Ben Short (#11) scored a hat-trick of podiums in his one-off appearance - Photo: Jon Elsey

It was yet another step closer to the title that was taken by points leader Tom Roche as he was once again the main in form at Rockingham, although out of the trio of races that took place at the Corby venue, the big surprise was that he only saw the top step in two of them.

The first race had Roche on pole once again from Simon Baldwin and a last minute entrant in Ben Short, who had been a regular frontrunner in the Championship previously. Roche’s Race 1 performance was typical Tom as he grabbed the lead straight from the word go and never looked back, reaching the chequered flag with almost an 11 second advantage. Baldwin was back up to full strength with 2nd place while Short’s return to the series kicked off in fine style with a solid 3rd place, although he would not score championship points. This left Stuart Symonds to take the points instead while finishing 4th ahead of Michael Fisk in P5.

In the first Group B race for the second half of the field, there was an incredibly impressive display of driving put on by young Joshua Brent, the son of Go4It Racing’s Kevin Brent. Starting from pole, Joshua used the clear track in front of him, along with a clean getaway, to full advantage as he powered away from the pack behind to score his first race win in only his second weekend with the Championship. Paul Tucker, unusually finding himself out of Group A, still drove well to take 2nd place and promotion back into the top half while Sam Bailey made his first visit to an MX-5 podium with 3rd place. The trio, along with Simon Orange and Andrew Adams, would tack onto the back of the grid for Group A’s 2nd race the next day.

That second race would see something which had only occurred once in the entire season – Tom Roche not on the top step of the rostrum. While he had lead convincingly once again, dipping his wheels inside of the white line through the banked Turn 1 led to Roche being hit with a drive-through penalty, something that afterwards he found himself rather bemused by! As such, Roche dutifully served his punishment and came out 4th, leaving Simon Baldwin out in front from Short and Fisk. Baldwin would hold on to take his first win of 2016, while the run for second was a very close affair, as Short managed to squeeze out Roche for 2nd by a microscopic 1 thousandth of a second! Roche would still receive points for the P2, as would Fisk for 3rd despite finishing a place lower with Clive Powles making his first top 5 appearance of the weekend.

Richard Collins started the second Group B race from pole position, while a great start from Andrew Adams didn’t last after a spin out of the final corner of the opening lap. A lap-long safety car  bunched the field up and soon after the restart, Collins found himself shuffled back to 3rd as both William Stephenson and Martyn Canning found a way past. The latter then ended up tumbling towards the back of the field, while in contrast Simon Woods was making a great charge to the podium. By the flag, Stephenson took the win by 6.1 seconds from Woods, while Matt Pickford also left it late to take to the podium, stealing it from Collins on the final lap. Russ Lindsay made the final top 5 promotion spot, moving into his first ever Group A race since joining the Championship.

In that final Group A race, it was back to business as usual for Roche, who had to chase down a fast starting Short for 5 laps as the #11 led the field for the first time on his one-off return. Eventually, he was caught and passed by the Blendini car on Lap 6 and from there, the race was in hand for Roche. Baldwin had a quiet and distant opening half of the race despite starting from pole, but soon caught and passed Short for 2nd. The top 3 remained in situ for the rest of the encounter, with Roche racking up his 14th win of the season as the pair behind him ensured the three drivers were the only ones who would stand on the rostrum that weekend. Fisk would again take 3rd placed points as he finished P4 with Jake Bailey completing his visit to Corby with a strong top 5.

The last race of the weekend saw Paul Bateman turn in a strong performance after starting back in 5th, scything his way past the men on the first two rows ahead of him to lead by the end of the opening tour. From that point, he was never headed and completed what could be said as his best drive of the season to win brilliant by less than 3 seconds. Martyn Canning ensured he left Rockingham with some silverware by taking 2nd spot on the rostrum, followed home by Sam Bailey has he capped off an impressive weekend for the Bailey household with another 3rd placed trophy for the mantelpiece. Patrick Collins and Bryn Griffiths would complete the top 5.

This now leaves Roche with a 70 point lead heading into the final rounds at Silverstone International on October 15/16, with a maximum of 306 available (taking into account points for a win and fastest lap in all three races). The third and final triple header will certainly see Tom as the favourite and he will hope that the weekend will be but a formality, but as we know motorsport is always unpredictable, so it isn’t over until the chequered flag falls on the final race of the season. Join us there!

You can find a full breakdown of the weekend’s results from Rockingham HERE. A full, detailed report will be available in due course.

Scott Woodwiss

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Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 Ben Short 298 298
2 Brian Trott 292 292
3 Joe Wiggin 286 286