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July 2, 2012

Honda VTEC Challenge @ Oulton Park – Stu MacMaster

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So, it had been 18 months since it last had a competitive outing, but the 19th May saw the Integra’s first race of 2012! To try and get me back in the swing of things, I opted for a one off race in BARCs Honda VTEC Challenge – a series designed for just Honda cars fitted with any combination of VTEC Engine. As a one off race I was allowed to run my Toyo R888 Tires rather than the Yoko 048 control tire, but this would have to change should I decide to do anymore races in their championship.
I also managed to drag Dave Hill along with me in his ever impressive EP3 Civic Type R which made for a good day with an impressive 19 car entry in only the championships 2nd season.
We arrived at Oulton Bright and early, only to find the weather was anything but – cold and gloomy, rain spitting and a damp and greasy track welcomed us. The forecast was for better in the afternoon, but when I say better I mean it was only forecast to stop raining.
So out we went to qualify, tricky greasy conditions, not raining, and no standing water on the surface, just a moist sheen lay over the tarmac. I was 2nd in to the holding area, so was 2nd out on to the track. Being local and familiar with Oulton I wanted to get on with it as soon as possible and make sure no-one latched on to the back of me, so I swiftly passed the car out on track in front of me and set my fastest lap on lap 2 – just in time it seemed as an Accord Type R was having engine issues and his blue smoke from the exhaust was unlikely to add any grip for the remaining session. The results from Qualifying saw myself sat 3rd on the grid, with Mr Hill lining up back in 8th place.
As lunch time came and went, the light drizzle stopped and with the races before ours, the track was developing a dry line, and even drying across its whole width which was very good news.
Race 1 – Unfortunately the car that qualified 2nd had issues with his Diff in qually and couldn’t start the race, this left the Pole sitter (Integra fitted with a 2.2 Prelude Engine) alone on the front row. I was lined up next to a newer Civic Type R and ever mindful of Dave Hill a few rows back…..
Red lights came on and I got the revs up and prepared to launch….. out they went and I made a cracking start, straight in to the gap where 2nd place should have been, leaving the 3rd place Civic comfortably behind me. The leader however picked up his heels and started to become a smaller and smaller dot, this was going to be a race for 2nd place….
After the 3rd corner I checked my mirrors, and the only person I didn’t want up my trumpet was there! Dave had made a great start, from 8th to 4th off the line and then to 3rd after a few corners and now right up behind me!!! I thought maybe he hadn’t done all he could in the tricky qualifying sessions, but now it was dry he had really got the car hooked up and made the decision that as he had made such rapid progress if he made a move I wasn’t going to bother going defensive. After another lap or 2 the inevitable (or so I thought) happened, and he had a nose up the inside in to Cascades and I gave him room and let him through. To my surprise though, once through he didn’t begin to pull away, and there where places I could carry more speed and brake later. I stuck with him for a few laps and my pressure paid off, Dave missed a gear coming out of the Island Hairpin and I slipped by to take 2nd place again – the leader by this time was out of sight!
And that’s how it finished, myself in 2nd, and Dave in 3rd, my best ever result, and first time on the podium!
Race 2 grid was decided by the results from Race 1, this put me 2nd, on the front row of the grid, with Dave in 3rd….
I again made a pretty reasonable initial start when the lights went out, but didn’t carry enough speed through the first corner at Old Hall, and Hilly got a run along the outside to take 2nd place. Then, going down towards Island Hairpin I was passed again by a rather Rapid little EG Civic (4th place man from Race 1) up the inside, and pushed down to 4th!
It wasn’t long however before it was apparent Dave had an issue, the little Civic was all over the back of him, and we where really reeling him in on the straights. On the run up to Lodge, the Civic passed and a corner later at Old Hall I slipped by – this was all due to Dave losing 4th gear, probably his most commonly used gear, and he gradually slipped
down the order as he couldn’t hold the pace.
That put me up to 3rd, hot on the heels of the 2nd place man. I followed him for a couple of laps, and found I was quicker now I had settled down from the start and began to put some pressure on him for 2nd place, making him take some defensive lines to protect his place. Then, going down the avenue, I got him off line to Cascades where he turned in
off line at the top of the hill he gradually ran out of road on the exit, spoiling his exit speed and I passed on the lead up to the Island Hairpin. And that was how the rest of the race played out, the leader had again shot off in to the distance, and I was managing my tires and the gap to 3rd. I came away with a pair of 2nd place finishes and a pair of class
wins!
My Incar footage….
Race 1 –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8EAk5sGvck&list=UU7N_LZ9G5kQGAcfYlxEQO
CA&index=2&feature=plcp

Race 2 –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abBcn7szPTw&list=UU7N_LZ9G5kQGAcfYlxEQO
CA&index=1&feature=plcp

Dave Hills Race 1 Footage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2YtM2S-kTU

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