TCR UK – Rounds 8 & 9
Oulton Park Island – 16th July 2022
Alex Ley scores win number two as Jamie Tonks takes his first ever TCR UK victory in Oulton Park summer scorchers
It wasn’t just the weather that was hot when TCR paid its second visit of the season to Oulton Park, it was the competition too with the outcome of the day’s two fiercely contested races rewarding Alex Ley with his second win of the season and Jamie Tonks with his first, in rounds eight and nine respectively.
In a turn of events that didn’t go the way of previous championship leader Max Hart, continuing his consistent run of podium results Isaac Smith now leads the UK edition of the championship for global-platform touring cars as the calendar heads into the second half of the season. Even recording a double DNF at Oulton Park, Hart hangs on to second place, followed closely by round one-winner Chris Smiley just one point behind in third.
In true TCR UK tradition, the lap times in Qualifying were so close, that it was impossible to predict the outcome, as Alex Ley (Daniel James Motorsport Hyundai i30 N), Adam Shepherd (Area Motorsport/Shepherd Motors Hyundai i30N) and Jac Constable (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA) were all highlighted in purple at some point during the 30-minute session. But it was Hart (JamSport Hyundai i30N) who went quickest by posting a time over half-a-second quicker than that of his closest rival, his pace standing out from the rest bearing in mind that the next nine cars were separated by under half-a-second in total.
It was perhaps inevitable that following the session, scrutineers found a discrepancy in turbo boost levels and as such, the championship leader would start his race from the back of the grid with a ten-second time penalty applied. This change in running order would see winner last time out Ley start from pole position, closely followed by Shepherd, Constable and Smith (Race Car Consultants VW Golf GTi).
Another notable name missing from the sharp end of the grid was 2020 and 2021 champion Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster), who lost time during the season following a visit to the Cascades gravel and would consequently start P14 in a field of 19 cars.
Round 8 – Race Report
With ambient temperatures starting to climb, it was going to be a survival of the fittest for the first of the day’s two 25-minute races. When the lights went out Ley made the most of his up-front advantage and headed Shepherd, Constable, Smiley (Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7) and Smith as cars streamed through the first corner at Old Hall.
Behind the leading five, the field bunched up and whilst there was a frantic jostling for position and brief visits to the surrounding grass, everyone made it onto the first lap unscathed.
First of the front-runners to make a move was Smith, who found his way past Smiley at the entry of the Knickerbrook chicane on lap two. Behind them Jamie Tonks (FastR with Area Motorsport CUPRA) and an on-form Andy Wilmot (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30N) closed up, whilst Constable on the other hand started to drop back.
Doing his best to make amends, Hart was clearly on a mission and caught the back of the pack on lap three. But his progress didn’t last for long, when the bracket holding the power steering pump snapped two laps later, causing the Irishman to record his first DNF of the season.
With Hart having to park at the side of the track, the Safety Car appeared whist the Hyundai was recovered. When racing resumed whilst the top six held positions, behind them the battle for the seventh raged between Ant-Whorton Eales (JamSport Racing Subaru Impreza), Bruce Winfield (Area Motorsport CUPRA), Bradley Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30N), Brad Hutchinson (Bond-It with MPH Racing Audi RS3 LMS) and Lewis Kent.
Missing from action was Constable, who had spectacularly gone straight on at Cascades, spinning onto the grass and re-joining further down the field.
The battle for the latter end of the top 10 – and the all-important tenth place that converts to pole position for race two – continued with Whorton Eales and Bradley Kent revisiting their rivalry from the previous rounds at Brands Hatch, with Kent coming off worst and having to retire with three laps to go.
Ley went on to take his second consecutive win of the season ahead of Shepherd and Smith, with Smiley and a charging Tonks completing the top five places. Ley also won the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy for drivers who are new to the championship in 2022 or have not recorded a podium finish before this year.
Andy Wilmot scored his best ever TCR UK finish to date in sixth place and by doing so, secured the Goodyear Diamond Trophy for drivers aged 40 and over. He was closely followed by Bruce Winfield who had finally managed to get past Whorton-Eales, followed by Brad Hutchison in ninth and Lewis Kent tenth.
Round 9 – Race Report
Matthew Wilson (JWB Motorsport CUPRA) found himself promoted to pole position after post-race one penalties had been applied. However, Wilson couldn’t make his advantage stick and a slow getaway saw Lewis Kent and Winfield quickly get past.
As Wilson dropped back, Kent held off Winfield in the early stages, as Tonks did likewise to stop Wilmot getting past. Behind them, Smiley, Smith, Hutchinson, Whorton-Eales and Shepherd all battled for position over the opening laps.
In the meantime, Hart was picking off other cars at a rate of knots and by the end of lap three was up to 13thand hot on the heels of Bradley Kent in 12th and Ley in 11th. However, when Kent suffered yet another mechanical issue and retired on lap six, the door was open for Hart and before long he was up to 10th place. But in a repeat of the first race outcome, he too retired – this time with an electrical problem.
As the top ten stayed in contention with each other, it was lap eleven when Winfield gathered together his challenge and passed Lewis Kent on the start/finish straight. But as Kent fought back on the run down the hill through Cascades, his outside line allowed Tonks through into second, who then accelerated past Winfield and into the lead on the exit from the Island hairpin.
Frantic action then ensued as Kent tried to regain ground through the Knickerbrook chicane that brought the chasing pack closer, giving Smiley the chance to get past Wilmot who was now being hounded by Smith, Shepherd and Hutchinson. In another move around the outside of Island hairpin, Smith edged past Smiley and then did the same again with two laps to go to take third place from Kent, whose car was not handling to his liking.
After a faultless performance, Tonks went on to take his first ever TCR UK victory ahead of Winfield, followed by Smith in third. Kent held on to cross the line in fourth, but a retrospective 10-second penalty for exceeding track limits pushed the Essex and Kent driver down to 11th.
As such, Smiley inherited the place, followed by Shepherd, Wilmot, Wilson, Ley, Constable and Darelle Wilson (DW Racing Vauxhall Astra), who rounded off the top ten.
Once again, Wilmot took the spoils for the Goodyear Diamond trophy, Tonks was awarded the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy and Smith was nominated as the Co-ordSport Driver of the day.
With the results from the two Oulton Park rounds throwing the race for the TCR UK title wide open, the competition is destined to step up yet another notch when competitors head to Castle Combe for rounds 10 and 11 on Saturday 6th August.
Alex Ley – Round 8 Winner
“That’s two wins in a row. I couldn’t be happier. Things went really well in the first race – even with the car carrying the extra weight – and whilst this result helps towards my title hopes, I’m not going to look too far ahead, just stay focussed and then hopefully the results will come.”
Jamie Tonks – Round 9 Winner
“It’s great to take my first TCR UK win. I knew the pace was there, it was just a case of getting into a position where I could challenge for the lead. I had a great start and took advantage of the scraps going on around me. I then waited for the opportunity and once in the lead, I was able to hold on. I couldn’t have done it without all of the support from my sponsors and the team who provided me with a race-winning car.”
Isaac Smith – Championship Leader
“It would be good to have taken my first win, but I’m happy with two third places. I can’t thank the team enough. They made the right adjustments to the car which meant I could challenge for positions and make the moves whenever I needed to. These results have put me right up there at the top of the championship which, at the end of the day is the goal I’m aiming for, even though this is my first season in the championship.”
TCR UK is supported by Goodyear, Maximum Networks, Liqui Moly, Corbeau, MaxiCloud Hosted Telephony, Co-ordSport, Berkshire Turbo, Joyce Design, Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance, Sunoco UK and Woya Digital. The Championship is administered by Club Time Attack.