Track Guide – Rockingham

The eighth weekend of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes a trip to Corby as Rockingham hosts rounds 22, 23 & 24. In this edition of track guide you will learn what it takes to hook up a lap around the 1.94 mile circuit, what happened last year, this weekends weather as well as a little history.

A Lap of Rockingham 

Compared to the undulation of Knockhill, Rockingham is a complete opposite in terms of the challenges faced by the drivers. As you cross the start/finish line, the cars will be shifting through the gears and approaching 120mph as they take the plunge into turn one. Only the brave and committed will keep it pinned through there.

The Deene hairpin is a second gear corner taken at around 45mph, the tight left hander is a great overtaking place and can provide plenty of action on the first lap. Out of Deene it is a short run down to the right handed Yentwood, which is still a second gear corner at just over 50mph. Chapman Curve is straight after Yentwood and is a continuous flow of right handers into a quick left. There is a little chance of overtaking here however it does give the drivers a chance to set up for a move.

Building speed up to Gracelands corner is where the drivers will be going up the gears and entering the left hander at 100mph. It is somewhat of a double apex as it has two kinks left and then it is a short blast down to another hairpin. The right hander is called Tarzan and is usually take in first gear. On the exit of the corner, the cars will be roughly taking 45mph and many will be side by side with each other.

The last section of the 1.94 mile circuit is a straight down to a quick chicane before the cars will then make their way out onto the banking and up onto the start/finish straight to begin another lap.

The nature of the Rockingham circuit is one that will provide a great challenge to the drivers (btcc.net)
The nature of the Rockingham circuit is one that will provide a great challenge to the drivers (btcc.net)

Last Year

It was at the 1.94 mile circuit last year that the destiny of the championship swung the way of Gordon Shedden. Pole position fell the way of Jason Plato and the MG KX Momentum driver took a comfortable lights-to-flag victory in the opening encounter and looked set to dominate the meeting.

However as the rain fell, Shedden took advantage and took two victories in the treacherous conditions. The Scot survived a sideways moment through turn one whilst Jeff Smith wasn’t so lucky as he virtually wrote his car off.

Weather Report 

BBC Weather are reporting that there will be early showers on Saturday morning with the sun then set to make an appearance in the afternoon. For race day, it should be a dry morning but rain is expected at 13:00 through until the late evening. Waterproofs are advised to be taken and the grandstands are set to be a sea of colour with the umbrellas up.

History

  • Rockingham Motor Speedway was constructed on a British Steel works site as a banked oval with the intention of bringing the American oval racing across the Atlantic for the first time. The opportunity was taken to use the infield for further circuits.
  • It took ten years of planning and and 23 months of construction
  • On the 15th January 2001, the circuit opened for business
  • The Queen then formally opened the track on the 26th May the same year
  • Rockingham is now the first purpose built oval circuit in the UK since the Brooklands track in 1907
  • Tony Kanaan set an average speed of 215.397mph at the wheel of a Lola-Ford Champ Car in September 2001

BTCC Stats & Facts at Rockingham

  • The BTCC first made its debut at the Corby in 2003 where Matt Neal and Yvan Muller shared the spoils
  • A four year absence from the calendar saw Rockingham return in 2007
  • First time winners in the series have been crowned at the 1.94 circuit with drivers such a Stephen Jelley and James Nash taking wins
  • In 2011, a qualifying bust-up between Matt Neal and Jason Plato overshadowed the weekend as both their teams had to split the pair up
  • Jason Plato holds the most wins at the circuit (5) with Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden on 4 a piece
  • Honda as a manufacturer have taken 7 victories down the years, more than any other works team
  • Frank Wrathall currently holds the lap record around the circuit having set it in his Toyota Avensis in 2011
  • Gordon Shedden achieved one of the most incredible pieces of car control ever witnessed in the rain last year through turn one (see article later tonight)

PHOTO CREDIT: btcc.net