Zig Zag Lighting Heritage Formula Ford 1600 drivers reckon the Oulton Park circuit layout change that took place during last Saturday’s meeting had little impact on their day’s racing.
The original layout for the meeting at which races 3 and 4 of this year’s Heritage championship took place was the longer International circuit layout that includes Shell Oils’ hairpin.
The Heritage drivers qualified using this layout, but subsequently the barriers on the exit of the corner were badly damaged due to a crash in the first of the day’s Mini Challenge races.
This meant first a delay then, with repairs not yet completed, a decision to by-pass the hairpin for the rest of the meeting by using the shorter Island circuit layout, which cuts out the section with an earlier slow first-gear hairpin.
The change, combined with wet weather, also meant subsequent races started behind the safety car.
Tom Brown, who won the wet opening Heritage Oulton race from pole and who works as an instructor at the Cheshire circuit, believed the biggest issue with the late change was that he and the rest of the drivers were forced to run with the wrong gear ratios for the tighter Island layout.
“I’ve driven on the Island circuit before, so I knew where my braking points were for the hairpin, but obviously everyone was in the same boat,” said Brown.
“We also had the wrong gearing for the circuit, because normally you would have a really long first gear for the hairpin, so it was a toss-up as to whether you took it in first or second gear.
“Using first and then short-shifting seemed to work well for me, but every lap was different as the grip was changing.
“It started to get better but then it started to rain towards the end, but luckily being ahead I had a better view of things than the other drivers.”
Championship leader White, who won both races at the Donington Park season opener and finished second behind Brown in the first Oulton race, did not feel the layout change contributed to his defeat, noting that he hadn’t run on the International layout for a decade in any case.
“If it had been dry it would have helped, because I’m unfamiliar with the other [International] section of track, but in reality I don’t think it made any difference as Tom was simply quicker in the race,” White said.
Brown, behind the wheel of his Van Diemen RF91, beat White in the first race by nine seconds.
White, who pilots a Van Diemen RF89, came out on top in a close battle between the pair in the dry second encounter, the Bath native taking advantage of a mistake by Brown at Lodge to move into a lead he would never relinquish.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Pearson