ASCAR: Rockingham double header race notes

Turner takes a double at Rockingham. RACE ONE - TURNER WINS ACTION PACKED FIRST ASCAR RACE McLaren F1 test driver Darren Turner recovered to win the first ASCAR race of the day after dropping from pole position to 4th on the opening lap.

Turner takes a double at Rockingham.

RACE ONE - TURNER WINS ACTION PACKED FIRST ASCAR RACE

McLaren F1 test driver Darren Turner recovered to win the first ASCAR race of the day after dropping from pole position to 4th on the opening lap. The HTML car was suffering from chronic over steer and Turner had to fight hard to keep his car in contention until the pitstops. A change of Goodyear rubber transformed the handling of the car and Darren Turner sliced his way back up to the top spot, setting a new lap record in the process.

RML driver Nicolas Minassian got the drop on Turner as the 19 car ASCAR field powered their way into Turn One as the lights flashed to green, but it was 5th placed Darren Manning who got the best start moving into second spot by the time the cars headed into Turn Two. At the end of the opening lap it was Minassian from Manning, who was just ahead of the second RML car driven by Kelvin Burt.

The top five cars continued to circulate around the 1.5 mile banked oval track nose to tail as further down the field battles were being fought for the minor places. MG Le Mans driver Kevin McGarrity, who was driving in his first ASCAR race, was moving up through the field and by the second lap he had already moved up two places to sixth place. McGarrity continued to catch the leading five cars when he pulled into the pitlane with an oil leak in the power steering system. A small fire was quickly extinguished by the team but the Irishmans race was over.

Meanwhile back at the front of the field Kelvin Burt made a move on second placed Darren Manning and moved to the inside of the Bintcliffe Motorsport machine to take the place at Turn One to make it an RML 1-2 as the pitstops became due.

Race leader Nicolas Minassian was the first car into the pitlane followed by Darren Turner. The RML and HTML teams worked hard to change the massive Goodyear tyres and both cars rejoined the circuit. The rest of the field then came into the pits. John Mickel, who came into the pits from 3rd place, got a better stop than Kelvin Burt to rejoin the track ahead of the Pink RML car, but Burt regained the place as the cars worked their way back up to racing speed.

A full course yellow was waved on the 33rd lap as debris was spotted on Turn Two, possibly from Phil Weavers Team Catchpole car, which had retired with a split exhaust manifold. The pace car held the cars in formation for four laps and on lap 38 the green flags were waved. The two RML cars started to pull away but it was 5th placed Darren Turner who was the man to watch.

Turner glued the front end of his HTML ASCAR to the rear end of Darren Manning's car, using the draft to slingshot himself into 4th place on lap 39. Two laps later Turner repeated the move on John Mickel and then he set off after Kelvin Burt. On lap 45 Darren Turner recorded the fastest lap of the race, smashing his own ASCAR lap record over three tenths of a second. Darren Turner and Kelvin Burt were side by side as they entered the fast sweep of Turn Four with Turner making the move stick as they crossed the finish line for the 46th time.

There was only one car between Turner and the chequered flag, and that was race leader Nicolas Minassian. The Frenchman tried everything he knew to keep the HTML car behind him, but Darren Turner was on a mission. With five laps to go Turner moved into the lead into Turn One after the two cars crossed the line side by side.

Behind the two lead cars John Mickel was trying to take the last podium position from Kelvin Burt. The Torquespeed car went to the inside of Burt's machine at Turn Four, but the man from Staffordshire held his nerve and his place. The 10,000 strong crowd held their collective breath as for a whole lap the cars circulated side by side with neither driver giving an inch. The reigning ASCAR champion had the inside line and the edge as he took the place into Turn Four with only three laps to go.

Darren Turner took the victory just 0.3 seconds ahead of Nicolas Minassian, with John Mickel holding onto the final podium position from a charging Kelvin Burt. "That was so hard," said an elated Darren Turner as he climbed from the car. "The car felt terrible at the start, that was the worst set of tyres I have ever used, the car suffered from horrendous oversteer. If I had been testing I would have come straight back into the pits to change them, but I had to stay and keep plugging away. Once we stopped and put on a new set of tyres the car worked really well. Nicolas wasn't giving an inch, but when I saw some sparks as he scrapped the wall, I knew he was on the ragged edge and I only had to bide my time."

Nicolas Minassian agreed. "I was pushing as hard as I could, I touch the wall a few times and I have taken some of the paint off of the side of the car. You have to take care, but if you don't push you might as well not bother. We'll see what we can do in the second race and hopefully we will beat Darren to the flag."

Darren Turners fastest lap of 35.294s has now set a lap record of faster than 150mph (150.85mph) for the first time at Rockingham. Turner has gone faster in testing and qualifying but official lap records can only be set during racing conditions.

<pre> ASCAR Race 1 - Result 1 69 Darren TURNER 38:36.655s 60 Laps 2 8 Nicolas MINASSIAN + 0.314 3 7 Kelvin BURT + 6.382 4 24 John MICKEL + 10.613** 5 67 Darren MANNING + 11.064 6 78 Colin WHITE + 11.582 7 76 Jason PLATO + 17.526 8 5 Rob SPEAK + 17.822 9 96 Roland REHFELD + 18.730 10 28 Anthony SWAN + 25.015 ** 5 second penalty added for running over air hose during pitstop.

Fastest Lap 69 - Darren TURNER - 35.294 - 150.85mph -- NEW LAP RECORD

</pre> RACE TWO - ASCAR DOUBLE TOP FOR TURNER

Darren Turner took his second win of the day after a race long battle with namesake Darren Manning. The RAC Auto Windscreens sponsored driver held the lead for most of the race but he couldn't hold off the charging Darren Turner and it was the HTML driver that took the chequered flag after 60 laps of the 1.5 mile oval track.

Darren Manning once again got a storming start, diving down the inside of Turn One to slingshot his car into the lead ahead of Turner. Further down the grid Lee O'Keefe had a spin as the cars crossed the line to start the race, rotating 360 degrees before continuing. Stevie Hodgson and Rob Speak had a coming together resulting in Speak pulling off the circuit and Hodgson retiring to the pitlane. Anthony Swan spun in avoidance but managed to keep the car away from the wall and the West Tec driver got going again.

The pace car was deployed to recover Rob Speak's car and Nicolas Minassian came into the pits with a blown gearbox. After 5 laps under yellows the race went green with Manning and Turner leaving the rest of the field in their wake. Kelvin Burt was circulating in a very lonely 3rd place but the battle royale was for 4th with John Mickel leading a six car train.

On lap 25 Derek Hayes came in for an early pitstop because his car was suffering from severe oversteer. This cost the Ulsterman a stop go penalty later in the race, but the Deuce Racing team, while accepting the penalty, were adamant they had done the correct thing. The pitstop window began on lap 30 and after all the confusion Darren Manning had managed to open up a three second gap to Turner.

As in the first race Darren Turner's car seemed to improve on the second set of tyres and he started to reel in the lead car. On lap 38 Turner went low into Turn One and swept past his rival as they entered Turn Two. For the remaining 22 laps Manning kept pace with Turner but the HTML entered car took the chequered flag for the second time today 1.3 seconds ahead of Darren Manning and 13 seconds in front of third placed Kelvin Burt.

<pre> ASCAR -- RACE 2 -- Result 1 69 Darren TURNER 40:02.252 60 Laps 2 67 Darren MANNING +1.390s 3 7 Kelvin BURT +13.368s 4 76 Jason PLATO +23.282s 5 24 John MICKEL +29.703s 6 96 Roland REHFELD +30.273s 7 78 Colin WHITE +32.618s 8 48 Ian MCKELLAR Jnr +1 Lap 9 12 Mark PROCTOR +1 Lap 10 55 Kevin MCGARRITY +1 Lap

Fastest Lap Darren TURNER - 35.461s - 150.14mph

-rms-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Derek Hayes , Darren Manning , Nicolas Minassian , Darren Turner , Kevin McGarrity , Kelvin Burt , Anthony Swan , John Mickel