This weekend was the third and final round of the inaugural oOple Off-Road Open Series. Having already visited Stotfold and RHR, Sunny Southport was the host of the final round. The 4wd championship was already decided with Tom Cockerill taking wins in the opening 2 rounds, but 2wd was a three-way battle between Schumacher’s Greg Williams, Tom Cockerill and RHR boss James Heliwell.
As usual, Saturday morning would see open practice, allowing everyone all the track time they could wish for to get their cars dialled in to the high grip Southport track. The track was excellently prepared by the Southport crew, and the layout was fast and challenging, which would make for some good racing come the finals.
Once practice was over, 4 rounds of qualifying started, with a 5th and final round on the Sunday morning. 2wd qualifying was very close, with Matthew Latham taking the first two rounds until Tom Cockerill got his act together to go quickest in the next 2, importantly in a quicker time to hold the overnight top spot. Sunday morning would see Chris Evison take the final round in the quickest time, to take 3rd on the grid, lining up behind Tom (TQ) and Matthew (2nd), and in front of the current championship leader, Greg Williams. James Heliwell didn’t have the greatest luck in qualifying, only lining up 9th on the grid, but with it all to play for in the finals his championship battle wasn’t over yet.
4wd again we saw 3 different drivers take rounds of qualifying, and again it was Tom Cockerill who took the opening two rounds who would line up pole for the finals, his quickest time been some 4 seconds quicker than anyone else. Matthew Latham took two round wins on his way to second on the grid and James Heliwell took the other round to get himself 3rd on the gird.
The 4wd finals saw Matthew Latham take the win with some excellent driving, James Heliwell ended up 2nd and Ben Jemison completed the podium in 3rd. Tom Had some driving errors seeing himself fall down the order. However, with the championship already sewn up it was 2wd that really mattered on the day.
The 2wd finals again saw Matthew Latham take the win with victory in the first two legs. Coming into the 3rd and final leg it would be the decider for the title between Tom & Greg. Tom led away from the front, but a mistake coming on to the straight saw him drop down the field. Greg followed the leaders round in third place with a sensible drive, knowing it was all he needed to do, and with it, took the Championship.
That brings the end to a successful oOple series for 2013, with Schumacher winning both 2wd (Greg Williams – SV2 ) & 4wd (Tom Cockerill – K1) Championships, winning 4 rounds of the series with 4 TQ’s along the way.