Dynojet's Frank Wrathall took the first win of the Rockingham weekend with a composed drive from pole position to the chequered flag.
Twenty three year old Wrathall took the Championship lead after a brace of seconds and a seventh at Thruxton over the Easter weekend; however as he followed home Dynojet team mate and guest driver Rob Huff during rounds one and two, he claimed maximum points.
The qualifying session saw the Preston based racer edge out Total Control Racing's Carl Breeze by 0.076s to claim pole position, With an advantage of over a quarter of a second to third place starter Benji Hetherington. Rounding out the top six were Chris Dittman, Matt Bell and Alice Powell.
The start of the race saw both front row men get away cleanly and immediately start to pull away from the chasing pack, and at the end of the second lap of ten, the pole sitter had built up an eight tenths of a second advantage over Breeze, with Hetherington third, Dittman fourth, Vernon fifth and Bell sixth.
The third lap saw Vernon close right up on Dittman as the top two made their break. Their charge was interrupted by the appearance of the Safety Car, to recover the car of Powell. Powell had made an attempt to pass Aaron Williamson at Deene and was collected by Ritter. Williamson made it back to the pits and then returned to the race, a long way off.
Once the Safety Car was withdrawn, Wrathall made the perfect restart to pull out a gap over Breeze and Hetherington; while the battle for fourth saw all three drivers fighting for the position retire. Vernon made the move on Dittman and as the guest driver made his move, Bell tried to outbrake the pair of them and contact ensued.
This incident saw the flying Sharp move into fourth, while fellow recovering driver Adam Morgan take fifth from thirteenth on the grid. Rounding out the top six after the contact was Danish driver Joachim Ritter; with reigning G20 Champion Mark Davies seventh, up from fifteenth.
As the laps counted down towards the end, the top three settled down and pulled a gap over Sharp, and the only action towards the front was on lap ten when Davies took sixth from Ritter at the Tarzan hairpin.
At the end of the twelfth lap, Wrathall secured his first outright win of 2010 by just over a second from Breeze with Hetherington securing his first podium of the season in third.
Breeze ensured that Wrathall didn't secure the perfect result as he took the bonus point for the races fastest lap, a 1:24.033.
Behind the top three were Sharp, Morgan, and Davies, with Chairman's Cup victor Colin White in eighth.
Speaking after the race, Championship leader Wrathall said: “Rockingham is a difficult place to pass and once you're out front, if you manage to get a small gap you can control the race to some extent as long as you don't make any mistakes. It was so important to get the start right, get the lead at the first corner and then have a good first lap which I managed to do.
“For the Safety Car I knew I could hopefully get a good break out of the last chicane at the re-start, this track enables you to do that. After that I got back into the same rhythm and didn't make any mistakes so I'm absolutely delighted. Hopefully we can repeat this tomorrow.”
For Breeze, second place gave the TCR driver his second podium of the season and he commented: “Before the Safety Car I think we'd got the legs on Frank (Wrathall), I set the fastest lap and we were starting to close up on him a little bit. The Safety Car gave him a chance to control the pace though and open up a few car lengths on me.
“It was an even race, we both had the legs on the rest of the field, and it was really just a case of who made it away at the start in the lead. The car is working well and everyone at TCR is doing a fantastic job. Hopefully I can get a better start tomorrow and win but if we can get consistently good points in both of Sunday's races I'll be happy.”
Race Results for Race 1:
- Frank Wrathall – 12 laps in 18:10.359
- Carl Breeze – + 1.215s
- Benji Hetherington – + 3.620s
- Tom Sharp – + 7.048s
- Adam Morgan – + 8.714s
- Mark Davies – + 9.175s
- Joachim Ritter – + 11.575s
- Colin White – + 12.150s
- Rachel Green – + 17.760s
- Stephen Tyldsley – + 18.897s
Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography