Oulton Park Report – 22nd April 2023

Lucas Romanek and Brandon McCaughan took a win apiece in the National Formula Ford Championship. Photo: PS Images

There were plenty of thrills at the BRSCC North Western Centre’s first race meeting of the season which was staged at Oulton Park on 22nd April.

The National Formula Ford Championship got proceedings underway in fantastic style with the opening encounter of the day ending in a blanket finish.

Qualifying had not gone well for Lucas Romanek who struggled to find a balance on new tyres. He was only eighth quickest in his Van Diemen while his Oldfield Motorsport team mate, Brandon McCaughan, annexed pole. Chris Middlehurst, who won the title in 2021, was second quickest.

When the red lights went out, Middlehurst’s fortunes took a dive. He was slow away from the grid because a driveshaft popped out of his CV Joint allowing McCaughan to head down to Old Hall unchallenged. Middlehurst failed to complete the first lap.

Meanwhile, Romanek now had a car which handled to his liking and had a brilliant opening lap, completing it in second and then moving into the lead on the next circuit. He pulled out a small advantage to McCaughan but in the closing stages the guy in second had the greater pace. As Romanek defended his position, the two leaders held each other up and the next 4 cars, with Morgan Quinn’s Van Diemen at the head of the train, closed in which resulted in the top 6 cars taking the chequered flag within a second of each other.

During race 2 McCaughan managed to get ahead of Romanek to make it one win apiece for the Oldfield duo. The pair pulled away from the battle for third. Initially, this was contested by Quinn and Elliott Budzinski before Middlehurst joined in their fun having started from the back of the grid after his problems earlier. Budzinski passed Quinn to claim the final place on the podium before Middlehurst pushed Quinn down to fifth. Try as he might, Middlehurst couldn’t pass Budzinski to get up to third.

His incredible start to race 1 was probably the deciding factor in Romanek being voted the National Formula Ford Driver of the Day.

Morgan Dempsey leads away the Super Classic Pre ’99 Formula Ford Championship. Image: PS Images

Not to be outdone, the Super Classic Pre ’99 Formula Ford runners also provided an explosive start to the season although not quite in the way they would have wished! At the start of lap 2, the Swift of Seamus Wild and the Cooper Chinook of Stuart Dix slammed into the barriers at Old Hall. Dix’s car came to rest on top of Wild’s with its roll hoop hanging off.

Mercifully both drivers were unscathed. The marshals who attended the scene received praise for the way they calmly and professionally dealt with the incident.

The restarted race was won by Class A runner Morgan Dempsey 2 seconds ahead of John Murphy who just pipped the first Class B car home – the Reynard of Andrew Schofield.

Dempsey was even more dominant in round 2, taking victory by 6 seconds. John Murphy was the runner-up once more although he was pushed hard in the closing stages by Richard Higgins who was making his debut at Oulton Park. He had got faster all day in his Van Diemen.

Schofield again took Class B finishing fifth overall having been as high as second at one point. While in Classes C and D, the honours in both races went to a couple of Scott’s (as in first names rather than Nationality), Mr Guthrie (Crossle) and Mr Rawlinson (Merlyn) respectively.

Murphy was voted the Super Classic Formula Ford Driver of the Day.

A swarm of Citroen C1s hurtle into Cascades. Photo: PS Images

Philip House and Nick Beaumont in the JW Bird Motorsport car were leading the closing stages of the 3 and a half hour Silverlake C1 Endurance contest and looking as though victory was theirs. They had enough time in hand over those behind to make their third and final mandatory pit-stop and still re-join ahead however the Safety Car was scrambled to enable a stranded Citroen to be recovered from the Lakeside Straight. With the field bunched up when green flag action resumed the JW Bird Motorsport dropped a place when they pitted with a few laps remaining enabling Stuart Ratcliff who was partnered by James & Jake Little to scoop the spoils. The Trojon Motorsport car driven by Chris Freeman and Jonathan Munday was third.

Phiroze Bilimoria (27) was declared the winner after Matthew Bolton (26) received a penalty. Photo: PS Images

The Citroen C1 contest had a 35 car entry, while the 45 minute ClubSport Trophy encounter had a full grid of 38 – underlining the popularity of these longer distance events. Although a mid-race pit-stop is part of the regulations, most drivers remained behind the wheel for the entire 3-quarters of an hour and didn’t use a co-driver.

One of these was Matthew Bolton who, despite a spin, was the first to see the chequered flag in his BMW M3. However, because his time in the pits was shorter than permitted, he received a 30 second penalty which dropped him to third in the overall standings and Phiroze Bilimoria (Class A VW Scirocco) was declared the winner.

During the closing stages of the contest, Bilimoria had Class B winner, Scott Parkin, on his back bumper. Parkin was driving an Audi TT Cup Racing-spec car and finished just 6 tenths behind. Classes C, D and E were won by Nick Tasker (VW Scirocco), Daniel Silvester (Toyota MR2) and David Drinkwater (BMW Compact).

All in all, it was a great day of racing and the BRSCC wishes to extend its thanks to all the marshals and officials for their help.

Dave Williams

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