Rockingham Super Send Off, chequered flag falls at the Northamptonshire circuit for the final race meeting.

It was the end of an era last weekend, as Rockingham Motor Speedway held its last race meeting, the Super Send Off.

The Northamptonshire circuit opened its doors in January 2001, and was formally opened in May 2001 by the Queen, Rockingham being the first purpose built oval in Britain since Brooklands was established in 1907. Built on the site of a former steel works, Rockingham was ten years in the planning and promised alongside other championships to introduce American style oval racing to the UK.

Rockingham fostered it’s own series, ASCAR, which was later rebranded Days Of Thunder, however the series demised in 2007, the same year that BTCC began its annual Rockingham Round, although the Championship had fielded a one off event there in 2003. 2004 saw the Special Stages Rally first appearance at the venue. The Rockingham Rally Stages will be closing track action at the venue for the final time on December 1st and 2nd.

From 2001 to 2003 British Superbikes held a Rockingham round, it lost the 2004 round to Croft as there were calls to hold some of the Championship further north. The Rockingham round was due to be reinstated in 2005, however BSB pulled further participation at Rockingham due to safety concerns. In later years there were proposals by Rockingham to bring BSB back but financial restraints meant it could not be achieved.  

In August of this year BTCC announced they would not be returning to Rockingham in 2019 stating uncertainty over the circuits future as the primary reason, with other championships following suit, Rockingham then made the announcement that all events for the rest of 2018 would go ahead but there would be a change of business operations in the future. Soon after Peter Hardman, Rockinghams CEO confirmed the closure speculation and revealed the plans for the venue being a huge automotive logistics hub.

There have been mixed feelings amongst motosport fans over the closure of the independent circuit. While the venue has been described as soulless, with the vast empty grandstands adding to a sense of isolation, Rockingham is often stated as a great track for testing, it was fast and always provided good racing. For spectators, it being a new purpose built track, the facilities were excellent and central location an advantage to race goers from far afield.

The Super Send Off attracted a large amount of spectators and marshals wishing to say a final goodbye to Rockingham, many of whom have been volunteering at the venue for numerous years. There were three categories racing: Saloons, Sports & GT and Single Seaters, as well as individual races there was also an hour race.

In Single Seaters the win in both races went to Dave Wheal, joining him on the podium in the first race was Ewen Sergison in second place and Will Cox in third place while the second race found Robert Bailey in second and Marcus Sheard in third. Bailey had an eventful race, spinning a few times in his Jedi MK6 but not stopping him from finishing the race just a few seconds behind Wheal, while Sheard took his podium place at the last corner overtaking Will Cox with just seconds left on the clock. There were DNF’s for Sergison and Nigel Lackford but the small grid still provided some excellent racing.

In the Saloon category Andy Baylie in his Volkswagen Golf took the win in both races with Daniel Kell taking second place and Gary Miller in third place in race one, while Martin Poole and Jason Evans completed the podium in the second race.

Pip Hammond shared racing duties with Esther Quaintmere, Hammond taking their Vauxhall Nova out in the first race bringing it home in fifth place, while Quaintmere completed her race in twentieth place.

But it was the One Hour race and Sports & GT races that saw a significant Rockingham win with the venue’s CEO Peter Hardman taking a fantastic victory in all three races in his Radical SR3.

The day finished with a firework display as Hardman crossed the line in the final race, a poignant farewell to a circuit that has divided opinion, seen some of the biggest names in motorsport race there and given 17 years of entertainment to spectators and drivers alike.

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British Rallycross Silverstone

The MSA British Rallycross Championship was wrapped up at Silverstone with three-time Champion Mark Higgins taking the title in a tightly fought round, Higgins eventually took the Championship with just a two point lead over Ollie O’Donovan.

There was disappointment for Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett who set fastest times in Q2 and Q3 but disaster struck in semi-final one when a fire hit his Ford Fiesta, ruling him out of the final. Lining up alongside Higgins in the final was Dan Rooke, Julian Godfrey, Pat Doran, Ollie O’Donovan, Mike Manning, Steve Hill and Liam Manning.

Higgins took a decisive lead from the start, which he held throughout the race, despite best attempts by Godfrey and O’Donovan to cut into Higgins lead by taking early joker, the Albatec Racing driver remained unassailable, taking the race and Championship title.

In the Junior Rallycross Championship it was a battle to the last for brothers Tom and Luke Constantine with just a point separating them in the standings as they moved into the final round. The duo finished first and second,

Tom taking the race win and title, with Patrick O’Donovan in third place.

The Supernational Championship saw Paige Bellerby absent but her dad and multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby stepping into drive the Lotus Exige home to victory, seeing off newly crowned 2018 second time Championship winner Tristan Ovendon.

 

 

In the support races, the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship found Tom Llewellin taking the win. The title had already been handed to Morgan Bailey ahead of the Silverstone round and Bailey opted to sit the event out.

The BMW Mini Rallycross Championship saw outgoing 2017 Champ Martin Hawkes claim the race win, with the Championship title going to David Bell.

In Retro Rallycross, former Champ Ray Morgan was the winner. Rob Gibson took the flag but due to Morgan being within the five second handicap handed to 4 wheel drive competitors, he took the win, with James Harrold crowned the 2018 Champion.

Taking the win in the RX150 Championship and his fourth consecutive Championship title was Chrissy Palmer with former Champ Leo Forster in second place.

The 2019 British Rallycross Championship has been unveiled with the series continuing at Silverstone on the 24th Of March.

2019 MSA British Rallycross Championship Calendar:

24.03.19 Silverstone
22.04.19 Lydden (Easter Monday)
22.06.19 Pembrey
23.06.19 Pembrey
26.08.19 Lydden (Au
08.09.19 Croft
22.09.19 Pembrey
27.10.19 Croft

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750 Motor Club Birkett Relay 2018

Drawing the 750 Motor Clubs season to a close last weekend at Silverstone, was the popular Birkett Relay. A busy grid of varied cars fielded by sixty six teams, duked it out over the six hour race, from Mini’s to Radicals, BMW’s to Ferrari’s.

The morning started dry but as the race got underway, the skies darkened and conditions worsened as the race drew on into the late October afternoon.

Taking the overall win was Area Motorsports Cupra Racing team, with Stewart Lines taking the final stint in the Maximum Motorsport TCR UK Cupra, beating Breakell Racing Heroes by just fractions of a second. Breakell Racing took third place in the overall “scratch” results.

On the handicap relay it was the six strong Red Rascal team who took first place, fielding a fleet of BMW M3’s. Second place in the handicap race was Mostly Rusty Two Seaters, who ran four Toyota MR2’s, while third place went to Area Motorsport.

The Armed Forces Race Challenge team finished seventh overall on handicap while the inter-service race found RAF Motorsport successfully defending their title with the RAF Engineering Motor Racing Team finishing 15th overall. Team Brit meanwhile took the Class C handicap win.

There was a welcome return to Birkett Relay, now in its 68th year, of the stunning GEM TVR. The car was last raced in the Birkett by Tommy Entwhistle 50 years ago.

Now in the hands of John Livesey, the car finished 52nd overall.

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