Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Round Three - Oulton Park - 2019 Caterham 270R Championship

Round Three of the 2019 Motul Caterham 270R Championship
Was held on the weekend of the 1st June 2019 at Oulton Park Circuit in Cheshire
.  Due to noise regulations, the weekend is compacted into one hectic day of qualifying and racing!


Qualifying
I made a fairly significant setup discovery whilst testing over the Thursday and Friday, so was feeling confident for the day ahead.  Qualifying was at 8:30 in the morning, and I think I got pole, but Matt Sheppard's time was 1.3 seconds faster than mine (as his transponder wasn't working), but the circuit is never wrong of course ☺, so we were both delighted to be on the front row!

Race One
I got a great start, then made a bit of a break away.  This gap was wiped out by a safety car 6:45 (in the video below) due to an accident between four drivers at 7:00 (all drivers ok!).
Daniel French starting the first Caterham 270R race of the weekend at Oulton Park Circuit
Daniel French starting the first Caterham 270R race of the weekend at Oulton Park Circuit
The race was restarted 7:30, and I made a great restart, and broke away from the pack again.  Got a good gap, only for my wheel to come loose 16:00 and fly off 16:46 on the penultimate lap!  See the video here below:-

Race One Onboard Video:-

Unbelievably, after my wheel flew off, it's final resting position was right on the racing line.  I was furious at myself of however this had happened, and was not going to get out of the car as I probably would've had a massive childish strop at the side of the track, so I got the car back parc ferme (whilst on three wheels), as the race was red flagged.  
P1 on three wheels??? How on earth was this possible?  Someone higher force was certainly looking out for me today!
P1 on three wheels??? How on earth was this possible?  Someone higher force was certainly looking out for me today!
Unbeknownst to me, due to the red flag count-back rules, and after some confusion I still ended up being declared the winner of the race!  After a bit of investigation, that although I torque my wheel nuts up before the race (as I always do), my torque wrench was set incorrectly!
(l-r) Matt Sheppard (p2), Daniel French a.k.a. me! (p1!), Justin Heap (p3)
(l-r) Matt Sheppard (p2), Daniel French a.k.a. me! (p1!), Justin Heap (p3).
Race Two
Starting from pole position, I was excited for the second race of the weekend, and having not crossed the finish line in first place of the previous race and still somehow winning, I wanted to put that right in this race.  
Daniel French leading the chasing pack in the second Caterham 270R race of the weekend at Oulton Park
Daniel French leading the chasing pack in the second Caterham 270R race of the weekend at Oulton Park
Race Two Onboard Video:-

Race two was a great old school battle, James Murphy (and Matt Sheppard) both drove really well with James crossing the finish line in 1st place, but received a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits.  This meant he he was relegated to 4th place, and I inherited the win.  

Great to score a double win this weekend - I wonder how many times in racing someone has won two races in one day without crossing the finish line in 1st place on both occasions?  A very fortunate weekend, and I'm grateful for the luck and championship points that I've secured.
(l-r) Matt Sheppard (p2), Daniel French a.k.a. me! (p1!), Greg Monks (p3)
(l-r) Matt Sheppard (p2), Daniel French a.k.a. me! (p1!), Greg Monks (p3)
Championship Points Table
After picking up the maximum points this weekend (fastest laps aside), I've clawed my position back somewhat to a joint second place with Daniel Halstead, but this is still 13 points behind Justin Heap (due to the crash at Silverstone race 2).

Round Four - Snetterton 300
Round four of the championship is at Snetterton, a circuit which I'm not a great fan of, but seem to go well at.  There's also a paddock party on the Saturday night, so I'm looking forward to the weekend.  The qualifying and race one are on Saturday 29th June, with the second race of the weekend the day after on Sunday 30th June.

Feel free to come and say hi if you're coming to spectate.

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