The fourth round of the season took place at Oulton Park over the weekend of the 6th and 7th of June. Again nobody knew what to expect over the course of the weekend as every weekend thus far had been full of surprises. Both Mike Bushell and Simon Belcher were back out competing after their devastating accident at Thruxton. During qualifying Jason Plato managed to secure pole, with Matt Neal alongside in second. Third place was taken by Andy Priaulx, followed by Andrew Jordan in fourth. Behind them were Gordon Shedden in fifth, Colin Turkington in sixth, seventh was Aron Smith with Jack Goff alongside in eighth. Ninth was Tom Ingram and Adam Morgan rounded out the top ten.
Jason Plato started on pole, he wasn’t that confident he could win the race due to having the Honda Civic of Matt Neal alongside. Although by the end of lap one Jason Plato had a gap of 1.3 seconds over second place. Plato was 3.3 seconds clear in the lead when the race had to be red flagged. The red flag was brought out to allow the safety vehicles and medics to attend to Stewart Lines, whose Toyota Avensis run by Houseman Racing had gone head first into the pit entrance wall. Luckily after medics had checked Stewart over he was cleared of any injury, he was lucky to escape unhurt. Plato was declared the winner after the race was terminated after the red flag on lap 14. Neal took second followed by Andy Priaulx in third and Andrew Jordan in fourth. None of the top four had changed positions throughout the 14 lap race. Aron Smith took fifth after starting the race in seventh, Gordon Shedden followed him home to take sixth. Jack Goff took seventh and Tom Ingram took eighth. Ninth went to Sam Tordoff and Dave Newsham took tenth.
Race two was set to be a spectacular race for spectators, having the top five starters heading to the first corner would be an exciting site. Jason Plato started on pole with Gordon Shedden alongside in second, Andrew Jordan in third with Andy Priaulx in fourth followed by Matt Neal. Jeff Smith lined up in sixth, Aron Smith in seventh with Rob Collard alongside for company. Ninth was Sam Tordoff with Adam Morgan alongside in tenth. Nobody could predict who would enter the first corner first as anything could happen with the top ten cars. Would Plato manage to carry the extra 75kg of ballast in his Volkswagen CC and manage to maintain a lead for the 15 lap race? Everyone was excited and intrigued to see what happened in the second race of the Island circuit.
Jason Plato had to get a perfect start and fire off the line to have any chance against the Honda of Shedden, he did exactly that and managed to reach Old Hall first. Plato could never get over 0.5 seconds ahead of the Honda at all during the first half of the race. Shedden was all over the back of Plato towards the end of the race because the leader was getting distracted by back markers. Plato overreacted to the backmarker blocking the road, which allowed Shedden to be quicker through Druids and get the run on Plato during the last lap of the race. Plato defended his position into the final corner at Lodge but Shedden managed to get the cutback and the two were neck and neck at the line. Jason Plato took the victory by 0.09 seconds, with Shedden in second. Third place was taken by Andrew Jordan, fourth was Matt Neal, fifth was Sam Tordoff, sixth was Adam Morgan and seventh was Aron Smith. Eighth was taken by Colin Turkington, ninth was Jack Goff and rounding out the top ten was Jeff Smith.
Once again the reversed grid draw saw Adam Morgan promoted up on to pole position. Sam Tordoff lined up alongside in second place, Matt Neal in third, Andrew Jordan in fourth and Gordon Shedden in fifth. Jason Plato started in sixth, behind him was Aron Smith in seventh and Colin Turkington in eighth followed by Jack Goff in ninth and Jeff Smith started in tenth. Would Adam Morgan be able to do a lights to flag victory like he did at Thruxton? Unfortunately not as he crept forward at the start, although Morgan stood on the brakes to prevent gaining an advantage the clerk of the course decided it was enough for a jump start penalty. Tordoff and Morgan were running side by side having an intense battle into Old Hall. Tordoff attempted to go round the outside to pass Morgan but ran wide and couldn’t manage to pass.
On the run to Dentons Matt Neal also managed to pass the BMW. When Morgan took his drive through penalty Neal took over the lead of the race. Tordoff was far enough back not to be an instant threat but also had Andrew Jordan all over his rear. Neal was running 0.5 seconds clear of the BMW in second when he had a huge slide at Lodge on lap seven. Tordoff managed to close right in on the Civic. Tordoff managed to pass Neal and Jordan followed him through. Throughout the remainder of the race Andrew Jordan managed to slash the gap between him and Tordoff from being 0.8 seconds to 0.3 seconds. Sam Tordoff was ecstatic to have finally got his first win of the season. Andrew Jordan took second followed by Neal rounding out the podium. Fourth was Gordon Shedden, Plato took fifth, sixth was Colin Turkington and seventh was Aron Smith. Eighth went the way of Jack Goff, ninth was Tom Ingram and tenth was Jeff Smith.
At the end of the weekend Jason Plato was leading both the independents trophy and the overall driver’s championship. Josh Cook left the Cheshire circuit 49 points in the lead of the Jack Sears Trophy.
© Fay Tilley 7th January 2016