Sam Tordoff’s Blog #10: Misery at Rockingham

Friday’s practice sessions were focused primarily on getting to grips with Rockingham’s technical infield section. It is quite a tricky circuit to master which requires some time to get a good consistent run. The long flow of fast left-handers are particularly awkward in a Porsche as the car
moves from understeer to oversteer through the sequence. Tyre wear is also high at the circuit due to the abrasive nature of the track with laptimes dropping off over a race run to over 2 seconds from a qualifying time.

Qualifying was a much improved performance on new tyres of late where I was able to get the best out of the new tyres straight away. With the track much quicker than the times set on Friday, I was 0.5 seconds quicker with a time of 1.20.404 This was good enough for eighth overall, only 4 tenths off pole – highlighting just how close the leading cars were matched over the 1.94mile track.

For Race One it was an early start as the 10:00am race kicked off the day’s action. Fortunately the heavy overnight rain had just about dried up to ensure the tyre choice was definitely slicks with just a few damp patches offline. I made an okay start and pulled over to the inside for the crucial Turn 2 into the infield section which often sees carnage on the opening lap. Luckily it wasn’t to be, but as I exited turn 2, I found myself on the wrong side of the congested track for Turn 3’s 90degree right-hander. As I turned into the apex, teammate Derek Pierce was hit from behind, smashing into the side off me. Forced off and through the gravel, it was immediately apparent I had steering damage, a bent wheel and the splitter missing. Rejoining the track dead last, I would now have to nurse the car to the finish. I worked my way through the Pro-Am2 drivers and managed to finish 11th, benefitting from some DNF’s further up the field.

Having repaired the car at breakneck speed for Race Two, further misfortune was to come. As the grid pulled away for the start of the green flag lap, I did my customary practice start only to find the clutch had overheated and broken. With no clutch I had to crawl back to the pits unable to
start the race and watch from the side lines.

A big thanks must be said to Team Parker, especially my mechanic James to turn my car around ready for Race Two, unfortunately the clutch breaking was just ‘one of those things’. The weekend’s results are something I will now be putting behind me as quickly as possible. I now have
two race weekends left to rectify the season and improve my championship position. The next round at Brands Hatch is on the full Grand Prix circuit – my favourite track in the UK, so I hope to go much better there in two weeks’ time.