The beautiful Oulton Park circuit saw the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Championship arrive for its next round on a lovely autumnal day in early September. Eighteen entries, including most of the front runners, were here to compete before the series finale weekend at Snetterton in October. Paul Campfield’s Class E Sprite was leading the chase, with Paul Sibley Class A in close second place.
Qualifying got under way mid morning and went well for most without anything major being reported. A returning John Hughes had a head gasket issue but his band of helpers set to work to ready the car for the race. Everyone else spent time doing the usual tasks, brakes, fuel checks that sort of thing.
The results of qualifying were that Paul Sibley was again on pole with Dave Weston next from Stephen Pegram. The class B car of Andy Southcott split the A class runners with Martin Morris and Richard Perry completing the top six.
Paul Campfield was just ahead of Stephen Watkins, with Richard Wildman and Nigel Pratt close behind. Andrew Actman, Neil Cameron and Dean Stanton were all under a second apart, this looked good for the race, they were followed by Tom Walker, Darren Harman, John Bridge, Richard Homer with John Hughes completing the order.
As mentioned, the usual activities around the paddock took place before our race was due to start at around half past four and the cars went out for the installation lap before forming on the grid.
The car in the barrier with substantial damage was that of Pegram, the other was the car of Perry, there were other cars with tyre marks but these two were out on the spot. Depending on who I spoke to later, blame was attributed in many directions and even a chat in the press box after the race failed to give a clear answer. Obviously, I hadn’t witnessed the incident and the best I can offer is that it was a racing incident.
On that first lap came Weston ahead of Southcott who had made a good start, Sibley was next ahead of Pratt, Wildman, Morris, Campfield, Watkins and the rest and as they completed that lap out came the pace car, picking up the leaders for at least two laps whilst debris was removed and barriers repaired. It meant that Weston was leading the field once again having passed the slower starting Sibley at the start.
During the pace car period we lost Hughes who’s efforts went unrewarded. Fifteen runners were left and the race hadn’t really got under way yet. Then as the pace car peeled in they were racing again, and as the leaders sped through the fast left hand Cascades, Weston held the lead from Sibley with Wildman, Pratt and Morris all racing hard.
Down into the Chicane, Weston held the inside and out braked Sibley leaving Southcott, Wildman, Pratt, Morris and Campfield all fighting behind. Watkins, Stanton, Cameron, Harman, Walker, Actman, Bridge and Homer all filed through.
By the next lap Sibley had established himself in the lead and Morris had had a great lap getting up to third as they came down the hill again. There was a terrific battle forming with Campfield getting passed by Pratt, and falling into the clutches of Watkins who kept on him for the rest of the race, but these two would pull up to Wildman by the end. Pratt would eventually close on his old sparring partner Southcott, finishing less than one hundredth of a second behind at the end.
Another brilliant battle was being fought between Stanton, Cameron, Actman and Walker, swapping places for several laps before settling in the order of Actman, Cameron, Stanton and Walker, all finishing under two seconds apart at the flag!
With the pace car period it all came to an end far too soon with six effective laps making the race a sprint.
At the flag, Sibley had a six second lead from Weston with, some way down the road, Morris, equally Southcott and Pratt were also a long way back but close together before Wildman, Campfield and Watkins showed up. Another wait before that four car battle came through Actman, Cameron, Stanton and Walker, finally we had John Bridge, Harman and Homer completing the order.
Yes, it was spread out at the finish and although the race was somewhat tarnished by that first corner incident, with group fights going on throughout the field, it was entertaining and the finale weekend double header at Snetterton looks to be promising.
To see all the pictures from the events, click here or click on the Gallery tab above. To see the full results and points scored during the season, click Points scored by class.
Details of the championship can be found on www.mgmidgetchallenge.co.uk or by contacting Gil Duffy on 01886 880882 or firstname.lastname@example.org