Battling in Britcar-Katie Milners Oulton Park Porsche weekend

Conditions were tough (Photo by Marc Waller)After having lots of speed but absolutely no luck at Donington Park, Katie Milner and Ollie Willmott decided to team up once again to race in Britcar once again.

They’d be using the same Porsche they had raced at Donington but now fixed up back to perfect running order by the One Call insurance racing team. The duo, who are one of the youngest pairings on the grid were hopeful of a successful result this time.

The two fifty minute races would all be held on one day along with qualifying but before that there was a test day on Friday. The car was clearly fully back to full strength after the Donington issues and the test day went well for both Milner and Willmott despite wet weather for most of the day. They knew that race day on Saturday was likely to be more of the same so it was good to get track time in similar conditions.

Sure enough when Saturday got underway, the track was wet once again. There was a short warm up practice session and then it was straight into qualifying. Milner was out first and was flying. She got quicker and quicker until she set the fourth best time. Unfortunately, on the next lap, not realising she was already quick enough, she pushed a little too had. The car brushed the wet grass but with conditions being wet, the grass was like ice and the car spun out of control and into the barriers before Milner had chance to react.

The session was red flagged and the car brought back to the pits. The damage wasn’t too bad, but bad enough to keep them out of the rest of the session. However, most members of Team One Call Insurance Racing have experience repairing rally cars in all sorts of conditions so fixing the Porsche shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The only problem was, the lack of time before the race.

There was no need to worry though as the One Call Insurance racing team worked their usual magic and the car was fixed ready to go just in time for race one.

Willmott would be starting the first race with Milner taking over around halfway, then the positions would be reversed for race two. The track was damp for the start of the race although it wasn't actually raining at that point. Willmott made a good start as the race got underway from the rolling grid and he was moving up the field rapidly. Things looked good until disaster struck when a BMW made contact with the Porsche. It was obvious something major was wrong and Willmott headed for the pits and the car was quickly pushed into the garage. The car's cooling system had been damaged and although it was fixable, there wouldn't be time to get the car back out for the rest of the race meaning Milner wouldn't get a drive in this race. The team immediately set to work on the car to get it ready to start race two.

The car was repaired in plenty of time for the race although it was now looking very second hand after two knocks in one day. Mechanically it was back to one hundred percent though and Milner drove out of the pits ready to take the rolling start for race two.

By now the weather had really taken a turn for the worse with strong gusts of wind blowing across the circuit and very heavy rain which was being blown into the cars by the wind. This made both track conditions and visibility extremely tough.

Milner would be starting from the back of the field after their earlier non-finish and so as the cars powered away at the rolling start she was faced with a wall of spray from the cars ahead. Despite this, she started powering past cars straight away. The conditions lead to a rapid condensation build up in the car and her windows started steaming up but this didn’t slow down Milner at all as she closed on a Ginetta G50. Within a few laps she was past this too and was closing on the overall top ten in the race. She did her fastest lap of the race so far just before pitting for Willmott to take over to finish the race.

Britcar pitstops must last a minimum time and Milner and Wilmott swapped in plenty of time, despite a glitch with the seat adjustment when it got stuck.

Wilmott lapped in similar lap times and when the pit-stops had all been taken, the car was back in eleventh overall, fourth of the Sprint race cars, second in it’s class and first of the invitation class cars. That was where they stayed as the chequered flag fell to end the race.

It would have been an excellent result on a normal day but after the eventful day they’d had including the team repairing the car twice, it was very impressive. The second place in class, earned the team mates two class trophies.

The drivers talk tactics before race two (Photo by Marc Waller) Milner did well in the wet (Photo by Marc Waller) There was nearly no visibility out out of the car with the windows steamed up (Photo by Marc Waller) The team worked hard to repair the car -twice (Photo by Marc Waller) The car finishes race two (Photo by Marc Waller)

 

 

 

“That was a real test for us today and it proved how strong you need to be in endurance racing, from the back of the grid we finished fourth overall and second in class. Thanks to all my sponsors for this season including One Call Insurance, the Yorkshire Wagyu company, Motordrive,Swift and Merlin international who have had a lot of work to do today! It’s still not the end of my season, I’ve got the BWRDC race coming up in a couple of weeks and then another rally with my dad later in November.”

Milner’s final circuit race of the season will be the BWRDC race which supports the Walter Hayes trophy Formula Ford event at Silverstone. The field will consist entirely of female drivers, mostly in cars that they have been racing this season. The race will use a handicap format, meaning that anyone can win the race, at least in theory. Milner will be in her Ginetta G40 which should be the ideal car to challenge for victory.

The final event of the year will be a rally at Cadwell park co-driving for dad, Jonny Milner. On their first ever event together, earlier this season, they took a close second place and they will now be aiming for one place better.

The BWRDC race is on November 5th with the Cadwell Park rally being held on the 18th and 19th November. By Marc Waller

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