Hilliard, Guess steal the show at Oulton AMOC Racing meeting

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Oulton Park hosted the opening AMOC Racing meeting of the season on Saturday, May 13th with a seven race programme that delivered close and exciting competition. Highlights of the day were two wins for James Guess and James Hilliard in the Innes Ireland Cup and the Intermarque Championship races, while the Pre-War Team Challenge handicap provided an exciting final lap and a win for Clive Morley’s Bentley.

The AMOC 50s Sports Cars including the Vredestein JEC Jaguar XK Challenge runners opened the day’s race action, Chris Keith-Lucas, who had taken pole on a damp track early in the morning, losing out on the run to the first corner to fellow Jaguar racer Rob Newall. Keith-Lucas lost more ground on lap two as he ran wide leaving spectators to enjoy a race long battle between Robi Bernberg’s Cooper T39 Bobtail and Rob Newell. “I got past Rob Newall under brakes into the first corner,” said Bernberg. “I was quicker in the corners but the Jaguar had the power on the straights, and we were side-by-side at one point, good, clean racing.” The Cooper T39 Bobtail was first at the final flag, with Newall second and Paul Kennelly’s XK150 running fourth going into the final lap, Newall controlling the gap to lead the Vredestein cars home.

Mike Dowd’s BMW M3, GT4 led at the end of lap one of the 50-minute Aston Martin GT Challenge, after pole man Tom Andrew locked up into the first corner, but Harvey Stanley’s Ferrari 430 Challenge was right with him and into the lead on lap two, while Nicholas King’s Aston Martin DB4 pitted. Stanley started to open a gap at the front whilst Andrew recovered to second position before going off, bringing out the safety car. Stanley took advantage of the safety car for his stop and as racing continued, Stanley was able to pull away from Edward Leigh’s BMW M3 V8 GT4 to take the win. Leigh finished second with Mike Dowd promoted to third after Smallbridge retired with a puncture in the lightening quick Sunbeam Tiger.

From pole positon James Hilliard took the lead in his Ginetta G10 as the Innes Ireland Cup field set off for their 45-minute race. Mark Russell’s Jaguar E-Type was right with him in the early laps, but the raucous-sounding Ginetta eased away. After the pit stops and several retirements including the front running Jaguar E-Type of Melling/Minshaw. Guess was clear at the front in the Ginetta, with Russell lead Jaguar and Farrell in turn further back in third, the order in which they finished. “The Ginetta is great fun to drive,” said Guess on the podium. “It has so much power you can spin the tyers so easily.”

The Pre-War Team Challenge was run as a handicap race and Guy Northam was first away in his 1928 Bentley and led all the way until the final lap, but with the rest of the field closing in. Christian Pedersen lapping up to forty seconds a lap quicker in his Austin 7. Northam was over three seconds clear of Anthony Fenwick-Wilson’s Railton going into the final lap, but it was Clive Morley’s Bentley who emerged from the final corner ahead, leading home Fenwick-Wilson and the three-litre Bentley of Duncan Wiltshire, with Pedersen having to settle for fourth, 11 seconds off the lead. “With three laps to go the car went onto three cylinders” said Morley. “I wasn’t sure where I was and who had credit laps so I was lucky to win.”

James Hilliard started the race in pole position in the Porsche 968 CS in the AMOC Intermarque Championship race, and led into the first corner, opening a six second lead in the opening four laps. Behind, Peter Mangion was the driver on the move, going from fourth on lap one to second just three laps later in his 968. After a slow stop from the leader, Guess dropped to second and had to push hard to retake the lead which he did on lap 17 to take their second win of the season. Mangion was second and Tim Bates was running third until the final laps, but got passed by Jardine who had taken over from Searles in the Porsche 944 Turbo. “The starter motor jammed at the pitstop,” explained Hilliard, “we had to have a push start and that cost us time, but James had to push really hard and we’re pleased to take the win.”

Garage fees raised £300 for the Marshals’ Draw – a gesture which was very well received at the end of an excellent day of racing.

The Intermarque Championship and GT Challenge will be out again in a combined grid at Rockingham on June 24th; and the full AMOC Racing season continues at Snetterton in Norfolk on the 8th of July.

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