The seventh and final round of this year’s Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series took place at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Saturday 10th October, where Paul Allin continued the run of form he has shown all year and recorded the fastest time of the day - which was no mean feat in a Class C car. He finished the event a slender 0.2 seconds ahead of Brad Sheehan who claimed victory in Class D.
The two front-runners were followed by another pair drivers who have shown great form this season: Steve Peel, who brought his Evo VI home 0.48 seconds after Sheehan and recorded the third fastest time of the day, while Nick Greenwood ended the day eighth overall and in doing so scored another win in Class A driving his less modified Evo V.
While the outcome at Rockingham was never going to change the names of the end-of-season winners in Class D and Class C - as Anthony Lidster and Paul Allin had wrapped up the titles in Class D and Class C respectively at the previous round - the battle was still on for honours in Classes A and B.
The unique Rockingham circuit, located near Corby in Northamptonshire, is best known for its American NASCAR-style banking. However, for MLR competitors it was the venue’s challenging, technical infield complex that was to host the action for the day.
Saturday's three early practice runs set the scene in terms of weather, with a crisp autumn morning giving way to a bright and dry day, conditions that provided the perfect backdrop to the season finale. Class C cars made the practice runs their own, with the top three covered by less than a second, although it was Barry Jordan in his Evo VII that set the fastest time. Sheehan set the pace in Class D, with Peel doing likewise in Class B, but it was Jamie Hollett in his Evo VI who headed Class A before the competitive runs got underway.
Having stamped his authority driving his powerful Evo VI in Class D - the category for the most modified cars - this season, Lidster had elected to drive his new Evo VII for the final round and, so as not to effect anyone else’s chances, had sportingly opted not to claim any points from this event. This meant that Class D was there for the taking and Sheehan stepped up to the mark in his Evo IX. Sadly his tyre choice proved incompatible for both circuit and car, with the resulting lack of grip meaning he had to be content with second place overall and a best of 1:02.08, just behind the Class C Evo V of Allin and his 1:01.88.
Allin’s time on the fifth of the day’s eight competitive runs was the fastest of the day and put Class C honours beyond doubt. However, the battle behind him was much closer: Keith Bryan (Evo VI), Mike Laws (Evo VII), Barry Jordan (Evo VII) and Nick Brinnicombe (Evo IX) spending the whole afternoon chasing each other's times and, until the final set of runs, it appeared that Laws had done enough to guarantee second place in the category. However, Barry promptly changed all that with his final run that resulted in his best time of the day: a 1:02.50 and enough to claim the place from Laws.
Class B saw Peel take a convincing win, ahead of the Evo X of Robert Jane and Evo VI of Steve Moore. In contrast, the fight for Class A went right to the wire, with Greenwood finally claiming the honours by more than a second - and consequently the category title - closely followed by Alex Bones (Evo V) and Hollett.
With excellent weather, excellent competition and the usual excellent organisation, the final round of the Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series at Rockingham ran like clockwork and provided the perfect grand finale for the series’ ninth consecutive season. The day was topped off with the annual prizegiving and end of season party in the evening, where a good time was most definitely had by all!
Increasing the series’ profile this year is the addition of live commentary and television coverage at every round. Broadcast on Motors TV, the programmes feature action from each of the season’s seven rounds. And, with yet another successful year under their belts, organisers are already making plans for 2016 and hope to announce the calendar in the next few weeks.
The 2015 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series is sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport and HKS Europe.
Round 7 Class Winners Class Class sponsor Driver Car Time A SuperPro Nick Greenwood Evo V 1:04.17 B AP Tuning Steve Peel Evo VI 1:02.36 C Ross Sport Paul Allin Evo V 1:01.88 D HKS Europe Brad Sheehan Evo IX 1:02.08
Final Class Standings Class Driver Car Points A Nick Greenwood Evo V 395 B Steve Peel Evo VI 400 C Paul Allin Evo V 400 D Anthony Lidster Evo VI 400