Oulton Park 2004

Menu heads Carrera Cup test at Oulton Park 

Media release: 21 May 2004

Alain Menu set the pace in testing for rounds seven and eight of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park today (Friday, 21 May).

Driving the VIP car entered by Porsche Cars GB, Menu lapped in 1m24.805s, to be half a second faster than his rivals.

“The pace is good,” reckoned the former BTCC champion. “I’m pretty happy with the way it is going,” he added, having set a storming pace at his favourite track. His best lap in the cooler second session was 1.8s quicker than the pole position time set at Oulton Park in September 2003, and 2.4s inside the existing lap record.

Jason Templeman (Team VLR) jumped up to second fastest in the closing moments of the second test session. Templeman, winner of one of the Oulton Park races at the end of 2003, turned in an excellent performance to be second fastest, while championship leader Tim Harvey was third for Team RPM. Having encountered a gearbox problem early on in the first session, Harvey switched to the team’s second car for the day, but will revert to his regular race car for qualifying and the races. “We didn’t go for a really quick time on new rubber,” reckoned Harvey, who is confident that fresh tyres for qualifying will put him right with his old BTCC rival Menu.

Richard Westbrook (Red Line Racing) was another driver not to run new tyres during testing, but he still posted fourth best time. “We know we can get the best out of new tyres tomorrow,” reckoned Westbrook, who is a big fan of the demanding Oulton circuit.

Nigel Rice (Red Line Racing) and Chris Cooper (Team Parker Racing) completed the top six runners. However, Cooper was struggling with a heavy cold and admitted to be lacking energy for the physical challenge of the Cheshire track. Very closely matched with Rice and Cooper was Jonathan Fildes (TCR), while Martin Rich (Team Parker Racing) and Andy Britnell (Motorbase Performance) both broke the 1m27s barrier. That put the first nine drivers under the existing lap record for the Island circuit at Oulton Park!

Menu heads qualifying at Oulton Park

Media release: 22 May 2004

Alain Menu set a storming pace to head the times in qualifying for round seven of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park today (Saturday, 22 May).

Driving the VIP car entered by Porsche Cars GB, Menu charged to pole position as Jason Templeman (Team VLR) took the other front row slot.

“I wanted to go faster, but I think I pushed too hard. I’m still getting used to the car,” reckoned Menu after his impressive performance. The second row of the grid was taken by title rivals Tim Harvey (Team RPM) and Richard Westbrook (Red Line Racing).

Templeman jumped up to second fastest in the closing stages of the 20-minute qualifying session. “I struggled a bit with the traffic early on,” reckoned Templeman. “I was a bit surprised when that time popped up on the dash, but it’s good to be on the front row here.”

Both Harvey and Westbrook had wanted to be on the front row of the grid at a circuit where overtaking is not easy. “Now I need Alain to make a good start,” said Harvey, who will sit behind his former BTCC team mate on the grid. “The car is really well set-up for the race and that’s what really matters,” said Harvey. “But that is a very good time that Alain has done,” he added.

Westbrook, the last of the drivers to break the 1m25s barrier, was disappointed to be only fourth. “I had one good lap that was lost in traffic. But I was pushing as hard as I could and we’ve got to find some more time,” he admitted.

Chris Cooper posted fifth best time for Team Parker Racing, still shrugging off the after effects of a heavy cold, while Jonathan Fildes (TCR) completed the top six. Martin Rich (Team Parker Racing) was seventh fastest ahead of his first race at the Cheshire track. “Testing yesterday was the first time I’d ever seen the circuit, but I love it,” said Rich.

Completing the top 10 times were Andy Britnell (Motorbase Performance), Nigel Rice (Red Line Racing) and Jason Young (Red Line Racing).

Menu wins first race at Oulton Park

Media release: 22 May 2004

Despite falling to fifth on the opening lap, Alain Menu charged back to win round seven of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park today (Saturday, 22 May).

“I made my life very hard at the start,” admitted Menu. Driving the VIP car entered by Porsche Cars GB, Menu drove superbly to battle to the front of the pack as Jason Templeman (Team VLR) scored maximum championship points with a fine drive into second.

The start of the race was incredibly tight as the leading drivers dived into the first corner. Menu, from pole position, thought he had made a good start but was beaten into the first corner by Templeman, Richard Westbrook (Red Line Racing) and Tim Harvey (Team RPM). Then, at Island Hairpin, Jonathan Fildes (TCR) edged Menu back to fifth.

Once into his stride, Menu set about recovering lost ground and by lap four was back into second behind Templeman as the leading quintet raced nosed to tail. “They were fighting for the championship, so they didn’t make life too difficult for me,” explained Menu. Westbrook didn’t fight the Swiss racer, hoping that he would cause race leader Templeman some problems.

However, Templeman knew that Menu would soon be attacking for the lead. “I knew it was going to be tough staying ahead of Alain and there was no point risking going off,” said Jason. Sure enough, on lap six Menu dived ahead into Island and Templeman now concentrated on chasing the former BTCC champion and maintaining second place.

Menu duly rattled off the remaining laps to score a great win. “I had great fun! It’s good to come back to Oulton Park after four years and win again,” said Menu. Templeman, meanwhile, drove a mighty race to make certain of maximum points. “That was mega,” said Jason. “I got a brilliant start and that made my luck.”

Westbrook, having found a damper problem after qualifying, was equally pleased with third. “I’m happy with that, but there’s more to come tomorrow,” he promised. However, Harvey had battled against a brake problem to salvage fourth, unable to challenge Westbrook. “I had an inconsistent brake pedal for most of the race. In the end I settled for fourth,” he explained.

Fildes drove a strong race to take fifth. “I’m happy now I know I can run on their pace,” he reckoned, as Chris Cooper (Team Parker Racing) took sixth from the battling pair of Nigel Rice (Red Line Racing) and Martin Rich (Team Parker Racing).

 

Menu does the double at Oulton Park

Media release: 23 May 2004

Alain Menu completed a weekend double by winning round eight of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park today (Sunday, 23 May).

“It’s been nice to get back to racing in England; it has been a very positive weekend,” he said. Driving the VIP car entered by Porsche Cars GB, Menu edged clear as title contenders Jason Templeman (Team VLR), Richard Westbrook (Red Line Racing) and Tim Harvey (Team RPM) ran neck and neck for second.

Although he dropped to third on the opening lap, Menu quickly moved ahead of Westbrook and then moved in on Templeman. Down to Island for the fourth time Menu made his move and Templeman did not defend, conscious of the need to score championship points. “It would have been nice to keep him behind,” admitted Jason, but maximum points was his first aim.

Templeman went after Menu to begin with, but a brake problem into Cascades lost him time and left him with his mirrors full of Westbrook and Harvey. “It was a hard race,” reckoned Templeman, who drove an excellent race to keep his rivals behind him.

Westbrook, meanwhile, was coping with the loss of his clutch. “The set-up of the car was brilliant; we could have done something today without the clutch problem,” he said after tracking Templeman to the flag. However, in fending off Harvey, Westbrook had chipped two more points from Harvey’s championship lead.

Into a strong fifth with a monster opening lap went Nigel Rice (Red Line Racing). “I tried to go after the top four, but had to settle for fifth,” admitted Rice who had Jonathan Fildes (TCR) closing in at the finish. Chris Cooper (Team Parker Racing) survived a big moment on the grass at Druids to finish seventh as Andy Britnell (Motorbase Performance) and Jason Young (Red Line Racing) chased.

However, the last words went to Menu after his first races of the 2004 season. “I must thank Porsche Cars GB for giving me this opportunity. It’s been a very good weekend and it was very good to come back and win!”