Oliver Bryant Racing

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18th April 2006

News from the Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge

David Yates and Graham Scarborough scored a memorable victory in the opening race in the 2006 Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge during the F3/GT meeting at Oulton Park (Cheshire) on Easter Monday (April 17).
In front of a 10,000-strong Bank Holiday crowd, the HGTCC pack delivered a highly entertaining race with plenty of action and battles throughout the field. While Yates/Scarborough (Ford Mustang) claimed overall victory, class glory went to Pat Thomas/Mike Youles (Lotus Elan 26R) and Conor O’Brien (Mini Cooper S).

Oliver Bryant jumped straight from the British GT Aero 8 Morgan into the family’s faithful Plus 8 to take pole. “It’s quite different,” admitted Oliver. “The Plus 8 has got more power, but the Aero has better handling and brakes,” he explained. “But the difference is only five seconds a lap over 30 years!”
Second fastest was the freshly prepared Chevrolet Camaro of Boysie Thurtle/Roger Bennington. “Considering it’s the first time we’ve run the car in anger, that’s not too bad at all,” reported Boysie after a seven-month rebuild project.
Yates/Scarborough ran third fastest, while fourth quickest in just six laps was the MGB GTV8 of Roy and Spencer McCarthy. However, a halfshaft broke before Roy could qualify the car and so they were destined to start the race from the back of the grid. A helpful onlooker knew where there were some spare shafts locally and generously delivered a replacement back to the track on Saturday evening. “I’m very pleased with the times,” reported Spencer. “The car’s very easy to drive.”
The Aston Martin V8s of Bob Searles and Chris Scragg were next up, with Scragg making his debut in the ex-Arthur Thurtle car. “It’s a bit of a step forward,” admitted Scragg of his new machine.
The Thomas/Youles Elan stopped on its second lap with a fuel pressure problem. However, Pat and his crew were confident of having identified the problem and three laps on Monday morning confirmed that all was well.
Creating plenty of interest in Class D was the Mini Cooper of Nathalie Boyd/John Rhodes, as the Mini legend raced at Oulton Park for the first time in more than 30 years. “I took three laps to learn where I was,” said Boyd. “It’s a joy to drive without yellow cameras flashing at you,” joked Rhodes. “The circuit it totally different now and the chicanes are hard work.”

Race – 21 laps
The threat of rain had subsided as the grid formed for the 40-minute race and it was Yates who won the charge into the first corner. With more than 500bhp being unleashed, it was a tremendous spectacle and sensible driving ensured that the field got safely through the first corner.
Yates was immediately under pressure from Bryant and a long-running battle started as the Morgan harried the Mustang for lap after lap. “When I hold it tight, this car is so rude coming out of the corner,” grinned Yates of his over-steering Mustang as he fended off the Morgan. Even when Bryant nipped ahead, Yates responded and stormed back in front at the high-speed Island Bend. “I went into Island faster than I’ve ever done. The car is better, but still not right,” added Yates.
Finally, after 10 crowd-pleasing laps, the leading pair headed nose-to-tail for the pits. The driver change to Scarborough had the Mustang back out well clear of the Morgan as Bryant waited for the end of his 30-second mandatory stop for a solo driver. “It was dead easy for me; David did all the hard work,” said Scarborough, who was now well clear. That gap extended further when Bryant dived back into the pits a lap later. “The door came open after the pit-stop,” he explained.
Up into second now came the Bennington/Thurtle Camaro, with Boysie driving a storming stint to catch the McCarthy MGB. Roy had started the MG from the back of the grid, but quickly tigered through to third. “A lot of people were very generous and moved out of the way to let me through,” said Roy of his opening charge.
Now, Spencer had the Camaro right on his tail and another great battle ensued. “We had some fun in the backmarkers and I worked very hard to keep him behind me,” admitted Spencer. However, Thurtle finally powered ahead with two laps to run. “I’m still getting used to it,” admitted Bennington of the Camaro. “Overall, I’m very pleased with it,” added Thurtle.
Bryant’s second stop left him fourth, but some stunning laps in the closing stages had him closing fast on Thurtle and McCarthy at the flag, while Scragg drove a tidy race to claim fifth from Bill Withey (Chevrolet Camaro) and Searles.
“That’s a good first race in the car,” said Scragg, while Searles had a more dramatic race. “I had a lurid spin at Island, probably doing 130mph,” reported Bob, pointing to mud all down one side of the car to show just how exciting it had been. Then, in the final laps he had to back off as the diff started to fail and the V8 just got over the line before the diff seized.
George Miller/Les Goble guided their Aston Martin V8 to eighth ahead of class B winners Thomas/Youles. “It all came good; absolutely over the moon,” said Thomas. “The old driver managed to catch them and the youngster got past,” he joked of Youles’ role in their victory.
However, for much of the race, the Lotus battled with the Jaguar E Type of Peter Lloyd in another excellent contest for class honours. Sadly, the E Type coasted to a halt at Lodge four laps from home. “The gear lever came out,” said Lloyd, before proffering the detached lever as proof. “I was just poised to get Mike back!”
Jeremy Cooke (Aston Martin DB4) and Ant Scragg/Ciaran Butler (MGB GTV8) claimed the podium positions in class B, while O’Brien claimed class D despite major gearbox concerns. “I lost all gears except top for the last third of the race,” said O’Brien.
However, he was left clear as his class rivals faltered. The Mini Cooper S of brothers Rich and Don Hawcroft was an early retirement and the Boyd/Rhodes car fell victim to a suspected flywheel problem. “It was a very good work out; better than the gym,” said Rhodes of his entertaining stint at the wheel.

1 David Yates/Graham Scarborough (Ford Mustang) 21 laps in 41m40.657s (81.38mph); 2 Boysie Thurtle/Roger Bennington (Chevrolet Camaro) +16.623s; 3 Roy McCarthy/Spencer McCarthy (MGB GTV8); 4 Oliver Bryant (Morgan +8); 5 Chris Scragg (Aston Martin V8); 6 Bill Withey (Chevrolet Camaro); 7 Bob Searles (Aston Martin V8); 8 George Miller/Les Goble (Aston Martin V8); 9 Pat Thomas/Mike Youles (Lotus Elan 26R); 10 Jeremy Cooke (Aston Martin DB4). Class winners: Yates/Scarborough; Thomas/Youles; Conor O’Brien (Mini Cooper S). Fastest lap: Bryant 1m51.861s (86.63mph).

Next round:
May 20/21, Donington Park