Oulton Park has always been a strong circuit for me.
I took my first pole position and win there back in 2012 in a Ginetta G40. I was on the podium there in the 2014 Ginetta Supercup and I also put it on pole, led every lap and still hold the lap record on the International circuit in GT4 with Tolman Motorsport in 2015. That extra bit of confidence, added with an additional test before the race weekend put us in good spirits.
However, it never seems to go smoothly from Saturday to Sunday in the BTCC! Just as it unfolded at Thruxton, I was looking good to get one up on Mat Jackson and out qualify him when a red flag came out in the final sector of the lap for a nasty shunt at Druids involving Matt Simpson. As a result, I was well down the field.
Oulton is a tough track to overtake on. Based on past experience, you can make your way through a BTCC grid but it doesn't always happen in just the one race. Sure enough, we steadily made progress through races 1 and 2 and lined up 17th for race 3.
A decent enough start, although still not good enough, meant I kept position down into Cascades. The usual queue formed on the inside of Island Hairpin so against better judgement I thought I would have a go around the outside of everyone and fortunately it just about came off and put me circa 14th going into Knickerbrook. I managed to get my way past Moffat at Lodge and started to chase down Hill in the VW.
A safety car allowed me a chance to regroup and focus on the top 10. Inexperience is still showing as I was considerably quicker than Jake Hill but I could not find a way around the VW. The push to pass method still needs improving...
Jake and I managed to pass Plato on the penultimate lap and from there it was a case of bring it home. Winning the Jack Sears Trophy was a big monkey off the back considering the struggles we have been facing in the Fords. I hope from here we can improve the car to get on top of the tyre in qualy and thus push for more consistent weekends at the sharp end.