Oulton Park Cheshire Challenge: Race Report

Updated: Apr 15

On Saturday 10th April the 2021 CSCC season got underway.


Marc Peters has edited together a superb highlights video, did you make the final cut?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT8IbnEHe5o


CSCC official photographer, David Stallard exhausted himself and his camera batteries, gathering thousands of photos of your cars from various vantage points. Please support him by purchasing a photo or two:

https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/ClassicSportsCarClubCSCC/CSCC-2021/CSCC-Oulton-Park-10-Apr-21/



Race results can be viewed here (remember to then click 'view PDF book' for more detail):

https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/211464


We were fortunate to have BTCC commentator David Addison with us at Oulton, taking written notes, as well as on the mic. His words have been added to in places, by the CSCC team in italics.


A huge entry arrived at Oulton Park for the Club’s season-opener, an event sadly devoid of spectators under current Government instructions, but with plenty of drivers eager to start their seasons.


A red flag early in the Co-ordsport Tin Tops & Mr Tyre Motorsport Puma Cup wasn’t what race control needed, with a tight timetable. It was triggered by Paul Boulton (Ford Fiesta ST) tangling with Lee Webster’s MG ZR on the run to Old Hall starting lap three and the race was re-started. Suspected brake failure the reason for Boulton's assault. Having built a gap at the first time of asking, Andrew Windmill did it again in his Honda Civic Type R, escaping from a battle for second place, that involved Richard Field (Proton Persona), who made a better getaway at the second attempt, Tom Mensley’s (Renault Clio) and Martin Addison (Peugeot 106). A slow-starting Colin Simpson (Peugeot 206) was in eighth, the car having inherited pole after Danny Cassar/ Nigel Ainge’s Honda Integra suffered a gearbox failure, but Simpson chipped away and started to climb the order to get to sixth before the pit window. When son Steve Simpson took over at the pit stop, the Peugeot really started to charge. He caught and passed Addison for third and then picked off Mensley for second, Steve setting fastest lap in his efforts to catch the leader.

Windmill had a scare two laps from home when John Baker (Renault Clio) and Lee Alan Walker (Renault Twingo) tangled ahead of him, but worse was to come when he was penalised post-race for a short pit stop dropping him to third. The Simpsons inherited the win from Addison, with Windmill third, from Richard Field jnr and snr. The red flag allowed the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 of Jon Warburton/Chris Warburton into the restart and the pair came from the pit lane to eighth, to earn the Co-ordSport Driver (s) of the Day Trophy.

There was no stopping Dave Griffin (BMW M3) in the Cartek Motorsport Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics race. The BMW bolted away while Alex Taylor (Mazda RX7) fended off Stephen Scott-Dunwoodie (Ford Sapphire Cosworth) for second. They tangled at Lodge on lap four, which triggered a safety car period that sadly missed the leader and caused some to lose a lot of time. Griffin held sway on the restart chased by the top Future Classics entry of Paul Dolan (BMW 325i). Dolan was eventually caught by a charging Stuart Daburn (TVR Tuscan) who relieved him of second place, while Christian Douglas (TVR Tuscan) took fourth after a tremendous charge after the safety car to net Cartek Motorsport Driver of the Day in the Modern Classics section, Dolan, the Advantage Motorsport award winner, from the Future Classics.

Stephen Nuttall (Caterham Supersport) was in no mood to play in the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens Group 2 encounter, the experienced Caterham racer fending off Ben Simonds (CSR) to an early safety car period, triggered at Cascades on the opening lap when David Holroyd (C400), Mark James (Supersport) and Hugh Coulter (C400) all fell into the gravel.

On the restart, Nuttall edged away from Simonds, while Tim Davis (C400) and Colin Watson (C400) argued over third as Jonathan Pittard (CSR) fended off the Spire RB7s of David Watson and John Cutmore. Cutmore eventually wriggled past the pair while the leaders pitted, Pittard missing the window and copping a penalty that dropped him to fourth. As Nuttall built the lead, Simonds tangled with Adrian Ferdinands (R300) exiting Britten’s and he then had a second mishap two laps later at Hislop’s, at which point he called it a day. That promoted Colin Watson to second from Davis, but Nuttall’s 50.7-second advantage underlined his dominance.

Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens Group 1 was taken by Rob Cooper, ahead of a surprised Simon Lancashire, just over 8 seconds back. Simon Griffiths was third, just a small margin further back.

Rain affected the Liqui Moly New Millennium & Motorsport School Turbo Tin Tops & Verum Builders Open Series race, in which Dave Griffin (BMW M3 E36) led away from Mark Smith (BMW M3 E36) and a quick-starting Chris Petch (Ginetta G50). Compliments to the competitors who all narrowly managed to avoid the stalled front row car of Matthew Sanders, a truly heart in mouth moment for all concerned! Smith nipped ahead on lap two as the leaders arrived at Hislop’s and found oil, meaning that Smith, Matty Evans (BMW 1M) and Griffin all skated wide and Petch spun. Rain then fell to add to the woes of those with more grunt than grip…

As Evans fell away in the stunning-looking 1M, Griffin closed on Smith as the pit window approached, but the increasingly wet and slippery track was not what the Diet Coke-decaled M3 needed, and Griffin fell away from a dominant Smith, while Mike Nash (SEAT Leon Supercopa) bagged third from Andrew Rath (Lotus Europa). Spare a thought for Chris Tilly, whose Chevrolet Corvette C5.R started from the pit lane and despite being the least-suited car for the weather, came through for 17th! Griffin, Smith and Charlie Newton-Darby (MINI Cooper) scooped the Driver of the Day awards across the three categories.

Rain may have affected the big guns, but was ideal for the opening section of the Adams & Page Swinging 60s. Mini hero Nick Swift had been fastest in qualifying, only to lose two lap times for exceeding track limits…so he started 14th on the grid! He led at the end of lap two…

Ian Staines (MG Midget) led away, until Daniel Budd (Austin Mini Cooper) nipped ahead, while a slow-starting Chris Watkinson (Mini Miglia) was fourth from pole, behind Jonathon Page’s ex-Swift Cooper S. Swift (Morris Mini Cooper S) charged ahead at the end of lap two and then pulled away, not even a massive slide at Hislop’s when he caught a puddle upsetting his rhythm. He relayed racing rookie Giles Page who made his competition debut after the pit stops and, not unexpectedly, didn’t match Swift’s pace, bringing the car home fifth. Soloist Watkinson battled into the lead and then edged away from the more period Minis of Daniel and Charlie Budd, while Page brothers Jonathon and Matthew secured third from the Midget of Staines, which nipped past Page senior a lap from home. Larry Warr (Morris Mini Cooper S) moved ahead as well, only to cop a penalty for a short pit stop.


Swift’s heroics netted the Adams & Page Driver of the Day award.

Mark Campbell was pretty spectacular in the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties Group 2. A stricken car on the green flag laps necessitated a third lap behind the safety car, to buy race control time to collect it up. Once underway Campbell's Triumph TR5 made a modest start from pole, allowing Malcolm Johnson (Lotus Europa) to lead, until Campbell asserted himself midway around the opening tour. Johnson fought back, though, and re-took the lead at Old Hall, starting lap two and Campbell finally made it stick two laps later at Cascades. While that battle raged, they were caught by Jon Ellison (Triumph TR4) who also moved past Johnson before the pit stops. As Campbell built his gap, Johnson fell away, the Europa looking less happy on a drying track (his worn A021Rs preferring the wetter conditions), but Ellison’s TR fell away after the stops, as co-driver Mark Parsley ran at a slower pace and had a late-race spin at Hislop’s. This allowed the impressive Iain Daniels (Reliant Sabre 6) to move ahead to third. Dean Halsey (Datsun 240Z) and Chris Edwards (Triumph TR4) rounded out the top six.

Weather and earlier incidents meant that the Swinging 60s races needed to be shortened to squeeze everything in before Oulton’s strict 18:30 curfew, but a packed paddock, full grids and hundreds of enthusiastic competitors suggested that club racing, and the CSCC in particular, is set for a fine 2021.


CSCC Correspondent and Committee member Vicki Cairns may not have been in Cheshire, but she was avidly listening to the commentary.


Although the planned first race of the season at Snetterton had to be moved due to COVID restrictions, fortunately the rules have been relaxed in time for this meeting at Oulton Park to go ahead.

The morning dawned fine and sunny, if not exactly warm! However, by the time the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties races were on track, the conditions had changed for the worse – it was cold and wet, there was even snow/sleet in the air! We hope that everyone, especially the drivers new to the CSCC, enjoyed being back on track, despite the weather.


As the author of this report, I am feeling a bit sheepish, not having actually been present at the race meeting. However, when the weather turned miserable in time for racing, I was extremely glad to be sitting in comfort at home! We were obviously disappointed not to be racing with you, but we hope to be back for the meeting at Cadwell Park. My spies did a sterling job and I hope that, with their information and the live timing of TSL, I have been able to put together a report which is not too fanciful.


Qualifying Group 1


The session started promptly; but, at the end of the first lap, the Sunbeam Rapier of Brian Heerey had a catastrophic engine failure on the pit straight and deposited oil on the track. A number on the pit wall reported debris hitting the catch fencing close to them, as well as a stray alternator! This took a while to clear up. Qualifying time was, therefore, considerably reduced. Chris Watkinson in the Austin Mini took pole position by 2.2 seconds from Ian Staines (MG Midget), followed by Daniel Budd (Austin Mini), who was taking part in his first race with the CSCC. Also in a Mini, were new members: Ralph & Charlie Budd. Sadly they were unable to take part in Qualifying or the race. There was another new team out, Keith Egar & John Payne in an MG Midget, who qualified in 10th place.

The Race Group 1


When the time came for the Group 1 race, the conditions were miserable! Drivers in closed cars could not see out and drivers in open cars were soaked and freezing! As the conditions were so different to qualifying, it was deemed necessary to have 2 green-flag laps, which meant a reduction in race time to 30 minutes to ensure that the Meeting would finish before the curfew at 6.30 pm.

From the start it was apparent that it was going to be an exciting race. Nick Swift started from 14th position in the Morris Mini Cooper that he was sharing with Giles Page and was already up to 3rd by the end of the first lap. He made it into the lead at the end of the third lap. He held the lead until the pit-stop.

When everything settled down after the pit-stops, it was Chris Watkinson who had assumed the lead which he held until the Chequered Flag, gaining a 30-second Winner’s penalty. Minis took the first 3 places, the others being the Classic K cars of Budd & Budd and Page & Page. The fourth placed car was that of Ian Staines in his MG Midget.