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Hitting the bank HARD

So just 2 weeks after the dramatic start to the season, we arrive at Rockingham for rounds 2 and 3 of the VW Cup. Rockingham, Northants, A fast track with the iconic banked first corner thrown in with fast flowing corners and a couple of tight hairpins, it favours the brave. The weather report showed a sunny and hot bank holiday weekend which turned out to be true.

After a good days testing learning the track and more about the car on Saturday, we arrived at the track at 12:00 on Sunday 4th May. With only qualifying to do at 17:45 today there was plenty of time to relax, look over the footage from the previous day and talk about some setup adjustments that could help with a good qualifying session.

17:00 arrived and it was time to head down to the assembly area ready for quali with the other 30 cars. New tyres on and the plan to use all of the 20 minutes to gain more experience, I headed out onto the track. Couple of laps scrubbing in the tyres and away we go. As the final few minutes arrived, the times were dropping off and it was a solid P17 start position for race 1 tomorrow.

We headed back to the hotel for quick shower and change of clothes ready to head out with the team for dinner. After a steak and chips and a game of pool later it was up to bed to a good night’s sleep - Yes I did win both games of pool!

Alarm went off at 7:00am to be ready to meet at the track for 08:00am. The first race was scheduled for 10:10am, giving me enough time for signing on, driver briefing and a sausage bap.

We headed down to the assembly area at 9:45am to be ready and all setup for race 1. P17 was my highest start in the VW cup and it was a good feeling to be in the pack. Lid on, strapped in and a final pep talk from the boys before the door was slammed shut leaving everything down to me. The cars are lined up 2 by 2 so the front looked a lot closer than I had expected. I had run through the start over and over again in my head and with the warm up lap completed I lined up ready for the red lights. On they came, revs up and away we go – a good start with a probably a bit too much wheel spin but it was OK. The next thing wasn’t, into 2nd gear, 3rd then 2nd, 5th and finally into 4th. Missing those gears meant that after lap 1 I was back in 25th place now having to chase down the pack. One by one I am picking them off and the next thing I see is my pit board saying P14 with 5 minutes remaining. Nothing much happened in that 5 minutes and it was a P14 finish and a solid 16 point haul.

Race 2 was scheduled for 16:00 so we had plenty of time to relax and chill out with friends, family and the team whilst taking a look at the video from race 1 and where to improve. We watched some of the British GT cars and suddenly it was 15:30 and time to head back down to the assembly area.

With a finish of P14 from race 1, that is where I start for race 2 – another milestone, my highest start in the VW Cup (again). Tonys’ words of how the gears work and that it goes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 playing in my head I get a much better start this time. Working my way up a few places to P12 the race is going well but the tyres start to go off and I get caught by 2 faster cars. They get past and with a few laps left I settle for another 14th place and 16 points.

So, overall it was a really good and enjoyable weekend. A better qualifying and 2 solid race finishes with a good points haul is great for my first full race weekend. Huge thanks to all my sponsors, friends and family that came to support and the team providing the best atmosphere in the paddock. See you all for Rounds 4 & 5 at Silverstone on 1st June! Thanks for all your support!

Simon Rudd

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