Rockingham :: :: September 1st and 2nd
Caudle, Wallbank and Churchill share the wins to keep the pressure on Championship leader Duckman.
There were three different winners at Rockingham. While Luke Caudle’s Seat took the opener to keep the pressure on championship leader Gary Duckman, former Champions Martin Wallbank and Adrian Churchill, in the Courtenay Sport backed Focus RS, both made winning returns to the championship.
The top five were covered by only 0.730secs with championship leader Duckman’s ExcelR8 Seat Leon claiming pole by only 7/100ths from Jake Giddings Vauxhall Astra VXR.
Back after a three year absence former champion Wallbank was third best in his Vauxhall Astra VXR, closely followed by outgoing Champion Adrian Churchill’s Ford Focus on its race debut.
A disappointing fifth was Caudle’s Seat, “the set up was just all wrong,” he said. Stewart Calder’s Astra rounded off the top six, with Antony Williams’ Renault Megane just edging out John Robins’ Seat Leon for seventh. Sarah Franklin’s beefed up Abarth and Keith Issatt’s Volvo C30 completed the line up.
RACE ONE ::
Wallbank led from the start but had Churchill, Duckman and Caudle all poised to challenge. Caudle was quickly on the move and took third from Duckman into Deene on lap two, before closing in on Churchill, as all three surged past Wallbank. “We were both late on the brakes and went wide but Luke still got me. I think I had damaged the brake ducts earlier after a touch with Jake,” said Duckman.
“The weight of my car and the cornering became a problem and my tyres started to go off very quickly,” Churchill explained. “So once one got me they both did,” he added after Caudle and Duckman surged by through Pif Paf on lap four.
Wallbank closed again too and a lap later both he and Giddings demoted Churchill to fifth. On lap eight Wallbank was back into second after taking Duckman into Deene and began to close on the lead again until a driveshaft broke on the 11th lap.
Caudle was left clear to take another win. “I got a good start and one place into the first Hairpin, then just tried to pick them off,” he said. Duckman retained second from Giddings. “I had pace in qualifying but not in the race,” said Giddings.
Churchill came back to finish strongly in fourth and Robins finally shook off Calder to complete the top five. “I was much nearer to the front-runners on times and was chasing Adrian until I understeered off at Deene and then John got me around the outside into the Brook chicane,” Calder explained.
Williams and Franklin completed the finishers after Issatt retired seven laps in.
Results: 1 Luke Caudle (Seat Leon) 14 laps in 21m 29.426s (75.82mph); 2 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon) +1.670s; 3 Jake Giddings (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 4 Adrian Churchill (Courtenay Sport Ford Focus RS); 5 John Robins (Seat Leon); 6 Stewart Calder (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 7 Antony Williams (Renault Megane); 8 Sarah Franklin (Fiat Abarth); no other finishers. Class winner: Franklin. Fastest Lap: Duckman 1m 30.529s (77.14mph).
RACE TWO ::
A lightning start from Churchill gave him the lead until Tarzan on the opening lap, when Caudle created the gap to lead out which allowed Duckman to follow.
Wallbank joined the ExcelR8 Seat duo for a terrific scrap that lasted much into the race. But Churchill’s challenge was over on the second lap, after he was hit by Giddings at Deene. “The ABS broke, I locked up and just couldn’t stop. “Giddings explained. “it just wiped me out,” Churchill added as they both retired to the pits.
Until lap nine Wallbank seemed content to follow the championship leaders at close quarters, but as Duckman decided to attack Caudle for the lead exiting Tarzan, his own position became compromised.
Wallbank managed to split the duo, but all three remained close as Caudle started to be threatened. It was another three laps before Wallbank grabbed the lead out of Deene, having previously traded places through Turn One.
Wallbank built a slight cushion which he defended to the flag, “I knew I would come on stronger later in the race, with carrying less ballast,” he explained after heading Caudle by 1.8 secs. “I was off pace and damaged a rim running wide over the kerbs,” said Caudle.
Duckman retained third but dropped back on the last lap, “the brakes had gone,” he confirmed. Behind the lead trio Calder and Robins had a tremendous early battle, swapping places almost every lap. “I had missed gears at the start, but finally got him when I dummied him and he outbraked himself,” said Robins. “I had fuel pick up problems at the end and it died on me,” Calder added.
Williams gradually eased away from Issatt to consolidate seventh, with Franklin going the distance in eighth.
Results: 1 Martin Wallbank (Vauxhall Astra VXR) 13 laps in 20m 04.606s (75.37mph); 2 Caudle +1.873s; 3 Duckman +9.807; 4 Robins; 5 Calder; 6 Williams; 7 Keith Issatt (Volvo C30); 8 Franklin; no other finishers. Class winner: Franklin. Fastest Lap: Duckman 1m 30.805s (76.91mph).
RACE THREE ::
It was Duckman’s turn to lead the initial sort out in the final race of the weekend, from Caudle with Churchill just holding off Wallbank for third. Robins was into fifth and Calder ousted Giddings for sixth as they exited Tarzan.
Caudle was almost alongside Duckman through Chapman Curve on lap two, leaving the top four line astern as Robins looked on and Giddings continued his duel with Calder.
Two laps later Wallbank was into third as they braked for Deene, before surging past Caudle in Turn 1 a lap later. As second became a three way fight, Duckman briefly made a break.
After six laps Giddings finally consolidated sixth and started to close on Robins, while former sparring partner Calder had Williams closing. Issatt had problems though as he challenged Franklin for ninth, overshooting the Deene Hairpin. “I had flat spotted my tyres and had no power in fourth gear, so pitted to retire,” he explained.
As Wallbank started to challenge for Duckman’s lead, Churchill was up to second at Caudle’s expense, while behind them Robins quest to keep Giddings at bay had allowed Calder to close again.
The lead finally changed into Deene on lap nine, but Wallbank’s glory was shortlived, “I was on for that win and it could so easily have been three this weekend, but another driveshaft went,” he explained.
Although Duckman was back in front, he succumbed to Churchill’s challenge and the outgoing champion gave his Focus a first win by3.7 secs. “I just saved my tyres this time and knew the others would slow up at the end,” he said.
“That was much better for me, but I heard a rubbing noise and it made me nervous. The aim was to keep Luke back and I did it,” said Duckman. “I missed a gear when Martin got me and my tyres just went after that,” Caudle added after taking a distant third.
Giddings got the better of Robins from lap 10. “I was really struggling to get any power down,” he said. Calder stayed fairly close too in sixth, “that was a great fight with Jake and I think I proved what the car could do this weekend,” he said.
Williams was seventh and Franklin eighth, “definite progress in that race,” Williams concluded.
Results: 1 Churchill 13 laps in 20m 03.250s (75.45mph) (Courtenay Sport Ford Focus RS); 2 Duckman +3.749s; 3 Caudle; 4 Giddings; 5 Robins; 6 Calder; 5 Robins;7 Williams; 8 Franklin; no other finishers. Class winner: Franklin. Fastest Lap: Wallbank 1m 31.163s (76.60mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC Dunlop Production Touring Car Trophy, September 3rd, 2012.