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OULTON PARK (27/07/99)
drive up north the evening before to arrive at Chapel Cottage B&B
at 11.30pm (comes highly recomended ~ 10 mins from circuit and excellent
landlady). Next morning, very bright and clear and looks to be another
blue-sky sunny day.
At the time of writing, my memory of Oulton is not crystal clear but what I do remember is that my driving and grip on the car and the circuit improved progressivley throughout the entire day. I was very awake from the word go with bags of concentration, weather was the very best it gets in England and there was only one mishap at the very end of the proceedings by a race-prepared 911 at Cascades.
A big mixed
bag of cars were there. A lot of race prepared cars, caterhams, a few
old 911's, a skyline, an NSX, a couple of Cosworths and Mazda MX5's,
one Griffith but most of all elises - around 10 in total. Fastest car
on the day would probably be a toss up between a 90's style race-prepared
Golf and a crazy and extemely loud Triumph TR6.
straight at Oulton is actually quite short and preceeded by an uphill
section off the back of Lodge which is a pretty slow affair. During
the day, top speed here was probably very close to 100mph before braking
for Old Hall. I found by stages that I was able to leave the braking
later and later for this first bend. The car felt supremely secure with
the anchors very firm to the floor and this was one of the high points
of the track for me purely in terms of visceral sensations.
I had learnt about the elise from the OLC day at Abingdon airfield,
very slow in/fast out was definitely the way to begin.
DENTONS + CASCADES
proved pretty tricky at first. I found that it was a corner that needs
plenty of visual anticipation. It's long and downhill, the position
of the true apex is somewhat vague for a novice and its entry is immediately
after the quick but tiny right hander Dentons (I think thats what its
called) which is also crested. Because you need to do all your braking
and then turn in very quickly after Dentons its important that you don't
make a mess of it (and likewise don't make a mess of Old Hall). I found
the 3 bends associated together so its important to get the placement
inch perfect for Dentons so the car ends up straight for braking (if
you intend to) and turn-in into Cascades. Incidentally, I found later
on that accelerating out of Old Hall in 3rd there is if anything only
need for the tiniest tap on the brakes for Dentons but once up to speed
its flat out.
smoothly through Cascades in 3rd then up into 4th was leaving me at
maybe 90mph on the straight. The Island Bend is not one you want to
get wrong or be too cocky with. A dab on the brakes and very gentle,
progressive turn in so that the front grips was the method I used. All
day I took this at around 80mph, easily comfortable for an elise.
And for me, this was one, if not the highlight of Oulton - braking for the hairpin. The tarmac below here is superb and the elise feels super stable under braking. You're starting from maybe 90mph so you really can push the limits of the brakes. I found myself leaving it all later and later through the day and whilst I lost round most of the corners to other elise owners, I was comfortably making up time here and also braking before Knickerbrook.
the hairpin quite natural and it has a lovely uphill rise. If my memory
serves me correct, it is also well banked so your outward g's are opposed
a little making for a stable and urgent acceleration out of the bend
and onto the straight.
The next straight is for me, the most satisfying spell of acceleration at Oulton. It feels a long distance and its from 2nd and through 3rd, uphill then downhill. Again, the braking for the Knickerbrook chicane is another high point - plenty of stability and good run-off ahead so you feel confident experimenting. Lots of overtaking here where slower cars won't like the climb and will brake way too early.
As for the
actual chicanes, well I don't think they are my strongest point. I just
tried to keep them smooth and use all of the space there. I certainly
lost time from those in front of me through these 2 - but Knickerbrook
was definitely the more difficult for me. Also, as tuition pointed out
for me, I was dangerously loosening the throttle round these chicanes
and not keeping the power steady and of course, losing a lot of time.
CLAY HILL + DRUIDS + LODGE
Full on in 2nd out of the chicane and uphill heading for the "O" of "Yokohama" that's written on the bridge. You are veering to the right of the track here though ready for the entry to the fastest (I think) corner at Oulton. Thing is, I don't know what its name is ?
You don't brake here, its flat out and for me it was a real test of nerves. I can't remember what sort of speed I was doing but its not that gradual so it definitely feels faster than the Island. It was a rather worrying bend when the instructor took drove me to try my car out as well ! I guess he gave me the confidence to take it flat out.
a double apex bend with the 2nd being the true one. So ignore the first
and turn in later.
reputedly the trickiest of them all at Oulton. Its quite bumpy here
at the approach but thats no problem for the elise and all feels very
composed. I remember just doing lots of braking from maybe 90mph or
so and going in pretty slow, clipping the apex then releasing the lock
so the car goes well wide, down into the undulation then screaming for
3rd on the way up into the pit straight. The track dips down considerably
on exit then rises up and curves left a little onto the straight. Its
rare spots like this that make we wish for a good few extra horses in
the 111s - progress seems a touch strianed in comparison to other faster
For my first
proper elise track day I was rather ecstatic. Corner speed was certainly
not the highlight of the day but I had managed to develop a nice smooth
method around Oulton. Later on, tuition from one of the instructors
had allowed me to improve upon my lines and keep the car more on the
boil. I also managed to pass quite a few cars on the day as well - fresh
into the elise it was good to know that I wasn't the slowest ever to
grace a UK circuit.
is not intended as a circuit guide, the views expressed here are not
those of a "professional racing-driver" and others may well disagree