Mark Reade and the Leastone Racing Team bolstered their Monoposto championship hopes with a strong performance at Oulton Park last weekend. The Donore native scored a brace of second places at the Cheshire circuit, which was using its full 4.33km International layout, and was joined by Morgan McCourt, who was making his second appearance in the Monoposto championship for 2017.
Both drivers enjoyed a productive days testing on Friday and this set them up for a good qualifying, with Reade securing pole position for his MonoMoto 1000 class for both of the days races and Morgan lining up on the second row, 3rd in class.
Race 1 saw some confusion at the start over green flag laps but once the race got way proper, Reade surprised the front row by vaulting into the lead on the short run to Old Hall. He put up a stout defence from the more powerful 1400 class cars, but by lap 3 he had been bundled down to 4th overall and now had his closest class rival filling his mirrors. Morgan had a solid start, maintaining his 3rd place during the frantic opening laps.
Even with the length of the International circuit, backmarkers were coming into play as early as lap 5, which saw Reade drop to 2nd as he negotiated the slower traffic. He pushed the new leader hard, getting alongside on a number of occasions, in areas that do not typically see much overtaking, but could not make the move stick. McCourt maintained a watching brief on this battle from 3rd, albeit some distance back.
With the laps winding down, Mark ran out of opportunities, ultimately getting baulked on the final lap and bringing his Leastone 1000 home 2nd, with Morgan sealing his first Monoposto podium.
Reade could not replicate his lightning fast getaway from earlier at the start of race 2, slotting into second place and again, he began to apply pressure for the lead. His teammate did not fare as well, stalling on the grid but managing to get his 1000 fired up after the entire grid had sailed by.
Reade maintained a gap of just over the one second mark to the class leader for the opening laps before traffic would again come into play, this time on lap 4. McCourt had made good progress through the field, breaking into the top 5 by lap 5, before he suffered a clutch problem that would force him to retire the car.
Meanwhile, the gap ebbed and flowed at the head of the field, depending on who caught backmarkers at the more opportune time. Mark could not quite get within striking distance of the leader over the remainder of the race and crossed the line to record his second podium, increasing his points haul to 24 for the weekend.
With that, Reade is now just 8 points away from the championship leader and will be looking to close the gap even further when the Monoposto championship visits Snetterton on the 26/27th of August. Oulton will be Morgan’s final Monoposto outing for this season and despite the problems in race 2, he was happy with his weekend and in particular, his silverware!
Despite just missing out on the wins, Reade was delighted with his weekend overall: ‘Oulton Park is my new favourite track, a proper track! Great to get the double class pole and I really enjoyed the race 1 battle with the Jedi, but I just couldn't hold him off. The 2nd race was a bit quieter but another good haul of championship points. We made a lot of progress with the Leastone 1000 this weekend, I have to thank Paul Heavey and Leastone Racing for their hard work and Finol Oils for the continued support’