If you happen to find yourself sauntering through the Cheshire countryside of England, you might be lucky enough to find the Oulton Park Circuit amidst all the beautiful scenery. The racetrack is built on a plot of land overflowing with history: it’s the site of the former Oulton Hall manor, which was destroyed by fire in 1926; the land also saw plenty of use as an army staging camp. One of the many to walk the grounds at Oulton Park was General Patton, who made use of the camp prior to the Normandy landings. It is quite a different scene nowadays, with the picturesque scenery surrounding a challenging, narrow, and fast circuit that sees the British Touring Car Championship, Superbikes, Formula Three, open track days and everything in between take to its asphalt.
For the fifth week of competition of the iRacing.com RUF Cup series, sim-racers across the world were thrown an interesting variable: the absence of the Britten’s and Hislop’s chicanes along the longest straightaway on the circuit. Because of this, drivers were seeing very high speeds leading up to the right-hand “Knickerbrook” turn, increasing the difficulty of the fast, narrow corner in which every inch of racetrack was needed. Just past Knickerbrook is a fast and curving uphill section that eventually leads to Druids Corner, one of the most difficult parts of the course. Druids is a double-apex corner preceded by a curving braking zone, resulting in many different approaches by the hundreds of drivers who tackled the four-kilometer racetrack throughout the week. The fast speeds — combined with narrow, difficult sections of asphalt –meant there was no shortage of off-track incidents to be found at Oulton Park.
Nearly three-hundred competitors set qualifying times throughout the week, but it was Emil Spindel (Scandinavia) who stole the show with an impressive 87.387 second lap. The ever-fast Fredrik Follestad (Scandinavia) was second-fastest on the qualifying chart, nearly two tenths of a second slower than the pole time. Diego Comuni (Italy), Julian Rodriguez Moreno (Iberia), and Danny Conlon (UK and I) were third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.
Spindel set a very impressive pace during his 174-point win during the week, but it would be Julian Rodriguez Moreno who captured the most points at Oulton Park, thanks to his 188 point win over second place Danny Conlon. Tied for the second most points of the week were Christopher Zoechling (DE-AT-CH) as well as Joni Bäckman (Finland) with 186. Zoechling, a Porsche Carrera Cup driver, has been a consistent top five competitor throughout the season. His racing experience has catapulted him to some valuable wins in a series filled with quality competition.
It was a good week for Petri Lempinen (Finland), as he regained the points lead following a solid fourth place finish in a race that saw him start from the rear of the grid. Lempinen’s consistency has been noteworthy in a championship battle that has quite a few players, as he has held the points lead multiple times this season.
Zoechling’s efforts have catapulted him to second in points, while Jimmy Bigum (Scandinavia), Thomas van Bussel (Benelux), and Diego Comuni round out the top five. Lempinen has to feel the pressure, as Comuni has only made starts in four out of the five weeks of competition, so the complexion of the championship battle could look quite different when drop weeks come into play. With the best eight weeks counting out of a twelve week season, we will be focused on the point battle all the way through the final race of the season.