Oulton Park, 12 September 2009
Round seven of the 2009 LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car Championship took place on the International circuit at Oulton Park.
Joss Ronchetti (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) was the star of qualifying placing his Class C car on pole by 1.2 seconds from the nearest competitor, the Class A Mitsubishi Evo of Simon Deaton. Gary Furst (Mitsubishi Evo) was third on the grid, another second further back with the two Class B Seat Leon Cupras of Ilsa Cox and Andrew Morrison taking 4th and 5th places though Cox was almost 1.5 seconds faster than Morrison. Championship leader Brett Walter again qualified his Renault Clio on the Class E pole, but was also up in 8th place overall, 6 places and 3.5 seconds clear of second in Class E, Stewart Calder. Ian Craig (BMW M3) narrowly beat Lee Reynolds (Citroen Saxo) to the Class D pole and 10th overall. Late in qualifying, Tim Evans broke a driveshaft on his Subaru Impreza. A call to Scooby Clinic (preparers of his and Andy Harvey's car) resulted in the team arriving at the circuit and repairing the car with just minutes to spare before the race.
An amazing first lap from Joss Ronchetti saw him cross the line a full six seconds clear of second placed Ilsa Cox, Cox in turn being over a second clear of the Class A heavyweights Simon Deaton, Tim Evans, Gary Furst and Charlie Jackson (Ford Escort Cosworth). On lap 2 Deaton pulled into the pits and out of the race as Ronchetti eked out another 0.6 seconds from Cox. Three laps in and the returning Simon Jackson (MG ZR) suffered a major engine blow up leaving a hole in his block and an oil slick on the entry to the chicane. Luckily no-one went off although lap times slowed for a while.
Up front, Ronchetti was holding his lead around the 6 to 7 seconds mark, but was lapping 5 or 6 seconds slower than his qualifying pace. Morrison was moving forwards, up into 4th place by lap 5, while Andy Harvey (Subaru Impreza) who had started from the back of the grid was just 5/1000ths behind him and would take over 4th place just past the line. Harvey was now chasing after third place Tim Evans and lapping up to 2 seconds quicker while in pursuit, finally closing up on lap 10. But the big news on lap 10 was Ronchetti pulling into the pits with differential problems and letting Ilsa Cox turn a 5 second deficit the previous lap into a 3 second lead over the battling Subarus of Evans and Harvey. With just one lap to go, Cox extended her lead to take her first LMA race win by 3.7 seconds from Evans who just held off Harvey to take his first class win of the season, good reward for the sterling work put in by Scooby Clinic to get him into the race.
Brett Walter had a comfortable win in Class E, but Jim Mepham (Renault Megane) and Matt Walton (Renault Clio) were trading places in the fight for second in class, Mepham eventually triumphing by less than a quarter of a second! With Ronchetti's demise, Nick Hayes (Seat Leon) took his third consecutive Class C win, while Ian Craig had an easy Class D win once his main competitor Lee Reynolds (Citroen Saxo) pulled out on lap 3.
With two rounds still to go, and Peter Challis not competing at Oulton Park, Brett Walter's points total of 250 cannot be caught so he is the 2009 LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car champion. Walter has also amassed an unassailable lead (232 to 132) in the Mark Fish Motorsport Clio Cup Challenge which he also wins for 2009. And finally, Renault look uncatchable in the MSE-Performance.com cup for manufacturers with 814 points to second placed Ford on 418 and third placed Seat on 416.
Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro
Saloon and Sports Car championship and standings so far.
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