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Oulton Park Race Report – October ’17

Oulton Park is a fantastic track, very technical and also quite narrow in places with barriers not all that far away. If the track is damp at all, it’s quite tricky and very involved. So, with scattered showers in the forecast, we travelled North wondering what challenges the day would provide. Dave had decided he would like a little more seat time and, as well as the Tin Tops, would compete in the Open Series race as well.

First up was the Tin Tops qualifying session and after a few laps getting up to speed, Dave started sliding around a little and after half a lap realised that the car was overheating and coolant was spraying on to the tyres. He limped the car back to the pits, coming to a stop in a cloud of steam to find that the bracket that held the alternator in place had broken. Somehow the alternator had not punctured the radiator, but seeing as the belt that drives the alternator also drives the water pump, it was clear that the car was no longer circulating the coolant.

After some investigative work, we determined that the custom bracket had fatigued over a long period of time; it had been on the car for over a year! So, we found a kind helper in the paddock who had a welder and got it repaired, just in time to get Dave back out for the Open Series qualifying session.

It was clear luck was not on our side today, as after about 10 laps of running, it happened again! Dave spotted it much earlier this time and got the car back to the pits without any further damage being caused. Another close inspection found that we’d strengthened the majority of the bracket with extra welds but this had caused further stress on another part of it. So, back to our mate and we got it repaired once again, this time more substantially.

With all the problems, we found ourselves a little out of place on the Tin Tops grid and we were going to be starting in 12th, with Tom in the rival Clio up in 4th. The start of the day had just been overcast and using the dry tyres had been the right choice for the morning sessions. However, just 20 minutes before the race the rain started falling and like many, we chose to put on some slightly more appropriate tyres (Yokohama AD08’s).

As Dave made his way out on track to line up on the grid, it was clear the tyre choice was a wise one, the track was thoroughly wet. The start of the race wasn’t a particularly successful one and after being boxed in by a slow car in front, Dave then found himself out wide around the first corner and ran on to the grass. By the 2nd corner, he was down in 16th! The rest of the lap was a bit more successful and after lap 1, he was back up to 11th. After a steady opening stint in tricky conditions, Dave handed over to Ryan and the usual quick pitstop saw Ryan come out in 8th place.

Ryan pushed on in difficult conditions, putting in some good lap times moving up another place before the end of the race, bringing the car home in 7th.  This was 2nd in Class, Tom Mensley in the other Clio was way ahead of the field, storming to victory. A lot to learn from the day, including how to set up the car in the wet conditions and how to clear the windscreen more effectively. Next up is Brands Hatch, including a Night Race!

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