NSSCC Race Report Oulton Park 14th May 2005
Car - 944 Turbo / 924GT
The race weekend was planned well with testing on the Friday and two races on the Saturday, one in the NSSCC with the 944 and the other with the 924GT in the Porsche Club. There was also a distinct possibility that I would do a third race in the Porsche Open, but that would depend on how well testing went.
You might recall that at last years NSSCC round at Oulton Park I had a very short race lasting just 4 seconds. Testing took place on the Friday before the race, the more quick witted of you will realise that this was Friday 13th. I was scheduled to have two suspension engineers from Proflex with me testing as well, as I wanted to get the most out of my new suspension. We arrived at the circuit on the Thursday, and discovered we had been allocated garage 13. The omens were not promising.
I went out for the first test session, with the aim of merely dialling myself into the circuit and getting some feel for how the car was handling. After about 20 minutes running I was becoming concerned that there was a pinking sound from the engine. I decided to continue driving the car, when I really should have pulled into the pits or at least turned the boost down. However, hindsight is a wonderful tool, and after a few more laps I was barrelling into Old Hall when the quantity of oil breather smoke suddenly increased. As I turned in at the corner the car started to rotate, I tried to catch it, but the loss of traction from oil which had found its way onto the tyres / brakes pitched me off circuit into the barriers. At the last second I released the brakes and steered to reduce the angle of impact. Talking to friends in the pit lane afterwards they thought that the damage would have been much more severe, based on the sound that was made as the car hit the tyres.
The initial thought was that the head gasket had gone, confirmed by the stream of water being pumped out of the exhaust when cranking over. A quick phone call to Strasse and they agreed to start working on the car as soon as i could get it back to them, and that the car would be returned that night. As soon as they got the head off they realised that the block had a split liner, and could not be rebuilt. I was now in the position of relying on my "trusty 924GT" to do battle in the NSSCC for the weekend.
I was first out on track for practice and had a good clean session,though it seemed difficult to get a good time and the track was slower than Friday. Even so, I managed to qualify 12th overall and 4th in class with a whole gaggle of class C cars in front of me. Though not important for points, it looked like i could have a good race.
The tyres were still warm from the Porsche Club race which was first on the timetable after lunch, this could give me an early advantage. The red lights went out, and I repeated the start from the Porsche race and got a good getaway. We arrived at Old Hall to a scene of chaos as Andrew Morrisson had gone off into the barriers, at about the same point I had on friday, attempting to retain a marginal lead over Dave Pearson in his new Escort Cosworth WRC. I managed to thread my way through and took 8th place behind John Parton and Dave Cox. For the first few laps I managed to stay with them, but as their lap times dropped the gap increased. It was nothing to worry about as I could not see any cars behind and was still 3rd ion class. After about 5 laps I simply settled on bringing the car home. Simon Blanckley, who had started at the back of the grid, had worked his way through the field and I gave him plenty of room to pass on the start finish straight using his better power / weight ratio.
In the final couple of laps the two class C cars of John Walker and Paul Swift closed on me. They had clearly improved their times as I had allowed mine to drop off and I did not bother defending the position. After 15 minutes I finished 11th overall, but more importantly 3rd in class, giving me the points I needed to take the class B lead in the championship.
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