Clive Richards and Mark Davies continued their successful 2011 Ginetta Challenge campaigns by bagging a win apiece at Rockingham yesterday.
Race one was run in very wet conditions and was headed by Richard Sykes (HHC Motorsport) who got the drop on Mark Davies (Optimum Motorsport) to lead into Turn One. Sykes’ lead was to be short-lived, though, as he outbraked himself going into the Deene hairpin on the opening lap and slithered down to fifth place. Mike Robinson (TCR) ran second behind Davies, but was overhauled by Clive Richards (Colards Motorsport) as they paddled through Chapman Curve for the first time.
Behind Robinson came Rory Bryant, the recovering Sykes, Rick Parfitt (HHC Motorsport) and Sean Huyton (Academy Motorsport), but Parfitt was flying and eased past Sykes at Deene on lap two. Up front, Richards made good progress away from the pack and latched on to the tail of Davies who made a mistake on the standing water at Tarzan and, as he ran wide, Richards nipped ahead.
Parfitt grabbed fourth at Tarzan on lap two and drafted his way past Robinson for third a lap later as the cars powered through Turn One, and then targeted multiple race winner Davies. Driving the race of his life, Parfitt charged past the East Yorkshireman at the Tarzan hairpin to bag second place. Rick continued his relentless charge and moved up to challenge Richards who was delayed by a back-marker at the Brook Chicane on lap seven. That gave Parfitt a chance to attack for the lead and he moved ahead at Chapman a lap later having been very late on the brakes. Once ahead, though, Parfitt struggled and spun on a drying track at Tarzan two laps later which cost him his lead. Richards went back ahead as Parfitt defended from Davies, but then he spun at Deene and fell to fourth and a further spin at Brook dropped him down to seventh.
After all the drama, it was the experienced Richards who came through to score the win ahead of Davies and Robinson, with Parfitt salvaging seventh place.
Said Richards: “I’ve never driven in the wet here before and visibility was difficult because there’s was a lot of standing water. It was definitely easier to lead than follow. I saw Rick coming in my mirrors and knew he was faster, he’s not a championship rival so I decided to let him go and follow him to be safe. I felt really sorry for him when he spun in front of me.”
The second race was run on a drying circuit and was headed by Mark Davies who made a good start to lead the pack into the first corner. Behind him, Richards chased him to the first left-hander but lost traction and spun into the concrete wall on the outside of the circuit. A chastened Richards rejoined a long way back and finished 14th.
Up front, Davies led from Huyton who worked hard on the opening tour to head Mike Robinson and Richard Sykes, who passed Robinson on lap three for third place. Sykes was on a mission and grabbed second from Huyton at Tarzan on lap five but couldn’t catch Davies, despite the leader being delayed by a back-marker.
Behind Davies, Sykes took second from Huyton and Ryan Ratcliffe (Piranha Motorsport) with Lee Mowle (Optimum Motorsport) taking a best-yet fifth from Robinson.