Sunday 4th October 2003: Race 5 - Final race at Oulton Park
And now on to the famous Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire for the final round of the championship.
The riders this time out were Dave, Colm and new rider Simon Warburton. Gresham had rebuilt the bike after the two crashes at Pembury and had even added a green flash to our paint scheme to make it stand out more. The bike was running better than at any time this season. With 2nd and 3rd place up for grabs in the championship it was all there to race for.
The weather forecast for the weekend was very wet and windy so wet tyres were fitted. Phil our usual mechanic was absent so Gresham junior filled with Andy and Gresham senior in the pits.
The best news of the day was that Wolf Racing, who were currently second in the championship, were not at the race due to the unfortunate illness of one of their riders. If Uprite could finish in the top two places, we could get the points to take second in the championship.
Race Day morning: Qualifying
Simon went out in free practice and returned muttering about standing water on the track and that the weather was for ducks. Dave did the first qualifying session followed by Colm in the second, with both riders getting a feel for the track in the wet. None of the riders had been round Oulton in such dreadful rain so we were pleasantly surprised when Simon went out and set our fastest time to place us 3rd in class.
Strategy for the race was - to keep it uprite!
12noon - 1pm
The bike went out on the warm-up lap and this time didn't run out of petrol. We were mid grid position for all three classes and so then to the 'Le Mans' start. Dave ran across to the bike thumbed the starter but didn't get the cleanest start he would have liked.
Dave was behind Black Cat Racing and tried to close the gap on them. After 14 laps the pace car came out as a bike had crashed, and Dave managed to be within 7 seconds. As the pace car went in Dave continued in the pursuit of 3rd place and Black Cat.
1pm - 2pm
On the hour Dave pitted and a problem with the fuelling system led to a 50-second pit stop. Colm then set off to chase down the places we needed. Black Cat pitted the next lap and put in a slick pit stop, which resulted in them being 90 seconds in front.
Colm settled into a rhythm and was soon taking more than 5 seconds a lap out of Black Cat's lap time. The pit board was placed out showing the gap coming down. We were now only 8 seconds behind.
On lap 15 bad luck struck again. A bike that had previously crashed and then limped back to the pits had left a trail of oil on the racing line. As Colm entered the right hander the front tyre washed out from underneath him.
The bike sustained damage to the fairing, brake master cylinder and throttle assembly. Colm, who was uninjured, and the bike were bought back by the marshals to the pit garage where an inspection by Gresham confirmed that it would not be safe to put the bike back on the track.
During the whole six hours there were a total of 36 crashes of 41 starters, probably one of the highest attrition rates ever seen at a KRC round. Some teams remounted and continued on, but we were one of the unlucky ones who had to retire. Our race was over and so was any possibility of a top 3 placing in the 2003 championship.
Uprite Racing are a new team with very little experience of this championship and we entered with a new bike on which we had no data. Despite this, we finished 4th in the 750cc class and, for our first year, it was more than we could have hoped for. This season has been a roller-coaster of emotions for all those involved, from the disappointing blow up at Snetterton to the last crash on oil at Oulton.
Congratulations go to Team Jock and Wolf Racing who came 1st and 2nd. A special well done goes out to our friends Black Cat Racing who did exceedingly well to take 3rd in the championship.
We will return to Championship next season with renewed vigour and this time hopefully, a top 3 placing, so to all the teams above, enjoy this season because we're going to race you to the wire again next year.