Roger Ford GP250 Oulton Park MRO Championship - Oulton Park 8/7/2000

MRO Championship - Oulton Park, 8 July 2000

Oulton Park Circuit Map
Map courtesy of British Motor Racing Circuits
Oulton Park again for the MRO championship.
I love Oulton, and after a Bemsee win there - I was looking forward to seeing what I could do with the MRO boys - and I wasn't disappointed!

Qualifying and finishing in the top 10 of the MRO is my best result to far in the championship, and I easily knocked a second a lap off my Bemsee times.

Practice Day

It stayed dry, which was great, and I managed to put in some 1:43 laps by the afternoon, equaling my best speeds at the Bemsee meeting. At last I'm managing to put in practice times on a par with race times - usually I'm about 2 seconds a lap slower in practice.

MRO Free Practice

Somehow I'd managed to fit the rear wet, instead of an intermediate, which screwed up the start of this session. But we got it swapped, and I managed to get a few laps in. The track had a broad completely dry line in most places, but was treacherous off-line. In theory, it should have been possible to go full pace, but knowing that going off line would mean disaster made me 10 seconds a lap slower.

Ricky screwed up by fitting a front wet, with no wet sections to cool it. He'd had limited practice the day before (not least because the circuit had lost his booking), so he wasn't feeling half as confident as I was for qualifying.

MRO Qualifying

I was lucky enough to get a clear track in the early laps, with Chris Bishop ahead to try and chase. I was surprised to see my previous best lap time fall on the third lap. By lap 6, my lap timer had showed me a 1:42.00, and a 1.41.85 - nearly two seconds faster than my best.

By this time I was starting to get blocked by other riders, and I was also starting to tire. My lap times climbed, and I figured there was no way I was going to beat that 41.85. I'd had some slides, and needed my tyres to last for the race as well, so I pulled in to conserve them (OK, maybe I pulled in 'coz I was knackered, but it was a great excuse).

In fact my laptimer must have been mis-reading, because Duncan's stopwatch showed 42.94, and the official times had me at 43.03. A bit of a disappointment, but nevertheless I qualified in ninth place, just missing the second row of the grid.

I was very pleased with this. I've never been good at qualifying before, so a top ten place was very satisfying.

Poor Neil Ronketti managed to crash at Knickerbrook - perhaps the fastest bend on the circuit. He retired early, not seriously hurt but with a very soor bum. Still managed to qualify though, and certainly wasn't last!

MRO Race

What I needed was a good start. Overtakes are tricky at Oulton, so I needed to start well.

And what a blinder! I shot past the rest of my row, and entered Old Hall just behind the front pack. Alan Bamber, in front of me, started losing the pack, and was holding me up for the first couple of laps.

I passed him on the brakes into the hairpin, and pursued the front pack. Micheal Herzberg passed me at the end of the bottom straight - probably not on power, so I must be lacking drive out of Foulston's chicane.

I chased Michael for a few laps, but he was a little bit faster than me. Must be those Ohlins forks and Brembo brakes on his 2000 TZ - I hate people with more money than me :-)

Then Pete Turnbull passed me on the bottom straight again, and I chased him for a bit. By now I was getting very knackered 11 laps of Oulton Park's 2.7 mile circuit is a long way!

But I'd been riding really well. Normally, I just don't get many - if any - slides except when the tyres have gone off, but today I had several. All nicely controllable, except for one that had me out of the seat exiting the chicane.

I was holding 8th place until the last couple of laps, when Lee Hodge and Damien Cahill passed me.

10th place! I was really pleased with that. My best MRO result by a long way. And my best lap was down from 1:43.22 with Bemsee to 1:42.59.

Chris Bishop won the race, with an astonishing 1:38.27 on the last lap after his timekeeper put out "+0", in spite of his having a decent lead. That's less than half a second off the Supercup best time.

Ricky - usually much better than me - had to settle for a 16th place. A fact I tried not to rub in too hard!

Next meeting: Bemsee at Lydden next weekend. Really looking forward to it - with my new found speed and the new bike - I reckon I've got a very good chance of beating Ricky's Outright Lap Record. Can't wait to try!

Notes: Best 1:42.59. Gearing: 14/41 - spot on, but needed high 6th.
Jetting: 420/430 R2
Mileage: (practice day) 140km (race day) 100km
Miles on pistons: 340km + dyno time