The BRSCC North Western Centre kicked off the season at Oulton Park on Saturday, on 9th April. The busy paddock was full of drivers looking for the perfect start to their 2022 campaign.
Qualifying for the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford 1600 Double Header saw John Murphy lead the pack by lapping his Van Diemen RF90 2.3 seconds faster than Andrew Schofield’s Reynard FF89. Many expected Murphy would have a dominant race like qualifying, but it was more heated. Murphy had Schofield and Peter Daly (Van Diemen RF88), who made up two positions early on, following him closely. Within the first few laps, the safety car was called out after Garath Buckingham clipped the grass and spun off at Cascades in his Van Diemen RF88. After the restart, Alaric Gordon’s Swift SC97 set fatest lap as it joined the battle for first, but Murphy held onto first place, beating Schofield by three tenths.
Their second race of the day saw the top 5 pull away. Gordon tried to push Schofield into mistakes through Old Hall corner and Cascades, but couldn’t find the space. The front two pulled away, meaning the battle for a podium place was on. Daly and Nick Barnes found pace late on, catching up to Gordon, with both eventually overtaking him. Murphy found it comfortable this time, with another win by more than five seconds.
The start of the Nankang Tyre BRSCC CityCar Cup saw the red flag on the first lap after Duncan Stone came off the track, collecting Adam Reynolds.
After the restart, the pole sitter, Richard Bliss had a comfortable drive to take home race one, beating into second-place his brother, Stuart Bliss by almost five seconds. Stuart Bliss didn’t find it easy, battling Sebastian Melrose and Elliott Lettis, through cascades and down towards Hislop’s each lap. Melrose did cross the line in second but was awarded a ten-second penalty following a false start, dropping down to sixth.
When the CityCars returned to the tarmac unfortunately they didn’t have a lot of action, however, Stuart Bliss took the lead into the first corner. Melrose also gained three positions in the opening corners with some precise overtaking. As the drivers headed towards Shell Oils Corner, the safety car was brought out as Charles Mackenzie’s car hit the barrier. As the race got back underway, another safety car was called out. This time Liam Browning went into the barriers at Denton’s. The stewards were able to remove the car quickly, but with the damage to the barriers, the race ended under the safety car.
Chris Jones had a perfect start in the Vinyl Detail ST-XR Challenge, by starting on pole. Jones and Chris Grimes began to pull away, with Grimes closing up, but he couldn’t attempt an overtake. Battles for third and fifth were taking place. Sam Beckett couldn’t find his way around Michael Blackburn for third. However, on the final lap, Mark Blunt got past Greg Speight heading into Old Hall giving him fifth place. On the last lap, Grimes picked up a five-second track limits penalty but would remain second.
Later in the day, a poor start for Grimes saw him drop to ninth but he began fighting through the field. Further up, Blunt and Beckett were battling for third. Beckett finally passed Blunt when he missed the apex into Old Hall. Grimes continued his way through the field and finally got close to the front runners with a move on the inside of Blunt at Denton’s. Jones and Blackburn fought in the remaining laps but Jones was able to make it a brace of victories. Despite Grimes’s nightmare of a start, he would finish fourth.
PLR racing took advantage of being awarded pole in the random grid draw for the 4 hour Fun Cup enduro to lead the opening laps but soon GT Radial were ahead of them.
Having won the opening round at Silverstone a few weeks earlier, reigning champions Uvio Hofmann’s Lotus had to start at the back of the grid but within 45 minutes they had worked their way to the front of the field. They were denied the opportunity to add to their large tally of victories when their battery went flat losing them 3 laps in the pits while the problem was fixed.
As Uvio Hofmann’s Lotus hit trouble, three other cars ground to a halt around the circuit triggering a Safety Car period. After the restart, Stobart and PLR began to pull away in the battle for first, while the dice for four took place between Team Viking, GT Radial, Kaizen, and Agua Caliente. It intensified towards the end of the race, with an thrilling final half an hour when PLR got past Stobart. However, PLR would pick up a stop-go penalty with only ten minutes to go under the safety car. The battle for the final podium was underway after the restart, and it looked like Viking would finish third, until they ran wide in Druids and beached the car in the gravel trap, meaning GT Radial took the final place on the podium.
The Marshals and Officials made sure the races were smooth, it was a great day of racing for everyone involved.
Report: Daniel Moffat
Photo: PS Images