|03-27-2011, 11:02 AM||#4|
Join Date: Dec 2009
Oulton Park: March 26th 2011 (Round 1 of BARC’s Classic Thunder)
Built into the natural contours of the Cheshire countryside, Oulton Park's combination of stunning scenery and spectacular racing make it one of the most picturesque and cherished circuits available in the UK.
Situated in the grounds of what was once Oulton Hall, the circuit is a popular circuit for both racers and spectators alike.
Running for our first time on the “Island” layout, meant we would be covering 2.260 miles per lap, and having only raced here on the “International” circuit, we were looking forward to seeing what the shorter circuit had to offer.
The team had attended a track day at Cadwell 3 weeks prior to Oulton in order to shake down the car, and get the driver back behind the wheel again.
Thankfully all went well on the day, however there was some remedial work required before the race.
Due to the increased track, the passenger side front hub had decided to cry “enough” and threw in the towel. As a result both front legs were stripped down and fitted with fresh bearings. A known weak spot on this model of Impreza, the front suspension is in the process of being re-engineered to allow the later hubs (with improved/stronger bearings) to be fitted, but retain the “Classic” PCD of 5x100.
The geometry on the car was checked over to ensure everything was running true, and it was then just a case of going over the rest of the car in readiness for race day and removing the passenger seat and harness.
The team drove up to Oulton on Friday night, and made camp in the paddock, with the rest of the supporters arriving on Saturday.
Already news was filtering through about the demise of Stacy Vickers and his mental sounding RX7. An incident in testing on Friday had ruled him out of the day.
With a cold temperatures and grey skies, it looked like the glorious weather we’d been having in the week running up to the event had deserted us.
With this being the first race of the season and with unknown cars and drivers, there was an expected air of nervousness in the team.
Everyone knew what was needed, and the car was checked over to make sure everything was in place for qualifying.
The tyres were swapped from the Toyo 888’s to the Michelin slicks as it looked like it would stay fine for qualifying at least. The pressures were all set equal, and the front camber was adjusted to take into account the circuit’s layout.
A couple of new sponsor vinyls were added, and the car was given a clean before it was off to scrutineering.
Class A4 consisted of:
12 Ian Froggatt Subaru Impreza RA 2000 cc
16 Vaughan Fletcher Subaru Impreza RA 2000 cc
97 Andy Wilson Ford Escort Cosworth 2000 cc
Running on slicks, with cooler temperatures than we would have liked, the car and driver took to the track. On the first lap on the run into “Old Hall Corner” the back end got light, which resulted in a bit of a slide, but nothing too serious. A mixture of cold slicks and what looked like a previous “spillage” from a 2CV caught out a few of the other drivers as well.
Traffic was minimal, and the cars on circuit were well spaced out to give each driver the best chance of a good lap time.
Part way through the session, the brake pedal was going long, and needed pumping to get anything like full efficiency, and the handling at the rear was not as confident as it had been when at Cadwell.
With qualifying over, it was back to the paddock to review the session and check the tyre temperatures and the tyre pressures.
After a de-brief from Vaughan, it was apparent that the car wasn’t handling at its best, and the brakes needed some attention. There was also a problem with the gear selection when he’d come of circuit, which is something we desperately could do without.
The car was jacked up and put on axle stands to give the best access for the work that was needed.
The rear pads had just about disappeared, so these were replaced from the stock we carry, and the front pads were also changed for something with more “meat” on them. The brakes were then bled to double check all was well there, and a small amount of air was found in the system.
In an attempt to get the rear of the car handling better, some of the negative camber was removed in order to put more tyre in contact with the track. Only time would tell if this improved matters.
When the results came in, and given the issues we’d seen in qualifying we were pleased to see where we had placed.
Qualified 1st in class
Qualified 5th overall
Fastest lap: 1:35.120 sec on lap 8 of 8
From a rolling start, and in 5th place on the inside of the grid, all cars got through the first corner cleanly and Vaughan held his position. Fellow Subaru racer Ian Froggatt ran wide on the exit of “Old Hall” gifting an extra few car lengths between them.
With the power of the Class B and D car’s showing their superior straight line speed, Vaughan settled into leading the chasing pack. With a comfortable lead on the A4 class, all was going well until 4 laps in.
Again when coming into “Knickerbrook” after the long descent along “Hilltop” the brakes began to go lower and lower until they needed pumping each time they were required.
With the added issues from the gearbox, a decision to continue or retire was a tough one to make. With the “Bullet” of Ronchetti cleanly through and a decent gap back to 7th, Vaughan was able to continue and finish his first race of the season with a good result.
Finished 1st in class
Finished 6th overall
Fastest lap: 1:33.280 sec on lap 9 of 13
Back in the paddock, we checked the car over again, and found that the passenger front hub had gone again, which is something we need to resolve sooner rather than later. There’s a chance this is also linked to the brake issue, where the vibration is causing pad “knock off”.
The tyre wear and handling were much improved, with the whole surface of all four tyres showing even wear.
Whilst there is more work needed to iron out the problems encountered, we had an enjoyable time with the CTCRC and will hopefully be back in the very near future for further rounds.
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