VTEC Challenge does Oulton 2016

Discussion in 'Racing' started by Jonathan F, Apr 11, 2016.


  1. Jonathan F

    Jonathan F Member

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    Oulton Park: April 9th 2016

    (Rounds 1 and 2 of BRSCC Honda VTEC Challenge)


    With the wait finally over, the 2016 Honda VTEC Challenge series got underway at the MSV circuit of Oulton Park on the 9th April.


    Running on the “Island” layout at the spectacular Cheshire based circuit, it has been 4 years since the series last raced here and judging by the entry list, it was a popular choice amongst the drivers.


    Entrants:


    04 – Luke Biel – EK4 Civic – Tuner

    15 – Tony Markham – EP3 Civic Type R – Production

    19 – James Tracey – DC2 Integra – Production

    25 – Adam Jones – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

    27 – Chris Atkinson – EP3 Civic Type R – Production

    39 – Rob Burkinshaw – DC5 Integra - Tuner

    45 – Mark Bennett – S2000 – Tuner

    46 – Pete Dunmore – EP3 Civic Type R – Production

    49 – Jeff Cooper – CRX – Super Tuner

    58 – Martyn Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

    67 – Peter Dixon – CRX – Super Tuner

    73 – Stu King - DC2 Integra – Tuner

    99 – Matt Le - DC2 Integra – Production

    555 – Paul Waddington – EK9 Civic Type R - Tuner

    666 – Paul Donkin – EP3 Civic Type R – Production


    It was fantastic to see a diverse turn out for the first two rounds of the 2016 season, with 3 new driver’s joining the growing ranks of regular racers.


    Having competed successfully in Time Attack previously, Adam Jones has made the move into circuit racing with his turbocharged black and orange EP3 Civic. With Matt Walker of MEC Engineering (and a fellow VTEC’r) fitting a regulation compliant roll cage a speedy rebuild followed in readiness for his first competitive race event.


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    Chris Atkinson has raced previously, (including the Nurburgring 24hr with Peter Venn in an EG6) but has not competed with his current EP3 Civic. Built from an accident damaged road car back in 2001, it has done less than 400 miles since being built and Chris thought it about time to bring it out from the back of the garage!


    Paul Waddington is another driver to be tempted over to circuit racing from Time Attack. His K20 engined EK9 will be in good company in the paddock, alongside two other K20 powered EK’s and the brace of K20 CRX’s.


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    There has been a hive of activity during the “off season” with almost every car on the grid undergoing changes of one form or another. Some minor, some major, but all a sign of drivers stepping up their game, a great example of what the series is about.


    Having competed for the first time at Donington at the end of 2015, Paul Donkin was back behind the wheel of the TDi North Civic and would be one to watch in the “Production” class if his past performance was anything to go on.


    Unfortunately prior to qualifying getting underway we were to lose two drivers, both of whom have two of the most recognisable cars on the grid. Mark Bennett travelled all the way from Poole with his S2000 only for suspected head gasket failure resulting in petrol mixing with the coolant.


    In the Saturday morning test session, suspension failure on Martyn Kemps supercharged EP3 saw him beached in the gravel at Knickerbrook. Despite his best efforts and of those who came to his aid, the car was unable to be repaired in time for qualifying and so it was loaded up for its journey back to Lincolnshire to be fixed ahead of the next race.



    Qualifying:


    With the usual formalities of sign on, scrutineering and the drivers briefing out of the way, it was time to head to the track. With conditions dry and bright, it was looking like perfect conditions for putting in a quick lap time.


    With the majority of drivers taking advantage of the morning test session, drivers were soon up to speed and pressing on.


    Still bedding in his new engine, Rob Burkinshaw took things easy for a while, before stepping on the load pedal and waking up those freshly installed horses under the bonnet.


    Both Peter and Jeff in their near identical CRX’s, were lapping so closely matched that both the lap times and speeds could barely be separated!


    Paul Waddington and Adam Jones looked to be putting their Time Attack “Fast Lap” skills to good use, helping them secure 4th and 5th place respectively at the end of the session.


    Paul Donkin set the fastest “Production” class time of the session, closely followed by Matt Le and James Tracey.


    Unfortunately, the session didn’t go to plan for Pete Dunmore, who after spinning at the exit of “Cascades” found himself without 3rd gear and returned to the paddock to assess the problem.


    With the rest of the grid completing the session without incident, the drivers returned to the paddock to await the results.


    With half a second covering the top 4 cars and 9/1000ths of a second between 2nd and 3rd, the racing was shaping up to be epic!


    Pole: Rob Burkinshaw

    2nd: Peter Dixon

    3rd: Jeff Cooper



    Race 1:


    With Rob on the inside for the run to “Old Hall Corner” and Peter Dixon alongside, it was going to be a close fought thing to reach turn 1 first.


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    Following the green flag lap, all drivers assembled on the grid and readied themselves for the start of this seasons racing.


    When everyone was in place, the countdown to race time could commence. With a 5 second board shown, everyone focused on the job that lay ahead.


    With the lights out the charge down to “Old Hall” was underway, with Burkinshaw and Dixon running side by side. Covering the inside line, Dixon was unable to take the lead and maintained 2nd whilst King and Waddington battled for 3rd after passing Cooper and Jones on the start/finish straight.


    Paul Donkin was also one to benefit from a good start, moving to 6th and Chris Atkinson was up to 9th from 12th as the pack rounded the first corner.


    Unfortunately an incident between the Civic’s of Dunmore and Markham resulted in a red flag whilst the tyre wall was rebuilt following impact from Dunmore’s Civic.


    An unfortunate end to his weekend, but already the rebuild is underway and he’ll be out racing again soon.


    With the grid re-grouped in their original qualifying positions, a single green flag lap was carried out and the start sequence got underway for a second time.


    Suffering from excessive wheel spin saw Burkinshaw lose out to both CRX’s and having to defend from a closing Waddington in his yellow Civic.


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    Again, Donkin had made an excellent start and was hot on the tailgate of Burkinshaw as the pack rounded “Old Hall”, with King not far behind.


    Both CRX’s began to set the pace out in front, however competing against each other for the race led, allowed Burkinshaw to pull away from Donkin and close up the gap. With Jeff taking to the escape road at “Knickerbrook” to avoid rear ending Peter, Rob grasped the opportunity with both hands and set off in pursuit of Dixon.


    Out in front, the race mainly consisted of a DC5 sandwich as all three had to defend as well as attack at the same time! Cooper quickly got back in touch with Burkinshaw and Dixon and the close proximity of all 3 cars at any one time was a sight to behold, breath taking and seat of the pants action. Cooper and Burkinshaw would go on to trade places over the next couple of laps, with Rob eventually coming out in front.


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    Chris Atkinson continued to call on his former racing experience to keep the advances of Jones, Biel, Tracey and Markham at bay, but the additional power of the Luke’s “Tuner” EK and Adam’s “Super Tuner” EP3 eventually proved too much for the Hertfordshire based driver and with brake failure going into “Island Bend” James and Tony gained position.


    With Waddington in the EK comfortably holding station in 4th place, Donkin led the Production class charge, punching well above his weight in the Civic.


    Stuart King’s newly converted H22 Integra was taking the event in its stride and despite a charging Matt Le in his DC2 Integra, was able to maintain 6th overall and 3rd in class.


    Unfortunately, Jones went on to lose 4th gear in the Civic and finished the race using mainly 3rd and 5th.


    On the last lap, Biel’s Civic suffered catastrophic engine failure as a rod exited the block, ending his weekend in a cloud of smoke at the bottom of “Cascades” which resulted in a spin for Tony Markham as he rounded off his race.


    Just over a second split the top 3 as they crossed the line, which after over 16 minutes of goes to show how evenly matched all 3 men and machines are, a truly epic showing of race craft.



    1st Peter Dixon

    2nd Rob Burkinshaw

    3rd Jeff Cooper


    Class wins were awarded to:


    (P) – Paul Donkin

    (T) – Rob Burkinshaw

    (ST) – Peter Dixon


    Fastest lap: Jeff Cooper 1.36.338 on lap 4 of 10



    In addition to the damaged cars of Pete and Luke, Adam had elected not to run in race 2 due to his gearbox damage. A decision not taken lightly, but in the end the right choice.


    Throughout race 1, Matt Le’s Integra had begun to suffer erratic running and upon investigations, a distributor fault was diagnosed. Unfortunately, no amount of parts swapping would get the car running and he had to retire himself from race 2.


    With a reduced grid for our last race of the day, all remaining drivers made their way to the assembly area, just as the rain began to fall!



    Race 2:


    Off the line and it was Burkinshaw you capitalised in the damp conditions and promptly pulled out a lead from Dixon.


    Cooper dropped back to 5th as Waddington and Donkin benefitted from Coopers misfortune.


    Tracey, King and Atkinson all found themselves coming around “Old Hall” almost 3 abreast, but King used the extra power in his “Tuner” Integra to emerge at the head of the chasing pack as they exited “Cascades”.


    Donkin maintained his 3rd place ahead of the hard charging Waddington and Cooper, who was now on the bumper of the yellow EK Civic.


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    Whilst looking to close the gap on Atkinson, Tracey pushed hard, but under braking into “Island” span and dropped back. The remainder of the race for James consisted of finding every ounce of performance and grip the Integra had to offer and utilising them to overhaul Chris in the EP3. Unfortunately for James, Chris defended like his life depended on it and another spin under braking into “Lodge” put paid to any further advances up the standings.


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    Burkinshaw continued to lead from the front, however soon came under pressure from Dixon who was beginning to close, until he carried out the same exact manoeuvre as Jeff in race 1 and took to the escape road at “Knickerbrook” giving Rob some breathing space and by the look of it the race win. However, nothing in racing is guaranteed and another stripped 4th gear saw Dixon take the lead and go on to his second race win of the weekend.


    With Cooper now climbing back through the field, he was soon in 3rd place and chasing a “wounded” Burkinshaw. Despite doing all he was able, the Integra of Burkinshaw managed to maintain second by the smallest of margins as the pair crossed the line.


    Unable to hold off the more powerful Civic, Donkin finally had to succeed to Waddington and settle into 5th place, whilst still keeping an eye out for King in the Integra.



    1st Peter Dixon

    2nd Rob Burkinshaw

    3rd Jeff Cooper


    Class wins were awarded to:


    (P) – Paul Donkin

    (T) – Rob Burkinshaw

    (ST) – Peter Dixon


    Fastest lap: Peter Dixon 1.36.467 on lap 5 of 9



    Summary:


    Putting Pete’s accident aside, it was a fantastic start to the season, with close fought racing throughout and sets the tone for the year ahead.


    The paddock was buzzing and friendly as ever, with numerous people taking the time to come and see us to let us know how great the series is and how welcoming everyone in the paddock was.


    Jeff Cooper can also add a new series lap record to his trophy haul, by knocking off over 2 seconds from the previous record.


    A huge thanks goes out to every single person that took the time and effort to attend the race meet, your support is very much appreciated.


    In recognition of the time and effort put in during the weeks leading up to the event and for the fact that the top 5 cars in both races had been tuned by them, the “Spirit of VTEC” award went to TDI North.


    Thanks again go to the series sponsors: Toyo Tires, Competition Clutch, Dream Automotive, Performance Autoworks, Eurospec, TDi North, Simulator Racing, Honda Nation and MOTORV8 MEDIA for their continued support.


    The series heads to Silverstone in a few week’s time for rounds 3 & 4 on the 8th May, be great to see you all there.



    Words: Jonathan Fletcher

    Pictures: Lindsey Fletcher & Jonathan Fletcher
     

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