Race one of the weekend had to be postponed late on Saturday evening to be held on Sunday morning after a first lap incident. The race initially took place shortly after a heavy rain shower, providing the junior drivers with tricky conditions. As the field headed through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time Dave Wooder received contact which sent him spinning across the track, unfortunately JHR’s Jenson Dineen and HHC’s Charlie Digby collected the TCR car. The red flag was instantly brought out to allow the medical professionals to attend to Wooder after he was knocked out as well as the recovery teams to collect the cars and repair barriers. The circuits curfew closed in which left the officials with no other choice but to postpone the opening race until Sunday morning at 10am.
Douglas Motorsport’s Stuart Middleton manged to pip HHC’s Lewis Brown at the line to take the opening race win on Sunday morning. All three of the drivers involved in the Saturday incident on lap one were not cleared to race.
With Wooder taking pole position but being forced to sit out of the race it promoted Brown onto pole. Seb Perez got a good start and stormed past as the pack headed through Paddock Hill Bend. A group of cars headed through the corner with a big hit on the inside kerb which caught Sebastian Priaulx, sending him spinning down the hill. All the cars managed to avoid the JHR driver but in the process Greg Johnson got stranded in the gravel trap, leading to a safety car period.
At the restart the lead changed pretty quickly when Brown dived down the inside of Perez at Surtees. Harry King survived a wide slide at Hawthorns to hold on to fourth place. Middleton got ahead of Perez and went on to open a gap between he and Perez as Middleton and Brown got away from the chasing pack. Perez was put under immense pressure from King for a number of laps before King fell backwards into the grasp of Charlie Fagg and Olli Caldwell. Both Fagg and Caldwell got past King on the GP loop of the circuit, demoting King to sixth.
On the final lap of the race all began changing, Caldwell lost three places at Paddock Hill, King passed Fagg later on the lap to take fourth at the flag. There was a dramatic end to the race as Middleton had been running on Brown’s tail for a few laps, but managed to pass Brown at the line to snatch the win. The move came around after Middleton got a good exit out of Stirlings and allowed the Douglas Motorsport driver to draw alongside Brown as they went through Clearways with the two having a drag race to the line, going in Middleton’s favour by 0.062 seconds. This being the closest winning margin anyone has had throughout the 2016 season. This result secured Middleton second in the championship, his sixth win of the season too. Brown reached a personal milestone as he reached half a dozen podium finishes by taking second.
Seb Perez finished the race in third with King taking fourth. Fagg ended the race in fifth ahead of Daniel Harper, giving Harper a twenty point advantage in the Rookie Cup as they head into the final race of the season. Priaulx fought back during the race to take ninth behind JHR duo Geri Nicosia and Olli Caldwell. Caldwell completed the Rookie podium behind King and Harper.
©Fay Tilley 5th October 2016.