Oulton Park – 2013 – Round 2 – Patrick Sherrington
Round 2 & 3 at Oulton Park saw ADI Group bring 25 supporters to watch the race and I was delighted at having such support for a second race in a row.
The test day before showed we had near lap record pace in the car so it was no surprise that we were soon down to some respectable times with my 3 best laps being good enough for pole, the fastest of which saw us on pole by 0.87 seconds. Clive at MCR had really worked the magic as this was a fantastic improvement on last years times and the car felt great.
Red lights out and a reasonable start saw us lead into the first corner. As expected Rob Oldershaw had a good run out and challenged on the outside down into Cascades. I held the inside and concentrated on getting a good run out and a strong remainder of the lap saw us 0.4 in the lead by the end of the first lap.
Rob was clearly stronger through Old Hall bend so I concentrated on not making a mistake there and the building a gap through the rest of the lap. By lap 12 I had built nearly a 6 second lead and the car was still feeling superb when the safety car came out. This would have been bad enough after building such a lead but it then picked up the wrong person for a couple of laps and by the time it found me it took me round so slowly at nearly a 4 minute lap that as the rest of the field caught up the tyres were way off their operating temperature and it was no surprise that Rob then beat me out of the exit of Old Hall.
Given that it was now the last lap I would have only one chance at a pass and as we charged down the hill towards Cascades I got back in the tow and as Rob took the traditional wide entry in I aimed straight for the apex and left my braking mega late which took me into the inside. Unfortunately Rob hadn’t seen the move and continued to take his normal line and despite taking to the curb to try and avoid contact it happened and we both got mega sideways with me ending up on the grass and finishing in 11th. The only consolation was the fastest lap.
Starting in 11th was certainly going to be a challenge but it was going to be fun!
Red lights out and got a great start and just slid between Dave Connor and Warren Kent into 9th for the first corner. Everyone went in about 4 wide and it was caution all round as everyone made it round with no contact, great driving by all!
I managed to get a good exit and got one if not two more heading down the hill and then got a good exit out of Cascades and past another car on the run down to Island bend. This was more like it!
The leaders were still in sight and I was up into sixth as we rounded Shell Oils hairpin. The hard charging Paul Martin got a little wide out of the first chicane and held up the guy following him. I managed to slipstream both and ducked out from behind both to slither by into the Knickerbrook chicane.
So 4th it was by the first lap as the safety car came out again. Thankfully it was only out for a lap and we all roared off again. David Houghton was up next and he had really good pace throughout the track making passing difficult. I managed to get a good run up Clay Hill and slipped by into 3rd on the entry into Druids.
Craig Mitchell was next up the road and it took 3 laps to reel him in. I got a good exit out of Lodge corner and into his tow and past down the start finish straight.
This was now only lap 6 and I was 1.6 seconds behind Rob, could we catch him?
The answer was yes and at about 0.5 seconds a lap so I was on his tail by lap 8 and 9, looking for a way by. I had a couple of “looks” but no success.
What happened on lap 10 was a complete surprise. I had closed right up to Rob in the braking for Shell Oils and was on his tail as we exited Brittens chicane and up over Hill Top. I was right in his tow and he had already gone defensive. As we started the run down the hill towards Knickerbrook I had just shifted into 5th when Robs car just seemed to stop. It took me completely by surprise as my normal braking point was another 50 metres away……at the 100 metre board or just beyond if feeling brave!
I threw the car left out of pure instinct to avoid slamming into the back of him and hit the brake and just missed the back of his car. However this just induced a massive “tank slapper” and the car snapped back right as I tried to regain control without success and unfortunately made contact with the front of Rob’s car as I slewed broadside across the track. Somehow the car was still driveable and I set off again some 10 seconds behind Rob at the end of lap 10.
Incredibly I managed to catch up the 10 seconds to Rob and Craig in the next 3 laps but the car was getting more and more understeer so whilst I could hang on I couldn’t get enough drive out of the corners to get in the tow and had to just watch Craig hassling Rob for the lead.
To round off a “splendid” weekend the left rear went flat on the way into Old Hall on the last lap which meant a massive grassy moment and limping round to the finish line still trying to make sense of a very eventful race.
Once again the only consolation was fastest lap.
A big thank you to all at Team MCR for turning out a fantastic car & thanks to the support from ADI Group. The pace in the car was awesome, I just need to put it to better use next time!