At the weekend the FPW Racing duo of Milo Ward and Greg Greenwood took to the picturesque circuit of Oulton Park for Round Three of the British Motorstar championship. The team knew they were on the back foot from the start as neither rider had any real experience of racing at this level at Oulton.
Saturday was a day for learning the circuit, making progress and staying upright! Both Milo and Greg did this with improvements coming in both sessions. In Free Practice One (FP1), Milo strung together 7 laps with a best time of 2:02.57. Not far behind Greg broke the timing beacon with a best time of 2:03.36, putting the pair in 19th and 22nd positions respectively. With rain falling between sessions it was a pleasant feeling to know that both riders would go out to dry track conditions for FP2. The times fell dramatically in this session as the sun shone over the Cheshire circuit. Both riders pulled their fingers out too with Milo staying out for the entire session to complete 10 laps, the best being a 1:56.23 (14th). Greg also covered 10 laps, and finished just 0.6 seconds off his team mate with a 1:56.88 (16th). This improvement was just what they needed to end day one with, it boosted confidence and focused both of riders.
There’s always room for improvement and the timing sheets highlighted that Milo was loosing out on straight line speed. Always 3-4 mph down on his team mate (running identical equipment) due to nothing else than aerodynamics. Milo’s position on the bike has been an area of focus for the team looking to improve the Northamptonshire youngster chances of being consistently in the top 10. So Saturday afternoon was spent on a mammoth three hour fitting session, looking for nothing more than a few mph.
Sunday was the day of qualifying on the sunny bank holiday weekend and after the positive progress seen in FP2, both riders were hoping to end the session in the top 50%. Yet again the best times for both riders fell in Qualifying One. For Greg it was a strange session as his straight line speed was up at all of the speed traps compare to the previous day but he didn’t make the size of improvement the speeds suggested. With a time of 1:55.26, 1.5 seconds faster than Saturdays best, he had not done enough and was relegated back to a provisional 23rd on the grid. After the session Greg commented “I was trying too hard, it just wasn’t smooth on the brakes and that’s where I lost the time.”
Milo also ran faster out on track and looked to be benefitting from the hours of body positioning done the day before, as his speed trap figures were looking better. Improving by almost two seconds Milo finished with a 1:54.46. Unfortunately this was also not go enough to improve on the previous days grid placing as he slid to 19th on the provisional grid.
The early evening Q2 session was their last chance to make an improvement that would count in the race and neither rider backed away from the challenge. It’s a pleasure to work with two youngsters who are keen, willing to listen and love the sport. Finishing 19th (Milo) and 20th (Greg) on the timings for the final qualifying didn’t tell the entire story! Both Milo and Greg had knocked off another 0.6 of a second off their best times, with Greg ending his 12 laps with a best of 1.54.59. Just in front Milo had completed 13 laps with his time being 1:53.81. Unfortunately though both riders saw the combined times relegate them back to 21st for Milo and 23rd for Greg (Row 6 on the grid).
Race days warm up session is only eight minutes long so five laps was the target for both of the riders. While Greg’s hopes of improving we’re hampered by a faulty quick shifter, Milo did look more aggressive whilst maintaining a smooth transition from throttle to brakes. Milo ended the session on his best time of all sessions, a 1:53.26. After the session Milo was annoyed he hadn’t managed to get there in qualifying as he would of been 15th on the grid, two rows ahead of his actual slot.
With the race being televised both Milo and Greg were looking to get the yellow and green bikes on TV as they knew they could go quicker. Both riders made a decent start and by the end of lap one both had moved up a place and looked quicker than the riders around them. Greg was looking the more annoyed and by the end of lap two had closed right onto the back wheel of Milo who was in 19th position.
As the pace of the race increased Greg managed to put Steve Lawton between himself and Milo and was battling with Bradley Hughes and Taz Taylor. Milo wasn’t giving up though and was right on the back wheel of the group as they completed lap 6.
Unfortunately as they pushed forward Greg came into contact with Taz Taylor on the entry into Druids as Taz and Greg looked for the same piece of tarmac. Greg went down heavily on the super fast part of the track but unfortunately Greg’s wayward bike clipped Milo’s back wheel bringing him down also. This was rotten luck for Milo who said “I’m disappointed for the race to finish this way”. Milo was however thoughtful towards his team mate who had suffered a broken clavicle in the crash, wishing him a speedy recovery.
Greg, Milo and the team would like to thank the marshals and medical staff for their assistance at the circuit. Greg was taken for further x-rays but the initial diagnosis was sound. Luckily for Greg there is a significant break in the series until Knockhill on the weekend of the 14th – 16th June for him to fully recover.
FPW racing would also like to congratulate ex team rider Tom Carne on his first pole position and send our wishes for a speedy recovery to series racer Catherine Green who was injured in a crash on Saturday.