A few weeks ago, the papers were full of ‘long, hot summer’ stories.
We were being warned to buy hats, cover ourselves in bear grease, fry eggs on our kneecaps, and sleep at night in the nearest water butt.
Well, no-one told Oulton Park.
Thundersport GB visited the Cheshire circuit, one of the finest and most challenging in the world, and the heavens opened.
True, the Friday test day was dry and warm, but that served simply to lure riders into a false sense of security, particularly those who had not ridden the great track before.
Raceday dawned, and the rain was unrelenting.
But lousy weather conditions don’t always make for lousy racing.
Some riders excel in poor conditions, some battle them, and some simply ignore them.
Whichever, an extra degree of bravery is required, and one to rise to the occasion was Northern Ireland’s Andy Reid.
Andy came to Cheshire leading the Aprilia Superteen points table, but, although he’s been consistently quick in qualifying, he’s lately had to watch Connor Tagg, Wayne Ryan, Matthew Davies and Lee Jackson pick off the race wins.
While others sploshed around the paddock, muttering glumly about tyres, lack of grip, where to brake etc, Andy quietly went about his business – pole, and two wins out of two were a just reward for an outstanding effort – unfussy, and very quick.
Nitro Newcomer, Danny Murphy scored two excellent seconds, and fellow rookies, Joe Ravenscroft, Tommy Mountain, and Scott Pitchers all turned in impressive performances on the soaking track.
Andy Reid then turned his attention to the E2E Solutions Thundersport GP3 championship.
This is a stunning and ultra-competitive series, boasting more potential race winners than any other, but, this day, Andy was on fire, and no amount of water could put it out.
He fought his way to the front and rode a beautiful race to take the win.
Behind him was a mixture of mayhem and heroics.
Sam Hornsey, co-leading the championship with Fraser Rogers, grabbed an important pole – particularly important as Fraser had a mare in qualifying, bike problems allowing him just one flying lap, good enough only for a 26th place start.
Thus the pressure was on Sam – this was a double points race, and he knew he’ll probably never get a better chance to build a significant points lead over Fraser.
He got away well, but his race only lasted two laps, before he dropped it.
There are always lessons to be learned, and a confidence shaker can easily become a championship maker, so Sam needs to reflect, and move on. He’s got the talent and the speed – in fact, in his short time out there, he set the second fastest lap of the race – he will return!
Fraser, meanwhile, looked superb.
He fought his way to sixth, and never took silly risks – a very mature performance. He was also under constant pressure from Sam Burman.
Sam never seems to crack qualifying, but she’s a real racer, coming from fifteenth to finish seventh, posting a faster lap time than Fraser, and looking very assured in the horrible conditions.
Simon Low had the ride of his life. A visit to the countryside at Shell Oils hairpin after just one lap of qualifying left him 31st on the grid.
Support from Hornsey Steels, courtesy of Sam Hornsey’s dad, is doing wonders for Simon’s confidence though, and he simply blitzed his way through the field to a fifth place finish.
There were equally good efforts from Arnie Shelton and Bryn Owen, and a fabulous effort from George Martindale.
I saw George and his mechanic in the garage on Friday, and there was much head-scratching, frowning and spannering, but it all came good in the race, with an aggressive, but controlled, ride to a well-deserved fourth position.
Despite the weather, this was a superb event – the sun may not have shone, but the young ones did…