The Mighty Maximum Trio of Stewart Lines (Car 95), Carl Swift (Car 45) and Tim Docker (Car 27) made full use of the free practice time, putting the cars through their paces. Lines finished the session 7th, Swift 10th and Docker 11th.
Docker has joined the series for this round with the Golf GTi that he has recently been racing in the Britcar series. He said, “TCR is tough! I’ve raced in VW Cup and Britcar. I’ve had the Golf now for a couple of months and have a had a little bit of success in Britcar with the car. It is a long gap until the next Britcar race, so Stewart talked me into doing a round of TCR UK. It’s an experience for me and I’ll do the best I can but there are some real quick guys out there. For me, the problem is with the tyres as they are too grippy for me. Stewart and I were competitive here on Dunlop tyres, but the Yokohama tyres will take the corners quicker. My brain is telling me that’s as quick as I can go but it will go quicker. I’ve got to get that through to my brain! I’m not used to this level of grip so if I really want to do this I need a couple of good days testing with the Yokohama tyres on.”
The 30-minute qualifying session took place with Lines saying that he struggles with qualifying pace, but the race pace is good. The session finished with Ash Sutton on pole, Dan Lloyd 2nd, Ollie Taylor 3rd, with Lines 6th, Swift 10th, Docker 11th for Race 1.
Race 1 started with the top 8 cars arriving at the first corner together. Some of the cars had to take to the grass to avoid contact, which nudged Lines down a place but Swift got a great start moving up 2 places to 8th. With Sutton instantly pulling away from the rest of the field, the battles started for the remaining places.
On lap 2, Swift and Robert Gilmour had an incident at the Island bend which saw Swift’s car up on the barriers badly damaged and Gilmour’s car also with extensive damage. The red flags were deployed instantly. Both drivers got out of the cars, uninjured.
When asked about the incident, Swift said, “It’s testament to the strength of the cars! I don’t think I got any braking before the corner and I was on the grass and into the tyre wall. I came out of Cascades, had some understeer, so had a really bad exit and was put out on the right-hand side. Jess Backman managed to get up the side of me, so I let her go. I stayed out to the right when Gilmour came up the side of me as well, just inside the braking zone. He moved over to the racing line and I don’t think he’d registered that I’d not been past. He ran me onto the grass which meant I couldn’t brake which fired us off and into the fence. There is too much damage to repair before the next race, which is massively disappointing as I was on pole! Hopefully we can get the car repaired for the next round.”
The race was restarted as a 15-minute race. Lloyd got off to a slow start dropping to 4th, Derek Palmer moved into 2nd with Taylor in 3rd. Sutton pulled out a 7 second lead over Palmer who was battling with Taylor for 2nd place when they made contact, which allowed Lloyd to sneak into 3rd and Taylor dropped to 4th. On the last lap Sutton was 16.289 seconds ahead of Lloyd as they crossed the finishing line at the chequered flag. After penalties had been applied, the race result was 1st – Sutton, 2nd – Lloyd, 3rd – A Backman.
Lines finished 7th with a fastest lap time of 1:45.985, Docker 9th with a fastest lap time of 1:48.800 and DNF for Swift. The Stewards disqualified Gilmour for ‘Driving in a manner incompatible with general safety – C1.1.5’.
Race 2 lined up with Sutton promoted to pole, as Swift was unable to take part in the race, Lewis Kent 2nd and Lines 3rd.
Lines got off to a difficult start, dropping to 5th place as J Backman and Palmer moved up the order. J Backman went wide onto the grass, making contact with Lines’ rear quarter when she re-joined the track. With 4 cars in a line of Palmer, Lines, J Backman and Taylor there was some close racing between them all battling for places.
On lap 3 Stewart Lines put in the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:45.345
Lloyd moved up to 5th place but went sideways into Denton, allowing Taylor to attack. Lines managed to pull away a little from the pack, but it soon bunched up again. With 14 minutes of the race to go, Lloyd and Lines were dicing for 3rd place as Lloyd went up the inside of Lines at Cascades, pushing him sideways through the gravel trap, dropping him down the order. The race commentator said, “Lines doesn’t take kindly to that sort of rough play”.
Taylor and Lloyd were then battling, with Taylor getting the upper hand moving up to 3rd place. They caught up with Kent who had been comfortable in 2nd place for most of the race. With Taylor flashing his lights at Kent the last lap of the race was a lively affair. At the last corner (Lodge), Kent went wide, and Taylor took advantage to claim 2nd place. The final result was 1st – Sutton, 2nd – Taylor, 3rd – Kent.
Lines finished 6th with Docker in 7th with an improved fastest lap time of 1:48.554
Lloyd was issued with a 5 second penalty to be applied at a future race and 3 penalty points on his licence for the incident with Lines.
About the weekend, Stewart Lines said, “We’ve proven that we can run with the front guys. Posting the fastest lap time in Race 2 was a fantastic achievement for me and the team. Oulton has shown that we have turned a massive corner in pace. Hopefully we can carry this into the last two meetings, which are strong tracks for us.”
The next race is 8 – 9 September at Croft Circuit.