Testing Day At Rockingham Motor Speedway

The air is filled with excitement this evening as The Bastards complete testing, daylight and night time qualification for their first ever 24 Hour Endurance Race at Rockingham Motor Speedway Circuit in Corby, Northants.

First And Last Race

Earlier this month it was reported that the loss making and troubled 300 acre site has been sold to become a major storage centre for defleet and auction vehicles. The ex-quarry, filled with toxic steelworks waste from the 70’s and 80’s was opened by The Queen in May 2001. The site will close for motorsport at the end of the year, a bitter pill for all motorsport enthusiasts including the thousands of BTCC fans who turn up year after year. You will have seen Rockingham featured in many motorsport TV programmes including BBC Top Gear and Channel 5’s Fifth Gear.

This second Citroen 24 hour race will be the last and has many memories for The Bastards.

Mark Lewis attains P3 in torrential rain for his second race in the 2011 Caterham Academy Championship.

"I love Rockingham. I will miss it!"

Ash Patterson

"I have some very fond memories of Rockingham, but the one that springs to mind is not so fond! It was the one occasion that I have caused serious damage to any race car; I took the front left corner off my Caterham during a track day. This was caused by my being somewhat overly ambitious with my speed through Gracelands. It was an expensive lesson well learned"

Mark Cox

"Rockingham can look quite scary as you exit corner one for the first time, straight towards the concrete banking wall. Since that very first track day, Rockingham has been a regular venue for both track day, testing and racing on it’s variable circuit configuration. It’s that variation that makes Rockingham unique, especially in the wet. Let’s hope for a good race weekend, which for me will be the last here."

Mark Lewis

Testing

Ash took the wheel for the first stint of the open pitlane format. Weather is looking sunny with temperatures increasing to 23degC for the start of the race tomorrow. Lewis took the second stint, but is a couple of seconds off Patterson’s pace as they break for lunch.

Bucknell, Lowe and Cox arrived later that afternoon with Lowe and Bucknell taking a couple of stints alongside Lewis and Patterson. It seems that time will be made through the chicane on turn one, but one has to be confident and resolute once committed to the turn.

A number of red flag stoppages ensued throughout the day, the end of testing some fifteen minutes early due to an incident that could not be cleared in time to recommence. It seems that Gracelands is proving troublesome with one car rolling onto it’s roof.

Fettling

Patterson pampering himself in the new Longacre mirror.
At the 11th hour, Lowe has supplied the quick release steering wheel that was fitted, alongside driver drinking systems. Hydration will be an important factor with up to 3 hours driver stints in the hot sunshine.

Weigh In And Scrutineering

After sign-on, all five drivers had their kit inspected and other than Lowe, all passed. Unfortunately Lowe had a hole in one of his gloves, which were confiscated and impounded for the race. Luckily, Lewis had a spare pair that were loaned to Lowe.

The minimum weight for the car is 910KG that must be maintained for the whole race. All drivers and car needed to be weighed. #MissFire weighed in at 870KG with a full tank of fuel and the weight of the lightest driver was 76KG, placing The Bastards 8KG over the minimum levels, accounting for fuel consumption during the race itself.

Just in case!

Qualification

The team has six complete sets of tyres for dry racing and wheels, plus a separate set for wet racing to last the race.
Club regulations stipulate that the grid format will be based on the fastest lap, be it either of the daytime or nighttime qualification settings. In addition, each driver needs to complete one out lap, one flying lap and one in lap. With the daylight session totalling 90 minutes, the initial plan was to send out the slowest drivers to complete their three lap minimum, allowing the faster drivers more time on circuit. With 60 minutes for nighttime qualification, the plan is that each driver will complete the minimum three lap requirement and retire to the hotel bar for last hours. That said, noting that all drivers will be breathalysed before the race.

Daylight Qualification

Lewis started the daylight qualification and as slowest throughout the day and with a full tank of fuel, qualified with the minimum laps to let the faster Bastards pull in the times. Cox followed Lewis, then Lowe, Bucknell and Patterson. Times progresses well with Lowe pulling in the fastest time at 2.20.884, punching the team to P17. However, with light diminishing and the circuit cooling, Bucknell found it difficult to keep pace.
Patterson replaces Bucknell for the last half hour.
Post qualification debriefing suggests that we should have sent the fastest drivers out first and without a full tank. It seems that other teams had scrutineered earlier in the day with the mandated full tank of fuel, running it down during the last couple of hours of testing. We think there is a lesson to be learned here. Final position P28 from 36 cars.

Nighttime Qualification

All five drivers set out to to complete the minimum requirement. Some were nervous subsequent to Patterson commenting from the dark ‘daylight’ session that he could not see in certain corners. Patterson, Cox, Lewis and Bucknell followed in quick succession, allowing Lowe to enjoy himself for the last half dozen laps. Although the team were more concerned with learning the circuit in the dark, interesting they qualified P26, a higher position than daytime.

"I thoroughly enjoyed that! It was not as daunting as I thought. The darkness tends to beckon you into the corners early, especially the chicane at turn one. It is black out there! You just need to be confident that when you turn in, the apex will be there."

Humphrey Bucknell

Strategy Meeting

Just remember chaps, random breathalysing tomorrow.
After a good day all round, it was time to retire to the insalubrious local Whetherspoons to digest data and a few glasses to boot. Oh and, a strategy meeting!