Marco Anastasi, in a Datum Motorsport Ginetta G56A, took the win in a wet Race 1, as the race took a different aspect after the mandatory pit stops had been taken. Domination of the first half of the race had come from elsewhere, where pole-sitter Ben Green, in the Century / SGM Ginetta G56A was jumped at the rolling start by Harri Reynolds, sharing the Dragon Sport Opel Astra with Rhys Lloyd (damage and parts supply issues rendered their usual Clio unusable). Usually streaking off into the distance, Green this time had to fight for the early lead, and just as soon as he did it, five laps in, the Safety Car came out, eroding the two-second buffer he had quickly built. The caution was implemented to recover Mike Bowman’s Clio, which was stranded in the gravel at Lodge, and by this point, the leading trio – Green, Reynolds, and Simon Mason’s Jabbasport Cupra – had opened a gap on Anastasi, Datum stablemate Maurizio Sciglio, and a feisty Lee Goldsmith’s Geoff Steel-run BMW E46. Sam Neser led the Clio pack, which was being cut-through by pit-lane starter Seb Dubois, who had squandered his second-row grid slot due to repairs being made to the TMC Ginetta G56A after a trip to the gravel in the BEC free practice session.

Ginettas negotiating a damp Oulton Park chicane

An early, and lengthy, pit stop had been made by Matt Hyde’s Dragon Sport Clio on the opening lap, and the Safety Car period was lengthy too, encroaching into the first few minutes the mandatory pit window, and it was here that the race turned on it’s head; the whole field, except the leading pair of Green and Reynolds, came in immediately the window opened, and got the undercut. Leading on the road at this point, by dint of a legally-shortened pit stop duration, was Alex Turnbull’s little SVG Ginetta G40, about to be swamped by a marauding bunch of impatient Class 1 machines, led by Anastasi, Sciglio and a well-recovered Dubois, as the field went green again. The erstwhile leading Century Ginetta, now in the hands of am-driver Steve Fresle, re-joined well down the order, while the Dragon Sport Astra didn’t re-join at all, sheared studs on a brand new hub putting paid to a potential victory for second-stint driver Rhys Lloyd. Chris Bialan, now in the Jabbasport Cupra, caught and passed Lee Goldsmith’s BMW for fourth place, while third-placed Dubois was latched on to Sciglio’s tail, but the field was neutralised with just seven minutes to go by the intervention of the Safety Car, the Lodge gravel having claimed another victim, this time Hadley Simpson’s Clio, which was extricated and on it’s way, leaving just a few minutes of racing left once the field went green again, and with the front five cars covered by less than two seconds, this could be anybody’s race, and Seb Dubois, sensing a win on his home circuit, gave it a bit too much on the penultimate lap, ending up in the gravel, and leaving Datum pair Anastasi and Sciglio just over a second apart at the flag. Bialan, in the Cupra started by Mason, was just over a second further back, claiming the final podium spot, just ahead of Goldsmith’s BMW, with Steve Fresle having to cut through the squabbling Clios on his way to fifth place in the Century/SGM Ginetta started by Ben Green.

Sam Neser and Jack James took the Clio class win

The Dragon Sport Clio of Sam Neser and Jack James led the class throughout, a serious threat from the High Row machine of Maurice Henry and Hadley Simpson being stymied by a stop/go penalty and late-race off-track excursion, leaving a solid run from Thomas Jack Lee and James Harrison to bag second place, with High Row stablemates John Cooper and Alistair Kellett claiming the final class podium place, a great result for the new pairing. Still running at the end, though not classified by the timekeepers, were the Clios of Matt Hyde / Alex Nevill (unplanned pit stop), and Mike Bowman / Ben Colburn (recovered from gravel). It was a lonely race for the TSR Audi TT; missing most of qualifying with a clutch issue, Rob Ellick and Mark Jones ran a cautious race in the wet conditions, and accrued a post-race time penalty on their way to Class 2 honours, while lone driver Alex Turnbull enjoyed a dice with the Audi in the opening stages of the race, and boasted the overall lead for a brief moment on his way to the Class 3 win in the SVG Ginetta G40.

Words: Steve Wood; photos: Paul Cherry and Steve Jackman.