After Ryan’s great result at Silverstone, the pressure was on Dave to pull out a good result at Oulton Park. With Ryan & Rob both away for this one, Dave had roped in a hand from his mate Matt. The challenge began before qualifying had even got under way when Matt & Dave realised the oil dipstick was loose and oil was dripping out whilst the engine was running.
Dave frantically ran around the paddock looking for materials to help fix it whilst Matt tried to come up with a solution. Between them, they decided to remove the top section of the dipstick that was hanging on by a thread and modify it. However, qualifying was not far out and they needed to get the car operational in time for that. So, they made a quick temporary fix, essentially holding the dipstick in position with cable ties!!
To add some complication, the rain was falling and the track was starting to get progressively more slippery. There wasn’t any time to change the setup and with the rain already falling, it was a case of getting out and getting some laps on the board before the rain got any heavier. So, that’s exactly what Dave did, simply drove the car around, did just 4 laps, attempting to go somewhat quickly and bought the car back in. The boys lifted the bonnet to find the dipstick still dripping oil and with the rain getting a little worse, they decided that was enough for qualifying. Dave had done a 2:17.520 and was somehow up in 10th. With a few less hurdles to overcome, it might’ve been a little quicker, but considering the circumstances, it was more than acceptable.
With the car now back in the paddock and cooled down, the boys set about doing a more permanent fix. A hacksaw and a file helped to created a tapered end to the dipstick tube, this was then tapped in to the existing hole in the engine block, where it was caked in 2-part metal bond that Dave had borrowed from Billy Hardy. It would take about 3 hours to set hard, just enough time before the race. It looked like the problem was fixed, the test, once again, would be the race.
Race time came around, the rain had now stopped and the track was almost completely dry. First lap and a strong start from Dave got him up to 8th, but almost immediately the safety car was out for a first lap incident. All the drivers remained on track as the pit window had not yet opened.
3 laps later and the safety was heading back in, during which time the pit window had opened. Of course, everyone had the same idea and followed the safety car back in to the pits, Dave included. Annoyingly, Dave had to be held in his box as the cars that were in front of him before the pits came back down the pit lane. An unsafe release would be much worse than this delay though.
As Dave came out of the pits, Paul Mensley came around the first corner in the #741, for which he was guest driving with owner Rob Jarman. And it seemed that Paul in that car was pretty close on pace to Dave…. an epic 3 lap battle began.
Dave had come out in front of Paul, but as they passed through some back markers, Paul managed to sneak through and Dave was then on the chase. He followed Paul very closely for a lap, they both got passed the #44 Clio of Jones & Glashen, both gaining a place. Then, Dave saw Paul was struggling in to turn 1, so, he took a wide line in to it, with a late apex, getting the run down the hill in to turn 2 and nipping back past.
Paul kept with Dave as they headed towards the Shell Oils Hairpin, but as Dave protected his line going in to it, Paul lost it on the brakes and had a very exciting spin, dropping him back. The battle was over, but it was great fun whilst it lasted.
Dave pushed on and by this time, thanks to a bit of change around in the pits, was in 6th overall, but was still chasing the Clio Class B lead, which he could see in the distance in the form of Russ Thomson. Russ was in a group of 4 cars battling for 2nd overall, despite Dave’s best efforts, the gap just wasn’t closing, he remained 5 seconds behind 5th position for the next 5 laps, until the chequered flag.
So, Dave had come over the line 6th overall, 2nd in Class, but that wasn’t the final result. During the pits, Martin Addison in the #189 Peugeot 106 had done what was deemed to be an unsafe release and he was penalised for it, post-race. Along with Martin, Russ Thomson in the leading Clio had missed the pit window by 30 seconds and was also penalised post-race. All this meant that Dave’s final classification was 4th overall and 1st in Class B! Another strong showing for the Chase Racing Clio and a happy Dave, flip flops an’ all.