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Thread: Oulton Park Circuit UK - A Seven Track Day Adventure

  1. #1
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    Default Oulton Park Circuit UK - A Seven Track Day Adventure

    Continuing with my habit of doing one to two UK track days each year, it was the turn of Oulton Park, in Cheshire UK to receive a visit from me.



    This circuit has a famed and somewhat fearsome reputation in the UK. Host to British Touring Car Championship race, British Superbikes, and the Gold Cup, famously won by Sir Sterling Moss 5 times in the 1950s and 60s.

    Why does it have this reputation? A track map really does not do the place justice:

    http://www.oultonpark.co.uk/media/12...pe_numbers.pdf

    The track consists of a series of natural undulations and blind crests that flow from working the circuit into the topography. There is a lot of elevation change, steep climbs and drops, compressions, and crests. Making it very difficult is the inconsistent surface grip – some areas are shaded, damp and have wet leaves, painted grid markings and kerbs can be diabolical for grip – so it is difficult to gauge speed. It is a very fast circuit, beautifully designed for a Seven as the car is agile for sudden direction changes and with a relatively soft suspension is able to cope better with the bumps than a heavier car that can struggle to put the power down. It is an incredibly challenging circuit for an old fat race hacker to be launching onto. Oh and should I mention that there is not much run off ….so any off track excursion is going to involve the sound of crash, crump, wallop, swearing and the rustling of a LOT of pound notes being sucked out of your wallet/bank account.

    As usual I rented an Caterham Seven R300 SV race car from Jonny Leroux at BookaTrack. 2L Duratec powered with about 180hp, lightened flywheel, 6 speed box, full cage, upgraded 4 pot brakes, and CR500 tires. The race car deletes most options – handbrake, headlights, indicators, brake lights with just a steering wheel and a Stack display. The cars lead a hard life given the hackers who rent them but are very well maintained. If something breaks during the day then there are mechanics on hand to swarm all over the car to fix it quickly to get you back out there. If worst happens and an engine blows then (provided you did not over-rev it) there is a spare to get you back out on the track. I think it is testament to the maintenance and the design of the Duratec that the engines average 250 hours full on track running before they break. I suspect the K series would have been through 4 head gaskets by then.

    So the day starts off with sorting out your car in the pits:



    Then it is time for the drivers briefing which I have to say was one of the best ever I have experienced for a track day. Concise, focused, all lifted just enough with a hearty dose of English humor.

    Fortunately, they had sighting laps before the session opened up. I managed to get in one lap to begin to see where the corners went. This quaint tradition does not seem to happen in the US but you do see some rather remarkable vehicles lurching around the circuit. The look on this van guy’s face is intriguing:

    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 12:55 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  2. #2
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    The crowd at a Bookatrack event is really very similar to US trackdays – the average guy with his car ready for a bit of a spin. There are a lot more sevens than we see in the US and far less Corvettes (no shit Sherlock!), a lot less Porsche (only 2 or 3), a couple of Beemers, a Ferrari 360, a lovely Ginetta G60, and one or two Lotus Elises. Oh and they had 2 Radicals to blast the field. There were a couple of small commuter hatchback cars buzzing around – cheap track thrills and why not.

    BookaTrack does not crowd its track days – 55 people registered some sharing cars with a max 25 cars on circuit at once. I rarely got held up – worst case took me 1/3rd of the circuit to get past. Passing was done always on the left with point by and no corner passing, although the natural undulations and weaves of the circuit did confuse me as to what actually a “straight” was on the circuit! Quality of driving was excellent except for 1 or 2 cars in a Corporate Experience day. You know the type – you get 3 laps driving a race car for the first time on a circuit for the first time, all the time being dive bombed by other top notch drivers. And to think I was apprehensive! Fortunately, all drivers were courteous, passes acknowledged with a wave and no impatience. I have done a lot of track days and this was as good as it can get for the average non-pro driver like me.

    Format for the day is open pit lane. So you have 9.30-12.30, lunch 12.30 to 1.30, then back running again 1.30 to 5pm. I probably did 3-3.5 hours in the day and I was worn out by the end of the day – I think the car was in better condition!

    Luckily, I had a friend at the track. Martin (or Mav on Blatchat) is local to the circuit and brought his Roadsport SV for some fun. Now Martin KNOWS how to be prepared for a track day – a BBQ grill, gas stove, electric fridge, tea kettle, coffee maker, lots of cake, marinated chicken, burgers, sugar fixes, drinks, etc. He also managed to bring the usual complement of track day tools. Actually, it may not be Martin’s preparation as Viv (Mrs Mav) also was there and I have a sneaking suspicion she might just be responsible for Martin’s outstanding success.

    Here is Martin in gourmet cook mode in his pit garage:



    Martin’s Caterham also looks the part:



    Martin was kind enough to let me follow in the first “session” foray on to track. This is one place where placing the car on track is an art because of the bumps. It feels a very fast circuit because it is a slightly narrower tarmac plus the car is constantly being thrown around. However, from logging speeds, it is not as I thought! Being responsible and restrained, I satisfied myself with learning the circuit in my usual way – stick it in one gear (5th in this case) and focus on learning lines and braking points.

    So some pit photos:



    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 12:57 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

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    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 12:58 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

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    Some track photos now. Just starting to turn into Lodge Corner:



    Coming out of Lodge:



    Looks like it is in Cascades?



    Coming down Dentons just before Cascades corner:

    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 01:00 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

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    Later on, Martin found me on the track once I had learned the basics and we had a more spirited session. For a 140hp engine, Martin showed how good a Caterham can really be around this track.

    Now one of the exciting pieces of machinery on the track was an Aston DBR1 run by a gentleman who had his son out in an Ariel Atom. I suspect it probably was not original as I think these go for $10m or something equally ridiculous plus it looked too fresh for a car that should have a touch of patina.









    I had the good luck to range up behind it on track and I slowed down long enough to follow. The owner later said to me it had no grip. Well that was obvious to me as it was all angles going through corners – understeer, oversteer, understeer, oversteer, back and forth working the wheel in one corner, as he piloted it nicely through the corner. Just incredible car control.
    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 01:01 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  6. #6
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    I had the good fortune to run into a gentleman testing out VBox Lite equipment on a Caterham in a track environment with a view to renting at future track days. So my car was festooned with cameras and logging equipment from his kit and my usual Gopros/Racechrono logger. Given the hassle of lugging all my kit over to the UK, I think I would just rent it from him next time – much smarter. There was a few technical issues – the circuit was so bumpy it threw the camera aim off. The driver face camera became “Groin Cam” at one point not that there was much too look at given my distraction elsewhere! Then again, had it happened while I was following the Aston Martin....


    Another coming over the rise exiting Lodge corner:






    Now at the end of every track day we all pack up and go home. How about this for a trailer unit for the Aston Martin DBR1 and the Atom?





    Video is being edited and I will get around to posting shortly.

    So who wants to do Spa Francorchamps track day in Belgium with me next year with one of the BookaTrack sevens?
    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 01:03 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  7. #7
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    Blank
    Last edited by Croc; 10-09-2017 at 01:03 PM.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

  8. #8
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    Excellent! How did the R300 compare to yr high toot se7en?
    Kitcat:AKA, Sir Spinsalot
    '97 Caterham Super Sprint, 1700 Crossflow-sold
    '09 Birkin S3, Duratec-sold
    '03 Caterham Zetec track car
    '19 Honda Type R, sold
    '19 Miata Clubsport

  9. #9
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    Nice post.. Thanks for sharing and for the invite to Spa.....
    Superformance S1 # 47

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitcat View Post
    Excellent! How did the R300 compare to yr high toot se7en?
    mmmmm.....I could have used the IRS in my CSR to handle the bumps. There is less power obviously (180 FWHP vs 275 FWHP but that was no real loss as the circuit was sufficiently bumpy that I would have had issues putting a lot more power down. I did like the lightened flywheel - pickup of revs was noticeably quicker (along with it being easier to stall at low revs!). The quicker ratio steering made the car a lot more nervous. Put it all together and the car felt quicker but that was an illusion from the darty steering, the de dion not handling the bumps well and throwing the car around more plus the general rawness of a Caterham race car. None of that is bad - I did enjoy the car but it is very different to what I am used to in the CSR275. The differences were far more pronounced from when I had it at Silverstone, simply because Silverstone was a billiard table smooth F1 super circuit.
    Mike
    2010 Caterham CSR with Cosworth 2.3 Duratec
    2018 Caterham 420R with 2L Duratec 210hp at Donington UK
    1975 BMW CSL Group 4 (restoration finished - track set up time)
    1977 Holden Torana "A9X" (awaiting restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A (suspension restoration)
    1985 Holden Commodore Group A (suspension set up)
    1982 Ferrari 400i (radiator replacement)
    1965 Ford Mustang Fastback "Holman Moody"
    1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC (dyno time)
    1990 Range Rover 2 door Classic
    and another project car coming....

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