Race Report: Oulton Park 2023

June 12, 2023
Oulton Park 2023

After a great weekend at Anglesey with a return to an old favourite hopes were high for Oulton Park.

Qualifying:

Carlo left the assembly area and immediately found a friend backwards in the tyre wall at the exit of the pitlane and went into a double waved yellow situation closely followed by a safety car which lasted a good 3-laps before the session was red-flagged for the recovery.   Carlo returned to a chaotic pit-lane with 40+ cars trying to find a place to stop and change drivers!

Nik left the pit when the green flag eventually returned and immediately set about putting in some decent laps.   This was the first time that a fully working SC#3 hit the tarmac and nearly 5 years since Nik’s last PB in the old E36.   That PB lasted about 5 minutes before the records started falling.  SC#2’s best time around Oulton was a 2:04 and SC#3 put in a decent 2:01 – the fastest we’ve ever been around Oulton.   

Unfortunately, in Class B that wasn’t nearly quick enough to challenge the front running turbo charged Golf’s and we ended up 10/13 in class B.   However, with a solid pace and a reliable car underneath us we were confident that we’d move forwards during the race.   The only slight concern being the oil temps….

Race:

Nik started the race and made up a few places on the initial laps and started to settle down for the long mid-race haul.  After about 20 mins the oil temp alarms started to go off.   The first warning “Oil is hot-ish” came and went in a flash and was replaced by “cool the car” and then the big red “Oil Temp – BOX BOX” flashed on.  We’d talked about this beforehand and agreed if we only spiked into the “BOX BOX” range we would keep rolling.   

At the same time the class A cars started to catch and lap us and life got pretty busy.   Nik tried to lower the revs and drive around in a higher gear which did bring the oil temp down but it remained in the “cool the car” range.   After a few more minutes of this Nik climbed Clay Hill in 5th gear and held it while a Class A caught up.   Nik went wide, ran onto the dirt and marbles, left the track at 72mph and ploughed into the barriers at ~55mph.

After signalling to the marshals he jumped out of the car and waited for the recovery truck to unveil the damage.   He couldn’t see the car itself as it was still surrounded by foam and tyre barriers but feared the worst.   The recovery truck towed the car back to the pits – so at least we knew all the wheels were on and the engine was running and the car was steering in a straight line.   The recovery team – absolute legends – dropped us off in the pit lane and Nik drove straight back into the garage.

As soon as the car stopped moving Ryan and Sam dove onto it to assess the damage.   Sam popped the bumper back out so it looked straight again and then the guys, assisted by our garage mate – Jody from Climax Motorsport and very closely monitored by scrutineers – started removing the front splitter and lower part of the bumper.   Miraculously, there didn’t appear to be any major mechanical damage, everything appeared to be cosmetic bodywork damage.

After apply a camel load of tape the car was cleared back out on circuit.   The team topped off the fuel tank, Carlo jumped in and SC#3 re-entered the race for the remaining 1:03.

Carlo cautiously built up the pace while he was making sure that the car was really working as planned.   When he was confident it was he picked up the pace and settled in at a very competitive race pace.   Plagued by more safety cars (not us this time) the rest of the race was a stop / start type of affair.   In the closing minutes it became clear that we could move up the standings by 3-4 places if we could make it to 30 laps overall.   Carlo did this with a couple of laps to spare and took the chequered flag 30/38 overall, 11/15 out of class B and 5/6 in the Clubman Cup.

After the trials of the day the team celebrated the finish almost as much as a podium!   Ryan and Sam were the absolute heroes of the day, without them we would have DNF’d after the accident.  

The marshals and recovery team also get a special mention, it’s the first time we’ve needed their services in many years and as their reputation goes – they were excellent.

The car is now back at Geoff Steel Racing getting a thorough safety check over before our next event at Silverstone for our corporate day on Monday July 24th.   If you’re interested in joining us we still have spaces available – get it touch – team@stormingcamel.com

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