BURNS SCORCHES THE REST AT ROCKINGHAM
2 race weekends, 4 races, 3 different winners and a host of drivers ready to break down the door to score their first victory of the season. Such has been the strength in talent and numbers for the Fiesta Junior Championship that every race weekend brings much intrigue. Calling exactly who could win the next race becomes increasingly more difficult as the season rumbles on. Moving into Rounds 5 and 6 at the Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, Northamptonshire, the prospect of a 4th different winner was strong.
That prospect only grew stronger come qualifying. While the likes of Carlito Miracco, Harry Gooding, Callum Hawkins-Row and Elliot Wilson were expected to top the times, the front row of the grid had a very different complexion when the chequered flag dropped on the session. Pole position had in fact gone to Guildford’s Cameron Pugh with a stellar lap in the dying moments of qualifying to snatch away from his also unexpected front row partner. Alton’s Bradley Burns had topped the times most of the way and despite missing out by just 0.068s, the time was still good enough for 2nd. Carlito Miracco of Bookham grabbed 3rd a couple of tenths back to line up alongside Race Car Consultant’s Elliot Wilson, while on row 3 James Waite rewarded new team Jam-Sport’s faith in him with 5th quickes alongside new team-mate Callum Hawkins-Row.
It was the 4th row for another Jam-Sport man in Silverstone winner Harry Gooding, and Ronan Quinn in 8th also adjusting to new surroundings thanks to support from FinSport. Completing the top 10 were Cooper Motorsport’s Lochlan Bearman and Scotsman Jack Davidson of Race Car Consultants. There was also a new boy in the paddock for this weekend as Specialized Motorsport were finally able to let their latest young charger Nicholas Reeve loose after he’d reached the minimum age required to compete. He would start his first ever car race from 13th.
At the start of the first race it was Burns who made the better jump from the front row, whilst behind a mega getaway from Harry Gooding saw him weave his way through the pack approaching the banking of Turn 1. Heading into the long opening left-hander, Miracco and Bearman closed on Hawkins-Row causing slight contact and sending Carlito into Lochlan; both cars continued on with surprisingly little loss of momentum. On the charge towards Deene Hairpin, it was almost 4 or 5 abreast in the run to the braking zone, but no-one expected Sikandar Hussain to fly down the inside of practically everyone and slightly overshoot his marker. Thankfully, no-one made contact however Hussain failed to gain any places come corner exit.
Pugh lost out to Gooding at the next turn of Yentwood before Waite elbowed his way past on the exit. The drama didn’t end there as Hussain tagged Quinn at the next corner, spinning the Jam-Sport man out of the race before it had even really begun. Burns had already begun to scarper away at the front come the end of the opening lap. Despite this only being his first ever racing lap, Nicholas Reeve had managed to claw his way into the top 10 and ahead of Carlito Miracco. However, he wasn’t done just yet and had designs on moving past Lewis Kent through Turn 1 too.
Just ahead, Hawkins-Row was busy defending from Wilson who attacked on the outside towads Deene, eventually with nothing doing. Behind them, Hussain and Bearman continued to wrestle each other over 7th place as Reeve watched on patiently. When Hussain left the door open in to Kirby, Reeve pounced and ended up side-by-side by the exit. Miracco couldn’t resist getting involved and forced them to go three wide into Gracelands. However, Reeve saw them both off and impressively came out on top. Hussain held his line on the outside and won the line into the Tarzan hairpin, where Reeve wobbled and allowed Miracco to slip through also.
Back at the head of the field, Burns appeared to have the race completely under control as he continued to drive away at the front. In his wake was a loose 4 car group comprised of Gooding, Waite, Wilson and Hawkins-Row respectively. While Gooding held firm in 2nd, the 3rd place battle was about to kick off big time. Once again into Deene, Waite went to take his line only to find Wilson charge into the open gap from out of nowhere. Unsuspecting, Waite turned in and made hefty side to side contact at the apex. The pair continued to wrestle on the exit with some ugly panel rubbing to follow between them. With Wilson’s nose fractionally ahead into Yentwood and Hawkins-Row lurking, there was more contact for Waite from the Race Car Consultants driver to deal with, putting him further out of shape and allowing Hawkins-Row past in the process.
Potentially still feeling the red mist from the previous sequence, Wilson pushed a little too hard into Pif-Paf by putting a wheel on the grass, pitching him sideways and gifting Hawkins-Row another place. Waite’s fortunes, meanwhile, wouldn’t get any better either as in the Brook chicane a clout from Bearman damaged the front right suspension just before the start of the final lap, sadly putting him out on the spot just before the run to the start/finish line.
Into the final lap, Wilson’s car also looked to be struggling as Bearman, then Reeve and then Hussain all powered past through Turn 1. Hussain then made another massive dive into Deene while Bearman was busy fending off Sikandar’s teammate Reeve. Hussain once again slightly overshot, with the rest of the lap seeing the three sorting themselves out for the run to the flag. However, no-one appeared to be able to reach Bradley Burns, who particularly commanded the second half of the race and steered his way to the chequered flag for his first win outside of karts. Harry Gooding and Callum Hawkins-Row completed a Jam-Sport block-out of the podium with the latter no less happy with another podium to befit his evident pace that may have been overlooked thanks to unfortunate results in races beforehand.
Lochlan Bearman completed a strong yet eventful race to come home 4th ahead of another impressively gutsy drive from Sikandar Hussain in 5th. Nicholas Reeve stunned many in the paddock with a sensational 6th place on his debut only just behind his teammate, getting the better of Danny Harrison in 7th, Jack Davidson in 8th, a seemingly wounded Elliot Wilson who had to make do with 9th and Angus Dudley who completed the top 10.
With the grid for race 2 as a result of the previous race, this left Burns on pole with Gooding alongside him on the front row. So far at this point, the only driver to have won more than one race in the season was Elliot Wilson, however with the pair at the head of the field now on one each, there was a good change that it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
At lights out, Burns was able to get away cleanly enough to lead through Turn 1 and towards the Deene Hairpin, while behind him cars were scattering in all areas of the track to find a line for the double apex left hander. Bearman attacked Hawkins-Row on the inside while Wilson edged Lewis Kent towards the outside wall as everyone scrambled for the brake pedal in search of the apex. Bearman somehow got his nose inside Gooding when he got there for 2nd as those behind him ended up two-by-two and momentarily three wide in an incredibly busy first lap. Hussain passed Pugh for 5th before it was done.
Behind them and towards the rear of the top 10, James Hillery had managed a mighty start to end the opening lap 10th. This was quickly becoming his highlight of a weekend that had been blighted by constant gearbox-related issues. Having had to change gearboxes twice before he’d even lined up for the first race, more selection problems threw him out of Race 1 before it had even really begun. Thanks to the blinding start, fortunes were looking up for a positive end to the weekend for James and his HillWood Motorsport team. However, ending the second lap while in 9th, the gremlins struck once again with the car refusing to leave 2nd gear. James had no choice but to retire, ending a character-building weekend both he and the team would rather forget.
Lochlan Bearman at this point was defending from Gooding for 2nd place at Deene as the pair and Hawkins-Row gave chase to Race 1 winner Burns. Gooding managed to snatch the place at Tarzan before teammate Hawkins-Row followed him through and Bearman began to fade away from the trio. The lead battle began exiting Deene on the following lap with Gooding sizing an opportunity up until Kirby when he dived to the inside and snatched the place with Hawkins-Row following through at Tarzan. At this point it looked as though Jam-Sport had the race under their control.
From here the race appeared to hit a plateau with most cars remaining in position for pretty much the remainder of the race. Harry Gooding continued to have Callum Hawkins-Row as his inadvertent rear gunner for company while Bradley Burns hovered around 1.5 seconds away. As it happened, this how the top 3 stayed right until the flag with Gooding clinching his second win of the season and with it the points lead. Hawkins-Row’s double up on podiums came as a welcome relief to end his run of bad luck while Burns was just happy to complete his most successful weekend to date.
Carlito Miracco made the most of what had been by his standards a less than satisfactory weekend with a charge from the rear of the grid to 4th place ahead of another consistent performance from Lochlan Bearman to end up 5th. Hussain had another solid drive in P6 ahead of a resurgent Danny Harrison in 7th, while Jack Davidson, Elliot Wilson and Cameron Pugh completed the top 10 finishers.
As the championship has now reached 6 rounds, dropped scores now start to come into effect, meaning that drivers have to cancel out their two worst results from their total points score. As it stands right now, it’s still incredibly close at the top of the table with Harry Gooding now taking over the lead by just 3 points from Carlito Miracco. Elliot Wilson remains 3rd a further point back before a slightly more substantial gap sees Bradley Burns catapult up to 4th thanks to his victory and podium here. Sikander Hussain and Lochlan Bearman continue to prove to be pillars of consistency sat in 5th and 6th respectively, while James Waite will be thankful that despite his trickiest weekend so far, the dropped scores rule still sees him 7th thanks to his podiums. The same can be said for Ronan Quinn in 8th, while Jack Davidson holds 9th and Callum Hawkins-Row’s excellent results of late have helped him crack the top 10 for the first time.
Next time out, the Juniors return to the place their 2016 journey began back in April, as a second visit to Snetterton in Norfolk on the 300 Circuit beckons. One has to wonder given the level of competition this season – just who is going to be successful on this occasion. Because one thing’s for certain: this season’s field has certainly proven that motorsport is anything but predictable.
For a full breakdown of the results, you can find them courtesy of TSL Timing HERE.
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