October 2, 2004

Academy Event 7 - Race, Oulton Park

[NO VIDEOS TO COMPLY WITH MOTORSPORTVISION RULES - Please email me if you would like to see them]

Surprise surprise, up early to get to the circuit. I can't believe it is event 7 already, and we have all been talking about how its a shame that the final few events are so close together. Anyway, signing up for Roadsport B in 2005 has lifted the finality a little :-).

The circuit was damp but the rain was holding off and most were hoping for a dry race. It wasn't long before we were out for qualifying (09:20) - in the wet. As we waited in the holding area for what seemed like an age, the rain started to fall harder. Eventually we got out for qualifying and it was difficult to push hard (in particular Druid's was unbelievably slippery in the wet). Oulton is very different to the circuits we've been on to date, if only because of its length with laps getting towards two minutes rather than the one minute of others. After the inevitable wait the times were out for qualifying - and were closer than I had expected given the conditions. Pat Gormley set an amazing pace with 1:58.703 with Paul Jepson a little way behind with 2:00.961; Henry Fletcher was on the second row with 2:01.222. Unusually, Patrick Scharfegger who's currently leading the championship was down in 11th with a 2:02.996 and Adrian Argyros was in 14th with 2:04.163. I was in 15th with a 2:04.514. The full set of times can be seen here and the grid here courtesy of MST. Luke Dimsdale qualified in 6th with a 2:02.016 but was unfortunately placed at the back of the grid following a technical infringement related to ride height. This meant I was up to 14th on the grid.

The grid was down to just 21 cars; Hugo had damaged his car yesterday in testing, Chris Ross and Claudia Baines hadn't tested and decided not to race, Richard Granelli was ill. Keith Sheppard and Greg Watts couldn't make it.

By race time, the track had dried out and the sun was even trying to come out. We went round for the formation lap, then the green flag lap and lined up on the grid for the start. I was slightly distracted and before I knew it, the red lights were on and going out - just managed to get away in time not to lose any places and amazingly there was no carnage at the first corner despite Adrian 'Wag' Wagstaff spinning and dropping down to third from last! By the end of lap 1, Pat was still first with Paul close behind and Henry in third. Patrick was amazingly up from 11th on the grid to 4th! I'm up to 12th. As we go into lap 2, James 'Psycho' Sykes comes past me at Cascades (I spend most of my races battling with James :-)) and we then both go past Henry Fletcher who has spun coming onto Lakeside [up to 11th]. I follow James through the hairpin but get the run on him up the hill to Knickerbrook and hold the inside line. As I turn in I see James going straight on, but as I come out of the complex James rejoins, causing me to brake hard - and he's in front of me. I signal that I'm not amazingly happy as you can see in the video below. You can't see my right hand because of the camera angle, but I take the quiet moment to demonstrate the Shake N' Vac advert moves to James. He lets me through.

Oulton Park - James Sykes (3.5Mb Windows Media File)

So I'm up to 11th, Patrick has continued his charge and is now 3rd with Pat still out front and Paul in second. By the end of lap 3, Patrick is in second place and 3 seconds behind Pat in the lead. Chris Rome has made a strong move and is 7th and Henry has fought back from his earlier spin to pass me and get up to 11th so I'm down to 12th. Luke who started at the back of the grid is now up to 15th. On lap 4, Darren Faraway is slow out of Cascades after battling with Adrian Agyros and Chris Rome gets a run on him down the outside. Darren moves across pushing Chris wide and onto the grass. Chris rejoins in 18th so I'm back to 11th.

On lap 5 I have a nightmare, with Luke Dimsdale, Adrian Wagstaff (both of whom are making their way back through the field), James Sykes and Jonathan Alpine (both only a point or two behind me in the championship) coming past me as I struggle to keep my speed up under challenge. I'm now down to 15th with Pat holding the lead and 8 seconds ahead. On lap 7, Steve Marshall spins at Island but manages to hold on. Adrian Argyros has charged up the field to second place after starting in 14th. Pat is still holding the lead with almost 15 seconds in hand. Somwhere on lap 6 James Sykes goes off and I'm back up to 14th.

Into lap 8 and Chris Rome finally manages to get past John Bickell to move up into 15th. Up to Lodge, Chris dives down the inside of me, pushing me wide in an incident that should really have resulted in an endorsement, if not suspension of his license. I struggle to keep control in an event which, if not for my lightning reactions and skills as a racing driver, would have resulted in expensive car damage and a long stay in hospital. Or maybe I just went too fast round the corner, ran out of skill and ended up letting Chris through, losing ground to him and missing out on slipstreaming for the next few laps :-). Back down to 15th.

Oulton Park - Chris Rome (1Mb Windows Media File)

Onto lap 10, with Pat retaining his ~15 second lead, Adrian in second and Patrick in third. Luke has fought his way back into 4th, but I'm still down in 15th. On lap 11 Fabian, who was running in 9th, put a wheel on the grass coming out of Knickerbrook and catapulted across the circuit to hit the tyre wall backwards and bend a De Dion. Another race over for him but he remains in good spirits. On lap 11, John Bickell spins into the gravel (no damage) and retires. Up to 13th. Bad luck hits Darren Faraway on the final lap as he drops from a high of 4th to be forced to retire with a loose undertray following a black and orange flag. I cross the line in 12th.

A great drive and win for Pat in 21:09.564 with Adrian almost 8 seconds behind him and championship leader Patrick Scharfegger in 3rd. Long time championship leader Paul Jepson was in fourth and Luke who started from the back after that infringement a stunning 5th.

Unfortunately having finished behind Andy Blight and Jonathan Alpine (but ahead of James Sykes) I drop 2 places in the championship to 14th. On the positive side I'm now 5 points ahead of James Sykes in 15th and there are only 2 points separating me from 11th.

It's still very close up the front going into the final round at Brands Hatch. Patrick is on 123 points, 10 ahead of Paul Jepson on 113. Luke is third with 104 and then Adrian and Pat joint fourth with 100.

You can download the updated results and championship table here.

[EDIT: Updated with comments from Chris Rome]
[EDIT2: A few mistakes fixed, results added]

Posted by charles at October 2, 2004 9:01 PM

Hi Charles,
Another great report in which I again get a mention. I have an even better perspective of your incident with Chris which can be taken down and used in evidence. It also demonstrates my superb braking skills in avoiding you when you unexpectedly returned to the track (I thought you were a gonner for sure). I am sending the tape to Chris for the DVD, by all means ask him for a copy, I do not have the computer skills to send it directly to you. In Chris's defence I am sure he was frustrated at me holding him off for a couple of laps. Another great race guys with no damage to car or driver see you on the grid at Brands.

Posted by: John Bickell at October 4, 2004 11:39 PM

Thanks John - your braking skills were superb, thanks :-). Chris took the place fairly of course, I was just in the wrong place on the track and going too fast!

Posted by: Charles Elliott at October 4, 2004 11:52 PM

John - I'd be very interested to see your footage. I think it will serve to confirm the true version of events! ;-)

Good fun all round!
See you at Brands.


Posted by: Chris Rome at October 5, 2004 9:53 AM

If it pleases the court, I can now make reference to exhibit C, the independent video footage from a J Bickell esq.

As the members of the jury can quite clearly see, prosecution has, "a bl**dy country mile" of room to make the corner, and we submit that the defense has no case to answer and we move for dismissal.

Thank you Mr Bickell, and thank you m'lud.

Posted by: Counsel for the Defense at October 6, 2004 11:54 AM

M'lud, in the light of this new evidence the prosecution has decided to withdraw it's case.

Posted by: Counsel for the Prosecution at October 6, 2004 9:25 PM

Another good example of web site trickery ie nice report. I really should get my video player hooked up though!

Posted by: Ade at October 6, 2004 11:19 PM

Thanks Ade. With no disrespect to the people that have let Chris have tapes so far, the odd view from a front runner would be much appreciated!

Posted by: Charles at October 6, 2004 11:37 PM

Just watched the video and I did cut you up rather badly. Sorry about that.

Perhaps you should have run into me like you usally do ;)

Posted by: James at October 7, 2004 11:37 PM