Morgan sees off Oulton hoodoo
Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan overcame his Oulton Park hoodoo this past weekend, despite losing out on the Drivers’ standings top spot, as he took home a solid haul of points – seeing him keep in touch with new standings leader Colin Turkington in the chase for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship crown.
The Lancashire racer has endured a tough time of it on home soil in the past and with the maximum complement of 75 kilograms of success ballast heading into the weekend as then-championship leader, silverware was always going to be a tough ask at the hilly, technical circuit this time around. The outfit earmarked damage limitation as the task at hand and duly, Morgan’s on-track exploits provided just that.
With plenty of inclines and the stop-start Island Hairpin, Morgan inevitably struggled with the weight in qualifying but was running a different Oulton Park set-up which helped matters. “The car felt good,” said Morgan, post-qualifying. “The balance was there and you could feel the car working well, but it was the weight that hurt us. I was aiming for the top 15 so 19th was a bit frustrating, but we were hoping to be set up for the day after losing the weight in the opener.”
Oulton’s a narrow circuit and a tricky place to overtake – and that limited Morgan’s progress, as did very hot ambient temperatures which meant he had to keep his distance from those ahead to keep his engine cool. He took the chequered flag in 18th position, wiping the slate clean in terms of ballast ahead of race two.
Morgan battled up to 11th, making the most of any and all opportunities which came his way.
“Race two was hard. Because it’s so narrow, you don’t want to be taking risks all the time. I was able to gain places and was third quickest without the weight, so that was certainly a positive. Eleventh wasn’t ideal, but it was a points haul nonetheless, and encouragement heading into the final race.”
Morgan started race three from 11th and, after a red flag and a restart, he was able to battle his way up to fifth, passing Tom Chilton’s Ford Focus with a bold manoeuvre and keeping title rival Tom Ingram at bay. “To go from 11th to fifth on a track where it is hard to overtake was really pleasing.” he continued. “We changed the rear of the car for race three and it worked very well, so Oulton is certainly no longer our bogey track.
“I’m second equal in the championship now, but because there are two of us tied on points, we carry the weight for the lower place, so I will have 57kgs for Croft not 66kgs. That will help as well – we need to keep banking points. We’re not at halfway through the championship yet and scoring each time out has to be the aim.”
Ciceley Motorsport’s Tom Oliphant endured another difficult weekend after qualifying an encouraging 10th. He held his position until the last corner of the last lap when contact with pushed him wide and onto the grass, and into 20th position. Race two saw the Oulton local make up seven positions on the way to a creditable 13th placed finish. A significant start-line incident took his Phillips-backed Mercedes-Benz A-Class out of contention in the finale, through no fault of his own.
Ciceley Motorsport Commercial Manager Norman Burgess said: “Adam once again showed how much of a force he is in touring car racing. That was a champion’s drive in the final race. He pulled off some great overtakes and scored good points on a track where it is tough to overtake.
“We are second in the Drivers’ championship and second in the Independent’s Trophy now but with more than half the season to go, we are perfectly placed to fight back. We had lots of sponsors and guests with us at Oulton Park and they were treated to some excellent racing and magnificent weather which all showcased the BTCC perfectly and underlined why this is the best championship to be in for action and reward.
“We head to Croft in confident mood and with less weight than we carried at Oulton Park, so we are looking for more points and some silverware.”
“Unfortunately for Tom, his baptism of fire continues – he has endured some terrible luck in his maiden BTCC season. He showed his pure class and rapid pace and a fantastic 10th in qualifying on his first visit to Oulton Park. There was nothing he could do to prevent either incident. He really enjoys Croft and is just waiting for his chance to jump onto the podium.”