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25th June 2013

Once again Oulton Park lays into the Monster!

Just back from the Nurburgring and Spa 2012, we debated whether to even take the car to Oulton.

My race entry was in and I would be going to the end of Season Do anyway, so to not take the car seemed silly but we really didn’t know whether it would get out, let alone finish a race. Engine problems have implications. Yes, expensive engine work could result from a problem, but worse still if it let go at the Start when the pack were around me there could be bedlam. Col and I checked the car out and decided to run it unless I had even the slightest inkling of trouble where I would retire it. Tim Davis was also keen to know what I would do. If I didn’t run he couldn’t win the Championship (he would be on half points with only 2 Group starters).

Come the day and the car sounded fine. We checked it again and decided to just put a banker lap in for Qually. As I pulled out of the holding area I was scanning the dials and listening intently. So intently I forgot where I was completely. Oulton Park in October at 9am is a cold and damp place. I blipped the throttle and the car lurched sideways on its rock hard and now very worn slicks. I was now a passenger. Swearing and shouting beneath my helmet I knew what I’d done and what awaited me. With no steering or brakes I slid sideways down the hill pirouetting until I clipped the barrier at clearways. The others passed by. I was pushed back out by the Marshals and returned to the pits where the broken bonnet was gaffered back on and down. I just had time to complete 3 laps before the engine let go and I coasted to a stop…in the barriers again! This time, coasting with the engine dead and in the middle of Knickerbrook I saw Dean Cook on a hot Qually lap and thought “I’ll just pull off to keep out of his way” The second I touched the grass I again remembered where I was…in the tyres again off the very wet and slippery grass. Plonker.

Towed back to the pits we had a look. The push rods had jumped again due to the knackered cam. While Col (TVRSSW) had a look, I repaired the bonnet and Tina made the bacon baps. I didn’t look good, and Tim was all over us…he looked choked. The thought his chance had gone. Even his Harbrine sponsors were looking in. If we can take the start we will I told Tim, then you’ll get the points. We rummaged around and found EXACTLY the parts we needed. No more, no less. All the bent bits were fixed and we even had 5 mins to have a bacon bap. Then we rolled into the holding area to a round of applause (for Col) just as we received the start your engines signal. Surprisingly, considering my eventful Qually I was 9th on the grid in held my GpB 2nd even given our troubles! I lined up and stared at the gauges.

I thought I just take it easy and stroke it home.
The lights went out and we were off. My tentative start caught a few out as I’m usually a demon starter and off like a scalded cat. I slowly dropped down the order as I did just enough to play safe. After 5 laps or so Dave Chant overtook me and started to pull away. I had dropped to 3rd in Class with Tim Davis well away. Well he has had fresh slicks all year and a 10% power advantage not to mention a serviceable car! I watched DC pull away and thought “No” The car sounds fine and I’m here to race. I set after DC. Other out of position cars, Perry Waddams and Jamie Golby came through but slowly I caught Dave. No way did I have the power to overtake him on the straights (he also had a power advantage – though his was legal) so I’d just have to push him into an error.

Several laps later he out braked himself into Old Hall bend and I snuck past. He was on me again quickly knowing I had issues, but I was fast where I needed to be and held him off until the chequered flag. But only just. It was a great result given the circumstances 2nd in Class but now back to the pits to see how bad things were. Remember we had no parts left and to top it all off the alternator light had came on during the last lap and we didn’t have one of them either.

Once again Col worked his magic. He checked and set the engine, changed the oil and then frigged about with the alternator brushes. Again, Tim and Harbrine were with us as Tim’s car was running beautifully so they had nothing to do! The hour and a half passed very quickly and before you know it we were back on the grid. Once again, Tim would be gone, so all I wanted to do was to stay in front of DC to get 2nd in class rather than 3rd. They car would be fixed later anyway but as I said before, I didn’t want to cause trouble in the race or have an engine fail. I would do just enough.

The track was drying now and the temperature had increased a touch so Dave would be difficult to deal with. His car was in top form and was a 5.0 to my iffy 4.5L so I would have to make it as wide as possible. If he got past I would have little chance of catching him and to be honest, the way things were…I probably would try after a couple of laps. Going for it a bit more now, this time my start was good. I put a couple of cars between Dave and I, so I tried my best to back them into him whenever he had a chance to stretch his legs. This worked for a good few laps but then DC was on me and really feisty. We had a great tussle for the rest of the race and he pulled right alongside on more then one occasion. However, this time I was going for it. It was the last round, the last few laps and we had space around us if I had a problem so I basically threw it into every corner right on the limit, prepared to run off if necessary as balls and corner speed was all I had left in my locker. Fortunately it was enough, I again took 2nd with only a second or so between us.

I have no Idea who won what or where up front. Both Col and I were knackered and had had a very busy two weeks. We picked up our trophy’s, shook Tim’s hand, again TVR Tuscan Champ, packed up and headed to the Hotel bar.

We were overdue SEVERAL beers!!!

Se you in 2013


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