BTCC: Oulton Park: Team B&Q Jet York City Racing race report

Oulton Park saw the team enter two cars for the first time this season, following the recent acquisition of the 2001 Honda Accord previously campaigned by Synchro Motorsport. With their newly revised livery, the striking Accords were to entered...

Oulton Park saw the team enter two cars for the first time this season, following the recent acquisition of the 2001 Honda Accord previously campaigned by Synchro Motorsport. With their newly revised livery, the striking Accords were to entered for Jim Edwards Jnr and the returning John B&Q who had announced on Friday evening that he would be competing once again using the name of his sponsor.

* Free Practice

With John having completed just three laps in the Accord previously, and Jim having had no experience at all of the newly-delivered right-hand drive car, both drivers spent the free practice session getting to know their new cars. John followed Jim for several laps in a bid to adapt his driving style from that he used to drive the Integra last season. The pair's lap times were pretty evenly matched, although they were largely meaningless due to the nature of the damp track. The team was pleased to finally see two of their cars on track at once, the newly re-liveried cars striking an impressive sight as they ran in tandem.

* Qualifying

Whilst John continued to pound round and get used to the car, gradually improving his lap times, Jim decided he was familiar enough with the new car to go all out for a good lap time. Hard as he tried though the car was simply off the pace and, having set a time that would enable him to start round three from seventh place on the production class grid, he returned to the pitlane for adjustments to be made to the brakes. Returning to the track for the second qualifying session he managed to improve his time considerably -- knocking 1.7 seconds off his best time and securing a second row starting place. John meanwhile qualified in ninth place for round three before spinning out of the second qualifying session at Druids, without setting a time.

* Sprint Race

Both drivers had decided to play it safe on the start and let the inevitable contact take place between the other production class cars in front of them before taking full advantage once they had rounded Old Hall and Cascades and were out onto the straight leading up into the Island Hairpin. Unfortunately this policy of caution meant that the lighter Mitsubishi Carisma of Steve Wood beat John away from the line and, when he re-passed him coming out of the Island Hairpin, the Mitsubishi made contact with the rear quarter of the Accord. This contact forced the Accord into a wild 360-degree spin and into heavy contact with the tyre wall causing extensive damage to the car and resulting in the retirement of the car from the meeting and the deployment of the safety car whilst trackside marshals removed the wreck.

Once the safety car had returned to the pitlane and the race got under way once again the race settled down with the blindingly fast Honda Civic Type-R of James Kaye sprinting away into the lead, ahead of Mark Fullalove and the battling duo of Alan Blencowe and Norman Simon. Then came the Honda Accords of Marsh, Edwards Jnr., and Thomas. Despite the odd passing manoeuvre it largely remained this way until the chequered flag.

* Feature Race

With the car of John B&Q withdrawn from the meeting due to the damage incurred when he hit the tyre wall in round three, the full focus of the team was diverted towards the car of Jim Edwards Jnr., "I had a lonely time out there in the sprint race but used the opportunity to learn how the new car reacted to different driving techniques. With this knowledge I was able to work with my engineers to greatly improve the cars behaviour ahead of the Feature race."

Starting in fourth place, Jim was passed as the lights went green and dropped down to seventh before slowly but surely making his way back up the order. Having kept pace with the leading pack he was able to careful pick them off one by one and as the race entered its closing stages he was running close behind the Edenbridge BMW of Norman Simon in third place. Three laps from the end he tried a daring passing move as they entered Lodge but Simon was able to hold his line all the way along Deer Leap and into Old Hall but Jim was not in the mood to be beaten and, ignoring a warning light that had come on inside the car, he tried again on the final lap. This time he was successful and, door handle to door handle, the pair crossed the line just 3/100 of a second apart. After an agonising wait of several seconds the tannoy announced that the Accord had made the move stick and the team went mad as they celebrated a well-deserved second place finish.

* Comments And Quotes

Jim Edwards Jnr: "The feature race result was exactly what the whole team needed, from driver to supporter. I was particularly delighted for John as he was so happy, and I felt that as I poured the Champagne over his head it was as if it was washing away two years worth of blood sweat and considerable toil. I was seriously disappointed for John that he has had a shunt before he has really got going, but he will have forgotten it before his neck has stopped aching."

"I had a lonely time in the Sprint race but used it to learn how the new car reacted to different driving techniques. With this knowledge I was able to work with my engineers to greatly improve the cars behaviour during the Feature race. Race team manager Stuart has made huge improvements to the structure of the team since my first introduction to Team B&Q Jet York City Racing at Brands Hatch three weeks ago, and I am now looking forward to visiting the podium on a regular basis during 2002."

John B&Q: "What an extraordinary day! It started off on a high note, introducing Yorkie to the BTCC fans and watching my son's band draw a crowd in the paddock, but went downhill fast after I was bundled off the track before even completing a lap in the sprint race. The car was extensively damaged, but I am confident it will not affect our preparations for the next round at Thruxton in two weeks time."

"Following the disappointment of the sprint race, the feature race was exactly what we needed as a team. When Jim radioed to say that a warning light had come on two laps from the end I told him to ignore it and press as hard as he could in order to get that second place, I didn't care if it risked blowing the engine, the opportunity was too good to be cautious. I had every confidence that he could pass Simon and when he muscled his way past in front of our fans at Lodge I jumped for joy!"

"The result matches our best result in the series as a team and, after everything we went through last year, it really is so much sweeter this time around. When Nick finished second at Thruxton last season that was the highlight of our season -- this time I know we can move on from here and progress -- that first race win is not as far away as some of our doubters would have you believe. I cannot wait to see them trying to explain that when it happens!"

-b&q-

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Norman Simon , Jim Edwards , James Kaye