On the 2nd April, OUMF fielded the Riley 1.5 racer in the first race of the HRDC season at Silverstone GP circuit. Everybody was expecting a great race, mostly due to the 47 cars which were racing (the largest HRDC grid anyone could remember) but also due to the power of some of the cars lined up….e.g. E Type, TVR Griffith, Lister Jag, 7 litre Ford Falcons, Galaxies and Mustangs, etc.,
The OUMF team met at the HQ on Friday afternoon to pack the van, and make the final touches to the Riley after our excellent test day at Goodwood the previous Wednesday. This all took quite a lot longer than anticipated, and the team eventually left for Silverstone at around 6. When we arrived at the circuit we decided that it was too windy to risk erecting the marquee and leaving it up through the night, so we went to the famous ‘Green Man’ pub nearby instead.
After a surprisingly good meal, we returned to the circuit and a number of the team decided to do a track walk…then stay up drinking instead of going to bed, all of which provided some good laughs, Most memorable was Vlad who fell asleep at dawn, in the gents, on his own – and only returned midway through the team setting up our paddock pit area, after being woken by a man having a shower…
The whole team is extremely grateful to Dunlop for their support with the ‘L’ section control tyres for this season which were kindly brought to the circuit and fitted by Steve at our old friends HP Tyres. The difference the new rubber made was all too evident from the VBOX data, and this will allow us to push harder than ever this season.
The car ran very well during qualifying, and thanks to the RaceLogic VBOX, Dave Constable-Berry was able to tell Ding the places where he might be able to improve his lap times. Dave was also able to tell us that switching to the shorter diff would help us go faster, which came as somewhat of a surprise, given how long and fast the GP circuit is. However, the diff was changed quickly, with the team working well together and many members getting involved with the swop from a 3.9:1, to 4.2:1.
The start of the race was confusing for everyone, especially those of us on the pit wall who had no idea that a Jensen 541R’s bonnet had flown off and collided with an Austin Healey Sprite, just around the first corner during the green flag/warm up lap. Instead of the organisers delaying or aborting the start to clear the debris - as would normally be the case - the start went ahead as normal, but then picked up the safety car on the first corner! Thankfully everyone on the grid survived this lairy start without incident, and the field spent 3 laps behind the Safety Car, until the track was cleared and the race finally got underway. The Riley was running faster than in qualifying, and was able to keep up with John Yea's very expensive BMH A40, which pleased everyone in the team. The kindly donated Schroth ‘Enduro’ quick change harness ensured that the compulsory pit stop went well, during which we saw the Riley overtake the A40.
Unfortunately the class leading Alfa Giulietta Ti of Gavin Watson had got out of reach during the Safety Car laps, but the Riley still managed to finish an excellent 2nd in class and 17th overall, which the team were very happy about. The team is now working hard to prepare the car for Brands Hatch on April 10th, with a number of modifications taking place in order to realise the dream of another class win!
Our sincere thanks to Julius Thurgood and the HRDC, Grove & Dean Insurance, THINK Automotive, MoTeC, RaceLogic and the host of OUMF supporters and sponsors who helped us to the class podium at Silverstone – and make such a fantastic start to 2016!