The traditional mid summer event held alongside the popular Tunerfest North Car Show.
Direnza sponsored driver, Jonny Fletcher has a great track record around Oulton Park. Securing a podium finished in each of his last two visits to the Cheshire based circuit.
Jonny made the trip over from Sheffield on Friday afternoon, popping by Direnza HQ with Steven Wilson along the way.
The car was carrying a few injuries from the previous round. The most significant of these being the gearbox issue which developed early on during round 3. Getting to the bottom of this required the box to be stripped and inspected.
We found some quite significant damage making P1 in Qualifying last time out even more impressive! The end of the third and fourth gear selector fork was missing causing extensive damage to the gears themselves.
We also discovered first and second gear to be failing in a similar fashion. With all these parts replaced and the box re-built we could tick off the major job on the to-do list.
After four rounds of the championship the car was also due an oil change, basic service and spanner check. This just left a question mark over the misfire that began just before the red flag.
After checking the data logs from the ECU we installed a new set of plugs on the car but would only really find out if this fixed the issue during Saturday’s warm-up session.
With this early morning session likely to be the coolest of the day, the team set about ensuring the misfire had been fixed. Straight from the pits it was clear the spark plugs wasn’t the culprit.
This wasn’t a major concern, as the only other thing it could be was a dropped coil pack. With the car back in the pits, a new packwas fitted and Jonny was sent on his way. We had boost again and despite time spent in the pits Jonny managed 6 laps. Setting a time of 1:37.397, Jonny was around 2 seconds off his PB with much more to come.
Happy in the knowledge that the car was fixed and ruining reliably it was time to start chipping away at the lap time ready for the important afternoon sessions.
The plan was to get the tires up to operating temperature before coming in and checking they where in the correct window. Without pushing too hard, Jonny managed to set a time just three tenths of his PB.
Without pushing the limits, it was clear after the first few corners both car and driver where in a great place. With on board telemetry showing Jonny was already 2 tenths up on his PB. Jonny pushed on with the lap, before crossing the line with a 1.34.943! A new overall personal best and a time good enough to put Jonny P2 in class.
Following a very encouraging practice session, we didn’t feel the need to make any changes to the cars setup. But with temperatures rising, we new it would be very hard to push hard lap after lap.
With that in mind, Jonny completed a few warm up laps before setting a decent banker lap of 1:35.692 leaving us in second position. Unfortunately, while pushing on for a faster time the car suddenly couldn’t select 2nd, 4th or 6th gear.
This didn’t feel like a gearbox problem, especially after all the fresh components fitted in the build up. Instead we suspected a cable issue was the route cause. Upon returning to the pits we discovered the cables had indeed stretched and where replaced in good time.
The time spent in the pits did mean Jonny slipped down to fourth place as other drivers improved, but it was still enough to earn Jonny 2 points in his championship battle.
With new cables fitted and a car capable of a much faster time than qualifying would suggest it was time to go one more time! Jonny was right in the fight for a podium and wasn’t letting this one slip.
Straight out the blocks he set a very respectable 1:35.452 but was going even quicker next time around. The onboard data logger was green and showing Jonny to be close to a second up on his session best.
Jonny stormed across the line setting a 1:34.676! With just 4 laps completed, there was still plenty of time to improve and after a cool down lap we went again. In some areas of the track Jonny was half a second quicker but was losing out in others. Potentially pushing to hard to improve.
A 1:33 lap time was possible but we simply couldn’t string a lap time together combining all the best sectors. Despite not being able to improve, Jonny’s earlier lap time was still good enough for third. Giving Jonny three podiums in three consecutive years at Oulton Park.
It was a fantastic day but left us thinking about what could have been. A lap in the 1:33’s would have been good enough for first and left us itching for more.
Next up is Anglesey for round 5 of the Championship. Jonny hasn’t been here in 9 years so will be treating it like a new track. However, with confidence running high after the last two rounds, anything is possible when we head to North wales on the 8th of August!