Oulton Park - Saturday 23rd April 2016
Words - John Newton / Images - Derek Donsworth
The season began on what was, thankfully, a dry day, sunny but cold. Qualifying saw the top six separated by just one and a quarter seconds. Pete Founds and Jevan Walmsley took pole from Sean Reeves and Ashley Hawes second and Lee Crawford and Patrick Farrance, pretty much the top three crews at the end of last season. F2 Cup favourites Dwight Beare and Ben Binns were fourth ahead of Conrad Harrison and Lee Patterson, and Ian and Carl Bell – late out for this session having changed an engine in the hour or so since the free practice! Unfortunately, Lewis Blackstock and Patrick Rosnay’s crank problems continued so no racing for them. And no race one for Roy Hanks and Kevin Perry – the petrol filler cap worked loose and was spraying onto the outfit behind so they were taken off the start grid after the warm-up lap.
Founds led off the line from Crawford with Bell forcing his way through to third. The first corner put paid to Kevin and Steve Morgan, who spun off track with the outfit on its side, but no injuries. Crawford got past Founds on lap two but Pete dived up the inside at Lodge to take back the lead. That brief demotion to second was the only time they were headed all weekend! Reeves was fourth from the Ramsdens and Beere, with Harrison, Wayne Lockey/Mark Sayers, Dave Wallis/Harry Payne and Gary and Darryl Gibson completing the top ten. The Gibsons were the second of the F2 Cup runners but only just – they were harassed in both races by Nick Dukes and William Moralee.
Bell moved ahead of Crawford on lap four as Reeves dropped to seventh. Retirements for Dave de Mott/Kev Jones and Dean Nichols/Ben Avison saw the field decrease to 14. Ramsden and Beere closed on the leading trio but the five held position to the end of the race. Behind Dukes in 11th, Charlie Morphet/Paul Halliburton got the better of Dave Lillie/Ben Chandler for 12th while series debutants Peter Riley/Shaun Parker scored two championship points on their debut. Dwight Beere and Ben Binns took the F2 Cup honours and also recorded the fastest lap at 1m 49.953s.
2 ½ hours later and all 18 lined up again including Hanks and the Morgans. Founds, Crawford and Bell made it to Old Hall Corner ahead of the pack and steadily pulled a gap on the rest led by Reeves, Ramsden and Harrison. Within a lap Reeves lost fourth, a lap later dropped to sixth and was taken by Beere on lap four. Fortunately Sean nursed it home for another seventh place. After all the engine problems in the last month, the 18 points gained will hopefully signal the change in his fortunes. The leading six circulated at a faster pace than in race one but the order remained constant. Lockey again finished ahead of the Gibson-Dukes dice. Dave Wallis had retired on lap three while the Morgans and de Mott also retired. Dean Nichols gradually nosed ahead from a good battle for 11th with Hanks, Lillie and Morphet continually swapping positions. Riley and Parker again finshed lapping nearly three seconds quicker in race two.
So, Founds top the points, as last year, but Pete in charge this year with Jevan recording his first championship race wins. Bell and Crawford tie for second place with 36 points. Beare and Binns leading the way in the F2 Cup. Many thanks to Dave, Lyn and Margeret and all at Wirral 100 Club. Our Oulton round is always a hectic Saturday but everything went smoothly and we’re very fortunate to get an invite to take part on this superb venue. Next up is Donington on May 7-8 with the Bill Boddice Trophy for Sunday’s race winners up for grabs.