Impressive RX2 début for Dan Rooke at Mettet

by Tommaso Zurli

19-year-old, current MSA British Rallycross Supercar champion, Dan Rooke, impressed the crowd on the inaugural meeting of the newly-rebranded RX2 International Series (formerly RX Lites), held this weekend in support to the FIA World Rallycross Championship round in Belgium, scoring a podium finish.

The young British driver, also the youngest-ever rallycross champion in his country, proved his worth against far more experienced rivals in the 18-strong grid, even though his career came perilously close to an abrupt end in the past few months, due to a lack of funding.

Dan’s experience with Supercar Lites cars before the Belgian weekend only includes one race, last year at Lydden Hill, as well as a brief test at Strängnäs, Sweden, with Team Faren days before the race in Mettet. However, his experience at the wheel of a 600bhp Citroen DS3 Supercar in the BRX proved more than useful, as he set the fastest lap time in the first of the Free Practice sessions, showing strong pace throughout the qualifying phase, with a Q3 win promoting him to second overall.

Rooke went on to finish second in semi-final two, behind reigning RX Lites champion, Frenchman Cyril Raymond, thus securing a second-row start in the final. As the lights went green, a calculated move on turn one saw the young Brit clinch P2 on the opening lap, behind Simon Olofsson of Sweden. He then kept pressuring Olofsson through the first few laps of the race, but as the Swede suffered a puncture on the fourth lap, Dan’s move on the first corner of lap five proved decisive, allowing him to gain the lead. Taking the joker at the end of the same lap saw him slip behind Raymond at the end of the race, but as a result of a strong points haul through each stage of the event, both Rooke and Raymond are currently joint championship leaders with 25 points each.

“We came here not really knowing what to expect and I’m lost for words to be honest.” said Rooke. “I never, ever expected to be on the podium in the first event and to be so close to Cyril, who has so much more experience of these cars than I have, so I’m really, really happy to be up there. What an awesome weekend!

“I think if I hadn’t lost a bit of time with passing Olofsson things would have been even closer between me and Cyril at the joker merge, but still I’m so, so happy with second place. This really shows that all the hard work we’ve put in over the winter to get this deal together has paid off. I can’t thank my sponsors and Team Faren enough for putting a great package together. I’m really pleased to have achieved second place for them in their first event in this series too.”

The next round of the series takes place at Lydden Hill, where in a total of five appearances, Rooke has been victorious four times at MSA Supernational and MSA Supercar level. “I’m really looking forward to Lydden. I know the track better than any other on the calendar this year, and I raced an RX2 car there last year as well, so for sure we want to qualify for the semi-finals and final again and see what we can do.”

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