I had a much better weekend at Oulton Park than in the previous races this year. I spent a lot of time over the month’s gap between Thruxton and Oulton sorting out my own issues which had plagued and damaged my performance in the opening rounds. This paid off, and I was
able to show some good form!
I had a great car for the first qualifying session on Saturday morning, and at one of my favourite circuits in the UK, I was able to get the hammer down and have a go at grabbing pole position. Unfortunately, due to a late red flag when I was on my best effort and a very good last lap from Alex Lynn, I missed out by six hundredths of a second and had to start from P2 on the grid for the first race on Sunday.
The second qualifying session didn’t go to plan, though, as we got hit by a fuelling problem and were unable to complete a lap – meaning I would start from 14th and dead last on the grid for race two!
Race one was made interesting by the fact that it looked like it would be hit-and-miss as to whether it would be slick tyres or wets. Remarkably, the track dried out so well that it was pretty much bone dry from the start and everyone went with slicks. I got good drive up to the first corner, but I couldn’t quite do enough to pass Lynn, who stuck to a defensive line.
After that, I tried to keep him under pressure, but around the race’s halfway point I started to overheat the tyres a little bit in the dirty air behind him and dropped off the back of his gearbox. Once I had full use of the aero again, the tyres were able to cool off a bit and I could have another go at putting in a quick time and trying to snatch the fastest lap.
It was looking good on the last lap until I saw a few spots of rain on my visor and decided to bottle it through Druids, not wanting to throw it off and lose second place only a few hundred metres from the finish! I don’t think I’d have looked too clever if I’m honest – and second was still a nice result.
Race two was always going to be difficult from the back, but I said to myself I was going to give it a go, even if overtaking is rather limited at Oulton Park. I was extremely quick, and the car felt great; I was able to make a few nice moves at Old Hall and into the hairpin, which elevated me into the top ten.
I caught the group in front very quickly, posting the fastest times on the circuit for the first six laps. I struggled to find a place to pass, though, especially when they started to drive the defensive lines into the hairpin and Knickerbrook Chicane – so I took the gamble and tried to overtake on the outside into the chicane. I nearly made it stick, but I just ran out-of-road and my race unfortunately ended on the spot.
Obviously I was disappointed with the result in race two, but it was the first weekend of the year that I felt like I was performing at the sort of level I expect from myself – and with that- in place, I’m now confident I can push on and fight for race wins! Big thanks to Mark Burdett Motorsport and everyone who came along to support me. Looking forward to Croft!