Paddock Life – British F3/GT, Oulton Park

After the hustle and bustle of the BTCC weekend at Brands Hatch, it was a sparsely populated Oulton Park that greeted me on Monday afternoon. Ahead of the Easter meeting at the weekend, some of the teams were there to take advantage of the two general test days on Tuesday and Wednesday before the first round.

As normal, the first job was to survey the paddock and mark out the teams allocated spaces. This could only be done for Formula Ford and the F1 teams as the rest operated a first come, first served policy. As a newcomer to the job, this didn’t make my task any easier without any solid plans. The stress levels were exacerbated by the fact that I was flying solo on Tuesday and Wednesday, having only a handful of days under my belt.

The highlight of the test was the arrival of ex McLaren team manager, Dave Ryan’s GT3 team. I manage to see a little of their McLaren in action. Being a general test however, this monster of a car was sharing the track with Caterhams and Ginetta’s. Watching from the pit wall, the speed differential was immense!

After a few day’s at home, it was back to Oulton for Easter Sunday and bank holiday Monday. If the start of the week was a little strange, arriving back on Sunday was quite bizarre. Being Easter Sunday, there was no track action, even the Ginetta’s and F3 teams were pulling out having finished their races on Saturday. Replacing the F3 teams was competitors from the F3 Cup, a club series that runs older F3 machinery. It’s fair to say that these team don’t always compete on such a big stage and were unprepared for my keen eye to have all the truck in a perfect line. One driver in particular struggled to get his head around the need to move  his truck ‘a few inches’. Every time I asked him to move, he would mover a good two feet! And every time I asked to go the other way, he got more frustrated and move even further past his mark. My boss tell me that we are to expect the odd team like this but most know what is expected and do what they can to make it as painless as possible.

Sunday was only a half days work. Lining up the last of the F3 Cup teams and helping with the super car display and my work was done. Since I was there, I decided it would be rude to leave without watching a couple of races. The Formula Ford race was won by a very talented Sheffielder, Jake Cook. I’ve never seen anyone pull out a lead as big as he did in one lap and in very wet conditions. My second and last race before heading home was the GT race. There was some great action throughout the field, especially a five cat fight for third. The biggest drama however, was left to the last lap. The United Autosport Audi R8 had lead from pole position. They held a comfortable lead all race and looked to have it in the bag. I, like a lot of others, had made our way to the podium only to hear that the leaders had ran out of fuel with only half a lap to go.

This week, I’m off to Silverstone for the FIA F2 championship Thursday to Sunday.

 

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