Arguably one of the most exciting young prospects in rallycross, 18-year-old Dan Rooke will be making his first international debut this weekend in the British Round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, taking place at Lydden Hill. The youngster will be driving for Swedish Team OlsbergMSE in the the RX Lites Cup support category.
Despite being his first international competition, Rooke has won plenty of recognition, and races, in British rallycross, as he is currently leading the MSA British Rallycross Championship, driving a 600bhp Citroen DS3 Supercar. As well as this, Rooke, in his first season, won the MSA Supernational Championship in 2015.
Rooke earnt the opportunity to race in the RX Lites Cup came about after he put in a strong performance in the MSA Backed RX Talent Search at Lydden last year, where, from 100 applicants, he qualified for the final four.
Rooke has commented that, “Following the RX Talent Search this time last year, I went and saw Andreas (Eriksson) at the World Rallycross event in Hockenheim recently, and he gave me an offer to drive that I couldn’t refuse. This season has been amazing in the British Championship so far, to have won an event (At Lydden HIll) and be leading at the halfway stage is incredible. Hopefully at Lydden next week I can mix it with the top guys. But, given that I’ve had next to no seat time in the car, it will be tough. Hopefully I can learn in practice. I know that being smooth is key with these things so I’ll try not to be too ragged, just keep it tidy.”
As all of the RX Lites are the same, it is the talent of the driver that determines the outcome of the race. The Lites, powered by normally aspirated engines, are roughly a second slower than the supercars that Rooke normally drives.
“You could say the Lites is a step down in car (from the Supercar) but it is certainly a step up in terms of level of the event. Hopefully nerves won’t get the better of me being on the international stage,” Rooke continued.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot easier driving the car now compared to when I drove it last year when I had never even driven with a sequential gearbox before. I’ve now got left hand drive, four-wheel drive and sequential gearbox experience. It will help that I know Lydden, I’ve actually gone unbeaten there so hopefully I can carry that chain on. I know the track well, so hopefully that will come into play but I know these boys in RX Lites are really quick.”
Not only is Rooke driving this weekend, but he is also working in the FIA World Rallycross Championship for X Games Gold Medallist, Liam Doran, as a spotter.