Tuck and Lewis Run Amock at Oulton

Ben Tuck claimed his first win of the year in a red-flagged Race 1 (Photo: Jon Elsey)

It was another fine high-speed display from the Mk1 Mazda’s, as the championship made the pilgrimage west to Cheshire’s Oulton Park. A one-day double header awaited the 50 drivers that turned out in force, with some of the key frontrunners in the race for the title finding themselves coming unstuck.

In-form man Brian Chandler, fresh from his hat-trick of Cadwell Park victories, didn’t kick his weekend off in ideal fashion. His fortunes took a nosedive barely a lap into qualifying when an unfortunate coming together with Martin Tolley forced the man from Haverhill (2nd in the standings) to start the first B group race from the back of the field.

Meanwhile, his compatriots in Group A had Ben Tuck grab pole and run away with the lead all the way to the race’s stoppage due to a dangerously position car stopped on track. Tuck was left to claim the win (and fastest lap in the process) by almost 4 seconds on countback from Ben Short in 2nd place. Paul Bishop put in a strong performance from 6th on the grid to secure the final podium spot in 3rd.

Group B saw a masterful performance from Chandler, who didn’t let a back-of-the-grid start faze him one bit. Taking the lead within 2 laps, Chandler then proceeded to run away to a dominant victory to the tune of almost 20 seconds! Martin Tolley and Clive Powles were left to scrap between themselves behind with Tolley having the edge at the line by just over a tenth of a second. Championship leader Simon Baldwin completed just two laps before an engine failure put paid to his race.

That win put Chandler onto the grid for Group A’s second race, albeit 22nd. Despite starting from pole, Tuck found it much tougher to hang on to his advantage second time around, with “Mr Consistency” himself Darron Lewis claiming his second win of the year. Sam Smith made his performance count this time with 2nd place while Tuck had to settle for 3rd.

Group B’s second race saw Ivan Leary on pole, however neither he nor fellow front row man John Cockburn-Evans would see the finish. Instead, it was left to points leader Simon Baldwin to make the most of a testing weekend with victory and the points to go with it. Paul Bateman claimed 2nd place for his own and Richard Collins completed the rostrum in 3rd.

Due to a fairly character-building for the top two in the standings, the points table has had a little shake-up which proves crucial with just two race weekends left to run. By some good fortune, Simon Baldwin still leads the way, however the shake-up mainly concerns 2nd onwards. Darron Lewis now finds his consistency rewards with 2nd in the points with just 14 points separating him from the top spot. Sam Smith climbs to 3rd a further 12 points back, while Ben Tuck’s win now leaves him just a further 9 points behind Smith in 4th. Brian Chandler now finds himself relegated to 5th and 46 points off the lead, however he will be nothing less than fired up for redemption next time out.

Speaking of which, the Mk1s will now head back to the North West, where they will grace Yorkshire and the indubitably fast Croft circuit. Long straights broken up by winding complexes means that slipstreaming will be at a premium here. The title race now enters a crucial phase – one slip from any of the major contenders and they may very well be forced to kiss their championship chances goodnight.

All the results, qualifying times and laptime analysis can be found at OULTON PARK RESULTS.

Scott Woodwiss

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