Race Reports For The 2002 Season.
Oulton Park Island, Saturday June 22nd, 10 Laps
Eagling soars to third win out of three.
Shock! Horror! Daniel Eagling failed to score fastest lap in the race and thus broke his perfect pole position, race win, fastest lap sequence. Even so, he was still the class of the field, and his Bruno Junqueira Petrobras overalls are very
The drivers who ventured to Oulton Park to test on Friday 21st June were greeted by a largely wet day with only the last session being truly dry. The weather forecast indicated that we were in for more of the same on the Saturday, but in the end the promised showers didn't materialise and even the least optimistic were seen to be loading the wets back on their trailers by lunchtime. A dry qualifying session followed by a dry race - after the traumas and indecisions of Cadwell Park a real luxury.
Qualifying was red flagged after most drivers had completed only one flying lap after Chris Karn left the track at Druids, hitting the barrier head-on in Alan Avery's pretty Avalan 3; fortunately Chris was largely unhurt although a bit sore around the shoulders. The car fared less well and there was a longish delay while the heavily damaged machine was recovered before the session was re-started. Five laps really is not sufficient to get to grips with this challenging track, but that was all that was available in the rest of the session at the end of which the usual suspects headed the field.
Dan Eagling was, for the third time in three races, on pole, with James Lindley and Peter Clark within a second of his time in second and third. Peter Richings's EBX bodied car was next up followed by Mick Taylor's Phantom, Neil Bevan (lucky to escape undamaged from a grassy trip at Lodge), Mike Evans, Mike Luck and Paul Freeman with Brian Jordan tenth. A cryptic note on the MST timing sheet says "Car 7, Transponder not working!!"; this was unsurprising as the transponder in question, which should have been attached to Paul Freeman's Ardmore was instead still in the glovebox of his tow car where it had been having an overnight recharge.
Among the rest it was good to see Chris Hart out for his first race in three years and to see that Mark Cousin's commute from France had this time been worthwhile after electrical gremlins had kept him off the Cadwell Park grid four weeks previously. Howard Payne was back after rebuilding his car following his heavy Pembrey accident. The rebuild was finished just in time for scrutineering and Howard was treating the day very much as a test session; presumably his rise from twentieth in qualifying to eleventh in the race indicates that the test went quite well? John Kelly and Peter Burnham were attacking their fingernails as their sons, Simon and Kevin respectively, pedalled their cars around. Twenty-eight went out to qualify but with Chris Karn out twenty-seven would be on the grid for the programme-opening race. A mere twenty-two cars started the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring the following afternoon.
The pack got away with Eagling ahead of Clark and Richings who had both got ahead of Lindley. Behind them the field settled in approximately grid order down to about tenth. Behind this group the midfield and tailenders had a pretty exciting time through Old Hall when Chris Hart lost his clutch and found himself freewheeling on the inside of the corner. In the melee the matching Duoscan pair of Tim Covill and Dave Madgwick enjoyed a shared grassy moment on the outside of the bend but all twenty-seven made it although Harty cruised to retirement at the foot of the hill where he was able to enjoy the spectacle from behind the infield barriers. On the second lap Jordan selected neutral accelerating out of Island and in an instant lost five places as Tony Pouyanne, Tim Covill, Adrian Brown, Nick Bailey and Howard Payne powered past him.
At the head of the field the race settled until lap 5 when Clark felt the handling going off in Barry Webb's Mallock Mk23 and dropped from second to fourth. Further down Jamie Champkin and Marcus Bicknell were forced to retire after clashing wheel rims, both puncturing, as Marcus attempted a pass around the outside going into a busy Island Hairpin. Tim Covill was making excellent progress through the field after his early excursion although a trip through the Knickerbrook escape road cost him a ten second penalty which dropped him from ninth on the road to fourteenth in the results. (Tony Pouyanne, whom Tim was attempting to outbrake and who had himself missed the first apex by a mile, felt the penalty was somewhat harsh as Tim's only alternative would have been to hit him). Marc Weyer was the only other retirement following a moment which also involved Tim Covill and Mark Cousin, and Mick Taylor span at Knickerbrook dropping from eighth to the tail of the field.
Eagling continued to lead the field with Richings chasing hard until the end, halving a 3-second deficit on lap six in the process. Jim Lindley netted third and achieved fastest lap ahead of Clark, Evans, Luck, Freeman, Tony Pouyanne (ninth from sixteenth on the grid) with Nick Bailey rounding off the top ten. Not yet mentioned in this report are Ian Mitchell who finished 16th, Des Andrews (18th), Ian Crombie (19th) and Adrian Lester (22nd). At the end most felt that they had had a good day with twenty-three (more than a GP field) out of twenty-seven finising - all on the lead lap!
"If only they sounded a bit more like racing cars it would have been brilliant." said one spectator.