Battles on the wet at Oulton Park
Team Appleyard Macadam were back out racing at the exciting Oulton Park circuit this last weekend, just 4 days on from a dramatic Silverstone. The twisting ribbon of tarmac that runs through the Cheshire countryside always throws up some great racing.
Having already completed a very successful test and race at Oulton earlier in the season, the team were confident they could get off to a flying start. The traditional English weather meant a dry FP1 session but a completely wet FP2 session. Both riders put in strong performances and everything was looking good for Saturday’s qualifying session.
Saturday presented itself with mixed conditions. The track was dry but as the lights went out at the end of the pit lane the clouds were looming. Jack and Brad both went out on old rubber to get going. However, the heavens opened meaning the times would not be any faster. Jones managed to put his R6 Yamaha 5th on the grid with Kennedy in 2nd spot just 0.002 behind Alistair Seeley.
The sun came out for Saturday's sprint race and everything was looking set for a fantastic battle. Jones got off to a flying start, sticking it at the sharp end with some strong lap times for 8 laps, before Kennedy, Currie and Seeley made a break for it. Jones would bring his Integro Yamaha home in 5th place.
Back at the front, Kennedy and Seeley just had the edge over championship contender Currie. With 3 laps to go, Kennedy and Seeley were swapping paint at almost every corner. A fantastic move two corners from the end put Kennedy in the lead but Seeley just managed to get back to the inside, squeezing Kennedy on the run to the line meaning he would need to settle for 2nd position.
Sundays feature race presented some further tricky conditions. After a mixed morning warm up, the heavens opened once again and the boys would line up on the grid in fully wet conditions.
Both riders got off to a flying start with Kennedy in 3rd and Jones in 4th. Jones then dropped back from the leading pack just as Kennedy started making his way forward. The battle for the race win came down to last lap between Kennedy and Currie. Unfortunately a small mistake from Kennedy at Brittons meant he would have to settle for 2nd position once again. Jones meanwhile brought his R6 Yamaha home in solid 5th place.
"It was a solid weekend for us at Oulton Park, we did exactly what we needed to do with a pair of deuces, pole and two fastest laps to keep us at the top of the championship. We had the pace in the wet and the dry from the start but in qualifying got caught out by the rain when we went to push for a time, just missing out on pole by 0.002s. But it wasn't the end of the world as we ended up on the front row. The sprint race was tight, trading places every lap and taking turns at the front. It came right down to the final corner when Seeley left me nowhere to go, squeezing me out at lodge and I was lucky to stay upright to take it to the line ahead of Currie.
The feature race was our first proper wet race since Donington, but I was really confident with our feeling and pace. I hounded Ben all the way home. But on the penultimate lap after a moment coming out of Brittens, it gifted him a 0.8s gap that was going to be a big ask to close down given the conditions . On the final lap I had a go, but I knew I would have to risk too much to try a pass Currie for the win, so thinking of the bigger picture I settled for second this time. We came away from Oulton conceding just 1 point in the championship lead so I can live with that. On to Assen next which is one of my favourite tracks to keep fighting for the title."
"It’s great to come away from Oulton with a good points haul and now joint 5th in the championship. Race 1 in the dry was good, I felt comfortable on the bike and felt great running the hot pace. I just need to do a bit of work on managing the tyre as it starts to go off a little bit but that’s all part of the learning curve! Race 2 in the wet I didn’t have a great feeling with the rear as it was spinning up a lot. I tried to stay with the leaders but just couldn’t match their pace. However, I brought it home with some solid points and we now have a good data point for the wet conditions! A good weekend’s work and now onto Assen."
The team are now preparing for the journey across the pond to Assen. A historical circuit that always presents some spectacular racing.