It was a dry and fair Sunday as the OUMF crew congregated early at the HQ ready for the off to HRDC Castle Combe. After finishing the usual rigmarole of prepping the car ready for race day, and of course hours of intense van packing, the car was loaded and great haste was made so as to not miss…our reservation at the pub later that evening
The journey down was delightfully short, and the first car arrived in good time to secure a suitably large space in the paddock. The van and remaining car arrived minutes later, followed closely by the brisk assembly of our service area. As per usual, the OUMF standard issue accommodation (the car trailer) was prepped to five-star quality, while other OUMF natives littered the paddock in tents.
After a chilly but dry night, the team rose to the challenge of a full day of racing. First qualifying, for the HRDC Allstars Trophy, was called at 09:15 and Riley roared into life after intensive spanner checks and rolled off to the collection area. After a relatively uneventful few laps, Ding was forced to bring the Riley in as a warning light indicated a fault with the alternator. The Riley was then taken back to the paddock to ensure the car could complete the following Jack Sears qualifying on the battery charge alone, as enough laps had already been completed to qualify for Allstars. Despite this issue, the car qualified 2nd in class, and 18th overall in the Allstars Trophy.
Upon returning to the paddock, the crew performed some textbook agonising over why the spare alternator hadn’t been packed. After some frantic begging, a precious spare alternator was sourced from ever helpful Daryll Davis at Motobuild – but not before the team had mended the alternator of another competitor they had approached initially for help.
Unbeknownst to OUMF however, the timings had moved forward, shortening the already tight gap between the two qualifying sessions. We arrived at the empty collection area to the sound of the Jack Sears qualifying in full swing. Ding pounded out onto the track to complete a single flying lap before a Mini collided with the chicane, prompting a red flag and ending the session. Despite not completing the required 3 laps to qualify, after a quick word with the ‘men in charge’, the time we posted was allowed to stand and we qualified 2nd in Class again and 23rd overall.
Ding’s return to the paddock saw the rise of a potential engine issue, as the oil breather hose leading from the rocker cover had turned decidedly milky with ‘mayonnaise’. Seeing as the team had a while before the car was due out for the first race proper, the head was removed to search for the source of the water getting into in the oil. After no issues or cracks could be found on visual inspection, the head was refitted, before a leisurely lunch break was taken by all as we prepared for the back to back races scheduled for that afternoon. First up was the shorter, 30 minute Allstars Trophy. The race saw its fair share of action with six of the twenty-eight car grid failing to finish. But otherwise, it went smoothly for Ding and Riley holding steady at 2nd in class and finishing 14th overall - a 4 place improvement over qualifying.
The real race was on for the OUMF team now however, as there was only a brief 10 minute gap before the car was due back out on track again for the Jack Sears Trophy. A flying spanner check was performed and the car re-fuelled before practically throwing the car at the collection area. The Jack Sears Trophy is a longer, 45 minute race that includes a ‘driver change’ pitstop halfway through. The race began and the Riley kept its ground until the pit stop window neared. The driver changes in these races often become a bit excitingly chaotic, especially when several cars all come in to the pits at once. But thanks to a bit of careful strategy and in no way luck, we managed to ensure the Riley was the second car to come in – just as the Safety Car was deployed due to an incident. In this way, it thundered back out on to the track before the huge mass of cars making up the remainder of the grid rolled in behind us. After the dust settled in the pit lane, and everyone was back on track, we had somehow climbed to 3rd Overall. Soon afterwards the Safety Car pulled in and the race was once again underway. Sadly, we couldn’t maintain 3rd place, and in the end finished an admirable 11th overall, and 1st in class!
After a very successful day of racing, the car was nevertheless found to have lost another 2 litres of water and worryingly, more ‘mayonnaise’ was clearly visible. So, with the Goodwood Revival just a couple of weeks away, the van was swiftly packed up, and the OUMF crew headed back to the HQ for a hearty late night session of further examination, inspection and fettling. And so began the epic struggle to get to Goodwood…which eventually included a full engine strip and rebuild and a host of other issues too…!
We would like to thank Julius Thurgood and all of our sponsors, without which it would be impossible to make this team such a success and give students the experience they need to further themselves in the motorsport industry.
Isaac Jarmarkier – 4th Year Engineering, Oxford Brookes