The Scuderia Ecosse team got its Championship challenge back on track at Oulton Park this weekend in two dramatic races.
| Rounds 9 & 10 Oulton Park - Race Report
By Lindsay Morle
Jul 18, 2004, 18:12
The drama began on lap one of race one at the very first corner. To avoid Jonathan Cocker’s Porsche, which had been hit by La Bas in the Corvette, Nathan Kinch had to swerve onto the grass and hit the barrier side on. It looked like the end of the race for car 35 but, as the Safety Car took to the track, Nathan rejoined the race in a somewhat battle-worn Ferrari. The young Scot then set about making up positions and a mature and determined drive saw him fight back up to a fantastic fourth place before handing the car over to his team-mate.
“Everything went well at the start then from what I could see Le Bas just went in too deep into Turn One. I had nowhere to go but into the barrier, which I hit quite hard. The wing mirror even came off and into the car, which was a bit of a surprise! After that the car didn’t feel great but I was able to push pretty hard. All in all it’s a shame about the first corner as we could’ve won without that but it was great to get second after such a crazy start.”
The changeover between Kinch and Kirkaldy was fraught with complications as it was discovered that damage sustained at the start was forcing the bodywork to rub against the tyres so there was a lot of work to be done. Once all the pit stops had been completed Andrew Kirkaldy was a man on a mission in sixth place, with a 45 second gap to make up to the leading car.In a repeat of his blistering performance at Snetterton, Andrew started eating into the gap to the leaders. He took fifth place, then fourth, then third with just five minutes of the race remaining. Then a problem for Sumpter in the JWR Porsche helped Andrew take second spot on the podium, only seven seconds behind the winner, a fantastic result after such a dramatic day.
“I was just glad to get a go in the car today as I thought it was all over at the start. The car felt like it was pointing in lots of directions bar the right one but that didn’t seem to be a problem! We needed a good result today and we got one so I’m pleased.”
Car 34 didn’t take part in race one as it had a sheared key on the engine flywheel, a problem that is always particularly hard to diagnose. Once found the problem was fixed in plenty of time for Sunday’s race.
Car 35 had pole position for Sunday’s race, a massive 3.2 seconds ahead of the second placed car. Car 34, as it hadn’t qualified for the race, had to start at the back of the grid. When the green flag was waved Tim Mullen began the climb up the field and was 14th by the end of the first lap. The Irishman put in a cool drive and handed the car over to team-mate, Chris Niarchos, in a fantastic fifth position.
“I had a good start today and my whole stint went really well. The car felt good so I was able to just get my head down and pass people. All the drama for me came once Chris got in the car. He was being held up badly by La Bas’ Corvette which was a lap down on us. I went down to La Bas’ team and asked if he’d move over for Chris but they said no! It’s out of order as Chris had to spend a lot of time dicing with a car that shouldn’t have been there and I think we could have got on the podium without that. I think someone should warn La Bas that I’ll be bringing my boxing gloves to Silverstone!”
“That was ridiculously good fun! After not being able to race yesterday it was great to get out there. Tim did a super job, handing me the car in fifth place. The thing with La Bas was crazy as he was a lap behind me but wouldn’t give it up. I actually passed him twice and he re-took me. He then turned in on me, damaged my bumper and ripped off my front splitter, which messed up the handling of the car. The guy always seems to be the erratic one out there so I’ll be looking out for him next time around!”
Starting from pole, Andrew Kirkaldy quickly set about pulling out a good lead which is necessary to counteract the 20 second Pro-Am penalty. Early on the race the car had a clutch problem, which meant that it was difficult to drive through the slow corners. This didn’t seem to slow Andrew down and he had pulled out a 13 second gap before the pit stop. The pit stop itself was a challenge as with no clutch it’s hard to pull away as Andrew explains.
“We lost the clutch early on which made it hard for Nathan to leave the pit lane. This meant we lost all the time made up during the first stint. Unfortunately we also received a drive-through penalty as it took more than two mechanics to push start the car. I have to say it’s disappointing to stand on the second step of the podium when we had a car that should have won both races this weekend.”
Nathan rejoined the race with an insurmountable 40 second gap to Cocker who was running in first place. With the time penalty, the jump-start in the pits and then a drive-through penalty, Nathan did a great job to finish the race in second place but, like his team-mate, was bitterly disappointed to miss out on victory.
“The car felt really good today in spite of the fact it was hard to get through the slow turns without a clutch. We really should have won but it didn’t happen for us for lots of reasons. The pit stop was certainly hair-raising and I was glad to finally pull away and get on with my race. We’ve got the car working fantastically now so roll on Silverstone.”
Stewart Roden, Scuderia Ecosse Team Principal
“We have to look forward and we’re off to Silverstone now for a test which should stand us in good stead for the next two rounds of the Championship. The Championship is still alive but we need perfect results from now on. We had a car that could win both races this weekend and indeed took fastest lap in both races so it’s a shame we didn’t get the wins. I was pleased for Andrew as he won the Driver of the Day award which he well and truly deserved.”
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