BTCC Oulton Park — June 11-12
The team arrived at Oulton Park with some possible upgrades as they have been working hard on getting the cars’ balance right which involves using new dampers. This morning’s sessions were based around trying set-ups for those new dampers which can only be done out on track.
Disaster struck on the second practice session however: just as we were going out Cosworth noted that Aiden’s hybrid battery pack had failed and so he lost the first ten minutes of the session as a new one was fitted.
Once Aiden was able to get out on track he was quickly feeding back on the changes that had been made during and after Free Practice 1 and the comments were positive. The new dampers have made a real difference and Aiden was soon finding the handling much more to his liking. Dexter was able to complete six laps more than Aiden and continues to learn the car and the circuits with great maturity. Sometimes he is so laid back that it is difficult to remember that this is only his 4th race weekend in the BTCC. As he says himself: “I know I have a lot to learn, but I am pleased with things so far. I have to take so much on board, but if I want to succeed I need to be really committed.”
Qualifying started at 3.30 pm on the Saturday afternoon. As the session progressed, we were running a couple of quite long stints to get to know the tyres, before our plan of a quick sprint on fresh rubber for the last five or six minutes. We were very happy with what we were seeing on the data and all was going to plan when Aiden put in a fabulous lap to go 12th, only to see it immediately disallowed on a very tight ‘track limits’ call at turn 1, so Aiden was back to 17th.
Dexter meanwhile was trying three shorter runs and while his first run was positive, the red flag with only four minutes to go hampered his second run. At the end it was Aiden in 17th and Dexter in 22th and this is where they were positioned to start Race 1 on the Sunday morning.
Off the line, both Aiden and Dexter got good starts, although as with everyone below 18th place, there is the slight disadvantage of being on the edge of the slope down to Deer’s Leap. Aiden was flying from the first lap and his only issue came when Adam Morgan was tagged into the barriers by Gordon Shedden and a safety car brought everyone back together.
This coincided with Dexter getting a puncture so he had to pit with while the safety car was out. Despite losing most of a lap to the field, Dexter was soon back on it and was catching the field as the safety car came in. Aiden however was enjoying the new grip in the car and was very soon up to 12th on the grid.
Dexter was able to get back up to the field and get a couple of overtakes in to finish in 23rd, but it was Aiden who starred, finishing in 12th and gaining himself and the team valuable points in the process.
On the grid it was Aiden 12th and Dexter in 23rd. Confidence was high and Aiden, Dexter and the team where all ready to go. Aiden wanted more points and to have some success with the reverse grid for Race 3 and Dexter wanted to gain some places.
Off the line, both Aiden and Dexter got good starts. Aiden was soon able to get past the BMW of Stephen Jelley for 11th and looked to set about Ricky Collard and Dan Rowbottom ahead. This was a bit of a challenge though, as in order to have a go at the drivers in front, Aiden would have to leave himself open to a possible pass from behind so he played the sensible game and brought the car home in 11th.
Dexter once again was really consistent in this, his 4th race weekend in Britain’s premier motorsport class, showing a maturity that is really impressive. His hard work paid off, as he was able to gain three places during the race to come home 20th. Then we had the ITV reverse-grid draw to decide on the starting order for Race 3. The result was good for us and Aiden was to start 2nd on the grid for the final race of the weekend — just where he wanted to be!
Off the line both Aiden and Dexter got great starts. Aiden was able to stay with race leader Stephen Jelley for the first five laps, but the BMW was able to maintain the gap and eventually slightly increase it as he had more hybrid available. Aiden had to work very hard staying in front of the rest of the pack for about a third of the race, but began to build a lead over 3rd placed Ricky Collard, and achieved a brilliant 2nd at the flag.
Dexter was equally fantastic starting 20th and battling — and beating — those around him to finish 15th and earn his very first championship point. A brilliant end to the weekend down to our two brilliant drivers, and a fantastic team.