|Rockingham 29th May 2010|
All credit to the weathermen for calling this one right – the weather was at the lower end of lousy. And this American style oval on the site of the old British Steel works is far removed from the rural idyll of some of our other circuits. However 16 cars qualified on a track made up of a mix of banking and infield - and likened to ice by our Chairman (there were other descriptions – understeer was definitely flavour of the day!). Fastest and briefest was Richard Ellingworth in the Don Parker Kieft whose first flying lap was a full 5 seconds ahead of anyone else in the whole session. This was a bit too quick and he came to grief on the next round collecting Martin Sheppard on the way (details unknown) and damaging the rear road gear of both cars, Richard’s out for the day. There were many other excursions but at the end of the session the next up was George Shackleton’s Mk VI Cooper, ex-Ashman and still under ‘L’ plates, followed by Nigel Ashman’s Kieft and Mike Fowler in the Mk XI. Casualties were JB Jones with the Cousy with a cracked gearbox and Richard Utley’s JBS which was just out of sorts, but after some fettling of rear wishbones by Martin Sheppard and David Stephenson and a sticky piston by Mike Bell.
Thirteen cars started the green flag lap for the first race, reduced to 12 when Mike Fowler pulled off with some unhappy noises. This put new boy George alone on front row with Nigel Ashman alone on second row. Row three was complete with Darrell Woods and the returning James Gray in the Comet with David Stevenson and Stuart Wright making up row four. The early laps were a demonstration by Shackleton taking three seconds from everyone on the first lap, helped by the kinder power delivery of his JAP. Chairman Challis was second with Stuart Wright in the Dastle up in a remarkable third. Nigel Ashman struggled on the first lap, down to fourth and a full seven seconds adrift of the leader, but set the fastest lap on the second to take Stuart, and again on lap three to take Nigel Challis and again on lap four with a 2:17 to take the lead. George made a comeback on the penultimate lap to set the outright fastest lap of 2:16.508 but it wasn't enough and he finally finished 1.3 seconds behind. Nigel Challis took third, nearly half a minute behind and with the Comet of James Gray right behind him.
Race 1 Classified Finishers
Again we saw thirteen starters with Mike Fowler still sidelined but JB's Cousy back in the fray. The grid was taken on the reverse results of Race 1 so Nigel and George started at the very back. Nigel speared his way right through the field with George in hot pursuit and when Nigel overcooked it, George strode into a first lap lead he was never to lose. Nigel quickly recovered most of his deficit but encountered strong resistance from Stuart Wright in the Dastle (whose challenge was later to fade) which he passed for 2nd place and although he seemed to close George for a while, the latter pulled confidently away as the race progressed, looking far happier than the twitchy Kieft on the still very slippery surface.
Behind them was a rare battle for third, Martin Sheppard holding off Nigel Challis and Darrell Woods but losing out finally to James Gray in the swing-axle Comet who had a very good day, adding this to his 4th in Race 1. A good day also for Richard Bishop-Miller in the Mk II whose two class wins now have him leading Class A and the championship overall!
The main action is in Class B where a win each leaves only four points between Ashman and Shackleton. Class C is led by Chairman Challis (Surely shome mistake - Ed) with Darrell Woods and Martin Sheppard close behind, all in Cooper Nortons.
Race 2 Classified Finishers
And then the sun came out and a traditional paddock prize giving to the strains of half the National Anthem followed by ‘We Will Rock You’. A challenging day’s racing and all credit to those who put on a good show in difficult conditions. Among those present but not competing were Steve Jones who had entered but whose car was not ready, Hakan Sandberg, Humphrey Collis, Gordon & Sallie Russell - and of course Simon Frost with his customary ubiquity around the paddock helping to right wrongs.