Race Reports For The 2001 Season.
Rockingham Motor Speedway (International Long Circuit), Sunday May 13th, 10 Laps
Clark's Rockingham first.
I can imagine, in 2101, when the Antiques Roadshow visits Corby, a small boy presenting a faded racing programme proclaiming that this great grandfather was in the first ever motor race at the old Rockingham venue. The experts will be astounded, surely the opening event was the Coys Historic Festival on May 27th but no, here is evidence of the Inaugural Meeting on 12th/13th with the completed programme proclaiming the Peter Clark from Staines in a Mallock K Sports 1600 won the first ever race. I bet it is valued at over one million Euros.
Despite a chaotic start on Friday evening, when we arrived to find that no provision had been made for the 23 K Sports cars in the already overcrowded paddock, the tense atmosphere was immediately calmed by circuit staff who were actually helpful. Something told us that this circuit thinks that the entrants are important to them and we really appreciated it.
The Saturday morning free test session was invaluable, as it dawned on the drivers that there were no curbs and few reference points for braking and cornering. This was going to be a highly technical circuit with very little room for error. The long oval section from turn 4 to turn 1 provided a welcome rest from the twists and turns of the road section, although that outer wall seemed just a little threatening and very close on the exit from 4. Qualifying provided evidence of Peter Clark's superiority with a stunning 1:51.9 to take pole, nearly 2 seconds quicker than Clive Woodward, closely followed by Pete Richings and Jim Lindley. Mike Luck took 5th spot on the grid in Chris Hart's Mk 16. Then came two wonderful performances with Arf Dickens taking a brilliant 6th spot closely followed by Adrian Brown with a very creditable 8th. Sandwiched between the two was Howard Payne who made his contribution to the day by adding a second chicane in the form of his bodywork but still managing 7th slot before going agricultural. Dave Madgwick, in his first very motor race recorded a respectable 13th position before ploughing into the kitty litter at the hairpin and returning about half a ton of best Rockingham gravel to the paddock.
On Sunday not only was the sun shining but the Gods were smiling on us too. The scheduled first race for the Kumho BMW Championship was postponed after two red flag incidents, which gave K Sports the honour of running the first ever race at Rockingham. At the green light Clark and Woodward fought it out to the first corner with Clive taking the honours for the first lap until Peter outbraked him at the hairpin to take a lead that he held until the chequered flag despite fading brakes towards the end. Richings looked well placed for a podium finish until his car jumped out of gear on the road section dropping him out of contention and unbalancing the closely following Mike Luck who headed off into the earthworks. Lindley produced another of his recent super fast performances to take a well deserved third including the fastest lap. Howard Payne fought his way to 4th despite his earlier difficulties finishing in front of Richings. The drives of the day must be awarded to Arthur Dickens with his best ever finish at 6th and Adrian Brown with a personal best 7th. The rest of the grid put up their usual solid performance featuring a lesson in 'drafting' as Paul Freeman blasted past Madgwick's overheating EBX at the end of the pit lane 'straightaway'. Young Bicknell continues to improve in the art of overtaking and Simon Kelly scored maximum points from his father by finishing with 4 wheels and a nose. Peter Clark said it all on the podium; Fantastic, brilliant, magnificent and he went on the propose a vote of thanks to BMW motorsport for allowing us three records:
1. To K Sports, for the first ever race at Rockingham
2. To Peter Clark, for the first win
3. To Jim Lindley, for the,albeit short lived, outright lap record.
Thank you Rockingham, we can't wait to come back.