My racing season kicked off with a great meeting at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire. Rockingham is the UK’s only banked speedway and was constructed in the nineties with public funds on the site of a closed down steel works. The intention was to bring Indycar and NASCAR racing to the UK. In the end the circuit only hosted a couple of races before it was realised that the economics of promoting those series in the UK did not work. However a sports car circuit was constructed in the middle of the track and Rockingham now hosts a variety of different series including the BTCC.

The sports car circuit is fantastic – very long with a wide variety of technically challenging corners. It also uses two sides of the oval plus Turn 2, one of the long banked corners. As you zoom along the straight towards the banking at Turn 2 you pass the huge grandstands that dominate the north side of the track and with a bit of imagination you can get some idea of what it must be like to head towards Turn 1 at Indianapolis or Daytona! You are supposed to take the corner flat out – I’m afraid to say I didn’t have the guts for that and lifted every time. I was still touching 110mph down the straight after the Turn – as fast as I go along the Lavant Straight at Goodwood.

We were very lucky with the weather for such an early fixture with a dry track and plenty of sun. The BARC organised the event, the first ever sprint at Rockingham. Because of that there was a fantastic turnout of officials and marshals who ensured the whole event ran like clockwork. We had two practice and three timed runs and I improved my times each run. My final time was respectable but I lost time on Turn 2 and the final corner that I took much too slowly. So room for improvement next year!

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The Beast under proper Indycar race position tower.

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Towering grandstands , fast straight and pits. Daytona? No, Rockingham..

 

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