Oulton Park 2019 – The Beginning

Had anyone told Scott that he would be leaving Oulton Park with a pole position, a race win, a second place and a third place, he would have been quite a contented racing driver. And while that was how things appeared on track over the Bank Holiday Weekend, the reality was a little different in the end.

It was an eventful weekend.

The months of fitness training, Ice Driving, ensuring sponsorship was in place and all partners were happy with the deal. Then testing, more testing and becoming comfortable with the new Ginetta GT5. If the preparations were thorough, it should all come together at Oulton Park. Having spent the entire winter slowly and carefully bringing together all of the elements needed to race competitively, it was a relief to strap into the car.

Qualifying and Race One.

While battling through a packed field of racing cars and door to door racing makes for spectacular viewing and, purely from a driver’s perspective, it’s the reason we love to race, in theory there is a more efficient plan.

Which is to simply to turn up, qualify on pole, get a good start, then disappear ahead of the pack with a nice handy buffer to win. Exactly what Scott did on the Saturday securing pole position in a style that he wanted, with a very neat, tidy and committed pole position lap.

The car performed perfectly and even though the heat of the weekend meant that grip reduced as the session went on, Scott remained on pole and elected to stop a few laps early to save his tyres.

So with everything in place at the front of the grid, it was a matter of concentrating on the lights, getting a great start, leading into the first corner. Control the gap. Job done, you may think.

Then the pit board says ten second penalty. Without a car to pit radio, not permitted in the series, Scott had no way of knowing what the penalty was for. Assuming it must have been for a track limits infringement, though he couldn’t recall where, he resolved to push as hard as possible to mitigate the impact of the penalty.

The final gap of four seconds was not enough. He dropped to sixth place.

The reason for the penalty? In the heat of the day, with a higher than normal track temperature, the Ginetta’s clutch was dragging every so slightly, the car creeping forwards a few inches on the start line. Enough for it to be deemed a jump start.

Rules are there for a reason of course, so Scott had to accept that the car had indeed moved, even if it may well have been a tiny amount. Lesson learned and a resolve never, ever to let that one happen again.

Races Two and Three

Qualifying second on Race Two, Scott got another good start and almost led into the first corner. Third place at the end of the first lap was where he was to stay for the whole race. With second place driver Geri Nicosia driving a perfect defensive race strategy, he was impossible to pass. To his credit, despite the pressure brought to bear by Scott and almost the entire Ginetta GT5 field behind him, Geri held his line and remained ahead.

For Race Three, late in the afternoon of the Bank Holiday Monday, the battle was truly intense. With Nicosia again racing with that defensive strategy that proved so effective in race two, it was proving to be an intense race, with the field bunched tightly behind. In third place behind Adam Smalley, Scott decided to wait for three laps to see what transpired.

With Adam seemingly unable to make any moves, Scott decided to move on him. The pass was a clean one yet with Geri Nicosia braking very early into the Nickerbrook Chicane, Scott had nowhere to go and contacted him. This proved to be the subject of debate at great length subsequently.

On track, Adam Smalley continued on to win the race, with Scott right behind. For the spectators, a great race to watch, second place overall and a race which Scott had thoroughly enjoyed.

Sadly, the result was not to stand. In a post race investigation, it was decided that Scott’s overtake was overly aggressive.

The penalties? A four second penalty in the race itself. Three points on his race licence. 15 championship points taken away.

Scott fully accepts that overly aggressive racing must always be punished and that safety is such an important issue on the heat of the race. Therefore, if the race officials decided that was how it was seen, then he must accept the decision and penalties and move on.

The positives to take away?

There are quite simply so many. A pole position. All three on track results on the podium. A car that performed faultlessly and a great team that have worked so incredibly hard to deliver the best possible car for Scott to drive.

Last weekend at Oulton Park, the final points tally may not have been what was hoped for. However, it was utter proof that the long hours in the gym, the fitness training, the dedication to polishing his craft through ice driving in winter, all combined with the incredibly enthusiastic support of his sponsors and commercial manager Andy Bailey are all coming together to create that momentum that is needed for a successful championship year.

Roll on Thruxton.