Na­tional re­ports: Rock­ing­ham

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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

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