Sports/Saloon Car Championship – Round 7 - Oulton Park
GARRY IS THE NAME TO BEAT!
It was Garry to the fore at Oulton Park for the seventh round of this year’s CNC Heads Sports Saloons, with Garry Wardle taking his Porsche 997 to victory in the modified class race, followed by Garry Watson’s Westfield taking the specials race victory spoils.
Ilsa Cox took pole for the modified race in her Seat Leon Cupra, 1.497 secs up on Wardle’s Porsche. “I am still getting used to my car and it’s my first here with it in the dry,” said Wardle. Sharing the second row were Honda racing frontrunner Robert Burkinshaw in his Integra topping class E, only 0.187secs up on Alistair Stenhouse’s BMW M3.
Piers Grange’s Escort and Philip Morris’ VW Golf GTi shared row three, but down in seventh Oliver Thomas was disappointed with his time for the Subaru Impreza. “I couldn’t get any space, so came in and had the same problem when I went out again,” he said. He had former Champion Steven Hibbert alongside with his Lotus Elise, Andrew Smith’s VW Beetle and Steven Parker’s BMW Compact completed the top ten. Graeme Laslett’s Elise, Jamie Cryer’s Ginetta G20, Mike Hurst’s Seat Leon Cupra and Ralph Underwood’s TR7V8 were next up, before Iain Gorrie’s Raw Striker, topping class F.
Wardle made a flying start and was over two seconds clear at the end of the opening lap. “The gearbox electrics were playing up a bit though, it was hard to change up, but then it cleared after a few laps,” he explained. Cox held onto second from the opening lap and soon consolidated the place over Stenhouse. But the BMW driver then had Burkinshaw closing in, before he snatched third on lap seven.
While Wardle charged away into the distance to win by over 44 seconds. Cox was a clear second and both Burkinshaw and Stenhouse held station. “I didn’t look in my mirrors too much, but just kept going, it was a good move forward for me, the car and the team,” said Wardle.
Grange was fifth throughout but Morris was never far behind, while Hurst charged from 12th on the opening lap to demote Smith and Rowles with a lap to go, netting him seventh. Rowles also ousted Smith at the end, while there was little to choose between the Elise’s of Laslett and Hibbert as they took the flag in 10th and 11th. Thomas had been in the top ten too, holding seventh in the early laps. “I got blocked at the start but was getting little performance from the car. Then the temperature went really high and a hose blew again,” he explained after retiring three laps in.
Parker had the Elise’s in his sights too, whereas as Richard Roundell had a day to forget with his Vectra. “When I got the car off the trailer it had a puncture, so I used old slicks. Then my new power steering didn’t work so I took it off. Not my day really,” he reckoned after coming home 13th.
Cryer had a clear run, while David Jones’ Focus had Gorrie on his tail over the closing laps. Tony Harman’s Ginetta G20, Chris Maries’ Honda Integra, Underwood and Peter Davies’ Civic completed the top 20, with the Civic’s of Simon Sheridan and Geoff Morton completing the finishers with Helen Allen’s Fiesta, after Ian Burrows’ Celica, John Seery’s Astra, Brian Allen’s XR2i and Clive Dix’s Puma retired.
1 Garry Wardle (Porsche 997) 12 laps in 21m55.116s (88.42mph); 2 Ilsa Cox (Seat Leon Cupra) +44.399s; 3 Robert Burkinshaw (Honda Integra); 4 Alistair Stenhouse (BMW E36 M3); 5 Piers Grange (Ford Escort Mk2); 6 Philip Morris (VW Golf Gti); 7 Mike Hurst (Seat Leon Cupra); 8 Steve Rowles (Honda Integra Type R); 9 Andrew Smith (VW Beetle); 10 Graeme Laslett (Lotus Elise).
Class D: Wardle; 2 Cox; 3 Stenhouse; 4 Morris; 5 Hurst; 6 Smith; 7 Ralph Underwood (Triumph TR7 V8).
Class E: 1 Burkinshaw; 2 Grange; 3 Rowles; 4 Laslett; 5 Steven Hibbert (Lotus Sport Elise); 6 Steven Parker (BMW Compact); 7 Richard Roundell (Vauxhall Vectra); 8 Jamie Cryer (Ginetta G20); 9 David Jones (Ford Focus); 10 Tony Harman (Ginetta G20); 11 Chris Maries (Honda Integra R); 12 Peter Davies (Honda Civic).
Class F: 1 Iain Gorrie (Raw Striker); 2 Simon Sheridan (Honda Civic); 3 Geoff Morton (Honda Civic); 4 Helen Allen (Ford Fiesta Zetec S); no other finishers.
Fastest lap: Wardle 1m47.705s (89.98mph).
Only 0.363 secs separated the top three after qualifying, with Joe Spencer’s Stuart Taylor Locosaki edging out Paul Woolfitt’s Lotus Exige and Dany Bird’s Spire GTR. “I got a time early on as there was more space with having a split grid. Then I got clear again and improved on it,” said Spencer.
Bird had Garry Watson’s Westfield SEW alongside to complete the second row, before Ric Wood’s BMW M3 GTR and Roddie Paterson’s Caterham. Matt Spark’s Caterham was next up, with Dave Harvey unusually down in eighth with his Locosaki, while Steve Hall made a return to the championship after many years with his Audi TT RS.
Darren Smith was back with his TVR Tuscan to complete the top ten, just ahead of Patrick Smyth’s Lotus Elan. Only 0.367 secs then covered the next four. Les Kirk’s Fisher Fury topped the quartet, from Tim Foxlow’s Escort Mk1, Ryan Hadfield’s Ginetta G40 and Peter Davies’ Spire GTR. “We changed the ECU to solve the misfire, but two laps in and it was back again,” said Davies.
Barry Long’s Maguire Mini was next up, from Karl Mason’s Ginetta G20, while Dave and Ali Chilton both struggled with their MK Indy’s. Eric Bamber’s Ginetta G20 and Jon Woolfitt’s Mk Indy completed the line-up, the latter having been restricted to only two laps in the session.
Paul Woolfitt was missing from the grid after his Exige blew its supercharger, while Paterson’s Caterham was sidelined too and Davies pitted before the start with his worsening misfire.
As the lights went out Watson got the initial lead to head Spencer through Old Hall. “I out braked him into Knickerbrook and got ahead, but couldn’t get away from him,” Spencer explained. Harvey had settled in third, from Hall and Spark, with Jon Woolfitt from the back of the grid to sixth in one lap.
Watson’s challenge for the lead brought its reward into Old Hall as they started the third lap, “he out braked me this time, but I was alongside him again into Cascades a lap later. I thought I could drive up the inside of him at Shell, but locked up and was of into the gravel,” Spencer explained.
Watson was left in the clear to take the win by 18 seconds, with Harvey a clear second too after Spark departed three laps from the end. The race was red flagged after eight laps when Dave Chilton had gone off at Druids Wood claimed a late third from Hall and Smith made it passed Woolfitt and Smyth midrace and was rewarded with fifth, with the Elan driver also demoting Woolfitt taking the flag in sixth and seventh respectively.
A broken manifold caused Foxlow to lose out to Hadfield and Kirk, while Alistair Chilton in 11th was the last of the unlapped runners.
Long, Mason and Bamber completed the finishers.
1 Garry Watson (Westfield SEW) 7 laps in 12m25.148s (91.04mph); 2 Dave Harvey (Stuart Taylor Locosaki) +18.330s; 3 Ric Wood (BMW M3 GTR); 4 Steve Hall (Audi TT RS); 5 Darren Smith (TVR Tuscan); 6 Patrick Smyth (Lotus Elan); 7 Jon Woolfitt (MK Indy); 8 Ryan Hadfield (Ginetta G40); 9 Les Kirk (Fisher Fury); 10 Tim Foxlow (Ford Escort RSR).
Class A: 1 Wood; 2 Smith; no other starters.
Class B: 1 Watson; 2 Hall: 3 Smyth; 4 Woolfitt; 5 Hadfield; 6 Foxlow; 7 Karl Mason (Ginetta G20); 8 Eric Bamber (Ginetta G20).
Class C: 1 Harvey; 2 Kirk; 3 A.Chilton; 4 Long; no other finishers.
Fastest lap: Watson 1m44.150s (93.05mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC North West, July 10th 2017