Race Report – Round 10 (Race 2):
After a very odd start procedure at Rockingham this morning, Harry Tincknell (Carlin) claimed his first victory of the season, leading home team-mates Pietro Fantin and Jack Harvey. In the National Class a fierce battle between Duvashen Padayachee (Double R Racing) and Richard “Spike” Goddard (T-Sport) went in favour of Padayachee but not until the lead changed hands a couple of times.
If the 20 minute race was relatively drama free, the start procedure was not. As the clock ticked round to the designated start time, the Start Delayed board was shown. This struck most observers as more than a little odd. Rumours eventually spread that the delay was caused by a last ditch appeal on the part of Nick McBride (ThreeBond with T-Sport) and Carlos Sainz Jr (Carlin) against penalties applied after yesterday’s race.
That was the cue for Fortec Motorsport to leap into action and change Pipo Derani (who we had all expected to be on pole) from the nice shiny new Cooper Tires his Dallara was wearing, to older rubber as he was about to be hauled back to 9th or similar and there was no point in wasting the new stuff. Carlin started to drag Sainz Jr up the grid towards pole, and Derani was dragged back. Job done, you might think. You would have been wrong. The next thing that happened was that T-Sport put new rubber on McBride’s car and pulled him up the grid to pole, while Sainz Jr was taken away and pushed back to 10th. He was probably more than a little confused. He wasn’t alone.
The grid finally settled down with McBride on pole, from Tincknell, Fantin, Harvey, Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec Motorsport), Felix Serralles (Fortec Motorsport), Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsport), Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin), Derani and Sainz Jr. 11th was Goddard from Padayachee, Fahmi Ilyas (Double R Racing) and Geoff Uhrhane (Double R Racing). It was an odd grid, as they so often are for the reversed grid race, but this one looked relatively predictable, with McBride’s car probably lacking sufficient oomph to keep the mighty Carlin machine back for long. And so it proved.
At the start McBride got away well enough but could not hold off Tincknell or Fantin. Harvey dropped a place to van Asseldonk at the start, but took it back shortly after with a daring move at speed up the inside at Tarzan, where the Englishman proved himself to be the last of the late-breakers. Jaafar had gained a place and was 7th while Sainz had nailed it at the start and gained two places before the race was a lap old. The one who lost out majorly was Derani, who fell back to 11th.
At the front Fantin was pushing hard to try and keep Tincknell in his sights, but despite a fastest lap for the Brazilian, the Englishman seemed to have it pretty well under control. Which was more than could be said for van Asseldonk; he was being harassed by his old friend Serralles yet again. It was starting to look like a re-run of Pau for the two of them, though hopefully without the crash that ended it. They weren’t the only ones. Goddard and Padayachee were scrapping ferociously with Duvashen taking the position at the Hairpin only to lose it again further round. That at least didn’t look as if it was about to end in tears.
That honour went to the fight developing between Ilyas and Sainz Jr, with the Malaysian right on the Spaniard’s tail. Given Ilyas’ form that should have worried Sainz. He’s not been having the best of weekends and it looked like it might be about to get even worse. Sure enough, Ilyas went for it and didn’t make it stick. The resulting tangle dropped both of them right back down the order, and was enough to let Goddard get back ahead of Padayachee as the class leader had to take avoiding action.
At the front, Tincknell continued to lead from Fantin, setting a new fastest lap in his efforts to ensure he wasn’t caught. Behind the lead pair, everyone else started to bunch up in the wake of McBride. The T-Sport man was only really delaying the inevitable though. Harvey was first to make a move, edging up the inside at the Hairpin and encountering little in the way of significant resistance. That put Harvey 3rd and made it a Carlin 1-2-3. The next group to get McBride in their sights were the Fortec boys, but first Serralles got the drop on van Asseldonk and was through for 5th.
Once clear of van Asseldonk Serralles started to close on McBride, the Puerto Rican finding his way past in much the same manner Harvey had by taking the inside line at the Hairpin. A lap later and it was van Asseldonk who passed McBride, the latter just not having the answer to any of the challenges he was being presented with. That left McBride in 6th but he had Jaafar on his tail so it was unlikely to last. The series leader took a look at Tarzan but backed off, perhaps sensibly, and waited for the Hairpin instead where he slipped through easily. After that it was back to being passed by Fortec cars, with Lynn and Derani both going by in the closing stages. It wasn’t the race Nick had hoped for by any stretch of the imagination – pole to 9th was disappointing.
Tincknell wasn’t disappointed though, even with Fantin chasing hard enough to set another fastest lap. However, the officials clearly felt he was pushing his luck somewhat. A warning that he must respect the track limits was forthcoming, and he slowed down a little thereafter. He wasn’t alone. McBride and Ilyas were warned as well and presumably after yesterday would have enough sense to be more careful once it was brought to their attention. Oddly neither of them looked as spectacular as Sainz Jr who, having been passed by Goddard, then repassed him before spending some lonely track time locking his wheels and creating tyre smoke all over the place.
The National Class battle finally resolved itself in favour of Padayachee and Goddard added to his own frustration with a spin as victory eluded him this afternoon. Meanwhile Tincknell was delighted with his victory, coming home to resounding cheers from the team on the pit wall. Fantin was 2nd, from Harvey, Serralles, van Asseldonk, Jaafar, Lynn, Derani, McBride and Ilyas. 11th went to Uhrhane, from Sainz Jr (his first non-points scoring race this season), Padayachee and Goddard.
The fastest laps of the race were set by Fantin and Padayachee.
Weather: Hot, sunny, some cloud.