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Oulton Park Gold Cup
The Gold Cup was first run in 1954 and over the years it has witnessed some famous winners such as Sir Stirling Moss, John Surtees and Jim Clark. In the early days it was a renowned Formula 1 circuit, but since 2003 the Gold Cup has celebrated the immense history of motor racing featuring those wonderful racing cars of the past.

This year, more than 450 cars competed over the two days. The HSCC once again organised this much prized event in the historic racing calendar.

Arriving on Saturday, the weather was anything but clement, with sunshine and very heavy rain showers. The Paddock was packed with racing cars, motor homes and support vehicles. Of course, this is a very special year that celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type and, Oulton Park is not that large a venue for such numbers.

We managed to squeeze our race-box, the XK and the MWS marquee in between Lister Jaguars, Lister Bristols, ‘D’ Types and Formula Fords et al. Very cosy!!?

On Sunday the XK went through Scrutineering successfully. This, for me, is probably the most stressful part of any race weekend, as these checks can possibly make or break a weekend’s racing. Luckily and, with the help of my race engineer Keith Martin (Keith Martin Classic Cars), the car sailed through, thank goodness.

QUALIFYING

With 25 cars in the Woodcote Trophy, the results were going to be in the lap of the gods once more, as our wonderful British Summer still had not materialised.

Quali was relatively mediocre as we came to terms with the new set up on the car. Between Keith and I we had made some adjustments to the car and she felt like a completely different animal. Therefore, getting to know the new characteristics took a little while, as we came to terms with what we had done.

1. Revving the engine to 6500 RPM under my engine guru’s advice, i.e. Peter Lander of Sigma Engineering!

2. Adding a little negative camber to help on corner turn-in and hopefully improving tyre wear and control heat generation!

3. Adjusting the brakes to give a more balanced distribution of braking!

However, between Mel Floyd and me, we only managed a 2min 21.49 seconds fastest lap, while I concentrated on using more of the 2nd gear from the original JL Moss Box, where the 2nd gear synchromesh is now virtually non-existent.

Thinking back to the days when I learned to drive at the age of 10 on the country roads of Pembrokeshire in my father’s J4 Morris Commercial van, which had a 3 gear ‘Crash’ gearbox, I quickly learned how to ‘Double de-clutch’. Trying to heel and toe in the XK at such high speeds and revs, really doesn’t allow the gear to go in without a huge crunch, which isn’t good for the ‘Box’.

Therefore, by being patient, allowing the revs to fall sufficiently, double de-clutching into 2nd gear worked really well. But there is always a tendency and, even more so in a race, to rush things and, the old Moss box ‘Don’t like it’.

THE RACE

Monday afternoon’s weather was touch and go with heavy, stormy clouds enveloping us as we left the Assembly Area in grid formation for a ‘Rolling Start’ lap behind the Pace Car.

As usual, I started the race and was tucked in behind the TR2 of Brian White and the XK140 of Paul Chase-Gardner, driven by David Allen who out-qualified us.

The start of the race was dry and I proceeded to stay on David Allen’s tail as I didn’t want him to steal a march on us as Paul did driving the car at the Silverstone Classic, where he pulled away from me.

In addition, I started to use 2nd gear a lot more, in fact on four of the corners, which gave me much greater exit speeds from the Shell Oils Hairpin, Foulstons, Knickerbrook and Lodge corner. It was at Lodge around Lap 5 that David Allen must have suffered a lapse of concentration and went off the circuit and I took full advantage. I must have loomed too large in David’s mirrors perhaps??

I also had Paul Chase-Gardner behind me in his Aston Martin DB2, who was hounding me down. Having dispensed with David, and with clear air ahead, I settled into a smoother, endurance style of driving. This worked well and I slowly pulled away from Paul.

In fact my new drum brake, suspension settings and engine rev. configurations resulted in a 2min 17.9 second lap time, i.e. a full 3.6 seconds a lap faster than in Quali and 2.5 seconds faster than last year.

At the mid point of the race, I came into the Pits to hand over the reigns to Mel. Our change-over took 40 seconds, which could have been faster, (but your secret is safe with me Mel HA HA!!).

At this point the heavens opened. This gave Mel a challenge and some, to remain on the ‘Black Stuff’ and to stay ahead of our competition. At least the wipers worked, and very well according to Mel. As you all know, 1950’s windscreen wipers were not the most efficient in clearing the wet stuff!

Mel was holding 14th out of 24 for most of the race and only lost out to the TR2 in the drying last lap of the race.
The net result of the race was that we came 4th in Class, a creditable result for a long-legged car on a short 3rd gear circuit.

POST RACE ANALYSIS

This was a good race where we were able to test a number of new modifications to the car including a change of driving style. Our result shows that the car is capable of more. It’s a pity about the drivers really HA HA!!! (Sorry Mel!).

As I mentioned, Oulton Park doesn’t suit a heavy, long-legged car with a Moss gearbox with synchro on only two gears.

The weather played its part but the handling suited a wet track, but I am not praying for rain at our next event at the end of September.

Our next race will be held at:

The Spa-Francochamps 6 Hour Event on the 23rd, 24th and 25th September


Will you be there? I hope so!!

John D R

NOTE: Action photography taken by John Retter, Motor Racing Legends Photographer.
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