A few hours later, when we headed out on the formation lap for race one, the circuit was practically dry again. There had been no more rain, and the combination of humid conditions and plenty of track action in the meantime allowed the Oulton Park surface to return to something approaching its Friday best. Game on.
The grid places on the start line at Oulton Park are closely packed together, unlike the greater distance between cars at Silverstone a fortnight earlier. This should have provided ample opportunity for overtaking on the start line, providing the start is not made a mess of. This is something I promptly did, reacting slowly to the lights and dumping the clutch too quickly.
Nevertheless, a couple of places were made up on the first lap, and a few laps later I became locked in a tight tussle for sixth with Peter Tyler and Lewis Gee. It was my first experience for some real wheel-to-wheel racing on a tight track after a somewhat lonely time on the wide open spaces of the full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.
A fine experience it was too to finally race alongside others, and it was amazing how quickly the confidence builds to really run close to people, and the trust and understanding you can have with others to be both firm and fair.
The battle with Gee and Tyler was one I had looked to have emerged from on top until, heading into the last corner of the last lap, I promptly locked the brakes under no pressure and spun, dropping back down from fourth to sixth. You should always push in racing, but there’s a lesson in there somewhere about knowing when to accept your lot…
Still, it was a confidence-boosting result ahead of race two, although in that race another sluggish start ended hopes of any real first corner progress. Places were also harder to come by for the first lap, and I found myself in an early battle for eighth.
A chance to overtake presented itself as we came out of the second chicane and Knickerbrook. It started off well: I got a good corner exit, picked up a slipstream, pulled out to the right, got past; all good so far. But suddenly I had two wheels on the grass as a kink to the left suddenly tightened on me ahead of the entrance to fast right-hander at Druids, and my Radical fired across the track straight into the barriers at 120mph.
This was not fun. It happened very quickly. It hurt. And in truth, it’s a tricky one to recall exactly. I have a few images of the crash and what I can recall, but there are gaps. I remember the pass, not knowing where the car was subsequently, going on the grass, the moment of impact, and the final resting point. You don’t really have time to react once you known you’ve lost control. It might sound a cliché, but it really does happen very quickly.
What a testament to the safety of the Radical SR1 that I could unclip my safety belts and get out of what was left of the car to the safety of the marshal post. I’d never recommend a high-speed crash, but if you must do it, do it in one of these.
I didn’t dare look behind at the now written-off SR1 behind me as the quick-reacting marshals guided me into the ambulance for a check over from two incredibly friendly, helpful and knowledgeable chaps from the St John’s Ambulance.
The safety car was out at this point while the wreck was cleared, and at the end of the race I was handed over to Oulton Park’s medical team of chief medical officer Sam Whitehouse and doctors Sumit Mitra and James White, completing the lap in the back of a BMW X5 and straight into the medical centre for observation and some tests.