Round Eleven - Rockingham, 14th October

Since my Golf  has expired and won't be out for the rest of the season, I was a spectator at Rockingham. This gave me the rare chance to watch the entire Group One race from the top of the pit roof, so here is my version of events.

Group One Race Report - Rockingham, 14th Oct 2001
Following a very foggy start to the morning, the weather had almost looked like turning out quite nice - but there were black clouds looming over the Rockingham circuit as the Group One cars formed up on the grid. As the cars came round on the formation lap, there was disaster for Nigel Garratt as he pulled into the pit lane with mechanical trouble - he wasn't going to make the start.
Qualifying had taken place the previous afternoon, with Brian Stevens putting the XJS on pole with a 1.44.310, closely followed by the Camaro of Garratt and the XJ12 of David Howard. Graham Scarborough led class B with a 1.46.398, putting him 4th on the grid, with Steve Cripps in 7th leading class C. Sean Cockrell's Sunbeam was the fastest qualifier in class D with a 1.52.285 (although Rick Kerry did have problems in qualifying and was at the back of the grid with a 10 second penalty) and Hugh Poston started in 22nd place in the sole class E Fiesta.
Fortunately it stayed dry and as the lights turned green both the class A Jaguars got away well, with Scarborough and Cripps close behind. Kingsley Marten got a little bogged down in 6th and was passed by the Capri's of Malc Best and Colin Potter as the pack approached turn two. The SD1 of James Hall went straight on, collecting the Celica of David Scriven in the process and losing some hard fought places.
As Howard and Steven's battled for the lead (with Cripps and Scarborough swapping places close behind) the blue Mustang of Miles Townshend went straight on at the right hander before the final hairpin and clouted the tyre wall - he was out of the race on lap 3.
As the positions at the front settled down, Rick Kerry was making good progress through the field following his delayed start - he caught and passed Hugh Poston, Nick Ellis (Capri) then the Fiesta of Andy Cope to get to second in class. In the meantime Colin Potter spun his immaculately prepared Capri and lost three/four places in the process, allowing Kingsley Marten back in front to start hassling Malc Best. Chris Bright was another spinner in the mid field, as Mark Cholerton and Ed Bourne continued to battle closely in their respective Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts.
But then there was drama at the front - one of the Jaguars had spun on turn 2. The gap had been fairly close, but Howard was trying to catch up and had out braked himself - leaving Steven's out on his own at the front. Howard immediately started the chase to get back 2nd place, and had a great battle with Steve Cripp's RS2000, who wasn't making it easy for him. Colin Potter was starting to catch Kingsley Marten's Rover, as Andy Cope retired on the start/finish straight - his XR2's engine had expired on lap 6. He had actually re-passed Rick Kerry as Rick's car had driveshaft problems. By now Rick was nursing his XR3 round just trying to make a finish - he desperately needed the points.
In the middle of all of this Nigel Garratt managed a few laps in the Camaro, and despite the mechanical gremlins managed to record a 1.45.139 - only a hundredth of a second behind the best lap of the XJS. Could that be a warning for next season? As the race drew to a close, Rick Kerry crept onto the start finish straight and agonisingly stopped yards from the flag. Steven's stormed through to take another convincing win, followed by Scarborough (Class B winner), Cripps (Class C winner) and then Howard who by this time had brake problems. Rick managed to creep over the line to take what he thought was second in class D behind Sean Cockerill's Sunbeam, and Hugh Poston took class E honours in the Fiesta.
The class D drama wasn't over however as the results sheets were printed and Rick was shown as not classified - he'd only completed 7 laps, not 8. That leaves Sean just having to finish at Donnington Park to take class D honours for the second season in succession - after Rick has led all year long. Brian Stevens is already the clear winner of class A, while Malc Best and Graham Scarborough will have to wait until Donnington to decide class B honours. Steve Cripps has proved to be in a league of his own in class C, winning the class and the overall Group One championship. Steven Young's rapid Mini has already wrapped up class E honours, with Hugh Poston in second position.