The Leastone team suffered a trying weekend on the Oulton Park International layout last weekend, with a number of technical issues hitting each of the 3 team members throughout the course of the weekend. Team regulars Mark Reade and Morgan McCourt were joined by Brendan O’Brien for his first outing of 2018, in his new Global Service Centres 1000.
During Friday’s test session, Morgan and Mark continued to build on the knowledge gained during 2017’s visit to the Cheshire track, while Brendan steadily got himself up to speed around the challenging 2.7 km Island layout. A solid day’s running had the team well prepared for Saturday’s qualifying, which again saw a capacity grid for the MonoMoto 1000, Classic, 1800 & 1600 classes. Reade slotted himself onto the outside of row 3, with Morgan and Brendan on rows 5 and 9 respectively.
The start of race 1 saw 2 of the 3 Leastone’s make a decent start, the exception being Mark who began to tumble down the order on the opening lap. Leaving the grid, a gear selector issue left him unable to upshift and matters go worse when the car selected neutral, resulting in him coasting to a halt shortly after completing the opening lap. Marks team mates did not suffer much better luck in the opening stages, despite having made solid starts.
On lap 3, Morgan had a front suspension failure under braking, forcing him into a wild off track moment and lucky not avoid further damage to his 1000. O’Brien was holding firm on the opening laps before he began steadily losing pace, as an electrical issue saw his GSXR engine slowly lose power before grinding to a halt.
Of the three race 1 issues, Mark’s problem was the easiest fix, as a new gear selector was quickly put in place during the break. The damage to Morgan’s car was unfortunately terminal, with the suspension pick up pulled out of the chassis, there was not enough time to complete a safe repair and make the grid for race 2. The failure was later traced back to an off track excursion during qualifying, which saw Morgan clip one of the tracks sausage kerbs, weakening the offending suspension mount.
The team worked feverishly to chase Brendan’s power issue, which appeared to be somewhere within the 1000’s wiring loom. Not 100% confident given the short turnaround, O’Brien was able to at least make it to the grid for race 2. Unfortunately the problems continued, and while he was able to make the start, the car was not able to continue and coasted to a halt on the opening lap.
In the meantime, Reade got a storming start from 8th on the grid, jumping to 6th by the end of lap 1, before sneaking inside the top 5 on lap 2. A frantic battle ensued for positions 4th through to 6th, a battle that would continue for the bulk of the race. As the laps wound down, Reade focused on trying to vault his way into 4th, while having to keep a watchful eye on his mirrors.
Traffic then became an issue in the latter stages, which saw the group then spread out over the final two laps and Reade having to settle for 5th place and a handful of useful championship points, which was something of a result given the weekend’s problems.
The team will now regroup, in preparation for rounds 9 and 10, when the championship will visit Cadwell Park, Cadwell is a a happy hunting ground for Reade, where he secured his and the 1000’s debut win last season. While Mark has lost some ground in the championship battle, he is still within touching distance of the championship lead and well placed to defend his MonoMoto crown, as the season enters its second half.