A strong start for Katie Milner in the JSCC at Oulton Park

Katies car has a new look for 2016 - (Photo by Phil Laughton)

Katies car has a new look for 2016 - (Photo by Phil Laughton)Katie Milner’s second season in the Junior Saloon car championship (JSCC) began at the Cheshire circuit of Oulton Park last weekend (20th March.)

Katie and the team arrived on Thursday night so they’d be ready to go first thing on Friday in the test sessions. It also gave Katie’s dad, Jonny, a chance to get some sleep as he’d been working from 5:30am to 10:30pm all week to try and make sure the car was perfect ready for the first race meeting.

In the morning it was cool but dry and Katie had Instructor Howard Hunt alongside her to help her find the maximum from the car. The car seemed strangely slow but Katie continued and did the afternoon on her own so she could adjust to the feel of the car without any extra weight. Something was very wrong though, the car was nine seconds off the pace and Katie knew she wouldn’t be that slow normally. The car was also struggling to pull the car up Oulton’s steep hills.

Initially the team tried changing everything they could on the engine but it still didn’t seem right so the last resort was to change engines to the team’s spare. This was Katie’s race engine from last season. This meant another late night for dad Jonny and the team but by 1:30am the car was fixed.

Unfortunately there was no time to test things and so Katie went straight into qualifying with the new engine. The car was much faster and within three laps, Katie was now just one second off pole instead of the nine seconds she had been the day before! This put her in an excellent eighth overall for race one and her second best time put her tenth on the grid for race two. She was by far the fastest female driver on the grid as well although Katie is more interested in being the fastest outright!

Katie heads a big pack of cars - (Photo by Phil Laughton)Katie at the chicane - (Photo by Phil Laughton)A hug from dad - (Photo by Jess Richardson)As the lights went out for race one on Saturday afternoon she got a great start and held position around the first couple of corners. She got slightly crowded out at the hairpin which dropped her to ninth. She then had to hold off Will Dyrdal for tenth. This allowed the pack to edge away slightly but in the closing stages she managed to pull away from Dyrdal as he got into a battle with Finlay Robinson. She was on the tail of Charlie Kennedy as the chequered flag came out, finishing just a few tenths behind in ninth.

For race two, she’d start further back in tenth so she’d need to do some work to move higher into the top ten.

She had to try and hold off Oliver Wilmott initially and although he did eventually slip past, Katie did some passing of her own. She ended up just behind the leading pack with the rest of her rivals considerably further back. Taking the chequered flag in eighth it completed a great first weekend despite the initial setback of the faulty engine. As a bonus she’d also been the fastest female in every session and race.

Katie spoke about her weekend after the race had finished;

“Overall, I’m really pleased with my progress seeing as all the other drivers have been testing over winter.Since Pembrey last year I hadn’t even driven the car until Wednesday! My aim for the races and qualifying was to be in the top ten and that’s what I achieved so I’m very happy! I’d like to all my supporters especially Nimbus Motorsport, Autocool radiators, Merlin international and Myprotein. Without them I wouldn’t be here! I’d also like to thank my dad for all his hard work. I’m really looking forward to the next rounds!”

Katie’s next races are on April 23rd and 24th at Pembrey in Wales. It’s a circuit she enjoyed last season and so she’ll be hoping for another successful weekend. By Marc Waller

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