN WALES

The BRSCC made a little bit of history at Anglesey Circuit over the weekend of 10th/11th July when our North Western Centre staged the first race meeting to be held in Wales since the Covid pandemic began.

Even without this extra significance, the meeting would have been eagerly anticipated as it featured a 3 hour Fun Cup race which began in early evening sunshine and ended in darkness.

This was in fact the second triple-hour contest that the Fun Cup runners enjoyed on Saturday as one had taken place in the afternoon during which the drivers of the Team Olympian car, Riley Phillips and Christian Rose, were hoping it would be third time lucky when they found themselves at the front of the field after the final round of pitstops having retired when leading the first 2 rounds of the season.

However, it was not to be as their engine let go 20 minutes from seeing the chequered flag and, to make matters worse, the damage was too severe to fix in time for the evening’s contest.

Following the Safety Car period triggered by Team Olympian’s retirement, the Despatch Bay Express car was ahead with Harry Mailer at the wheel of the car he shared with Andy Bicknell but Nigel Greensall, in his own entry, reeled him in and pounced when the leader ran wide at The Banking. Mailer remained in Greensall’s slip-stream until the finish but couldn’t find a way by.

This was the first time Greensall’s team mates – Simon Smeeth and his two sons Ted & Sam, had taken a win but their joy was short-lived as they were disqualified after the race for a rear wing infringement handing victory to Despatch Bay Express.

In second were Uvio/Hoffman’s Lotus (Farquini Deott and Fabio Randaccio) while PLR Racing moved up to third with Ben Pitch and Neil Plimmer at the wheel. The latter team would have a nightmare in race 2 as first they broke a driveshaft and then their engine blew. Despatch Bay Express also hit trouble, losing several laps because of a snapped throttle cable.

This left Uvio/Hoffman’s Lotus to battle with Team Greensall during the first hour but when the latter fell a lap down, their faster drivers couldn’t get back into contention for the win in the closing stages. Therefore the victory went to Deott and Randaccio, their third out of 4 rounds this season. Team Viking (Mark Holme & Nick Nunn) and Team Greenheath (Gary Bate & Simon Smith) completed the nocturnal podium.

Contenders in the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship were joined by their counterparts in the Northern & Super Classic series for the first 2 races of their triple header and one of the runners in the latter category, Jack Wolfenden (Firman RFR17), claimed the final place on the podium in the opening encounter of the weekend after Alex Walker, who finished third on the road, received a 10 secs penalty for jumping the start.

Up ahead, Chris Middlehurst and Max Esterson battled it out for the victory in their Van Diemen LA10 and Ray GR18 respectively. They had a great battle with Middlehurst coming out on top. Their second race was a repeat of the first with Walker following them home penalty-free this time as Jamie Sharp’s Medina Sport JL17 pushed Wolfenden down to fifth.

Sharp was only tenth fastest in qualifying on Saturday morning but improved dramatically during the course of the weekend and won the final thrash which featured a partially reversed grid. This was a tough one to triumph in as drizzle made the track treacherous.

Sam Smith scored a trio of MX5 SuperCup victories but he had to work for all of them passing Patrick Fletcher at The Hairpin on lap 1 of his first outing. Smith was able to pull away as Fletcher (unsuccessfully) fended off Jack Harding.

Harding was the driver Smith had to overtake to seal the second encounter which he accomplished at Rocket on the fifth circuit after the pair at run pretty much side by side from Peel Corner on the previous tour!

The SuperCup’s third race was another to feature a partially reversed grid. James Cousins was the early leader but Smith was soon on his tail before he got ahead at Target. Harding and Fletcher again completed the podium once more while drive of the race, if not the meeting, came from Will Blackwell-Chambers. Having retired in the pits late in race 2, he came through from thirtieth on the grid to finish fourth.

In Saturday’s MX5 Championship round, Oliver Allwood could manage no better than tenth, as Jack Brewer, Brian Trott and Steve Foden filled the podium places, but his fortunes dramatically changed on Sunday. He might have won the morning’s race had it not finished behind the Safety Car due to a coming together at The Banking so he had to settle for second behind Brewer. In third was Zak Oates who finished on the podium for the first time. The afternoon’s encounter had no interruptions and Allwood was victorious ahead of Oliver Graham and Seb Fisher.

Harry Storer twice took the spoils in the MX5 Clubman’s double header on Sunday. Alan Hawkins and Thomas Mallett followed him home in the morning but in the light rain that was falling when they took to the track after lunch, George Grant revelled in the conditions and beat Hawkins to second.

Another category that raced twice was the Modified Ford Series. In their first outing, there was a fabulous battle for the lead between the Mk2 Escort of Piers Grange and the more recent Cosworth version of Dave Cockell. The older car just about came out on top.

It was a different story later in the day when Cockell’s four-wheel-drive system provided huge levels of grip in the greasy conditions and he disappeared into the distance. Ashley Shelswell was the runner-up with his Sierra XR4i having been third earlier in the day, a position that went to Stuart Day in another Escort Cosworth on this occasion.

We were thrilled to have the British Superkart Championship on the programme. Liam Morley took 3 wins out of 3. Ross Allen twice followed him home with Lee Harpham taking a second and a third. He missed out on a hat-trick of podiums when a gearbox problem meant he crept over the line in tenth in race 1.

The BRSCC wish to thank all the marshals and officials who ensured this epic weekend of racing ran so smoothly.

Words: Dave “Fasttoes” Williams

Photo: Philip Rainford

Oulton Park Report – 12th June

NIC BEATS THE CITYCAR TRAFFIC!

The BRSCC paid its first visit of the season to Oulton Park on 19th June when our North Western Centre organised a 10 race programme for 5 very competitive categories with each having a Double Header.

It was the first opportunity for spectators in Cheshire to see first-hand the Nantang Tyre CityCar Cup. There was a massive entry with no less than 38 drivers taking part in qualifying. With so many evenly matched cars the brace of action-packed races certainly lived up to expectations. Hardly anyone had a lap when they weren’t either challenging to pass whoever was ahead or defending their position from those behind.

One driver who wasn’t bothered by the CityCar “traffic” was Nic Grindrod who qualified 1.2 secs faster than anyone else and won both races by a comfortable margin. In the opening encounter, Richard Bliss came home in second as the leading Novice after a thrilling four-way scrap. Duncan Stone finished third on the road but dropped two places to Ross Makar and Andrew Dyer when the stewards applied a 5 second penalty for track limits infringements.

Later in the day, Bliss was leading the pack chasing Grindrod once more but ran a little wide at Cascades. It was a minor transgression, but enough for Dyer and Makar to pounce and push him down to fourth.

Another category with a massive entry was the Track Attack Race Club series which matched the CityCars by fielding 38 runners. Steve Simpson was the pole-sitter in his Peugeot 206 GTi but at the end of the first lap he crossed the timing beam in fifth having appeared over Hill Top travelling slowly. Whatever the problem was, it didn’t re-occur and he fought back to have a ding-dong battle with Mike Nash’s Seat Leon Supercopa. Simpson came out on top following a last lap pass at Island Bend. Almost 8 seconds down the road, Chris Southcott (Peugeot 205) was taking the chequered flag for his first victory of the day, a feat he would later repeat although Simpson filled his mirrors throughout the contest on that occasion. Nash once again completed the podium.

Jack Wolfenden had a perfect day with his Firman RFR17 taking pole, 2 wins and 2 fastest laps in the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford 1600 Championship. Wolfenden was accumulating points towards Class P in the Northern series, the fastest Super Classic car was the Class B Van Diemen RF89 of Neil Patten who was another to take a brace of victories, he was also twice second overall ahead of the Class P Van Diemen JL012K of Nigel Dolan.

Class A went to John Murphy in his Van Diemen RF90 who held off the Swift SC94 of Paul Mason for fifth overall in race 1 although they were separated by Nick Barnes’ Van Diemen RF89 later in the afternoon after a thrilling midfield battle.

Ian Wood was the only entrant in Class C but on the green flag lap for the first encounter he had an electrical issue on his Merlyn Mk24. The problem could have been fixed in time for him to join the contest from the pit-lane but the necessary tools were locked in his van and his father had the keys! He successfully finished next time the field came under Starter’s Order.

Jason Cheetham could have done the double in Class D but in the opener he pulled his Merlyn Mk18m into the pits just as the chequered flag came out handing a surprise category win to Phil Nelson (Hawke DL2).

Formula Ford Driver of the Day was awarded to Kieran Attwood. The Castle Combe regular was making his debut at Oulton Park which he described as a “Mega Track”! He twice finished fourth overall in his Class P Ray GR07.

The Fiesta Junior Championship was visiting Oulton Park for the first time since it was established in 2012! Jensen Brickley was the early leader of the first contest but had Sid Smith right on his tail until the latter dropped out of the race on lap 2 triggering a Safety Car period. When the field was unleashed, Brickley took the spoils ahead of Deegan Fairclough and Jake Maynard.

Brickley and Smith once more lined up on the front row of the grid later in the day with Brickley again being the first to reach Old Hall before pulling away leaving Smith to fend off Alex Ley and Fairclough who demoted him to fourth on lap 6.

It was Luke Pinder who did the double in the “senior” Fiesta Championship. In race 1, Zachary Lucas ran second throughout while Rob Smith lost third to David Nye in the closing stages. Smith was the early leader in the second outing but Pinder outbraked him into Hislops on lap 2. Spencer Stephenson beat Nye to third on this occasion.

The BRSCC would like to thank all the marshals and officials for helping to ensure that all races were completed before the 6:30 curfew despite some significant barrier repairs being required during the course of the afternoon.

Dave “Fasttoes” Williams