Adam Croft had his most successful weekend of 924 racing with three wins out of three at Corby’s Rockingham Raceway this weekend, with Adam Southgate taking a brace of wins in the Boxsters.
Mark Marshall’s 986 was a casualty in Friday’s testing when a piston was found to have impacted a spark plug – or the other way around – and rather than risk further damage, he chose to withdraw.
During Saturday’s qualifying, Andy Hack, in his 32nd year of racing but new to our Championship, put his rented Boxster into the gravel on the exit to Gracelands – not the only driver to do so on the Saturday – which led to a red flag while his stranded car was recovered.
Simon Hawksley, leading the 924s going into this weekend, was absent due to attending a course as part of his job in the Scottish oil industry, but marking his return to our grid was Austrian Alfred Piesinger. Southampton-based Brookspeed motorsport marked their return to us with Jason Yates piloting the white Toyo-liveried 986 that our tyre man Tony Mekwinski owns.
Gary Duckman was keen to extend his Class A lead but Adam Southgate, who was hit with engine problems at Oulton leaving him with no race points, had other ideas and put his white and orange 986 on pole by 0.186 seconds. Returning to the championship somewhat unexpectedly after putting his car up for sale was Richard Avery who posted P4 behind local rival Garry Lawrence.
Adam Croft could have been forgiven for giving the impression he was still pedalling a Boxster, such was his pace in the 924, putting his car on class pole nearly three seconds clear of the chasing Alastair Kirkham.
21 drivers lined up in the sunny Rockingham assembly area for the first of three races and it turned out action packed from start to finish. Impact between Gary Duckman and Andy Hack left Andy’s car hidden by a massive plume of steam and the car rolled to a halt near Piff Paff leading to a safety car deployment. Gary’s car limped back to the pits with coolant leaking from his left radiator but there was no way he could fix and finish. Garry Lawrence spun on the spilt coolant robbing him of a few places. Richard Avery and Adam Soutgate missed the carnage and forged ahead, swapping places twice but with Adam finally taking the Class A win with Ed Hayes third.
In contrast to Oulton, most of the remaining Boxsters stayed together with rarely more than a car length between them and it was Garry Goodwin, in his first race of the season, who headed the chasing pack to post a career-best 4th. Nick Hull fell foul of the same Gracelands gravel trap as Andy Hack and was one of five DNFs.
In the 924s, Adam Croft was unstoppable and was never seriously challenged for the 924 win – his first of the year – with Alastair Kirkham taking important championship points in second when Alfred Piseinger was so cruelly robbed of his podium place when an electrical issue brought his car to a halt just a few corners from the flag. But as with the Boxsters, there were battles through the field as Niz El-Chamaa, Karl Rossin and Linda Warren fought for a podium position, Niz ultimately taking third.
Race 2 saw more damage that we were hoping for. In the scramble for Turn 1, a hairpin off the banked circuit, Ben Van Den Bos, whose Boxster was severely damaged here last year, found himself running out of room and bounced off Garry Goodwin into the concrete wall, breaking a suspension arm and as it later became apparent, a prop shaft too.
Contact between Alfred Piesinger and Niz El-Chamaa left Niz with a dented door and Alfred excluded from the race for avoidable contact. Jayson Flegg was later left with no option to cannibalise team-mate Mark Marshall’s car (which he graciously agree to) in order to fix the damage he suffered at Turn 1 when he collided with the rear of Ed Hayes, wrecking his car’s right front quarter.
Adam Southgate again took the Boxster honours, ahead of Gary Duckman and returnee Richard Avery. Adam Croft again landed the 924 crown, with Philip Waters and Karl Rossin completing the podium.
Race 3 sadly wasn’t incident-free either. In the 924s Niz El-Chamaa had gained two places on the exit of Tarzan and charging down the School straight he was hoping to make it three but instead collided with the unsuspecting Lynda Warren, causing sufficient damage to take her out of what was promising to be a very good race. Niz had the good grace to go to the Clark off his own bat and received a DQ for the avoidable collision.
The brief safety car period allowed both Boxster and 924 packs to close up and in both classes, battles were renewed. As usual for a triple-header, the final race started with a reverse grid and Garry Lawrence’s (claimed) tactical decision to finish a lowly ninth in Race 2 set him up for a charge to the podium from pole. Even further back, however, was Adam Southgate, and even starting from the Boxsters’ back row wasn’t enough to stop him grabbing 3rd behind seasoned newcomer Andy Hack (2nd) and Ed Hayes (1st). Adam Croft only had Alfred Piesinger behind him and 7 more 924s separating him from his third win of the weekend and another fastest lap point.
So a fantastic weekend for both Adams, made even more ironic by Adam Croft landing all three fastest lap awards from the sponsors he had newly brought to the series: Fine Drinks Cooperative.
Our next round will be our annual trip into Europe where we share the programme with Britcar at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. Although Adam Southgate received another two signatures on his license upgrade card from the weekend, its unlikely he will be able to join us as racing in Europe requires a National A license, or signatures from no less than 6 completed races.
Words and photos: Chris Valentine