Coleman Digs Deep at Rockingham

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Coleman Digs Deep at Rockingham

James Coleman bagged a sackful of Class A points in an eventful weekend at Northamptonshire's Rockingham Raceway. Andy Baker sealed his second Class B Championship win. But in the 924s, a big accident severely damaged four cars in the final race.

Saturday morning and Nick Hull's qualifying didn't last a lap as his bonnet flipped up and smashed his screen; a hasty call to a national agency saw a new screen fitted and he made it to the grid for Race 1. James Coleman has to overcome the clutch issues that prevented him qualifying in session and he starts at the back with Hull.

As the red lights on the gantry turn to green, Richard Avery makes an excellent start and takes the lead from Adam Southgate and Ed Hayes. James Coleman starts from back but is quickly up to 4th. There's a long stream of cars looking and sounding magnificent as the noise echoes off the wall along the banking. By lap 3 Avery leads, and Coleman's up to P2 having passed two Boxsters in one lap.

Lap 4 and its Southgate leading from Coleman and Avery with Ed Hayes 4th but the order isn't kept for long and by the next lap it's Coleman from Hayes andSouthgate swapping places along start straight. The top 3 continued to swap places, mostly with James Coleman leading Ed Hayes and Adam Southgate, with Richard Avery dropping back.

All of a sudden the heavens open and the last lap starts with heavy rain; Ed Hayes gets past James Coleman to take the win with Adam Southgate wide at Deene and instead of rejoing there, heads off around the banking Indy style thereby losing a lap and promoting Richard Avery to P3. James Coleman's clutch failed on the very last lap, in a repeat of his qualifying problem, but still managed a brilliant P2.

Further back there's close dices with Kevin Molyneaux swapping places with Nick Hull, Hull taking P4 by half a second. Next up was a stream of 4 cars with Alex Stocker, Andy Porter, Garry Goodwin and an invigorated Philip Churchill finishing in this order after trading positions throughout the race.

In the Production Boxsters it's another win for Andy Baker, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Matt Harris, and enjoying a dice with some midfield 924s.

In Class C there's no Pip Hammond after a sudden loss of oil pressure in qualifying, leaving Gavin Johnson with his best chance of a maiden win. He drops to P3 at the start behind a particularly sprightly Karl Rossin and Ryan Lowry.

Further back there's Pete Smith in P4 with a gap to Phil Waters, Jamie Callender and Hugh Peart, followed by Chris Valentine and Andy Pritchard who battle race-long until Pritchard spins on the suddenly wet track.

Bernie Printy loses power at the start, and pits after 5 laps with a bad misfire, later diagnosed as a valve shim which in typical PDA style, cooperation between teams sees Moluto Motorsport taking the complete top end from Pip Hammond's car, itself having an overnight engine change to get him out on Sunday.

Rossin maintains the lead for most of the race, with Lowry and Johnson closing on each other. Into the final lap lap it's very close with all 3 together and it could be anyone's race. As the rain comes down heavily, Johnson and Lowry both go off into the same gravel trap, but Johnson is stuck, and Rossin takes the win from Lowry. Pete Smith takes the 3rd step on the podium after a lurid spin onto the pit straight, and he also bags the fastest lap point – his first ever. Johnson's win means he's only the third driver to take the Class C top step this year beyond team mate Pip and guesting past champion Rick Styrin.

Race 2
Sunday arrives as another overcast and windy day, but the rain holds off for the start. All cars make it to the grid, with Pip's new engine and Bernie's new head. James Coleman's defective clutch hydraulics have been worked on, and he starts too.

At lights out its another great start from Richard Avery seeing him take the lead from P3. Into the first lap its Avery, Coleman, Nick Hull, Adam Southgate and Ed Hayes; Kev Molyneaux has a quick spin at the end of the lap. Southgate is up to 3rd on lap 2, and the recovering Molyneaux is carving through the 924 pack to catch up. By lap 3 Ed Hayes is up to 4th past Nick Hull with Alex Stocker close behind.

On lap 4 Adam spins from 3rd into the gravel at Tarzan leading to a short safety car period; as the cars bunch up, the top 3 is now James Coleman from Richard Avery and Ed Hayes. Phil Churchill is up to 7th – his best position since joining the championship earlier this year.

As the Safety car pulls off there is no change in the order and by the next lap Coleman has opened a gap on the rest with Richard Avery and Ed Hayes fighting, a gap to Alex Stocker alone in 4th and then close racing between Nick Hull, Garry Goodwin and Andy Porter, with Kev Molyneaux and Phil Churchill also mixing it. This order stays to the flag except the unfortunate Nick Hull forced into retiring on lap 10 with an ABS malfunction.

The Production Boxsters follow as Race 1 with Andy Baker taking an early lead which he holds to the flag from Matt Harris, both enjoying some close racing with a variety of Class C 924s.

In the 924s Karl Rossin takes an early lead from Ryan Lowry, Pete Smith and the orange car of a fast starting Bernie Printy. By lap 2 Ryan is past Karl from Smith, Printy and Gavin Johnson, and a battle developing over the next couple of laps as Smith closes on Rossin and Johnson passes Printy. Further back Phil Waters retires from 5th with a defective gear linkage.

By lap 4 Smith is up to P2 and Johnson is catching Rossin. Pip Hammond has worked his way up to P5 by the time the safety car is deployed. After the restart Ryan makes a break for it followed by a very close Rossin, Johnson and Hammond, while Pete Smith drops to 7th after a spin. The second place dice develops over the next few laps with cars swapping places until Johnson manages to pull away from a very close Rossin and Hammond.

Further back Pete Smith is involved in a 3 way scrap with Jamie Callender and Hugh Peart. At the flag it's a win for Ryan – making another "new" Class C winner in 2017.

Race 3
By the end of the day its overcast, but still dry for the final race of the weekend, starting with the usual reverse grid. Nick Hull car couldn't be fixed, so a non starter as is Chris Valentine but Phil Waters has repaired his gear linkage, and starts.

Alex Stocker is smartly away from the lights, snatching the lead from Richard Avery and James Coleman with Andy Porter in P4 - but very soon there's a red flag due to major shunt at Turn one involving several 924s.

Even though its the final race of the day, the BRSCC marshals and circuit staff labour to clear the debris and the race is restarted to run for 18 minutes.

At the restart Kev Molyneaux is quickly away as Phil Churchill doesn't get off the line properly. Molyneaux's lead doesn't last long though, and he comes through 5th after the first lap behind Richard Avery, James Coleman and Alex Stocker with Ed Hayes in P4. By the second lap Hayes is up to P2 with Coleman in the lead and Avery down in 3; Molyneaux has fallen back to 8th.

Over the next couple of laps Adam Southgate climbs through the field to P3 behind Coleman and Ed Hayes. Further back Avery and Alex Stocker are having a close race crossing the line side-by-side on occasion.

Coleman still leads, but Southgate is up to P2 with Hayes in P3 and Stocker established in P4. Shortly after getting up to 2nd, Southgate overshoots the chicane and drops to 3rd. On the final lap Stocker spins out of P4 dropping to 7th; the race ends with Coleman less than a second ahead of Ed Hayes with Adam Southgate 3rd.

In Class B its another win for Andy Baker, but Matt Harris shows much improved pace finishing 10 seconds behind, and almost identical fastest lap times.

In Class C there's mayhem on lap one as several cars come together at the banked first turn and block the track. When the dust clears, the cars of Pip Hammond, Hugh Peart, Bernie Printy and Karl Rossin are too damaged to take the restart, with others carrying damage too.

Only 6 cars assemble for the restart, and Pete Smith takes the lead in his battered 924 from Ryan Lowry, then Gavin Johnson followed by Phil Waters and Andy Pritchard. The unfortunate Jamie Callender pits at the end of lap one and retires a lap later. Lowry soon passes Pete Smith to take the lead. Johnson works his way past Smith to take P2, then Smith spins behind him but recovers without losing a place.

Johnson passes Lowry into T2 on the last lap, and takes the win to make it 3 new winners in 3 races at Rockingham. Lowry finishes 2nd, but in a mix up over the chequered flag, Pete Smith doesn't cross the line and loses his 3rd place, with a surprised Phil Waters promoted to P3 and Andy Pritchard the only other finisher landing a 'career best' P4.

And thus concludes our penultimate round - we return to the circuit for our last three races of the 2017 season at Brands Hatch on 21st/22nd October.

Words: John Broadley; photo: Dave Hogan.

Results - Rockingham

September 16th 2017

Race Spec Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 Ed Hayes 2
2 James Coleman 10
3 Richard Avery 3

Production Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 Andy Baker 1
2 Matthew Harris 2

Porsche 924

  Driver Grid Position
1 Karl Rossin 4
2 Ryan Lowry 3
3 Peter Smith 5

September 16th 2017

Race Spec Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 James Coleman 2
2 Richard Avery 3
3 Ed Hayes 1

Production Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 Andy Baker 1
2 Matthew Harris 2

Porsche 924

  Driver Grid Position
1 Ryan Lowry 2
2 Gavin Johnson 9
3 Pip Hammond 11

September 16th 2017

Race Spec Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 James Coleman 8
2 Ed Hayes 6
3 Adam Southgate 10

Production Boxster

  Driver Grid Position
1 Andy Baker 2
2 Matthew Harris 1

Porsche 924

  Driver Grid Position
1 Gavin Johnson 9
2 Ryan Lowry 10
3 Philip Waters 11

Championship Standings

  Driver Points
1 Ed Hayes 402.0
2 Adam Southgate 368.0
3 Richard Avery 306.0
  Driver Points
1 Andy Baker 213.0
2 Matthew Harris 166.0
  Driver Points
1 Pip Hammond 409.0
2 Gavin Johnson 357.0
3 Ryan Lowry 336.0

Next race

Brands Hatch (Indy) - 21st / 22nd October 2017

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