On a Saturday of ever changing weather and plenty of Mini’s, Oulton Park was the scene for my latest weekend marshalling. Being spurred on by the previous week’s disappointment of only collecting debris off the track, I was hoping for an incident.
Running wide was closer to rallying than racing. [Photo: Paul Williams]
It didn’t take long either. A red flag in the first race at Old Hall set the tone of the day. Shortly followed by a red flag in the second section at Lodge, thankfully where I was posted and could deal with the incident. It had been a while since I had got my hands on a car, possibly the Touring Cars late May being the last, and it wouldn’t be the last this day either.
Another multi-car incident in a similar style to the first, where a car runs wide and loses control on the wet grass before collecting a helpless fellow competitor. A quick recovery was ordered from race control, and whilst we tried our best to deliver, we always seemed to be chasing the clock. Barrier repairs also held up the clock for us; I believe it was four at Old Hall, one at Fosters and one at Warwick bridge. The clock seemed to be going against us no matter what we tried.
It was a rarity being able to stand back and watch some racing. [Photo: Paul Williams]
It wasn’t just crashes or contact with the barriers either, gravel traps caused an issue! We had one at Lodge run into the gravel trap and shower the box in so much gravel it had to be swept out, then we had another one manage to dig itself into the gravel by spinning its wheels. If we had a pound for every time we saw that, how rich would we be?!
We did have the idea that due to Oulton Park running the Foster’s configuration of the circuit, which is only 1.66 miles long, that may have been a reason that there was a lot of crashes. Yet, when given a little bit of thought, the majority of crashes happened at corners where the cars arrive at the same speed as they would on the full International Circuit.
Leader amongst Men: The Safety Car lead the way in the majority of the races. [Paul Williams]
So with track layout not the factor, what was causing so many crashes? The only explanation I could think of was that the cars are so evenly matched, the drivers are trying to force every tenth of a second out of the car on the track, meaning limits were overstepped, even by the smallest margin. With the ever changing conditions, that was all it took for a car to be in the barrier.
From a marshalling point of view, it was great. Lots of incidents kept those in orange busy and not only that, the safety car managed to rack up a good number of laps. I think at one point it had completed the most laps in the lead of a race. However, from a spectator point of view, I saw a few people say that it wasn’t really up to scratch.
Closer! Closer! The racing was close in position and close to the limit. [Photo: Paul Williams]
I would have to disagree with the spectators though. Once the red flags had been withdrawn or safety car brought in and racing got back under way again, it was great! There were pockets of action throughout the field and all over the track. One race had two bunches of six cars going for one position! I mean, what is not to love about that?
The safety car may have lead the most laps, but the great thing it was doing, was bunching the pack up. I’m never one for watching someone do a pole to flag race, I’m all for the entertainment side and yes, only two or three races may have taken the chequered flag, but in those races I was thoroughly entertained. I was kept on my toes all the way through wondering who would come out on top and take the win, it was really that close.
If you ever want to get closer to the action and want to try a day as a marshal, follow the link here, to find your nearest taster day and find out what it is like.