Another successful weekend for Dan Rooke at round three of the RX2 International Series, last weekend at the Lankebanen in Hell, Norway. The reigning MSA British Rallycross champion finished third in the final, behind event winner as well as defending RX Lites champion Cyril Raymond and up-and-coming American Tanner Whitten, and in doing so, the young Englishman scored his third podium in as many races contested so far.
The weekend’s start wasn’t exactly to Rooke’s plans, as a broken driveshaft on Friday meant his free practice session only lasted four laps, on a track he had never driven before. Team Faren‘s mechanics quickly started working on the car, getting it ready for Q1 where, under challenging weather, he placed tenth. His performance gradually improved in the following qualifiers, as he placed ninth in Q2 and third in both Q3 and Q4, granting him fourth overall in the intermediate classification.
An early joker lap in his semi-final gave Rooke clear air to push: a clever tactic, as the Englishman finished his race in second, gaining a spot in the second row for the final. As the lights went green in the final, Rooke made a good start, showing even more of his brilliance: Initially intending to follow the leaders on the normal route, he dived immediately into the joker lap, before getting his head down in a bid to catch the leaders. As the others also took their jokers, Rooke climbed to third, and was even determined to clinch second, but ultimately settled for the lower step of the podium as he couldn’t find a legitimate way to get through.
“The driveshaft failure in practice seriously restricted our running and left us on the back foot going into the races,” explained the youngest ever British Rallycross Champion.
“That meant I was still trying to figure my way around the track in the qualifying races. The Hell circuit isn’t an easy one to learn, it has a lot of features so it was a bit of a struggle to begin with.
“We steadily improved the car and I really found my feet in the last two qualifiers, which gave me more confidence for the semi-final and final. I knew Cyril (Raymond) and Tanner (Whitten) would be fast and that I would have to pull out all the stops to stay with them. We pushed really hard and stayed pretty close to Tanner in the final.”
As a result of his brilliant Norwegian weekend, the West Country driver now lies 22 points behind the dominant force of the series, Cyril Raymond, in the championship standings, with the next round taking place at Höljes in Sweden, 30 June-2 July.
“We scored more solid points towards the championship and it’s obviously good to finish on the podium again and keep my 100% record intact,” he continued.
“We just need to work out how to knock Cyril off that top step now. I must say a huge thanks to the guys at Team Faren, they are new to RX2 this year as well as I am, so we’re working together and it’s brilliant to grow with them. They do a great job and we have a lot of fun. Höljes is one of the biggest rallycross events in the world, so I’m looking forward to racing there in a couple of weeks.”