Motorsport fan Mark Gibbons has been named as the winner of Rockingham and Renault's DreamDrive competition, putting him on the grid for this weekend's AirAsia Renault Clio Cup races at Rockingham.
Following a day of intense assessment with The Racing School (TRS) at Rockingham, 38 year old Gibbons was chosen as the winner from ten finalists, who were picked at random from all customers who purchased an advance ticket to Rockingham's rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the competition being part of Rockingham’s tenth anniversary celebrations.
The finalists were assessed through a series of challenges, including driving a V8 Touring Car, racing a MINI Cooper S, testing their handling in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta on the Wet Grip facility and racing on Rockingham's simulators, all under the eye of TRS' Chief Instructor Chris Hodgetts and a team of assessors including Danny Buxton and Stefan Hodgetts.
Former two-time BTCC winner Hodgetts told the competitors: “One of you will be granted a licence to participate in one of the biggest race series in the UK. You will be watched by thousands of people at the circuit, and by millions of viewers who tune into the live coverage on ITV4. This is a big deal – whoever wins must be capable of holding their own out there, and it is our job to ensure that one of you is up to the challenge.”
Following the one-to-one driving tuition and intense training, Chris and his team shortlisted the three best candidates; Mark, 24-year-old Andrew Mendy from Cambridgeshire, and 39-year-old Roy Beal from Devon. All three were then assessed driving a Renault Sport Clio Cup road car around the International Super Sportscar circuit, before the scores were counted and Mark was announced the winner.
Gibbons commented: “This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much to Rockingham and The Racing School for this opportunity. I have been trying for years to get into motor sport – it's been a dream since I was six years old. I will perform to the best of my ability. This really is the opportunity of a lifetime!”
He is not a complete stranger to being on the race track though and has previously competed in the Clio Cup, back in 1994. He commented: “I've been karting since I was 17, and I last raced in the MG Trophy in 2005. However, due to money restraints, I've never been able to fully pursue my dream of being a professional racing car driver. These days I've just been making-do with practicing on the PlayStation!”
Chief Executive of Rockingham, Charlotte Orton, said: “Congratulations to Mark – he showed he has true potential to further a career in motorsport and we are really excited to watch him show us what he's capable of at the BTCC next weekend.
“We wanted to celebrate Rockingham's 10th anniversary in style and by holding this competition we've given one of our customers the experience of a lifetime. I wish Mark all the best of luck on the day!”
Mark will receive further track time before the big race weekend, where he will be cheered on by all the other finalists of the DreamDrive competition, who will be enjoying VIP hospitality for the weekend.