18/05/2011 - It was honours even between reigning Champion Lee
Allen and 2009 Champion Luke Caudle in mixed weather conditions at
Oulton Park. Caudle was on pole for race one with Arthur Forster
alongside and Chris Knox sharing the second row with Lee Allen.
After the lights went out it was three abreast into Old Hall on
the first lap and something had to give. Both Forster and Knox spun
and Caudle was left clear, from Allen, Chris Smith and Stewart
Lines. Chris Knox had another rocket start "I got away well and
think I might have led on the outside. I thought I was tapped, but
don't really know what happened, but then touched Finlay Crocker on
the run down the hill". "I was on the racing line, went into the
corner, drifted, the tail went light and that was it. I don't think
I was hit, one of those three abreast moments" added
With both Caudle and Allen soon quickly consolidating
their places, Smith was aided by Lines coming under pressure from
Silverstone double winner Jason Richardson. Martin Depper was
fairly lonely in sixth, while in seventh Chris Panayiotou eased
past the recovering Knox, after the Scot ran wide.
Smith had a few touches with the grass as Lines and
Richardson began to work together to pressurise the third place
man, while Depper began to close on them all after four laps.
Having held station for a few laps it was suddenly a four car train
for second, with Allen's safe second almost eroded in one lap. "I
was very happy then it went flat. I had no middle range
performance, but before then I couldn't catch Luke," he
Both Smith and Lines made it by the ailing Allen on lap eight,
before Smith consolidated his hold on second. "I had been happy
with my start, brilliant in fact, I had performance right through
and didn't switch anything off this time," said Smith.
Lines held onto third and Richardson took fourth exiting Old Hall
for the penultimate time, but had Depper inches from his tailgate
at the flag. "I couldn't catch the others and got pushed onto the
grass when the others got Lee," Richardson explained.
"Back where I belong, great start and nothing like Silverstone. At
the start one minute Arthur was there and then he wasn't"
said confident race winner Caudle.
Allen eventually finished a disappointing sixth, with Panayiotou,
Andrew Bailey, Knox and Lee Sullivan completing the top 10.
In the Club Class Ant Whorton-Eales made it three out of three, but
he and Dean Raymond look set for a season joined together. "I got
him with a brave move at Knickerbrook and then gave it back by
going wide at Lodge on the same lap" said second placed Dean
Raymond. Sarah Parsons secured third after Ben Gridley
retired. Debutant Gary Wardle had the legs of Bob Hosier to
take the S class spoils.
After mechanical woes had robbed him of second place
in the first race, Allen lined up on pole with the reverse grid for
race two in a determined mood. With a damp to wet track and
threatening skies tyre choice was varied as the cars left the pit
lane for two green flag laps. Forster, O'Conner and Sullivan all
pitted for wets on the first green flag lap to start from the pit
lane, but with the cars formed for a rolling start on the second
green flag lap those on the left hand side of the rolling grid
could not make the pit lane. With the rain pouring down a number of
drivers were caught out, notably Caudle. "It was my decision to go
out on slicks and then have to come in, I really messed it up," he
Allen made a great getaway at the start to head
Depper, Richardson and Smith. It was close and Richardson
successfully ousted Depper into Knickerbrook on the second before
chasing Allen and leaving daylight to the third places scrap.
Smith was into third, but had Panayiotou, Depper and Lines in
formation behind, while Knox and Sam Osborne fought over
The lead quartet started to spread out, but as they rain poured
down survival was the main concern. "I only had used wet tyres
which were fine until the heavy rain came and you really needed new
ones in those conditions," said Richardson. His struggle for grip
allowed Allen to extend his lead, before Smith pounced for second
at Druids. "I just ran out of road and Chris got me," Richardson
Lines also took advantage of the conditions too to snatch
third with a lap to go, "at least I stayed on," he said after
collecting his second podium finish of the day. Richardson
finally settled for fifth after Panayiotou took him on the last
lap, "I enjoyed it, great fun, but not the standing water and no
visibility," said Panayiotou. A notable drive and gamble by Chris
Knox who stayed on slicks until lap four in torrential rain when he
was forced to pit for wets.
But it was Allen's race and victory by over two seconds. "I
had wets old on too, but better ones than Jason's. It was dry on
some parts early on and then standing water. So I was the explorer
and see how fast we could go or not. Jason did hit me up the rear
at Druids once but no harm done" he said.
Forster completed the top six from his pit lane start, after
demoting Osborne on the last lap, while Crocker, Depper and Craig
Freeman rounded off the top ten.
In the classes it was more of the same from Whorton-Eales and
Raymond. "It was great when we went through Island side by side,"
said Raymond. But it was Whorton-Eales who held the advantage until
lap six, when he flew off backwards at Old Hall. "We had contact
but not on that occasion," said the reigning Saxmax Champion.
Novice Patrick Mortimer took a well deserved second. Hosier was
unopposed in the S Class.
Published by Peter Scherer for MINI Challenge.
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