The first race for the team was at Oulton Park in Cheshire unusually using the Fosters layout. The usual circuit used by the FF1600 category is the International layout but by popular request this race was run on Fosters achieving a full grid for the pre-90 cars.
There is no rest for the driver around Fosters. It’s a particularly fast layout as it cuts out the Knickerbrook chicane which means the driver is on the throttle from Fosters all the way up to Druids! This makes this section quite a bit faster than on the International Layout. In addition Cascades is more open allowing the driver to carry more speed through here.
Unfortunately during testing on the Friday we never really found a good setup with the car having recently fitted new AVO dampers. After the event we discovered the valving of the dampers was much too soft and even though every session we upped the damper the front end was virtually un-damped. This caused two problems. Most notable for the driver was the inability to take the exit at Knickerbrook flat out without the front bouncing to the edge of the track. As an interesting aside have a listen to how this was named http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1TW5WKWLnA!
The other problem from running very soft dampers, particularly at the front, was the lack of responsiveness during turn-in. It became clear in the race (especially at the start on cold tyres) the car would not turn in to the corner sharply. This saw us drop from P7 on the grid outside the top ten. Ultimately we finished the race in 8/9 positions including a class 3rd.
For me the driver, I was happy to be roughly on the pace for my first race in 9 years. Achieving a class podium on my return to racing earned me the ‘pre-90 Driver of the Meeting’ which also came with a http://www.hewpro.com £50 voucher (put to good use to buy some more rod ends!). Many thank to Matt, Diz and the team!