Rockingham Race Report

Rockingham Race Report - 16th / 17th July

The weekend of 16th / 17th July saw a bumper 25 car grid at Rockingham, and inclement weather conditions for the second race in succession.

Qualifying took place on the Saturday on a dry track, and saw Dave Clark line up in his customary pole position, ahead of regular frontrunners Gerry Taylor and Richard Styrin.  Steve Brown was the pacesetter in the 924 class, taking his second consecutive pole position, ahead of Adam Croft and Sean Siddal in an impressive third position. 924 Championship leader Alfred Piesinger crashed out in the early part of qualifying, relegating him to the back of the field. 

        

 

Race 1

On a day when the organizers considered it necessary to allow two green flag laps to give the competitors more time to accustom themselves to the conditions, Rockingham in the rain tested the drivers. The race started on a wet but drying track and the early laps saw several spins.

Lap1 and Dave Clark led from pole, finishing the lap almost 3.5 seconds ahead of Gerry Taylor. John Bearman and Mike Sellar moved into 3rd & 4th places respectively overtaking Richard Styrin and David Bearman. Steve Boyles moved up to 7th ahead of the returning Nick Hull and Dave Hughes. The last of the Boxsters saw Martin Braybrook and Guillaume Gruchet lose considerable ground, completing the lap in 21st and 25th place.

From the lights, Adam Croft led the 924s away and audaciously drove around the outside of some slower Boxsters on the banking into the first hairpin bend. With Andy Hannington gaining four places, 924 pole man Steve Brown was relegated to 3rd place. Martin Hall climbed an impressive 7 places and guest driver Mark McAleer moved up from 6th place on the grid, both drivers finishing lap 1 ahead of Mark Marshall who maintained his start position. Alfred Piesinger, following an accident in qualifying, started from the back of the grid and managed to gain an incredible 10 places by the end of the 1st lap to slot in behind Marshall while Sean Siddall dropped the same number of places (having started a career best 3rd on the grid) to finish the lap in front of rookie, Stephen Potts. In front of these two, Mark Mackenzie, Paul Bravo, newcomer Tony Mekwinski, Geoffrey Hanson and Rebecca Jackson were all battling for positions.

Lap 2 and there were no changes in position for the leading 12 cars although lap times were coming down and Taylor started to eat into Clark’s lead.

Lap 3 saw Styrin take 4th spot from Sellar and Nick Hull drop back behind the 924 of Hall who had lost a place to Piesinger. The leading 924s were having a very close fight. Hannington’s car wearing a replacement engine after destroying the previous one at the last outing was clearly lacking in straight line speed and only skillful racing through the infield allowed him to stay ahead of Brown. The three leading 924’s were now being hampered on the tighter bends by the slower Boxsters.

Lap 4 and Styrin was now in 3rd place. Taylor continued to narrow the lead and the slower Boxsters were beginning to move through the 924 pack.

Lap 5 and a change in the leading 924s. Brown moved ahead of Hannington with the Boxster of Hull between them. Piesinger, Mcaleer and Hall followed with Gruchet separating them from Mackenzie and Hanson. Braybrook, Mekwinski, Marshall, Siddal, Bravo, Potts and Jackson completed the field. The race leaders were now starting to lap the tailenders.

Lap 6 and halfway through the race. Taylor had narrowed the gap with Clark to under 1 second but the pair continued to pull away from the pack.

Lap 7 witnessed another leadership change in the 924 race. Hannington took immediate advantage of a battle between leaders Brown and Croft which put the pair off the racing line. Croft was now in 2nd place followed by Brown. The situation at the front was becoming critical as Taylor was now a mere 0.328 seconds behind Clark with Styrin trailing by over 14 seconds.

Lap 10 saw the race leaders put almost 26 seconds between themselves and 3rd man Styrin. Brown put in a characteristic storming lap and in a chaotic run down to the first hairpin took 2nd 924 place from Croft as the lead lapping Boxsters came charging past the 924 front runners. 

Lap 11 and Brown followed  the group of lapping Boxsters, seizing the chance to take the 924 lead. He held the position to win 924 honours from Hannington, Croft and Mcaleer. Clark and Taylor were now joined at the hip with only 0.027 seconds between them.

Lap 12 saw the most dramatic position change of the year when Taylor slipped past Clark to claim the win and break the 2010 champion’s unbeaten run!

So, a dramatic first race at Rockingham saw a maiden Boxster victory for Gerry Taylor, whilst Steve Brown racked up an impressive hat-trick of 924 wins....

 

 

Race 2

 By the Sunday afternoon,  the track had dried but storm clouds still threatened rain.

The four front runners, Taylor, Clark, Styrin and David Bearman maintained their positions from lights to chequered flag with just one change in lap 7 when Styrin momentarily stole 2nd place from Clark. Behind these four, drama occurred when 5th man, John Bearman left the track on lap 3. Thankfully, John was unhurt unlike his car which suffered severe damage. Following a prolonged absence from racing this year, Dave Hughes finished the race in a commendable 5th place.

Steve Brown led the 924 racers without interruption, but behind him several changes occurred between the combatants for the other two podium positions. Piesinger, who had jumped in behind Brown on lap 1 was forced to retire on lap 4 when Sean Siddall, attempting an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre, span, causing Alfred to take evasive action which ended in the gravel trap. Croft, Marshall and Hannington were able to drive around the obstruction. On the same lap, Rebecca Jackson had total brake failure and was forced to park up. The race finished with Brown in a commanding lead over Croft and Hannington who had wrested 3rd spot from Mark Marshall in the penultimate lap.

Commiserations to Jayson Flegg who’s only outing onto the track was during the qualifying session.

A great weekend’s racing which has left things tantalisingly poised in the Championship Standings, and the Design911.com Porsche Championship moves onto Brands Hatch on 13th / 14th August for rounds 12 & 13!    

 

Next race

Brands Hatch (Indy) - 8th / 9th September 2018

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