Resurgent Ginetta Junior Championship racer Dave Wooder secured his maiden Rookie Cup victory for Total Control Racing during the penultimate event of the 2015 season at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 26th/27th September.
Taking the first class win of his debut season in cars during round 17 on Saturday afternoon, in fourth position overall, Wooder was just a fraction of a second away from claiming a memorable outright podium. In round 18 on Sunday, the youngster raced very impressively again and was in the fight for the overall podium initially before slipping to eighth in the end – fourth highest rookie.
Silverstone also proved a strong venue for team-mates Matt Chapman, Connor Grady and Cameron Roberts who all displayed good pace. Chapman, in particular, starred on Sunday with a sensational drive through from the back of the grid into sixth place at the finish and he also set fastest lap.
Grady, meanwhile, took a career best top 10 in the weekend’s second contest after a similarly strong drive through from 19th while Roberts was in the mix in both races. Taking a best of sixth in race one, third highest rookie, he was unfortunately forced out of race two after contact at Becketts.
“It’s been a strong weekend for us with the pace, all four lads delivered some good performances and we were unlucky not to be on the main podium with at least two of them”, said TCR team principal Lee Brookes, “It’s great for Dave to have taken his first Rookie Cup win and Matt’s drive through in race two was outstanding – setting fastest lap shows what was possible.
“Connor is developing very quickly as a driver, qualifying isn’t quite where we need to be but in the races he’s doing a great job. Cameron was really unlucky in the second race but he showed his potential again, he could just as easily have been on the overall podium this weekend as Dave and Matt.”
Wooder led the way for TCR in a hotly-contested qualifying session with the third fastest time, having lapped fastest of all in pre-event testing, with Chapman lining-up eighth on the grid for round 17, Roberts 10th and Grady in 20th position.
At the start of Saturday’s race, Wooder was edged back to fifth on the opening lap but Chapman moved up into seventh and the pair ran as part of a very tightly bunched train of eight cars during the early going with nothing to choose between the front pack.
Climbing into fourth and sixth respectively, Wooder and Chapman continued their climb towards the podium and the latter managed to get ahead of his team-mate as the race entered its second half. At that point, Roberts came into the picture too as the TCR trio ran as one.
Chapman’s hopes, though, went awry on lap eight when contact from behind dropped him to 18th position – he eventually fought back into the top 15 but a track limits penalty put him 21st in the final order. Roberts assumed the mantle of chief challenger to Wooder and with two laps to go he was ahead of his team-mate in fifth, but Wooder hit back to take the Rookie win on the last lap.
Roberts ended the race in sixth, third of the Rookies, after a similarly great drive while 14-year-old Grady took the chequered flag in 20th position after a see-saw race in which he was shuffled back to last on lap one. Due to Chapman’s penalty, though, he moved up into 19th place.
For round 18, Wooder started in fourth place with Roberts in sixth and once again a lot of place changing occurred during the early running. The former moved up into second place on lap two but he was then shuffled back to seventh just behind Roberts before the Safety Car appeared.
After the resumption the action was just as frantic and with two laps to go Wooder had worked his way back into the top three. Everything changed again though before the conclusion with Wooder down to eighth. Through it all came Chapman and Grady who, from 21st and 19th positions on the grid respectively, delivered fantastic performances – Chapman, in particular, starring with a top six finish and the fastest lap of the race as he made the most of the Safety Car and produced some superb overtaking.
Grady certainly produced his most competitive showing yet in Ginetta Juniors and managed to leap into the top 14 on the first lap. Edging closer to the coveted top 10 after the Safety Car intervention, the 14-year-old rookie made the breakthrough on the final lap to claim a fantastic result.