A first-ever race win for Paul Pochciol and a Ford Capri debut for historic racing ace Simon Hadfield were the key stories from the JD Classic Challenge race at the Oulton Park Gold Cup on Monday 27 August.
Pochciol’s day started badly, however, when the Jaguar XJS of Chris Ward spun in qualifying and clipped Pochciol’s Jaguar XJ12. Unfortunately, both cars were out for the day, but Pochciol and co-driver Simon Hadfield were able to switch to their Esso-liveried Ford Capri and started the race from the back of the grid. Hadfield, who had never previously raced a Capri, would also share the Pochciol’s UFO-liveried Capri with Paul’s son Tom.
The track was wet for the start and got progressively wetter as the 40-minute race developed. Mark Wright grabbed the early lead in his Ford Escort from Tom Pochciol, but Hadfield made startling progress from the back of the grid to be third by the end of the first lap.
For a few laps, the top four cars made a fabulous sight as they ran nose-to-tail, with Robert Brown joining in with his Ford Escort before it lapsed onto three cylinders.
By lap four, Hadfield had taken the lead and then on lap eight he pitted to hand the lead car over to Paul Pochciol. Two laps later, Hadfield took over the UFO car from Tom Pochciol and set about clawing back the lead he had built up in the Esso car. It was an absorbing contest, but Paul P was driving extremely well in tough conditions. From around half a minute down, Hadfield pulled the margin back to less than 10sec at the flag, but really needed two more laps to get close.
Up into a great third place after a first lap spin came Chris Scragg, who drove solo in his Jaguar XJ12, while Sean Brown took over from son Robert to take fourth as the Mark Wright/Dave Coyne Escort dropped back to fifth. Another father and son crew, Denis and Jeremy Welch, were sixth in their Ford Capri.
“It’s turned into a better day now,” said Pochciol senior after a well-deserved victory. “Mr Hadfield gave me a great advantage,” he added modestly. “This was a new one for me,” said Hadfield. “I was very flattered to be asked: it was absolutely brilliant fun!”
Scragg was just as pleased to complete the podium party. “That’s the first time I’ve driven the car in the wet and I found out where the grip stopped at the first hairpin,” he said.
Finally, finishing at the tail of the pack was a great achievement for Jonathan Hunter in his lovely NSU TT. It was the car’s first race in several decades after a five-year rebuild – realising his ambition of finishing was a tremendous conclusion to the JD Classics Challenge.