David Pittard’s lastest #tracktalk gives us the lowdown on Oulton Park in Cheshire
Oulton Park is the first of the (what I would class as) up North rounds of the BTCC calendar! The very pretty and undulating circuit is based In Cheshire, close to Chester and Winsford.
The circuit itself was built in the early 1950’s, however the Oulton estate was home to a proud manor house and vast grounds, some of the Estates features still stand today including the large gate situated by the final corner Lodge. The track is set in the grounds of Oulton Hall, which were used as an army staging camp by General Patton prior to the Normandy landings.
I maybe slightly bias in my choice for this one…. but it goes out to my driver coach Paul O’Neil! In 2002 in a works Vauxhall, Paul took on the likes of Yvan Muller, James Thompson and took his first touring car victory! Skip to 15:00 for one of the best race win reactions ever!
A corner that Is much faster than it looks! Previously very bumpy on the approach but a new layer of tarmac on that outer edge this year should stop those bumps. A very small brake required here, and still very bumpy around the apex really keeps you occupied as you have to dance the car through at highest apex speed possible! Definite overtaking option on exit and exit. Good grandstand to see the start, Old Hall and down to Cascades!
A great corner! A small right sets you up for a sweeping banked left which you can really carry speed through! A large bump slightly upsets you as you enter the corner and can catch people out especially on cold tyres on the first lap! You can carry a lot of speed into the corner and it moves around a lot but still sticks due to the banking and almost seems to fire you out onto the preceding straight. Which this year is probably the longest so really important to get a good exit! A great spectator point on the banking as Cascades and the Knickerbrook hairpin can be seen from here! A daring overtaking opportunity if you dare!
The fastest and scariest corner on the track! An almost flat out left in the G55 GT4 Supercup car with very little room for error! It will be hard to pass here without a good run out of Cascades.
Newly resurfaced this year! Another banked corner but a lot more than Cascades allows you to run a huge amount of speed on entry and then balance the car mid corner before again being fired out of the corner as the banking goes away! Again very little room for error here and little room to overtake unless you’re brave!
A very tight chicane with big kerbs. I think we would take off over the Hill if it wasn’t there. Again very tight and hard to pass, bumpy on exit so essential to keep it nice and tidy through.
The next overtaking opportunity, a big downhill stop for a right-left-right. Similar to Foulstons it must be kept smooth and with pin point precision to maintain the highest speeds through here and carry as much speed out and up Clay Hill!. Potential outbrake on the way in, or lunge before the final right. This requires a lot of faith!
Another fast corner on the Oulton Park circuit, (A corner I’d always get wrong on TOCA Touring cars!) It is a great one though! A very high speed entry, scrubbing little speed off for the double right, just missing the first apex and nailing the 2nd before holding on over the crest and using a little bit of kerb! High adrelinie needed to go through here fast. 1 line through here so it will be able carrying the speed to pass at Lodge.
The final corner, a 90degree right with a large amount of undulation and camber changes. On entry the track cambers in to your advantage meaning a large amount of speed can be carried in, before your apex right on the crest where the track drops quickly away, meaning traction is a large issue here.
See this onboard of Hunter Abbot in his BTCC RAR Audi A4:
This is the first time in almost 20 years that the BTCC have used the full Island layout of the amazing Oulton Park circuit. This suits me as it is the only circuit I have driven here which means no corners for me to learn and a few more for others to!
The weather looks like it may feature quiet heavily with Thunderstorms predicted for both days which could mix things up a bit!
I love Oulton, it is a great circuit to drive. It is however very narrow so will be hard to pass making qualifying essential.
I have my expectations wide open again this meeting, it is still very early doors in the championship, but I believe we have good pace at the circuit to leave with the championship lead! Seriously looking forward to it! Been out the seat for too long!
All on-track images: Jakob Ebrey Photography