Monoposto Rds 7 & 8 - Oulton Park - 24th July
Photos by Norwich Photo
Having missed the entire 2020 season and first half 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Leastone team were finally back on the road when they took on Rounds 7 and 8 of the Monoposto championship at Oulton Park last weekend. Monoposto stalwart Morgan McCourt was joined by the father/son duo of Brendan and Karl O’Brien in their Global Service Centres Leastone 1000’s. Following a successful single seater debut at Mondello Park earlier in the month, Karl was now making his UK debut at one of the most challenging circuits on the championship.
Karl continued to belie his rookie status, logging a time in qualifying good enough for 5th on the grid and notably the first non-Jedi runner. Morgan rounded out the top 10, still shaking off some rust having not had the benefit of stretching his legs at Mondello like his young upstart teammate. Of the trio of Leastones, Brendan suffered the worst luck during the 20 minute qualifying session. On the opening lap, his Suzuki GSXR1000 popped an oil pipe off and while he quickly killed the ignition, terminal damage had been done and he would be forced to watch the days action from the sidelines.
Karl slipped to 6th off the line for race one but immediately began pressurizing 5th place as he sought to make up for lost ground. The teenager again impressed onlookers with his racecraft, despite his relative inexperience, and the pair swapped positions numerous times around the 2.692 mile International circuit. Morgan had a similarly tardy start, dropping to 12th on the opening lap. He struggled to make progress from there and was swallowed by a pack of cars on lap 2, which saw him relegated to 16th overall.
Karls battle continued, with it now becoming a battle for 4th overall. The pair continue to fight tooth and nail all the way up to the final lap, where Karl finally got ahead and made it stick on the run to the chequered flag. Any hope of major progress for Morgan was hindered by a niggling misfire which got progressively worse throughout the race. He would come home 13th overall and still secure 9th in the Mono 1000 class, despite his issues.
Grid slots for Race 2 were based off the competitors second fastest lap from qualifying and Karls consistency was rewarded with another 5th place, with Morgan lining up on the outside of row 8. Lap 1 saw the safety car deployed, but not before Karl had manage to jump to 4th and Morgan to 14th. Compared to his hectic first race, Karl had a relatively lonely race 2. Once the safety car peeled off, the lead pack made a break, which left Karl to settle into a steady rhythm and maintain roughly a 2 second gap to the 5th place car behind for the balance of the race.
Despite making some progress at the start, it was evident that team had not fully cured the troublesome misfire on Morgans car. He managed to hold onto 14th up to the mid-point of the race but then slipped to 16th overall in the closing stages and this equated to 12th place in the Mono 1000 classification. The team mood would not be helped by a late race clutch failure for Karl, which would see him coast to a halt just a few corners from the chequered flag.
‘Ultimately it was frustrating to not see the flag in race 2 but I am delighted with the pace across the weekend. The battle in race 1 was really enjoyable and I look forward to more of that over the remainder of the year!’ said Karl at the end of the weekend.
While he suffered some struggles over the weekend, Morgan was equally delighted: ‘This type of misfire is frustrating as it is extremely difficult to track down between runs but either way, it was great to be back on track after all this time! Hopefully the team will rectify the issue back at base and we can come out fighting at the next event.’
The next Monoposto round will see the team tackle the Silverstone Grand Prix for rounds 9 and 10 across the August 14/15th weekend.