HOW NOT TO START A TEST DAY

Hitting a tyre wall at Oulton Park

Not exactly the way I wanted to start the weekend…

It would be my first time at Oulton Park. Having seen the track on TV and Youtube, I was excited to experience it for the first time in the car. I arrived at the track the Friday morning for testing. It was the first time I’d seen the car with its new fresh Car Magic livery on. It looked great and spurred me on for the weekend. So, I was ready to head out for the first session of the day, behind fellow AB Motorsport driver, Michael Fisk.

I headed out on track for the first time at Oulton Park. Having watched a Driver61 breakdown video I felt confident going out…. too confident. I came round again for my first proper lap of Oulton Park… and braked late into the first corner. It felt quick going into the corner, but I still made the apex. However I got on the throttle too early. This brought me out wide, onto the curb and then onto the grass beyond the curb. This spun the rear around. I had a moment like this at Cadwell, the round before, in testing but kept it out of the tyre wall.

As the car was turning around, I full locked the other way to correct the slide, which was now heading back across trac,k sideways. Thankfully no one was directly behind. I got on the brakes, but it was too late, the car wasn’t slowing. By this time, the car was almost surfing backwards across the grass, heading towards the wall. I braced for the impact knowing there was no way out now. The impact didn’t feel too bad, as I’d hit the last stretch of tyre wall covering the inside of that corner leading on to the small straight before Cascades.

What have I done?

 An immediate feeling of ‘What have I just done’ set in.

I got the car into safe position on the side of the track. I moved the steering to see if it still worked. A worrying creek sounded… I cringed. I then blurted out many expletives, as you can probably understand, I thought my weekend was over, on a Friday. The marshalls were very quick to react. As soon as I got out of the car, the recovery truck and medical car were just coming up to my car. The medical guys did their checks; everything was fine. I jumped in the recovery truck, and headed back to the paddock.

I dreaded to see the team’s faces after seeing the state the car was in now. Part of the door was caved in, as was the front and rear nearside wings. I went to the medical centre as its compulsory after a crash. I then had to re-sign on. After I’d done that, I came back to the AB Motorsport paddock area. The car didn’t look anywhere near as bad! The rubber marks from the tyre wall had gone, and panels smacked back out. It genuinely looked as though almost nothing had happened apart from a few scuffs where the paint and decals had been ripped off and a couple dents.

The day ended a lot better than it started. My lap times came down from 2:09s to low 2:07s. I was told this would confidently put me in the A race if I performed like that in qualifying. So with a learning experience out the way, my sights moved to the weekend.

Lesson learned. Take it easy on the first lap in testing.

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