7 Hours at Rockingham

16th May 2010

The second round of the Beetle Fun Cup took place at the Rockingham Motor Speedway on Saturday and in warm sunshine though not hot enough to discard fleeces in order to top up the tan during this, the second longest race of the series.

Both cars had been repaired since the retirements from Round 1 and Friday testing went well with no issues.

The race format was "different" in that it was run in two parts ( 3 hrs & 4 hrs) with a lunch break in between where the cars would be under parc ferme conditions.

Qualifying went well with the number 189 TDi car of Steve Bell & Simon Leith 7th quickest and the number 158 petrol car of Peter Belshaw and Ray Grimes 15th overall but P4 in class. This was academic anyway because the grid positions for the start of the race were selected by pulling the numbers out of a hat. Last time I experienced this was when I raced motorcycles at BEMSEE in the late 60s - well thats progress for you or is this how the FUN element is added???

Part 1

A full 30 car grid set off at 10.00 am and with the mixed up grid, it took just 3 laps before the safety car was called into service. Both cars ran 22 laps to the first changeover. 8 laps into the second session, car 189 suffered a braking issue and encountered the gravel trap at Tarzan. This lost them the best part of 6 laps whilst Simon got the car back to the pits for a checkover and completed another 3 laps before the next pit window. So at the end of the first hour, car 158 was running 14th and P5 in class and car 189 down to 27th after the off.

Hours 2 & 3 were pretty static with both cars making up places so at the end of Part 1, car 158 was 12th overall and P3 and car 189 lying 24th overall

Part 2

The Stingray RV car 189 did not take the re-start and car 158 started on row 6 of the re formed grid based on the order at the end of Part 1.

Apart from an unjustified drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and 2 safety car periods, the second part was pretty uneventful right up until the last driver change when the top 3 cars in the petrol category were running nose to tail albeit with the P2 & 3 cars being a lap down on the class leader. With about 14 mins to run the second placed car slowed dramatically and retired thus moving Ray up to P2. Everything was crossed for those last 12 mins and Ray brought car 158 home safely to prove the old addage that to finish first, first you must finish - well second anyway...

So apart from the retirement of the Stingray RV car, a long but trouble free race with a well deserved podium for Peter and Ray.

Next round is a mere sprint of 4 hours at Silverstone on 26th June.

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