When most people think of England they think of rain, a national stereotype which is true more often than not and as they say, “When it rains it pours”. Round 4 of the Time Attack series sees us at Oulton Park in Cheshire for what promises to be one of the most exciting rounds of the championship.
The undulating corners and camber changes make Oulton Park a fantastic circuit for spectators who can be close to both the cars and the action on the track. Once again in my venerable Swift I venture to what is effectively my home round (give or take 50 miles). Arriving at the circuit I’m not greeted by the usual car show models, showcars or trade stands usually evident at Time Attack rounds. This round is for the true enthusiast, a whiff of Shell Optimax and used rubber wafts through the air with the unmistakable sound of the Zen Impreza in the distance. A quick stroll through the capark sees me face to face with yet another new GTR, its muscular shoulders and vents betray the cars performance. Godzilla is here to take on the best in the Club Class but more on that later.
A wet drive to the circuit is punctuated by a spell of sunshine, but on the horizon loom ominous black clouds. Fast forward 10 minutes and the practice session is underway in torrential rain. Morning practice sees me standing at Old Hall corner and the session doesn’t pass without incident as Duncan Graham & Nick Holland both suffered incidents in the appalling conditions. The rain passes for qualifying but the circuit is still wet as the clouds threaten to dampen the hardy spirits of the spectators standing at Lodge Corner. The cars slide wide to the apex before thundering down the hill to Deers Leap. Turbo cars lead the way in club qualification with Barrie Rycroft, Kev Atkins, Sam Kerr and Kev Horsley all mixing time at the top.
In the Pro class, event favourites Autosportiff with the help of experienced BTCC driver Phil Bennet and Olly Clark in the Roger Clark Impreza tussle at the top swapping times, eventually Bennet emerges on top with a stunning 1:28 lap time. Jamie Stanley in the RC Developments Evo and the now Bioethanol powered Zen Impreza round out the top four. Another first for the season was the late inclusion of a recently imported Nissan R35 GTR driven by the experienced Clive Seddon of RC Developments; a solid run in the club class saw him 7th in qualifying running a stock car with Toyo T1-R tyres. The car eventually posted a 14th place finish on what was seemingly the R35’s first competitive outing in Europe.
Olly Clark eventually won the event in what proved to be difficult conditions; with the phenomenal level of preperation of the Roger Clark machine, the refinement of the chassis and engine over the course of the season and coupled with a fast driver it’d be unwise to bet against them taking the title. A special mention goes to Matt Wiltshre in the WGT Mazda RX7, with a modest specification in comparison to the other machines he held his own with a solid performance throughout the day. The car was driven to the event by the driver and driven back which really demonstrates to the true spirit of the club class.
The weekend also saw the Time Attack machines break the BTCC record at Oulton, which is a massive achievement considering these cars run on street legal tyres. Recent interest from some of the UK’s top racing drivers and tuners proves that the popularity of Time Attack is rising, as is the level of both performance and preparation at every round.
Words and Images: Daniel Coverdale www.dogboxmedia.co.uk