National reports: Rockingham
ROCKINGHAM BARC NOVEMBER 24
If you arrived at Rockingham for the Super Send-off, the venue’s last race meeting before closing for good, expecting to see the cars advertised on the marketing literature, you might have been a little disappointed.
Garlanded with Indycar and ASCAR shots, the Super Send-off’s publicity evoked memories of series that had long since abandoned the £70million oval. Fortunately, a very pleasant national meeting entertained in their place.
The circuit’s boss Peter Hardman was clearly out to make hay, winning both
Sports & GT bouts, plus the One Hour
Race in his Radical SR3.
For Hardman, this brought his involvement in Rockingham’s life full circle. Although the circuit’s inaugural meeting was held behind closed doors so any teething problems could be unobtrusively sorted, Hardman finished second in the first public race – piloting a Ferrari 246S Dino in the 2001 Coys Historic Festival. Penalties cost him the Citroen C1 24-hour win at the circuit earlier this year, but business last weekend was more straightforward.
Oil at Chapman did send Hardman skating off in the second Sports & GT race, which he started from pole, but a subsequent red flag and reset grid meant he received a second chance.
The brace of white Ginetta G55s driven by GT4 Supercup regulars Lee Frost and Lucky Khera provided the stiffest competition, as evinced by Khera’s second place in race two.
He should have equalled that result in the opener, but the pressure from British GT and Formula Palmer Audi champion
Jon Barnes was too much and he spun onto the banking, allowing the Caterham 420R through to finish runner-up.
It seemed as though no driver wanted to win the last ever single-seater race at Rockingham, as F1000 runners Dave Wheal and Robert Bailey tried their best to throw away victory over the sparse eight-car field.
Wheal’s clean getaway from pole in race two left him unchallenged into
Turn 1, as Bailey dropped from fifth to sixth. But late braking into Deene and then a strong run to Yentworth brought Bailey back up to second – assisted by
Ewen Sergison’s ex-emanuele Pirro Osella FAF FF2000 car stopping with a misfire.
At the end of the opening lap, Bailey had only a 0.2s deficit to Wheal and promptly passed for the lead through Chapman two tours later. But an overzealous application of right foot on the exit of Tarzan spun him round, gifting Wheal a lifeline. That was until Wheal dropped his car onto the grass at Pif-paf. Bailey then looked comfortable in first, and set a string of fastest laps, until he mistakenly thought a black flag for car #3 was meant for him (#33).
He dived into the pits, realised his error, and then returned to try to make amends. But Wheal held on by 2.8 seconds to claim a fortuitous win. It was not Bailey’s day, for in race one he had been the clear leader before making an error and spinning his car into the gravel at Brook. Four marshals managed to retrieve the stricken F1000, but the delay was long enough to allow Wheal a clear run.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5 driver Andy Baylie blew away the opposition in the Saloons encounters, taking two victories.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Kell capped off his rookie season of car racing in style with second in his Group N Ford Sierra XR4X4. Had he not lost third gear in race two, he was odds on for another trophy.
Hardman (5) took a hat-trick of wins in SR3
Racing at Rockingham has come to an end