Final Race - Oulton Park
The final race of the season for the carmats-uk.com race team was held on Saturday 7th October at Oulton Park in Cheshire. The team arrived on Friday for some pre-race testing as Andrew had not driven the new Civic Type R at the circuit before and it had been 2 years since his last race at Oulton. The team tried out a new tyre compound during testing, but after the test thought it would be better suited to a more abrasive track like Rockingham or Thruxton than they would to Oulton Park.
The test session concluded with lap times being reduced by around 2 seconds compared to the start of the session. This was all in dry conditions though and as the afternoon wore on, the weather looked more and more ominous.
Race day dawned wet after intermittent rain all night. Qualifying was due to start at 10:30am and so there was time for the track to dry if it didn’t rain again! The decision had also been taken to use the softer, if slightly more worn tyres from the Donington race last month.
After a good qualifying session on a drying track, Andrew got the Civic Type R up to 6th position on the grid and 2/10ths quicker than in the previous days testing. During the latter stages of qualifying, Andrew had reported a noise from the rear brakes. Upon closer inspection it was found that one of the rear brake pads had broken up and was almost down to the metal. A quick search of the internet found a supplier in nearby Crewe, so 2 of the team set off to collect a new set of pads and some more fuel for the race car.
During the servicing of the car and fitting of the new pads, the weather started to deteriorate. The first race of the day was damp and as each race started, the track was getting wetter. The Tin Tops race was scheduled for 15:55pm and as the cars made their way to assembly, the rain came harder still. The Honda Civic was set up for dry weather and was on semi slick tyres as it looked like the rain might abate, however, while sat in assembly, Andrew asked his engineer to soften the suspension slightly and lower the tyre pressures a little more to try and cope with the worsening conditions.
Out on track, there were puddles of standing water. During the formation lap, the car was spinning its wheels in 4th gear as Andrew tried to get some heat into the tyres. The cars formed up on the grid and all managed to get away cleanly despite the spray that made visibility almost zero. Andrew got a good start, but found himself on the outside of the first corner (Old Hall) where he had to take avoiding action as a car slide wide and ended up going across the grass and re-joined in 10th place. After a few laps getting into a rythum, Andrew managed to regain a couple of places and then as the race settled down, a few cars slid out of contention. The Honda Civic was now sitting in 6th place and going well. The pit stop went smoothly and soon after, Andrew found himself in 4th place and continued to lap some of the slower competitors. It wasn’t until the penultimate lap that the similar Honda Civic of Hope and Hardy caught Andrew and managed to pass going into the Shell hairpin. Andrew fought hard to get on terms with the flying Honda, but the tyres had had enough and the conditions were even worse now. As the chequered flag came out, Andrew was only a second behind Hardy but in a still credible 5th overall and 3rd in class A.
This marks the end of a fantastic debut season for the new car which has exceeded everyone’s expectations, especially in the last 2 races running its “barn find” engine!
Andrew and the team look forward to a productive off season, re-building the Carmats-UK.com Honda Civic Type R and hopefully upgrading a few parts to make the car even more competitive next season. AWS Racing also extended their thanks to team sponsor Carmats-UK.com and everybody there for the fantastic support the team has received all season.
Here is the race footage to help you see how wet it really was! Thanks for reading during 2017 and we look forward to picking up the story in 2018.