DRIVER DIARY: UP AND DOWN AT OULTON

Perhaps hoping to be able to close the gap on the leaders of the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with a solid weekend at Oulton Park was a little ambitious for someone with a single weekend of competition under their belt, but I certainly didn’t anticipate the mix of luck the Fluid Motorsport Developments team got in round two.

Testing had gone well there, and was looking forward to tackling one of the more picturesque circuits in the country, but things started to go wrong in qualifying, and only really got better in late on the final day.

Pre-race testing again went well, and I was able to lap closer to the pace than I had at Silverstone but, just as we appeared capable of breaking into the top five in qualifying, the red flags came out and scotched my best lap. I’d been half a second up in each of the first two sectors, but had to abandon the lap when the session was stopped for an accident. In fairness, the organisers had no option but to throw the red flag – and I’m glad that Jake Cook was okay after his roll – but it was frustrating nonetheless.

My inexperience showed when they decided to restart the session with just a handful of minutes remaining, and not dropping back to find some space on track probably cost me the chance to get a better grid position. In the end, I had to make do with tenth, ninth and seventh for the three races – not exactly what we had been hoping for!

The penalty for not starting further up the grid became all to clear in race one, as I was hit hard from behind at the opening corner and, once on the grass, had no chance of avoiding the tyre wall. Fortunately, I hit it at a nice angle – if there is such a thing in any accident – so I wasn’t worried about hurting myself, but the car was pretty badly damaged on the right-hand side, with the nose also needing the attention of the team. It was just as well that we had the whole of Easter Sunday to make repairs…

Race two looked better and a good start, combined with a couple of accidents ahead of me, meant that I was up to around sixth early on. Unfortunately, however, the gearbox had other ideas, and we had to retire again – now having used both of the dropped score opportunities open to us for the season!

Things could only get better in race three and, after a long wait while the rest of the programme took to the track, I was really keen to get out there. Typically, I made my worst start of the weekend, but was able to regain the positions by the end of the lap. Despite heavy pressure from Philippe Layac – which ended when he hit me while trying an ambitious pass at Lodge – I was able to keep my head down and put up some good lap times.

Unfortunately, the contact damaged a wishbone and that made it hard for the rest of the race, as I lost traction and time to the cars in front, but I managed to fend off those behind me and come home sixth. The return of the red flags helped me to some extent – they say these things even out over the course of the season, not a single meeting – but I was grateful to take my best result of the season all the same.

It’s a good feeling to take to Snetterton for the next round, especially as testing has gone well at the Norfolk venue, and I can’t wait to get out there again.

Until next time,

Matt

 

Article created by Craig Llewellyn.