Local drivers ready to shine at Oulton Park opener
06/04/2012 - A quartet of local racers are hoping to take advantage of their Oulton Park circuit knowledge on Monday.
06/04/2012 - A strong start to the new season is the target for most F3 Cup drivers on the grid but none more so than a quartet of local racers hoping to take advantage of their Oulton Park circuit knowledge in Monday's opening round.
Former British GT4 champion Jamie Stanley, F3 Cup 2011 race winner Chris Needham, and F3 Cup regulars Philip Austin and Stephen Clegg all label the picturesque 2.6 mile Cheshire circuit as their home circuit. With a bumper crowd expected, they will be eager to shine on home soil.
Monday's meeting is a bit of a voyage into the unknown for Chester-born GT specialist Stanley as he makes his competitive F3 career debut. The 28-year-old will join up with the experienced Lanan Racing outfit competing in the Trophy Class. Despite his wealth of racing experience, this will be Stanley's first race in a Formula 3 car and the Radical UK Cup and Lotus Cup UK racer hasn't set himself any targets for the season opener, but of course will be keen to shine.
He said: "I couldn't pass up this opportunity to race an F3 car with Lanan Racing and I'm really looking forward to racing in the F3 Cup. I'm under no illusions as to the challenge ahead as this will be the first time I have even driven an F3 car since my scholarship days in 2004. I've got a test day on the Friday which will be my first time in the car so we will see how it goes from there but it should be good fun."
Morecambe's Chris Needham proved his pace in the F3 Cup last year winning three races, including the penultimate race of the season at Oulton Park last season, after coming through an epic three car battle. The F3 veteran is sticking by his proven 2002 Dallara and he cannot wait for the new season to begin. With a selection of new machines and new faces joining the grid, he is unsure how he will perform, but is hoping to repeat last year's display.
He said: "The championship is looking really good and it should produce some really exciting racing. I like the circuit and have plenty of confidence around there, but I don't really know how it will go as there are so many new cars and drivers. I think it's going to be close and it could all come down to set up."
Joining Needham and Stanley on the quest for success on home soil are Austin and Clegg. The pair have featured in club level single-seater racing for many years and are fully aware of the challenges ahead. Austin, the Lancaster-based company director, will begin his second season in F3 Cup, while Clegg from Manchester will be aiming to better his best finish of sixth place from last season.