Oulton Park Report – 8th June 2024

There was a feast of Tin Top action at the meeting the BRSCC’s North Western Centre staged on Oulton Park’s Island Circuit on 8th June with the TCR UK Championship taking centre stage.

Proceedings started with an open practice session – and a heavy rain shower! Thankfully, the weather improved during the rest of the day.

Adam Shepherd bounced back from twice damaging his car to win the second TCR UK race. Photo: PS Images

Reigning champion, Carl Boardley, set the fastest time in TCR UK qualifying in his Cupra Leon and converted pole into the lead at the start of the category’s first race. However, when he reached Cascades, Adam Shepherd in another Cupra Leon tried to go around his outside but Boardley just about kept him at bay.

Shepherd then got a good run out of Druids but Boardley blocked the inside line. Undeterred, Shepherd went to the outside and the 2 cars went round Lodge and down the Pits Straight side by side, banging door handles. This was touring car racing at its best!

When they reached Old Hall, Boardley moved back ahead. Their dicing allowed Brad Hutchinson (Cupra Leon) and Joe Marshall-Birks (Audi RS3) to close in and make it 4 for the lead. It would have been a 5-way battle but Callum Newsham’s Hyundai i30 had a coming together with Marshall-Birks on the exit of Old Hall. Newsham had to make a quick pit-stop.

Due to the wheel banging at the end of the opening lap Shepherd’s left rear suspension was damaged. This caused him to run wide at the Island Hairpin on lap 4 where Hutchinson and Marshall-Birks nipped past to demote him to fourth. Although he dropped back from the leaders, Shepherd was still fourth at the end of the 20 minutes.

The second and third placed cars started battling with one another, making contact on the approach to Hislops which sent Hutchinson down the escape road from where he emerged still in second place. But he didn’t hold that position for much longer as Marshall-Birks overtook him at Cascades and set off after Boardley. He couldn’t quite get close enough to mount a challenge because his brakes began to overheat and Boardley was the first to see the chequered flag just under half a second ahead.

The grid was partially reversed for race 2 which meant Stewart Lines was on pole in his Audi RS3. The start proved to be very eventful with some midfield jostling resulting in Shepherd getting a tap in the left rear quarter on the approach to Old Hall that fired him into the barriers.

Fortunately for him, the race was due to be red flagged after cold rear tyres caused Lines to spin off at the exit of Cascades. This caused a chain reaction which saw Will Beech’s VW Golf end up facing the wrong way. He was collected by Marshall-Birks who had started further back then he planned after he was awarded a 3 place grid penalty following his collision with Newsham earlier in the day.

After his encounter with the barriers, a Safety Car restart saw a very different outcome for Shepherd. In no time he was in the lead and pulling away. He was over 6 secs ahead by the time Boardley had picked his way through from his reverse grid start into second place. But then the Safety Car came out again due to a visitor to the gravel trap at Cascades.

With the field bunched up once more, Shepherd made a break at the restart by jumping on the throttle just before he reached Lodge. This gave him enough of an advantage over Boardley to take the win. Darron Lewis made his debut appearance on the podium in his Hyundai i30.

Audi TT double winner, Matt Luff. Photo: PS Images

There was a dramatic start to the first Demon Tweeks Audi TT Cup encounter when championship leader, Carl Swift, was squeezed against the pit-wall where his car was tipped onto its side and eventually came to rest on its roof. The race was immediately red flagged with a total of 7 cars involved in the incident.

At the restart, Andrew Dyer beat pole-sitter, Matt Luff, to the first corner but by the time they exited Hislops on lap 1 Luff was ahead. The two leaders remained in that order until the finish with Luff taking his maiden win in the category. He pulled away in the closing stages as Dyer’s tyres began to fade. William Stacey was third. The drive of the race came from Bradley Burns who only qualified 27th but charged up the order into fourth. However, he then ran wide at the Island Hairpin which allowed Sean Smith to draw alongside him over Hill Top. They then attempted to navigate Hislops side by side but made contact. They made contact again exiting Knickerbrook where Burns went into the barriers.

Later in the day, the TT’s triggered red flags again just after the start due to an incident on the exit of Old Hall. From the restart, Dyer again beat Luff to the first corner and he almost had two full laps out in front before Luff out-braked him the second time they tackled Lodge and pulled away to take the win.

Stacey took third once again after an epic battle with Sean Smith which was decided when Smith ran wide at Druids on the penultimate lap. Charles Budd also got ahead of Smith before he re-joined the racing line but both were passed by Barnes on the last lap following another storming drive from the back of the grid. If his day hadn’t been dramatic enough, Barnes’ nearside headlight unit fell out and remained attached to his car literally by a thread! The officials were about to pull him into the pits to have it removed when it fell off out on the track.

Simon Horrobin (14) and Alastair Kellett (52) took a win apiece in their Fiesta ST240s. Photo: PS Images

Zachary Lucas started from the outside of the front row for the first AIRTEC Motorsport Fiesta ST240 encounter but he lost this advantage on the opening lap when he ran wide at Cascades. He then retired on the Lakeside Straight on the next circuit.

This left Alastair Kellett out in the lead but the cars in second and third – driven by Simon Horrobin and John Cooper – were faster. Kellett then missed fourth gear on the exit of the Island Hairpin allowing Horrobin into the lead. Kellett had more pace in the closing stages but was unable to overtake Horrobin. He was so close, he pushed the leader around the final corner! Third placed John Cooper received a 5 secs Track Limits penalty but held the position because Henry Howarth who finished fourth on the road received the same penalty.

When the cars returned to the track, Kellett pulled away to take the win as Horrobin kept Cooper at bay.

Jenson O’Neill-Going leads the Fiesta Junior pack. Photo: PS Images

In the first Fiesta Junior race, a slow start from the outside of the front row by Tommy Harfield allowed pole-sitter Jacob Hodgkiss to head off into Old Hall unchallenged. Harfield ran wheel to wheel with Jenson O’Neill-Going all the way to Cascades before he made second place his own. The contest was then neutralised behind the Safety Car due to a multi-car midfield incident at the Island Hairpin. There were only a couple of minutes left when the field was unleashed. The youngsters charged round Oulton Park but there were no changes of order even though the first 5 were covered by a second at the flag as Hodgkiss took his first win.

Hodgkiss took the lead again at the start of the second contest for this category but at the end of the opening lap Harfield dived down his inside at Lodge to move ahead… but only briefly as the pass compromised the lines of the pair of them and O’Neill-Going was able to carry more momentum on to the Pits Straight to move ahead of both. Hodgkiss was then overtaken by Finn Leslie at Old Hall to go from first to fourth in no time.

Half-way through the race, Harfield understeered out of second place and into the barriers at the Island Hairpin leaving O’Neill-Going to take a fairly comfortable victory from Leslie and Hodgkiss.

Josh Files races side by side with Max Edmundson out of Lodge corner in their Honda Civics. Photo: PS Images

Max Edmundson rocketed into the lead at the start of the first Milltek Sport Civic Cup contest but at the end of the first lap, he made a mistake allowing Josh Files to out-drag him out of Lodge. The pair went on to have an epic battle until, approaching the Island Hairpin, Files suffered brake failure and had to use his handbrake to slow down. As he fought to avoid hitting anything solid, Edmundson was able to take a decisive advantage. Files continued and was classified second with Lewis Kent third however all this was overshadowed by a medical emergency in the pit-lane which required red flags to be shown while the cars were on their last lap to facilitate the landing of the air ambulance. The second Civic Cup race did not take place

The BRSCC would like to thank all marshals and officials for their exceptional efforts on a very challenging day. It was a remarkable effort to complete the meeting before the 6:30 curfew.

Dave Williams

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