With an opening round grid of more the double the numbers from last season, the big news from qualifying was that Pip Hammond had shattered the 924 lap record for Oulton Park, set by Alastair Kirkham, with an astonishing 2:02.463, together with his team mate Gavin Johnson sandwiching the guesting Rick Stryin for the front three of Class C. Andy Baker is currently still our sole running in Class B, but at the sharp end of the Class A Boxsters, Ed Hayes was ahead of the returning Adam Southgate, with Nick Hull already eager for a podium in third. Conditions were perfect and it really appeared that the new version of the Toyo 888 control was set to give the entire field a time advantage.
Before even reaching the grid, Darren House was ruled out of racing by an MSA steward after illness hit him while in the assembly area for Race 1. And last year's Class 3 third place man Hugh Peart also retired with illness after a 5-lap battle with Chris Valentine, returning to the PDA after a three season absence.
With Pip Hammond and Rick Styin on pole, a race-long battle was guarenteed between the pair but sadly a minor collision between the two led to Pip spinning off and landing a DNF - although the Championship's dropped scores rule will nullify that result for him later in the season. He made up for it in race 2 with a 2nd place behind winner Styrin who, of course, now heads for his new home in the Mazda MX5s.
The returning Class A driver and Jaguar Land Rover engineer Adam Southgate went wide on the exit of Cacades which relieved him of his new front splitter. The absence of a spare meant he had to poll all other drivers in his class for permission to run in race 2 with a standard front end, to which all agreed. Last-minute signee James Coleman had a superb weekend landing a 2nd place from both races behind Ed Hayes whose maximum points put him on solid ground for this year's title chase. Nick Hull, in Stryin's 986 from 2016, narrowly missed out on a double third place having gone wide at Old Hall, narrowly missing Southgate and losing a place to Garry Lawrence.
Newbie Andy Pritchard spun at the Knickerbook chicane and collected Alex Stocker on the way through, destroying the Boxster's front left radiator and spilling sufficient collant for the reds flags to come out and call an early end to the second race.
Its only two weeks before the Porsches are racing again, with three races on Silverstone's south "International" circuit, alongside Britcar on the Sunday.
Photo courtesy Jon Elsey