A pair of wins for Max Bladon and Reece Barr concluded a topsy-turvy weekend for the pair at Rockingham. The MINI CHALLENGE – JCW class once again provided the enthralling action, but consistency from Charlie Butler-Henderson allowed the 2015 champion to maintain his points advantage despite Barr significantly closing the gap.
Winner: Max Bladon – Independent
A variety of incidents during the opening lap saw the safety car appear for a lap before inherited polesitter Max Bladon got the field underway for a second time.
The clean start would only last until the second corner as Henry Neal tangled with Jeff Smith. No stoppage came of the incident, with each vehicle continuing afterwards.
Bladon lead a four car queue coming out of the fifth lap, but his exploits would not last long as a red flag was flown shortly afterwards.
It was rerun for the remaining vehicles with Bladon and Brett Smith taking up their places at the front. Sadly for B. Smith his podium chances would not last long with a poor start putting him on the outside leading into Deene.
He dropped down to eighth with Mark Wakefield taking up the mantle of second. Wakefield though could not break away, harried by Reece Barr and David Brady just behind.
All this allowed Bladon to slowly extend his gap, eventually taking the chequered flag by 4.49 seconds. Wakefield and Barr, who had been the fastest man in qualifying, but for a penalty from Oulton Park that pushed him back five places, rounded out the podium.
Grady closely followed him home to take fourth, while former championship leader Charlie Butler-Henderson finished fifth from Brad Hutchinson and B. Smith.
Winner: Reece Barr – Excelr8
After a promising start at Oulton Park and a denied pole position on Saturday, Reece Barr, who steps up to the JCW class for this season, finally claimed his maiden class win. The Northern Irish driver came away from the weekend with the most points pulling himself back into contention of the title.
The reverse grid saw Charlie Butler-Henderson start on pole due to fifth position being selected from the hat. This minimised the damage for race one winner Bladon who would find himself moving backwards as the race went on, eventually finishing eleventh due to starting the race on worn tyres.
As the final race got underway, it was last years champion David Grady straight into the lead with Butler-Henderson feeding in just behind. It was a fairly clean start in total as only Jeff Smith came into the pits for damage amongst the front-runners. It would only get worse for the family as Rob Smith spun out of fourth at the hairpin a lap later.
As the race settled in Barr started to make his move. He’d been running outside of the top five on the opening lap, but was quickly gaining ground on his rivals, taking second from Butler-Henderson into the eighth lap.
Before long he was on the back of Grady and even the Unitec Motorsport racer could not defend from the might of Barr, who went on to win by 7.4 seconds.
Barr, Grady and Butler-Henderson completed the podium with a measured drive from Brett Smith seeing him claim fourth from Stuart Gough. Behind them, the top six was rounded out by Brad Hutchinson who crossed the line with a queue of five on his tail.