Sports/Saloon Car Championship – Rounds 5 & 6 - Oulton Park
WOOLFITT RELIABILITY NETS DOUBLE VICTORY
Another 30 plus entry were at Oulton Park, as the CNC Heads Championship made its first visit of the season to its home circuit.
After morning qualifying it was Paul Woolfitt’s Lotus Exige that came away with pole, just 0.555s quicker than Luke Armiger’s Vauxhall Tigra. “I got my good time near the end, but then Paul still got one quicker, car was fine though,” said Armiger. “We changed the gearing in the diff now and only use first to fifth, so more reliability,” Woolfitt replied. Despite not having raced since last October, Dave Harvey headed the second row in his Stuart Taylor Locosaki and had the second of the Woolfitt brothers alongside, Jon’s Spire GTR.
Danny Bird was a further 0.463s down on Woolfitt in his Spire, with Piers Grange’s Ford Escort Mk1 the first saloon car in sixth. Tony Ellis’ Mazda powered Gemini Elva was next up, from Garry Wardle’s Porsche 911 GT3, with the top 10 completed by Andrew Smith’s VW Beetle and Jamie Cryers’ class E pole Ginetta G20. After accident’s at Donington in qualifying and race one, Paul Dobson was back with his Locost 7 Mazda, but only completed three laps before he withdrew from the races.
Fun Cup and Historic Touring racer Mark Burton had debuted the Kennedy run ex Playstation Academy Nissan 370Z at Donington, but was more on the pace after debut problems, qualifying 12th. Both Tim Foxlow and Rob Wakelin had problems at Donington too. Foxlow’s Ford Escort RSR had a few handling issues and Wakelin’s Peugeot 205 had early teething problems having only finished building the car on the eve it’s debut, but they now shared the seventh row. “My car was good, but the confidence wasn’t there after Donington,” said Foxlow.
Rob Phillips was out for his seasonal debut in a Honda Civic, qualifying just ahead of class rivals Connor Modro and Ian Bruce, in their respective Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Having won at Donington in the Swedish Touring car Kia Optima, Ric Wood had problems from the start and pitted after two laps. Row 10 was newcomer Garry Warburton in his Mini Miglia and comeback man Mike Nash, in his Seat Supercopa, used originally by him in Creventic Endurance races. “After 18 months out of the car I was very rusty, car OK though,” said Nash.
Behind them David Green’s Honda Civic and Riccy Walker’s Mini preceded Peter Koukoulas’ Toyota MR2 and Angus Eddowes’ Renault Clio, while Chris Maries’ Honda Civic Type R should have followed, but he was another casualty. David Jones was happier with his Honda S2000, having withdrawn after qualifying at Donington, while Bob Claxton’s VW Golf Gti, Helen Allen’s Ford Fiesta Zetec, Graeme Smith’s Mazda MX5, Richard Roundell’s BMW 116 and Brian Allen’s Ford Puma completed the qualifiers. Graeme Smith proved to be another casualty with an oil leak, as did Ian Burrows whose Toyota Celica managed only one lap of the session, before the engine had enough.
The Woolfitt Brothers made a fast getaway as the lights went out, with the fast starting Harvey initially third, from Bird and Wardle, with Armiger down to sixth. “Brilliant start, I just hooked it up and it went,” said Paul. “An Ok start, but not great, I got Garry around the outside at Old Hall, Danny through Dentons,” said Armiger.
But with Ellis crashing heavily at Dentons on his second lap, out came the safety car. Armiger had just made it into third at Old Hall before the caution, while in fifth the cautionary period would give Bird chance to attack Harvey for class C supremacy. Wardle completed the opening top six, from Grange, Wood and Foxlow, with Cryer losing ninth, as both Smith and Nash got by. “I got ahead of them after a good start, they were just taking me on power,” Cryer explained. “I picked a few off at the start, then it was a brilliant race with Andrew Smith, Mark Burton and Jamie Cryer, as the Beetle was well on my pace,” Foxlow added.
The green flag was out from lap four and racing was on again, with another immediate break from the lead trio. It only took a lap for Paul to break the tow and he continued to ease himself clear. Jon managed to get away from Armiger too for a few laps, before the Tigra driver began to close again.
Bird had held on to Harvey from the green flag, which paid dividends as he got by on lap five, while in seventh Wood had ousted Grange and began to edge closer to sixth placed Wardle. Foxlow had held ninth from the start, but after losing out to Smith on lap six, Nash followed a lap later, before he mounted a late recovery.
Paul Woolfitt took the flag 6.582 secs clear, having dominated the race from the moment the lights went out, but with two laps remaining it was Armiger that was into second. “Jon made a mistake at Lodge Hall and by the time he recovered I was down the inside and passed him,” Armiger explained. “I had a good start and comfortably running second, but then on lap eight the rear roll bar bolt came off and Luke got me when I missed a shift,” Jon explained. Jon just held onto third as his reduced pace allowed Bird to close in, after he had left Harvey to take a solitary fifth.
With Wardle heading into the pits on the last lap after glancing the barrier at Brittens, he wasn’t classified and Wood moved up to sixth, with Grange also promoted to seventh. “I hit front and rear and the steering wheel was a bit out, so I came in to check it and didn’t know it was the last lap,” he explained. Foxlow fought back to retake Smith on lap nine to secure eighth, with class E winner Cryer 10th, after he had retaken Nash on lap nine too. “I had spent most of the race just off the battle between Smith, Nash and Foxlow,” said Cryer. “I got Nash and Smith when they touched at Brittens, I could see it happening,” Foxlow added.
Burton was the last unlapped runner, following Nash home in 12th, while Wakelin was a solitary 12th as he and Philips held station throughout. “I’d had a great race with Andrew Smith for ninth until I had contact at Brittens and went off, but managed to get Burton back at Lodge on the last lap, after I had lost three places,” Nash explained. Bruce was next home but he had his mirrors full of Warburton’s Mini for most of the race, both well clear of Walker, Eddowes, Class F winner Green and Koukoulas, as they rounded off the top 20.
“I just lit up the tyres at the start and lost places, but got some back and pulled a gap on the rest of my class,” said Green, but he had done enough to win the annual Dave Simpson Memorial Trophy. This was presented to him (in a socially distanced way) by Margaret Simpson in the Paddock.
Claxton, Helen Allen, Roundell and Brian Allen were the final finishers, with Jones another early casualty.
1 Paul Woolfitt (Lotus Exige) 11 laps in 23m18.245s (76.24mph); 2 Luke Armiger (Vauxhall Tigra) +6.582s; 3 Jon Woolfitt (Spire GTR); 4 Danny Bird (Spire GTR); 5 David Harvey (Stuart Taylor Locosaki); 6 Ric Wood (Kia Optima); 7 Piers Grange (Ford Escort RSR MK1); 8 Tim Foxlow (Ford Escort RSR); 9 Andrew Smith (VW Beetle); 10 Jamie Cryer (Ginetta G20).
Class A: 1 P.Woolfitt; 2 Wood; 3 Grange; no other starters.
Class B: 1 Armiger; 2 J.Woolfitt; 3 Foxlow; 4 Robert Wakelin (Peugeot 205); no other finishers.
Class C: 1 Bird; 2 Harvey; 3 Gary Warburton (Mini Miglia); no other starters.
Class D: 1 Smith; 2 Mike Nash (Seat Supercopa); 3 Mark Burton (Nissan 360Z); 4 Riccy Walker (Mini R56 JCW); 5 Bob Claxton (VW Golf Gti); no other finishers.
Class E: 1 Cryer; 2 Rob Phillips (Honda Civic); 3 Ian Bruce (Honda Civic Type R); 4 Angus Eddowes (Renault Clio); 5 Peter Koukoulas (Toyota MR2); 6 Brian Allen (Ford Puma).
Class F: 1 David Green (Honda Civic); 2 Richard Roundell (BMW 116); 3 Helen Allen (Ford Fiesta Zetec); no other starters
Fastest lap: P.Woolfitt 1m43.789s (93.37mph).
With more casualties from the first race, it was 25 starters.
The safety car was called on again after Jon Woolfitt went straight on at Shell on the opening lap, when a rose joint broke. Paul had led Jon again from the off again, having got away with Armiger, as Harvey followed after getting the better of Bird. “I saw Jon had gone off but hadn’t hit the barrier, so just concentrated on my race,” said Paul.
“It had been another good start but going into Island I hit the brakes and the rose joint just snapped,” Jon explained. Wardle followed, from Cryer, Smith and Burton, with Foxlow and Phillips completing the top 10 behind the safety car, as they completed the opening lap.
As in race one it was the green flag from lap four and both Woolfitt and Armiger made their decisive escapes. Bird soon got clear in third too, once he had found his way passed Harvey on lap five, which left Wardle running solo once more in fifth. Cryer had been sixth when the safety car appeared, but was under immediate pressure from the green flag and lost out to both Smith and Foxlow a lap later. “An even better start, but then I had to take it easy and nurse the clutch, thinking of points and the championship,” Cryer explained.
Smith’s attempts to shake-off Foxlow in their duel for sixth failed, although both had managed to shake-off Cryer. “I had got blocked at the start but backed off and then made some ground down the Avenue,” said Foxlow. Nash had upped his pace too and after passing Burton on lap eight, he took eighth from Cryer a lap later.
Woolfitt eased his way through the final laps for his second win of the day by 2.046 secs over Armiger, with Bird, Harvey and Wardle all holding station behind. “I had one chance to challenge Paul for the lead, but I got launched off the kerbs at Brittens, and when it landed it broke a halfshaft seal, so I just had to bring it home,” Armiger explained. “I had made a mistake coming into Brittens and gave Luke that chance, after that I just managed the gap, but reliability was great,” said Woolfitt after making it two lights to flag victories.
Smith lost out on the last lap when a boost pipe came off, which allowed Foxlow, Nash, Cryer and Burton all to get by, but with Burton penalised for a jump start, he dropped to 10th and handed ninth to the recovering Smith. “Another great battle with Smith and Nash,” Foxlow added. Phillips and Wakelin had stayed fairly close together for the entire race and finally came home 11th and 12th, still only 0.419 secs apart. Behind them Bruce had managed to fend off Warburton, initially helped by having Modro between them. But with the Focus driver going clear of them after eight laps, the duel recommenced, with Warburton just snatching it on the last lap.
Modro was given a track limit penalty, which dropped him behind both Warburton and Bruce, but safe from Walker who had gone a lap down. Green had started well overall, as well as leading Class F again, but he couldn’t halt a second half surge, which saw Eddowes, Claxton and Koukoulas go by on consecutive laps. “I was down to three cylinders, so just wanted the flag, but still won the class,” said Green. The MR2 driver continued his late charge to demote Claxton on the last lap, while following Green at a distance were the remaining Class F runners Roundell and Helen Allen, plus Brian Allen’s Puma.
1 P.Woolfitt 10 laps in 22m45.006s (70.99mph); 2 Armiger +2.046s; 3 Bird; 4 Harvey; 5 Garry Wardle (Porsche 911 GT3); 6 Foxlow; 7 Nash; 8 Cryer; 9 Smith; 10 Burton.
Class A: 1 P.Woolfitt; no other finishers.
Class B: 1 Armiger; 2 Foxlow; 3 Wakelin; no other finishers.
Class C: 1 Bird; 2 Harvey; 3 Warburton; no other starters.
Class D: 1 Wardle; 2 Nash; 3 Smith; 4 Burton; 5 Walker; 6 Claxton.
Class E: 1 Cryer; 2 Phillips; 3 Bruce; 4 Connor Modro (Ford Focus); 5 Eddowes; 6 Koukoulas; 7 B.Allen.
Class F: 1 Green; 2 Roundell; 3 H.Allen; no other starters.
Fastest lap: P.Woolfitt 1m43.576s (93.56mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC North West, September 16th 2020