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Blog 5 – Oulton Park10/06/12
Near-perfect weekend gets Championship aspirations back on track
After a long 6-week break, a strong weekend was needed at Oulton Park to recover the ground lost at Thruxton. Last time out was an extremely difficult weekend and I was thankful of some time off to recharge the batteries and get back into the right frame of mind. Having been to the track the week previously to test, my confidence had returned and two good results were on the cards.
Friday practice was a wet affair, with no dry testing at all. I ended the day sixth fastest having not used any new tyres but with a nice balance in the car. Unfortunately this testing counted for nothing, as when qualifying approached the track had dried. With dry knowledge fresh in my mind from the week previous, I was immediately at the top of the times. On my second set of tyres I managed to dip into the 1:22:9s earning my first ever pole position in the Porsche Carrera Cup. Championship leader Michael Meadows ended the day second, just a tenth of a second behind.
The improved weather continued into Sunday for rounds seven and eight. I got a great start off the front row and was comfortably into the lead into Turn One. Over the first half-dozen laps the top four edged away nose-to-tail. With Gelzinis busy harassing Meadows for second, this gave me a small cushion allowing me to look ahead and drive my own race without watching my rear-view mirrors. Eighteen laps of Oulton Park seemed like an eternity until with five laps left, Gelzinis attacked Meadows. Defending heavily, I was immediately able to open up a 2.5 second lead. This was a huge relief, taking off some pressure over the remaining part of the race. At the finish I was ecstatic to be taking my first Porsche Carrera Cup win. To lead from Pole to the flag was exactly what I needed, giving me the belief I had lacked at Thruxton.
For Round Eight later that afternoon, I again had a front-row start but this time second to Meadows. I bogged down off the line and came under attack from teammate Daniel Lloyd starting third. On the outside, I foolishly attempted to brave it out on the outside but rightly so, Lloyd pushed me wide onto the grass. In hindsight, I should have just tucked in behind and accepted third. Now back to fifth after my grassy moment, I had some work to do. Over the opening lap, a broken radiator had put fluid from the Hairpin over the rest of the lap back to the pit lane. Unaware, the field raced into Knickerbrook chicane with cars going off in every direction! In the melee I managed to pass both Lloyd and Glynn Geddie to jump back to third. Meadows and Gelzinis were now several seconds up the road but I hunted them down chased by Rory Butcher. With the times closely-matched I was unable to made any real inroads and with three laps left backed the car off to the finish.
My first Pole position, first win, followed up with a third place in race two, is just about as good as I could have ever hoped for this weekend. My home circuit Croft follows Oulton in two weeks time and I will arrive there as confident as ever.