Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge

Round 10 Oulton Park 3rd September 2016

Words and Pictures by : Phil (Scoop) Broster.
‘e’ mail : phone : 07912537640

The picturesque Oulton Park was the next venue in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge and there was a good entry of 18 cars for this, round 10, in the Championship. Rain was forecast for later in the day which would make this the first wet weekend of the season for us. A sense of trepidation could be felt in the Paddock.

The bad news after Croft was that Robin Lackford’s car was more seriously damaged than first thought with the chassis being knocked back several inches apparently. It won’t be seen again this season. Likewise, Andy Southcott’s car was still under repair but he was here with his spare mount, and Graeme Adams, who’s car was also seriously damaged at that meeting was also absent.

However, we did have in Class A, James Dunkley, David Weston, Andrew McGee, Bruce Carter in a car previously owned by Richard Perry, and a returning Stephen Pegram who has rebuilt his car since his Silverstone demise and given it a new re-coat of white paint. Class B had Carl Chadwick, Stephen Collier, Peter Kennerley, Richard Wildman, and as mentioned, Andy Southcott.

Class D had Tom Walker, Martyn Clews and Jon Simpson and finally in Class E we had Ian Burgin, David Morrison, Richard Homer, John Collinson and John Hughes making an appearance for the first time since this event last year.

All was well with the world until the cars were in the assembly area for the start of qualifying and with minutes to go a few big blobs of rain fell, this instantly turned into a deluge which would stay for the day. It was too late for a change to wet tyres and most were deciding to do a lap before coming in to change, a tough decision with the limited time to qualify. There was also the added problem of a huge oil slick down the main straight from a blow up in the preceding session.

So, everyone trickled out and came through on the first lap but during the second time around the red flag came out. There had been a huge ‘off’ at Druids, a tricky medium fast double apex curve at the back of the circuit. It was Carl Chadwick, he had half spun and speared into the barrier on the inside of the turn. Everyone came into the pits and I found out the popular Carl was perfectly O.K. if a little shaken. The car was not so lucky with the whole front end wiped away, and to add insult a well meaning helper had put a jack through his sump while moving the car!!.

Still, the delay gave most the time to change their tyres, although Kennerley stayed on slicks and looked particularly ‘hairy’ when the session resumed. Changing tyres on these cars is not an F1 experience with one jack, four studs each wheel, and if you lucky, someone to help and when the session reopened there was just 8 minutes remaining, probably enough for 4 laps at most. Morrison had found the tyre chicane at Knickerbrook and spent the delay taping up the front of his car which had been badly deranged.

The session resumed and with a soaking track people were soon getting down to it.

The Class A’s and the faster Class B’s got four laps in, except Weston who only managed two before stopping out on the circuit, and Wildman who also got two in and was chuffed to set his fastest time on his first timed lap! Dunkley landed pole, Southcott was second, with Weston and Collier next up. Kennerley next, on slicks remember, then Wildman, Pegram, Carter and McGee. Morrison was next from Burgin, Collinson, Simpson, Walker, Clews, Hughes and Homer.

Not much work was being done in the interval and as we were first race after lunch we didn’t have long to wait. It was really bucketing down now, not a pleasant experience for any of us, still, the grid formed and we were ready for the off.

The lights went out and the field set off, there were no heroics, it was absolutely bucketing down, we had a couple of cars take to the escape road around the back of the circuit and as they came into the last corner to complete the lap Dunkley was in the lead with the advantage of no spray from cars behind. Weston had got past Southcott with Collier in fourth and Kennerley fifth, they were all well spread out.

Behind them came Morrison making ground then Pegram, Collinson, McGee and Simpson, then a whole gaggle including Burgin, Walker, Carter and Wildman alongside each other and Clews. Behind them came Hughes and Homer.

On the second lap Weston pulled off with the engine sounding awful, possibly due to all the water spray so next time through Southcott was up into second. McGee was past Collinson, Burgin was challenging Simpson and Wildman was making ground.

Southcott was getting to grips with the conditions and starting to catch Dunkley who admitted to driving through the puddles to throw a bit of spray. McGee came to grief at Old Hall Corner when catching Pegram, aquaplaning when hitting the brakes he got onto the wet grass on the outside and from there was soon to the scene of the accident. He emerged unhurt.

As the race progressed most people were holding station but there was a dice between Collinson and Burgin which lasted many laps with each leading the other until Collinson finally pulled away at the flag. Likewise, Homer was catching Hughes and would also get ahead in that battle. Towards the end Wildman was catching Pegram and other than the unfortunate Morrison losing it, also at Old Hall on the penultimate lap, that was all of the action with most just willing the flag to come out.

So after 9 laps Dunkley took the flag from Southcott who had settled for second place. Collier was some distance down the road in third from Kennerley with a similar gap, in fourth. Pegram finished a second ahead of Wildman. Carter was next from another very close pair, Collinson and Burgin. Simpson, Clews, Walker, Homer and Hughes completed the field.

The final 2 rounds are at Snetterton in a months time, championship down to the wire.