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Andrew Kirkley

Oulton park 1988 the ups & downs

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Hi Guys

Interesting footage, I guess taken by a spectator. I remember that race well, it was round 2 of 1988. I qualified 2nd on the grid. Just before the start it was very overcast and looked like rain although the track was dry, everyone including me started on slicks. There was a diff supply problem and Andy had the only 9 inch diff available, the diff we had was not very strong and we were concerned it would break if I gave it ‘grief’ off the line and/or over the bumps coming out of the chicane. Roger( Dowson) had spent many hours lapping in the crown wheel and pinion to give us the best chance of finishing.

When the lights changed I was a bit too cautious and got swamped by everyone including a whole gaggle of M3’s. By the end of the second lap I had managed to get past everyone and was up to second about 2/3 seconds behind Andy. Oulton Park was different at that time, Knickerbrook was a very fast corner ( it was changed when Paul Warwick was killed there) Andy was pulling ahead as we came out of the chicane and down the straight, but I was able to close the gap over Clay Hill and down through Druids to Lodge. A few laps in it started to rain as you can see in the film with the wipers going. I had set my car up fairly soft and this helped a lot and I started to get closer to Andy although he was still driving away from me on the straights. Unfortunately one of the heat shields fell off the engine and the turbo melted one of the intercooler pipes so I had to pit, when I went back out of the pits I effectively had no boost.

You will see from the film that Laurence (Bristow) limped in with lots of ‘clanking’ going on, he had in-fact broken his diff. The race was stopped as Sytner and Minshaw had a coming together, I was still 3rd with a 200hp normally aspirated RS500, such was the lead we had built up in the wet conditions.

In the film you can see the first RS500 to spin in front of the camera was the blue car of Pete Hall, he frightened himself so much in those conditions that he gave up racing after that race. I brokered a deal with Pete for my good friend Robb Gravett who was in the car at the next round at Thruxton.

The film does not portray how incredibly difficult and scary those RS 500’s were to handle that day on slick tyres in the wet at a circuit as fast as Oulton Park. Many of us weren’t sorry when the race was stopped early! There were many white faces in the bar afterwards.

Have a good Christmas and New Year.

Jerry.

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Thanks for you're input jerry excellent :-). I've driven Oulton in the wet with the modern day wet tyres & that was pretty scarey enough ! Lol so no wonder Pete hall pulled out when you were all on slicks that is madness.

The diff failed knock sounds very similar to the engine knock that I've heard a few times with the car over the years :-(

Have you driven any car with the wets that are available now jerry ? It is scarey the amount of grip you have !

Regards Andy

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Hi Andy

The last race I did in a 'proper' racing car was in 2001 at the Nurburgring, it was a round of the Lotus Elise Championship and I was actually there doing the catering for Lotus!  One of their drivers, a Japanese guy had missed his flight and couldn't get there but they were contracted to get the car out because of the sponsorship on the car. As I was driving the Safety car in the BTCC I still had an international race licence and Lotus asked me to drive the car, I could hardly fit in an Elise let alone race it but they just wanted me to trundle round so they could honour their obligations. I went out in qualifying and qualified 23rd out of 25 in the dry, the car was like a go kart and did not suit my style of driving at all (racing drivers excuses!!). It was pouring with rain the following day of the race and obviously I was on wets, I couldn't believe how much grip the tyres  had and amused myself driving through the field to finish in the race in 6th place which surprised everyone including me!!  So I suppose yes I have had some experience of modern race rubber although that was 13 years ago now so I suppose they have come on some more now.

In the RS 500 I always did better in the wet, I think this was a combination of big-balls and the fact that the wet is a great leveller, so if someone has 100hp more it was not quite such an advantage in the wet. The 88 British Grand Prix BTCC support race was a good example. We had qualified in the dry and as everyone (except me, my engine/management was controlled by Rouse)  wanted to impress they wound up their boost, particularly the Rouse team cars, Rouse, Edwards, Bristow, Gravett (in Pete Halls car). I had only managed to qualify 10th in the dry, luckily on race day it was absolutely teaming down and by the end of the first lap I had gone from 10th to 2nd, I was in my element. Towards the end of the race Guy Edwards closed down the gap and drove past me on the hanger straight, he must have been going 30mph quicker than me and I was flat out, this is on the BTCC video of that year and then 2 laps from the end Bristow managed to close me down and got me round Stow on the last lap in the drying conditions. I always loved the wet although it usually frightened the shit out of me in an RS500 !!

Jerry 

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Oh jerry that's brought back some memories of a friends lotus Europa I worked on !! Lol had to roll out on to my hands & knees then stand up :-) then almost 25 years later same again with a Elise that I had to mot until the owner put the roof down ! Then a few months later a exige came in fixed roof so that was the Europa technique lol.

Most of the cars have modern managment etc & I think Tim Harvey will agree that the Brooklyn & his old Labbatts are flying machines now !! I'm still on Zytec which as u will remember is ...... Interesting lol

Must see ( if you're up for it ) about getting you a ride out in my old beast I'm lucky because I've fitted a MAN size seat in it ;-) lol

Andy

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Andy

Sitting here now writing this full of turkey and wine I look/feel more like Henry VIII than an ex racing driver !! I think I would struggle to get in my ML tonight let alone a racing car. I'm taking the E Type down to Romsey in the morning for a Classic meeting if its not raining so that should blow the cobwebs and today's excesses out.

I would of course love to have the opportunity at some point of having a few laps in one of the old 'beasts', it sounds like you guys have them well sorted now in terms of handling and power and one would assume that they have slightly better manners now, although I am sure they are still a handful in the wet.

I may also have a line on my old BTCC RS500 I have been on the case for over a year now and it seems I am on the trail, can't give any details at the moment but watch this space.

Jerry

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Hope you've had a great day jerry !! The classic car meet sounds interesting where's Romsey my sat Nav came up with Cambridge way ? Would make a change to go too ! Ah found it Hampshire !

Glad you've got a lead on you're old car jerry, that would be great to get it back !!

Andy

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Most of the cars have modern managment etc & I think Tim Harvey will agree that the Brooklyn & his old Labbatts are flying machines now !! I'm still on Zytec which as u will remember is ...... Interesting lol

Never thought of upgrading the ECU Andy?

I may also have a line on my old BTCC RS500 I have been on the case for over a year now and it seems I am on the trail, can't give any details at the moment but watch this space.

Now that is interesting! Good luck hunting Jerry :)

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