Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby played host to the latest rounds of the BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres, and thankfully the weather conditions were slightly brighter than the previous two meetings with not a cloud or drop of precipitation in sight all weekend. That said, the warmer temperatures coupled with Rockingham’s abrasive circuit meant that tyre management was going to be crucial if anyone was looking to take the victory.
Qualifying threw up one or two slightly unexpected surprises, with a front row that quite possibly no-one had expected. Taking his first ever Fiesta Championship pole position, Jam-Sport’s Ryan Faulconbridge put in a stellar lap to top the timesheets by almost 2 tenths of a second, while joining him on the front row was Richard Ashmole who also looked to be showing a brilliant turn of pace. Jam-Sport locked out the second row with Harry Gooding lining up alongside Myles Baker, with Tom Hutchins and triple Brands Hatch winner Danny Harrison no quicker than 6th; Cadwell Park winner David Nye also had to settle for starting further down the grid as he had to start 8th next to Jamie Going. In Class D, defending champion Jamie White made a triumphant return to the class with pole ahead of John Cooper and Tim Bennett, while Colin Newbold was the sole Class A representative for the second meeting running.
Faulconbridge was able to hold the lead from the start and from there he was put under constant pressure from both Ashmole and Baker for the entire race. The three cars ran together in the opening couple of laps, but it wasn’t long before both Gooding and Going fancied a piece of the action as the Jam-Sport cars appeared to be running riot on proceedings with Ashmole caught in the middle of the group. As much as Ashmole held on to second place for the majority of the race, Baker was able to find a way through into 2nd place on Lap 9 and set off trying to close the gap down to the lead. But by this time it appeared to be too late – Faulconbridge was some 1.2 seconds up the road and both his and Baker’s pace looked to be relatively equal.
With only two more laps to negotiate, Faulconbridge reeled them off with ease and powered home to take his first ever Fiesta race victory. Baker duly held on to second after his late move and despite serious attention from both Gooding and Going all the way to the flag, Ashmole did indeed hang on to pick up a well-earned podium place in 3rd. Gooding and Going completed the top 5, while Harrison seemed somewhat off the pace in 6th ahead of Richard Dawson, the Class C top two of White and Cooper and Jake Dawson, scoring a top 10 finish on his Fiesta debut. As mentioned, White showed he’d lost none of his momentum despite a weekend away ahead of Cooper, with Bennett rounding off the class rostrum, and Colin Newbold also saw the flag to bank even more Class A points. As for David Nye, he struggled home a lowly 16th with a lot of work to do in Race 2.
From pole, Faulconbridge once again got the jump on everyone else at the start of Race 2 and was able to hold the lead over the opening 5 laps. With all three closing up together, it looked as though the trio were about to go into combat with each other and indeed they did, with Gooding managing to slip past both Baker and then Faulconbridge in one lap to take the lead. With Going also closing in behind them, all four Jam-Sport cars were effectively running in team formation, but this changed when Baker dropped down the order to 8th on Lap 9. He would quickly claw his way back up to 5th which is where he would remain until the end of the race. Race 1 podium finisher Ashmole also had an eventful race when he, Nye and Harrison all tumbled down the order on Lap 3 in an incident which eventually saw Ashmole at fault; he was disqualified for his driving standards as a result.
At the head of the field, it turned out there was no stopping leader Gooding as the former Fiesta Junior champion negotiated the final laps trouble free and went on to score his first senior racing victory and his first win full stop since his FJC days. He was in good company on the podium too, as Race 1 winner Faulconbridge continued his great run of form over the weekend with 2nd place, while a very proud Jamie Going picked up 3rd as he joined his two drivers on the rostrum. For the first time in a while, it was a complete Jam-Sport lockout on the overall and Class C podium! Tom Hutchins had better fortunes this time with a 4th placed finish ahead of the recovering Baker in 5th, while 6th place went to another impressive driver from Jamie White, who picked up another Class D win with relative ease. Richard Dawson secured 7th place, ahead of Class D’s John Cooper and the troubled Nye and Harrison after their earlier fall down the order. Colin Newbold again saw the flag in the sole Class A car.
With Faulconbridge once again on the front row next to pole man Gooding and both drivers on a win apiece for the weekend, the race was on to become the “best two out of three” between the pair of them. Indeed, it initially appeared as though it was Faulconbridge who would gain the upper hand as he took the lead on the opening lap, but a move into Tarzan from Gooding caught him completely off guard and with the pass completed for the lead, Gooding then set about putting his foot down to build a gap. Just a couple of laps later, Going would also make a move of his own to move into 2nd place, followed by Hutchins picking up 3rd place at Faulconbridge’s expense too. He would eventually finish 5th after Nye also made a move later in the race.
Despite enough clear space to push on and pursue his young charge, Going was unable to make any inroads on Gooding’s lead as he continued to extend it be several tenths per lap. By the chequered flag where he went on to take victory, Gooding had managed to stretch his winning margin out to just over 5 seconds, with Going securing another strong podium finish in 2nd place. Hutchins rounded off a somewhat mixed weekend on a positive note with 3rd place, ahead of Nye in 4th, Faulconbridge in 5th and Harrison 6th, whose team had to go through an all-nighter repairing his engine, gearbox and clutch amongst other components. Ashmole took 7th ahead of Jake Dawson, Class D winner White (who also completed a hard-fought hat-trick of class wins) and 10th placed Robert Stevens. Tim Bennett and Luke Bannister completed the Class D podium after Cooper retired after just 4 laps, while Newbold again bagged the maximum points for his sole Class A representation.
The first half of the season will conclude at the next meeting in just a couple of week’s time, as Snetterton’s 300 circuit plays host to Rounds 9, 10 & 11 on July 7/8. Rockingham has left the overall points standings in a rather competitive position, as Harry Gooding leads Jamie White by just 4 points with dropped scores now coming into play. Danny Harrison and David Nye aren’t too far behind either, so both will be looking to see if they can make inroads on the advantage the top two hold. Nevertheless, this year’s championship is certainly already turning out to be another competitive one at that!
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