Rocking at Rockingham


“Bloody crows, shut up!”

There are many things at a racetrack that can stop you getting a decent nights sleep, but the army of crows squawking at Rockingham last Saturday morning were on a new one for us! Still, with signing on and scrutineering at 7:30am there was no time for a lay in at this second meeting of the Quaife Intermarques season.

“How early is it?”

Even the cars not dressed yet

For it’s second outing the new Tigra was sporting some new panels to replace the rather second hand ones that came back from Brands last time. We’d also taken this opportunity to enlarge the cooling intake in the new bumper….so there was a silver lining to smashing the old one up. Under the skin we’d fixed the broken suspension, tweaked the setup and changed the brake master cylinders so fingers crossed for some improvements this time out.

The ever impressive Rockingham main grandstand

After just squeezing through the noise test (so the Tigra is a bit noisier than the 206) it was time for qualifying. A good 15 minutes of track time followed which was very useful as the new car hasn’t had much running so far! By the end of the session Ross had got down to a 1:36.361 which was enough for a pleasing 5th place on the grid, 2 tenths behind 4th placed Ray Harris. Malcolm Blackman would line up 3rd while the returning Chris Brockhurst and Matt Simpson renewed their 2013 rivalry on the front row with Chris getting the pole this time. Behind Ross, Dave Brooks was 6th, Malcolm Harding 7th, Mike Thurley 8th, Mick Robertson 9th and Ricky Hunn rounding out the top 10.

The biggest shock of qualifying was Mr.Cheese (Philip Young) running into engine problems that would put him out of the rest of the meeting. Philip has finished every circuit race we have ever attended over the past 3 years! We missed you out there!

Despite being closer to the front than at Brands we still found a lot of areas in qualifying where we’re still struggling with the car, the most important being the braking feel and performance and despite the new front bumper the car is still running a little bit too hot. So those are the areas we’ll have to have a think on!

Lap 1 of race 1 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 1 and Ross lost a few spots in the first few corners as he got a bit bogged down coming out of the hairpin in 2nd gear (1st gear corner for the rest of the race then!) A great race developed though with Ross trying for lap after lap to get past Malcolm Harding whilst keeping Mike Thurley behind.

Getting exciting now! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Lap 5 and Malcolm ran a little wide on the infield section which let Ross and Mike through. A few corners later though and Ross made a mistake under braking for the chicane which sent him bouncing over the kerbs and the grass and ultimately let Mike back through into 5th place!

Free and clear! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

After a lap or so to clean the tyres and catch back up #26 was back upto 5th place with a move at the hairpin. That’s how it would stay with Ross opening up a bit of a gap over the last few laps before crossing the line in 5th place. Malcolm Blackman was a way up the road in 4th, Lewis Smith had a great drive to 3rd while Matt Simpson had to settle for 2nd place as Chris Brockhurst made the perfect start to his season with a win.

(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 2 and the top 6 reverse grid put Ross on the outside front row. Not that he was to stay there though as a steady start and the braking problems into the first hairpin let the top guys whizz through. This was to be a bizarre race for several reasons however. Firstly Lewis Smith was given a drive through penalty for driving through a red light at the end of pitlane (why was Lewis starting from pitlane I hear you ask? I have no idea, you’ll have to ask him) Malcolm Blackman mistakenly took the drive through penalty which dropped him back down the order while Matt Simpson retired with alternator problems. All this drama meant that when Ross shook off Mick Robertson and passed Mike Thurley it looked like he had a comfortable cruise to 3rd place or a race on to try and catch 2nd. A little bit of an inherited podium perhaps but with a very new undeveloped car we’ll take it!

On the way to the podium……no…….(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

It seems the radiator hadn’t read the script however as water started coming out of the bonnet radiator extracts and onto the screen. First just a little bit, but by a couple laps later even Ross was forced to accept that with the wipers and demisters on and the temperature gauge rising he was fighting a bit of a losing battle and that it was probably time to call it a day. Bugger. Mike Thurley moved back upto 3rd place with Dave Brooks 2nd and Chris Brockhurst cruising to another win.

Teambuilding 101 – Push a broken car…

Back in the pits we found that a tiny piece of gravel had become wedged between the fan and the radiator with the fan eventually wearing a small hole in the radiator. What are the chances of that?!? Still, the car is definitely better than it was at Brands and we have another list of changes to make before the next meeting which should give us another good boost. We’ll need it too as the next meeting is the American Speedfest at Brands Hatch on June 8th which should see a good competitive entry…looking forward to it already!

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