Dave Wooder made a welcome return to the sort of performance which delivered so much early season promise for Total Control Racing during rounds 15 and 16 of the Ginetta Junior campaign at Rockingham over the weekend, 5th/6th September, with a brace of podiums in the Rookie Class.
Lapping second fastest in the first test session on Friday, 5th September, and then topping the times in session two, Wooder went on to lap in the top six during Saturday’s final practice and although getting within 0.5 seconds of pole position in qualifying, he had to settle for the 10th fastest time.
Moving into the top eight at the start of race one, Wooder gained two more places on the second tour and then sliced his way through into the top five on lap three with some superb driving. With a three second gap to close to the next group, further progress looked unlikely and with a couple of laps to go he was edged back to sixth – equating to second in the Rookies.
Team-mate Matt Chapman finished the opening contest one place behind Wooder after a fantastic drive through from 14th on the grid. Leaping into the top 12 on the first tour, the second year racer continued to move forward and by the end of lap four he was into eighth place. Much faster than Charlie Fagg ahead, Chapman made the breakthrough with two laps to go to claim seventh.
Cameron Roberts started on row seven alongside Chapman, in 13th place, but was bundled back to 16th on the opening lap and then 17th a lap later. Held up behind slower cars, the series rookie moved back into the top 15 at mid-distance and although slipping behind Devlin DeFrancesco on the final tour Roberts did manage to reclaim 15th place before the chequered flag.
TCR’s youngest driver Connor Grady, embarking on only his fourth weekend in Ginetta Junior, started the race in 19th position and although down to 21st place by the end of lap three, the 14-year-old leapt into 17th spot halfway through the 10 lapper where he stayed to the finish.
Wooder started round 16 in sixth position, one place ahead of Chapman, and when the lights went out they ran tightly packed through Turn One but both lost some ground at Deene. Running in eighth and ninth out of the hairpin respectively, Chapman made his move to pass Wooder on lap two at the same corner and sealed the pass before a yellow flag zone at Yentwood.
Taking seventh on lap three, Chapman piled on the pressure to Billy Monger and tried everything to get ahead of his rival. Monger’s defence, though, enabled the pack to begin attacking Chapman and on lap six he was challenged and swapped places several times with Patrik Matthiesen.
Emerging from the battle in eighth, Chapman soon hit back to grab seventh on lap seven at Deene and he then set his sights on Matthiesen. With the clock ticking down, hopes of more gains became evermore slim but on the final lap Chapman was able to take sixth place for a great result.
Wooder, meanwhile, held ninth to lap five when passed by Kyle Hornby but he remained tight behind the rival car and didn’t relent with the pressure he applied. Moving up two places on the final lap, the result in his newly rebuilt car capped something of a return to form for the teenager.
Unfortunately for Roberts, race two came to an early end on lap four when an excursion at the exit of Deene resulted in retirement – after starting in the top 15, he was edged back four places on lap two before his involvement came to an end only a couple of laps later.
Grady, meanwhile, was elbowed back to 20th place from 17th on the opening lap but started to make progress mid-race and by the penultimate lap he was back in his starting position. Then, on the final tour, he climbed into 16th position to post yet another points finish.
“We’re still out of position by far, definitely where Matt and Dave are concerned, but they both raced well and took two good finishes”, added TCR boss Brookes, “Connor is improving all the time, which is just what we want to see, and he’s starting to get really stuck in. Cameron has unfortunately been in a few scrapes so that meant his weekend wasn’t what it should have been for him.
“It’s been a bit of a confusing weekend really, the cars looked quick in testing but then qualifying just went away from us and the results weren’t what Friday’s pace showed we should have had. Onto Silverstone now, hopefully we can be quick there from start to finish.”
Silverstone National Circuit will host rounds 17 and 18 of the Ginetta Junior season three weeks from now on 26th/27th September. Before then, TCR’s Ginetta GT5 Challenge squad will contest the final races of its season at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit next weekend, 12th/13th September.