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Oulton Park Report

posted 12 Aug 2015, 12:37 by Kieren McDonald
Oulton Park was once again the host to the Northern Mini Festival, only a month following its counterpart in the South at Brands Hatch. The Dunlop Mini Se7en Challenge, sponsored by Mini Spares, is nearing the end of 2015 with the Championship standings leaving things wide open. Rounds 11 & 12 were always going to be hotly contested with everyone’s eyes on the top steps. The Oulton Park Mini Festival was run over a single day with a whole host of mini specific events and stands, although this does leave things a little tight in the schedule for the race teams; we are lucky to receive great support from the Hunter Racetech team to keep things in check.
















The weather forecast was spot on; it was a scorcher – maybe not the right choice to adorn jeans for the morning track walk, especially as it was the full International circuit of 2.692 miles! I do enjoy Oulton Park but last year was a difficult one, as clutch problems put an end to running either race. It’s got a bit of everything – plenty of high speed, winding, cambered corners – even a Nurburgring-style corner, Shell Oils, which resembles the infamous Carousel.

With sign on and scrutineering out of the way, it was straight into qualifying. With such a long busy circuit it was always going to be difficult to clock a clean lap, although I clearly picked the wrong time to go out onto the track. I only clocked 6 laps and was held up for almost all of that even with blue flags waving. My last lap was unsurprisingly the quickest, once I had got past but was still with traffic and without ability to build up high speed confidence ahead of a quick lap. That put me in 11th on the grid for Race 1 and my second quickest time placed me 12th for Race 2. I felt quite confident I had plenty more to give so was looking forward to the challenge in the races.

 














Hunter Racetech did a full check on Mini Spares #5 se7en ahead of Race 1, which was already equipped with a couple of new parts from Mini Spares prior to the event – mainly a new windscreen and high quality oil filter (same as Unipart, effectively re-labelled). I was a little slow off the line when the red lights went out and then lost out at Turn 1 so lost touch with front pack due to loss of momentum. To make matters worse in lap 1 I heard a ping and the steering went a bit wonky whilst the rear tried escaping me! The car was quite a handful but managed to keep it on the track, albeit at a slower, more ragged pace. I had a couple of good battles and had to defend a fair bit, whilst I tried to get the car into the corners – something the tyres and I didn’t seem to agree on!! I was happy to make the finish line and still in a respectable 11th place. 
















There was very little time in-between race 1 and 2, not leaving much time to correct issues or even do the basic checks and let things cool down. Hunter Racetech was at it again, immediately diagnosing and fixing the cause of Race 1 problems – a sheared stud in the anti-roll bar link. There was also a CV boot that had to be replaced and a detailed check over to prepare me for Race 2. I started in 12th but had a much better start, just squeezing in-between a couple of others that I managed to jump off the line. I was straight onto the front pack but had to take to the grass to avoid a spinning car on the high speed approach into Shell Oils. I kept my calm and just sat on the back of the pack waiting to see what unfolded and kept alert for any opportunities to exploit. My pace dropped off due to tyres mid to late in the race, leaving a larger gap to form ahead of me. There wasn’t anyone in sight behind so backed off a bit. Unexpectedly events unfolded right at the end – Davis lost gears so past him on the grid straight and then to find Hunt and Davies in the gravel at Shell Oils. Immediately after I saw a red flag ending the race, which turned out to be due to Smith rolling his car at Knickerbrook chicane – we were all glad to see everyone fit and healthy when out of their cars, although not a pretty sight seeing the damaged cars afterwards. I finished in P4 but due to red flag rules, I was changed to P7 as positions are taken from the end of the previous lap. I was happy, 4th quickest time and finally back in the groove after a couple of disappointing events. 

Overall an extremely busy day but a great race circuit and results. Mini Spares continue to be a great partner – they help me get out and stay out! The support I have received from Hunter Racetech, Selby Race Engines, Classic & Custom Works, MBRace Photography and British Mini Club is amazing. As always a huge thanks to sponsors, supporters, friends and family. The last 2 championship rounds will be faced at our local circuit, Silverstone, on their International layout. This will be the finale to the 50th season of racing in the Mini 7 Racing Club (not for me personally!!) and with mammoth grids, it is set to be an exciting showdown – hope to see you there! Highlights videos from each of the Oulton Park races can be seen below.

Race 1 race highlights:


Race 2 race highlights:


Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
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