Autosport (UK)

Leaders in trouble as Equipe races are endurance tests

- DOM D’ANGELILLO

OULTON PARK EQUIPE 18 MAY

It was a day of difficulti­es at the front when Oulton Park was swarmed by cars of the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Equipe Classic Racing event on Saturday.

The most surprising victim came in what was set up to be a thrilling final 20 minutes of the 40-minute Libre race between the brutish power of Danny Winstanley’s Jaguar E-type and Tom Smith’s nimble

Lotus Elan. Winstanley had built a lead of around seven seconds from pole ahead of the pit window, but what Smith described as the “pure racing” nature of his Elan had kept him well within touching distance.

Pitting earlier was key to Smith’s race plan, particular­ly as a swathe of backmarker­s sat between him and the E-type, and after Winstanley’s late stop the gap was down to just over a second.

Unfortunat­ely, any idea of a grandstand finish was quashed when Winstanley took the decision to retire his car. “Something felt tight before the stop, and my oil pressure was getting low – I didn’t want to risk anything, so I had to slow down and bring it in,” the former Caterham driver said. This handed a comfortabl­e win to Smith, his third of the season behind the wheel of the Elan, a car that he admits he is still “trying to bed in” and is completely different from his usual MGB.

It was a similar story in Equipe GTS. Rob Cull and his TVR Grantura MKIII looked set to add another victory to this season’s tally, but a blown head gasket shortly after his pitstop meant another frontrunne­r missed an opportunit­y to triumph. “The oil temperatur­e was rising, normally I can back off a bit and it settles – it didn’t,” Cull explained. “The minute I felt fluid on my rears, I knew I should bring it in.”

Cull’s retirement meant Simon Cripps could celebrate his first victory of the season in his MGB Roadster. “We’ve not had much luck so far this season and we’ve had to get a new diff, bearings, the list goes on and on – this is absolutely fantastic,” he beamed.

And in the new-for-2024 F2 Atlantic grid, a different Tom Smith celebrated two wins from two. Opening and closing Saturday’s action, the victor claimed it was the first time his March 74B had finished a race since 1978. “We did a restoratio­n last year, but these are tricky to keep going,” he confessed. A statement that perfectly epitomised the thrills and challenges of classic car racing around the Cheshire circuit.

 ?? ?? Smith took Libre gold after Winstanley faltered
Smith took Libre gold after Winstanley faltered
 ?? ?? Cripps was beneficiar­y of Cull’s engine woes
Cripps was beneficiar­y of Cull’s engine woes

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