Clear blue skies and huge crowds provided the setting for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park yesterday.
With temperatures rising above 20 degrees, Dan Lloyd and Chris Smiley took their positions on the grid, starting 22nd and 13th respectively.
Both Chris and Dan ran the Dunlop medium compound tyres in the first race of the day. Chris had a steady 15 laps who remained in 13th until the final lap when he moved into 12th place.
Dan battled hard with his Honda Civic Type R, laden with 45kg of ballast. He finished the race in 25th and was pleased to have the first race of the day under his belt.
A last minute withdrawal from race one winner Matt Simpson, saw Chris line up in 11th and Dan in 24th for the second race of the day. Making a good start, Chris was up to 10th by the end of the first lap. Unfortunately due to a brake failure at Druids on lap 6 saw him tumble into 19th, before bringing the car home in 18th.
A good start by Lloyd saw him finish the first lap in 19th, and with the soft Dunlop tyre compound, made good progress in the race to finish just ahead of his teammate in 17th.
In Race three Chris had selected to run the Dunlop soft tyre option. Free of ballast, he was set to make a good charge in the final race of the day. Unfortunately both BTC Norlin Racing Honda Civics were caught up in a big incident at the start of race three, which ended both of their races. Chris and Dan were cleared by medical staff, but understandably, were left feeling disappointed.
Speaking at the circuit on Sunday afternoon, Team Boss Bert Taylor was also disappointed with how things ended but was reassured by a number of factors regarding the pace of both cars over the weekend.
“Our weekend ended on the first lap of the final race, and that will always be disappointing, but thankfully both Chris and Dan were fine when they got out of their cars. We came into the weekend with both cars carrying ballast, and that was always going to be challenging at a circuit as hilly as Oulton Park.”
“Once we lost the ballast, the pace kept on improving and we made some really positive steps forward. It is less than two weeks until Croft, and whilst we have a lot of work to do now, we know that we have good race pace.”
“I think everyone is leaving Oulton Park slightly frustrated!” said Smiley, who arrived at Oulton Park leading the Jack Sears Championship, and 10th in the Drivers’ Championship.
“In race three we had promise of making it back into the top ten with the soft tyre being fitted but myself and Dan were caught up completely innocent in someone else’s incident at the very start of the race.”
Returning to the Championship for the first time in 12 months, and off the back of winning six of six TCR UK races, Dan Lloyd remained upbeat despite how race three unfolded.
“It wasn’t the weekend that we had hoped for, but there are lots of positives to take from the weekend. Oulton Park is a circuit that everyone struggles with their brakes at.”
I struggled with the weight more than expected. Carrying 45kg of ballast really hindered my ability to manage the brakes as well as I would have liked.”
“Race one was tough with carrying the weight around the circuit, and I started to lose my brakes towards the end. In race two, the car felt really good, as I had lost the ballast from race one. The pace was really good and I was one of the quickest cars using the Swindon TOCA engine.
“It was difficult to capitalise on the pace of the car, as the track is so narrow which made it hard to move forward. I managed to stay out of trouble and got the car into 17th. After race two I had spoken with my engineers and we made some tweaks for race three, so I was hopeful of moving forward.
“I just want to say a big thanks to the team for making me feel really welcome. I enjoyed the weekend and feel like we took a big step forward and made some positive changes to the car to adapt it to me. I am really looking forward to Croft.”
The team heads to Croft Circuit for rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on 23rd-24th June. There is quite a bit of work to get the cars ready, but be assured that the team will be back with all guns blazing at the North Yorkshire circuit later this month.
Photography: Phil Laughton