Overview of Round 7 at Oulton Park, Dunlop Endurance Championship, 1st October 2016

The Oulton Park trip did not start too well! Friday test proved problematic due to noise, and the day didn't get any easier when remnant damage from the Croft round showed itself. Fortunately, the guys did a great job in solving the issues and again proved that no matter the obstacles, we remain united as a team.

The race had come after a brief hiatus over the summer but we were still buoyed by our Croft performance and confident we could carry it over for the next race on Saturday. As you may have read on social media, we experienced it all on Saturday so here's a more detailed account of what took place.

We arrived at Oulton Park on Friday lunchtime for an afternoon of testing and set up. Or so we thought! For some reason not everybody likes the sound of the Z4 at full chat (!) and after only one lap of the long Oulton track we were unceremoniously black flagged! This prompted a full exhaust change in the car park as our garage was still occupied by a day visitor. So after we lost an hour we went back out on track, only to notice that the front right damper was behaving in a very peculiar way! Closer inspection revealed that a tiny nut had come loose. Cue more great work by the guys. Once again the Z left the pits, confident that we were sorted. Only to be met by that test day irritation..."the red flag"! At this point we just decided that some greater force was working against us so decided to call it a day and instead headed for the Blue Cap for a splendid INGSport style evening meal.

On Saturday we were up early for scrutineering and free practice. Kevin had made it back from his BTCC duties at Brands Hatch (Porsche Carrera Cup) and was able to get some laps in the car before qualifying. A very wet qualifying meant more set up changes but Kevin was still able to put the Z on the second row in P3. Just ahead was the FF Corse Ferrari 458 on pole and the Audi R8 in P2. A guest appearance of the GT racing legend, Martin Short, in his Super GT Mosler, partnered by the experienced Richard Neary had everybody looking at the time sheets. However they qualified the Mosler only mid-grid after a two year hiatus from racing.

By lunchtime the rain had set in and the team were finding shelter in the pit garage making prep to the car and applying that all important Rain-X on the windscreen. At 15.45 all 26 cars (which included some of the GT & Production Championship cars) were ready to go. The rain continued. The rolling start towards Great Hall Corner was nail-biting to watch for spectators as the grid disappeared into a cloud of water spray. Unfortunately a "coming together" with the Audi R8 sent the Z pirouetting. Thankfully we came away unscathed but had dropped several positions. By lap 9 Kevin had put us back to our original P3 position but no sooner had we regained our position, the R8 hit us again in another collision at Cascades. This forced both cars onto the grass. Kevin's off-roading skills were well used and well-timed, and by keeping the car rolling he was able to get us back on track. The same can't be said for the Audi and unfortunately their pirouetting had lodged them deep in the soft grass and calling an end to their race after only 40 minutes of play. Kevin crawled back to the pits and after a quick wheel change, we were back racing. The FF Corse Ferrari remained in P1 with the Mosler now in P2 and the Z P3. A few laps later Kevin pitted for fuel and driver change. Ian started the last stint and maintained P3 despite the conditions becoming more like ice driving as the track half dried. The Ferrari soon pitted and sent out driver two for their final instalment. Whilst driver two was acclimatising, the Mosler was able to seize P1 and quickly distanced itself from the pack behind. Ian maintained P3 and in pursuit of the Ferrari. With each lap Ian reduced the deficit to the Ferrari and was clearly the fastest car on track in the process. By the penultimate lap the Ferrari had been caught and passed. Oh how we cheered! We crossed the finish line in 2nd place having battled all the obstacles. Unfortunately a silly error on our part during a pit stop meant we received a small time penalty relegating us to 3rd.

There have been some brilliant photos captured from the day at Oulton Park. Please have a look on our Facebook to see all the photos we've been tagged in as well as our own photos.

Thinking ahead to Brands Hatch in November, it is one of our favourite circuits and we're looking forward to the challenge of the night race. Come along and say hello.

Photo credit Jack T Wilson Photography