Rockingham

The Circuit - May 19/20 2012

Rockingham Motor Speedway, Mitchell Road, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 5AF

Location: off the A43 with links to M1, M6, M11 and A1 motorways

Tel: 01536 500500

Website: www.rockingham.co.uk

Birch takes pole

Media release: 19th may 2012

Source: Porsche Cars GB

With rain having fallen a few hours before qualifying started, the session was run on a drying track but the greasiness of the circuit meant that the drivers were forced to contest the whole session on wet tyres. Birch (In2Racing) eased to pole position lapping the circuit in an impressive best time of 1m35.490s. “I went out there to get pole so very happy to be leading from the front, I enjoy driving the car in the wet to be honest,” he said. John Ferguson (Ask Racing) recorded his best qualifying result so far with second position, just under half a second shy of Birch’s best time. Championship leader Stephen Liquorish (Team Parker Racing) was third fastest as the top three were separated by less than seven tenths of a second, and considerably faster than the rest of the field in challenging conditions. They would line up in the same order for the second race.

Smallwood grabs luck second as Birch wins

Media release: 19th may 2012

Source: Porsche Cars GB

The first race of the weekend was an action packed affair with drama right until the final corner of the final lap. The circuit was much drier than it had been in qualifying so the whole field opted to run on slicks. Birch managed to hook up a near perfect start to lead the pack into Deene Hairpin with fellow front row starter Ferguson holding second and Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) up to third after managing to get away better than Liquorish who ran fourth. Whilst Birch streaked clear by 3.6 seconds over the first two laps, Sherwood began to exert pressure on Ferguson for second which allowed Liquorish to close up on the pair but before a three way battle for second was allowed to develop, Sherwood slowed with a right rear puncture and was forced to pit to replace it, dropping him to the back of the field. This left Ferguson and Liquorish to dispute second place for the rest of the race. Liquorish looked the quicker of the two but he could not find a way through as Ferguson robustly defended and countered every move.

As they went onto the final lap Ferguson looked to have done just enough to hold on to second but Liquorish got alongside at Tarzan which put him on the outside for the final chicane, with neither driver wanting to concede position they both braked too late and ran onto the grass. Liquorish was so eager to get back on track first and claim second place that he spun. Neil Houston (Team Parker Racing) and Peter Smallwood (Parr Motorsport) who had been running fourth and fifth for most of the race arrived at the chicane just as Liquorish and Ferguson were scrambling back on to the circuit. This delayed Houston but Smallwood threaded his way through cleanly to take second place, his best result of the season to date, this was made all the more remarkable considering he had started from ninth. Ferguson recovered the quickest of the three drivers caught up in the mayhem of the final chicane to finish third with Houston fourth and Liquorish fifth. There was close racing all the way down the field including between two of the debutants of the series, Mark Flaherty (Redline Racing) and Guy Riall (Almara Racing) who were separated by half a second at the line for sixth and seventh, with Flaherty ahead. In class two, Tom Hallissey (Ask Racing) claimed victory.

The last corner drama not only shuffled the finishing order but also gave Birch an emphatic winning margin of 19 seconds. “I’m really really happy. I got a good start, managed to get a bit of a gap and then just tried to hold it from there,” he said.

“The car was fantastic,” said Smallwood of his charge through the field. While Ferguson admitted he was “delighted,” to secure his first podium of the season.

Birch takes double

Media release: 20th may 2012

Source: Porsche Cars GB

The second race of the weekend saw Birch complete his clean sweep of victories but not by quite as convincing a margin as in the first race. He made another good start from pole to lead into Deene Hairpin despite the efforts of Neil Houston who having made a rocket start from sixth on the grid had momentarily run side by side with Birch. The majority of Houston’s good work was undone at Deene as Ferguson and Sherwood dived through demoting him to fourth just ahead of Liquorish who had not made a great getaway. There were more changes of position further round the opening lap as Sherwood swept past Ferguson at Tarzan to take second position. The eventful start to the race was swiftly neutralised as the safety car was deployed to remove Tom Hallissey’s car from the side of the track after he had connected with the barriers. At the restart Birch timed his bolt towards the line perfectly, catching Sherwood off guard and allowing him to make a crucial break away. Sherwood ran at a solid pace though and kept Birch honest by making sure that for the first few laps after the restart the gap was no more than two seconds, before in the later stages of the race Birch edged a little further clear to win by just over four seconds. Sherwood took a comfortable second position finish as behind him battle raged once again between Ferguson and Liquorish. The latter passed Houston for fourth at mid race distance and then closed the gap to Ferguson rapidly and spent the final eight laps shadowing his every move. However, Ferguson defended well for the second time during the weekend and held Liquorish off until the chequered flag to claim the final podium position.

“It’s fantastic to make it two wins out of two and come out with full points, I’m very happy,” said Birch. “I came here to win both races and we’ve managed to achieve the dream,” he added.

“I’m satisfied with that today, James ran a good pace and I did my best to keep up with him,” said Sherwood of his first podium of the weekend.