05.08.2018 DPE MOTORSPORT ALFA ROMEOS SHOW PACE AS TCR UK HITS OULTON PARK

ROBERT GILMOUR - DPE MOTORSPORT ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA - TCR UK 2018, OULTON PARK
DEREK PALMER - DPE MOTORSPORT ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA - TCR UK 2018, OULTON PARK
DEREK PALMER - DPE MOTORSPORT ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA - TCR UK 2018, OULTON PARK
ROBERT GILMOUR - DPE MOTORSPORT ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA - TCR UK 2018, OULTON PARK

The DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giuliettas endured a tough weekend during the fifth round of TCR UK held yesterday at Oulton Park, with a fourth place for Derek Palmer in the first race of the one day double header being the team's highlight.

The DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giuliettas endured a tough weekend during the fifth round of TCR UK held yesterday at Oulton Park, with a fourth place for Derek Palmer in the first race of the one day double header being the team's highlight.

He had in fact finished Race 1 in a very impressive second place but was subsequently handed a 5-second penalty for not respecting track limits.

Palmer subsequently went off while again fighting for the podium positions in Race 2 but teammate Robert Gilmour had no luck as he was eliminated right at the start of Race 1 and was out for the rest of the event.

TCR UK’s visit to Oulton Park was compressed into a single day due to the circuit’s requirements to comply with noise regulations so Free Practice, Qualifying, Race 1 and Race 2 all came up in a single day meaning any damage or mechanical issues could have a serious knock-on effect – which proved the case for the DPE Motorsport-run Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCRs.

The Glasgow based team came to the event boosted in its push for increased competitiveness by having engineers from Giulietta-builder Romeo Ferraris on hand in the garage to assist them.

Qualifying

It was Verizon Connect Racing’s Ash Sutton who secured pole position on his TCR UK debut with a lap that was 0.567 seconds quicker than WestCoast Racing’s points leader Dan Lloyd.

Having topped Friday’s second test session and then Saturday morning’s Free Practice session, Sutton marked himself as the man to beat around the Oulton Park International circuit. The Honda Civic Type R driver went to the top of the times on his first full flying lap in the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a lap of 1 minute 42.348 seconds. That time put Sutton at the top by a comfortable margin over the TCR UK series points leader Lloyd, who left it until late in the session to secure a front-row grid position for the first race of the day, setting his best time with just two minutes to go.

Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor was third, just under eight tenths behind team-mate Sutton, having been set for a Pyro 1-2 until Lloyd’s Volkswagen separated the Hondas. Andreas Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fourth fastest in his Golf GTi, whilst DPE Motorsport’s Palmer secured his best qualifying result of the season in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta by going fifth.

Also taking a best qualifying result of the year was Cupra driver Stewart Lines (Maximum Motorsport) in sixth, ahead of the third WestCoast Racing Volkswagen of Jessica Bäckman in seventh. Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) was eighth quickest in his Hyundai, after his team had to work flat-out after the practice session to fix a problem with his front-left wheel hub, which saw him lose a wheel earlier in the day.

The second DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour and Maximum Motorsport’s other Cupra of Carl Swift rounded off the top ten, whilst the Maximum Motorsport-run Volkswagen of Tim Docker completed the times in 11th.

Swift secured the pole position for race two, which is set by the reversed second fastest times of each driver, with Sutton alongside him.

Race 1

Sutton claimed his maiden win in the TCR UK series with a dominant display in a restarted Race 1 winning by over 16 seconds from WestCoast Racing’s Dan Lloyd.

The first start saw Sutton hold on to his lead into Turn 1 as behind him Taylor slipped past Lloyd to claim second. However, after just one lap of racing, the red flags were brought out when Gilmour and Swift tangled at Island bend, making heavy contact with the barriers and causing extensive damage to both the Alfa Romeo and the Cupra. Such was the damage that both would be out for the rest of the event, reducing the Alfa Romeo contingent in action at Oulton Park to one car, that of Gilmour’s teammate Palmer.

After a half-hour delay whilst the barriers were repaired, the race restarted as a 15-minute sprint to the flag. Sutton immediately got down to business, opening up a clear gap, whilst behind him Palmer moved into second at the first corner.

Palmer would then hold that position for the remainder of the race, despite pressure from firstly Taylor and latterly Lloyd. However, the Alfa Romeo driver would be demoted to fourth upon completion of the race, due to receiving a 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits.

That gave Lloyd second and allowed the Volkswagen driver to extend his championship lead, whilst his team-mate Andreas Bäckman completed the podium after Taylor was also given a 10-second penalty for being out of position on the starting grid. Kent took fifth in his Hyundai, whilst Jessica Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was sixth in her Volkswagen.

Lines followed up his best qualifying of the year with another points finish in seventh as the only Cupra driver to finish, whilst Taylor was classified in eighth after his penalty was applied. TCR UK newcomer Docker completed the classified finishers in ninth.

Race 2

Sutton continued his dominance with a second successive lights-to-flag win in race two, as Taylor pipped Kent to second on the last lap.

Sutton inherited pole position when reverse-grid pole-sitter Swift was unable to take up his pole position after a shunt in race one. That gave the Verizon Connect Racing driver a clear run down to the first corner on the opening lap, and the Honda Civic Type-R racer never looked back to cap off a perfect debut weekend in TCR.

Second went to Taylor on the very last corner of the final lap, as several laps of sustained pressure on Kent finally paid dividends for the title challenger. Kent completed the podium in third, having run over the grass on the run up to the finish, to claim his second silverware of the season.

Lloyd took the chequered flag in fourth, although the championship leader received three points on his licence and a five-place grid penalty for his next race following contact with Lines on lap seven, whilst the duo were scrapping for what was then the final podium place.

Jessica Bäckman finished in fifth, whilst Lines took the finish in sixth after losing significant time in the contact with Lloyd at Cascades. The Cupra driver will be buoyed after posting the fastest lap of the race, however.

Tim and Andreas Bäckman completed the top ten, the latter after having to pit to deal with gearbox issues.

DPE Motorsport’s Palmer had been running in the final podium position, but the Alfa Romeo driver went off at Lodge Corner on lap six and retired from the race.

Neither Carl Swift nor Gilmour in the other DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR took the start of Race 2 due to the damage their cars sustained in race one.

TCR UK moves onto Croft Circuit next month (8-9 Sep) for its penultimate round before ending the year at Donington Park just over a month later (13-14 Oct).

Photos: DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR - TCR UK 2018

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Photos: TCR UK / 2018 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed