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

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