YPM On For Oulton Bank Holiday
The third round of the DFDS Seaways sponsored Yamaha Past Masters Racing Club takes place this weekend (23-26 May) at Oulton Park, with the picturesque Cheshire venue hosting the meeting over the bank holiday weekend.
With the circuit subject to strict noise regulations, a full day of Friday practice will be available, followed by qualifying and two seven lap races on Saturday. However, Sunday will see no racing action, with the paddock instead treated to a rest day, before action resumes on the Bank Holiday Monday.
After morning warm-up on the Monday, there will two extended, 10-lap races for the YPMRC, providing ample opportunity for some close and spectacular racing.
It also provides championship leader Graham Higlett with the chance to further extend his championship lead. The 2012 champion boasts an impressive 100% record so far this season, taking eight wins from all eight races. However, in a class of one at Silverstone, Higlett was pushed harder at the opening round by Matt Barber, who returns for Oulton Park and could make things interesting at the front.
Weather could also play a part, with rain forecast over the course of the weekend. While Higlett is a self-confessed loather of the rain, Barber has shown real speed in the wet last season. Changes in tyre rules may effect the outcome this season in any wet races, but on previous form it'd be hard to look past the likes of Barber.
Running at the sharp-end again this year is Doug Edmondson, who sits second in the overall championship. He will be looking to challenge for wins again, and if it rains, don't be surprised to see him taking a couple. The forecast rain may also favour the likes of Andy Wheeler, who took his only YPM win in the wet at Brands Hatch last term.
After a slow start at Snetterton, Pete Moore was well on the pace at Snetterton, and will be hoping to repeat that form at Oulton and battle once again with Barber, Edmondson and Higlett. Watch out too for Andy Davies, who took an impressive second place at Silverstone.
Lee Finney looks set to miss Oulton with a shoulder injury sustained at Silverstone, crashing out heavily while running in the Two-Stroke GP series, but Simon Braby will be aiming to bridge the gap to the front runners, after qualifying on the front row at Silverstone and a number of good rides, taking a best finish of fourth.
One to watch though will be Pete Fishwick, the only one who get close to Michael Smith during his championship winning year of 2011. Returning for a one-off ride, he's sure to get close to the front of the field.
Weather could also play a part in the battle for the Clubman championship, currently headed by James Sharpe, with Trevor Sharpe, currently third in the standings a fan of the wet. Again though, tyre reg changes could throw it all up in the air. Second in the standings Paul Whitby will be also be looking to take over at the top of the championship, but hasn't previously had good experiences in the wet, especially at Oulton Park, crashing out two years ago in the rain. Watch out for battles between those three though, as well as Mike Wake, Paul Davies and Kev Marshal.
This year's Rookie championship is providing the real excitement so far, with just one point separating Michael Stanley and Sacha Gyte at the top of the standings. Gyte's pace improved throughout the Silverstone meeting, with confidence high heading to Oulton, the scene of his first YPM experience last season on the Yambits sponsored TZR250 Club BIke. Tim Hall however, will be hoping to get back amongst the wins, missing out on a trophy at Silverstone.
The Oulton Park meeting runs from 23 - 26 May, with racing also taking place on the Bank Holiday Monday.