Faultless Hankey sweeps at RockinghamPosted: September 20, 2011
The Parker with Juta Racing driver was in fine form as soon as he arrived at the circuit, banging in two great laps in Saturday qualifying to secure a double pole position for Sunday’s races ahead of championship leader Michael Meadows.
Hankey’s start in the opening race was a good one and he and Meadows slotted nicely into first and second places, while behind them Meadows’ team-mate James Sutton was jumped by Stephen Jelley for third place briefly, only for Redline driver Sutton to reclaim the spot around the outside at Deene hairpin.
Leader Hankey then pulled out a three second gap in no time and was completely untouchable all the way to a lights-to-flag victory ahead of Meadows, while a fight for third raged on all the way.
Richard Plant had made his way past Jelley in the early stages of the race and started to chase down third-placed man Sutton. The Parker Racing rookie kept up the pressure throughout the closing stages but Sutton managed to hold on to another podium position.
Behind Plant and Jelley, Kieran Vernon took his best result yet in sixth place for Nationwide-Motorbase, ahead of Pro-am1 winner Jonas Gelzinis who was tapped wide on the final lap by Benji Hetherington, a move that saw the pair swap afterwards after stewards awarded Scholarship winner Hetherington a time penalty for the move.
George Richardson stole second in class when Derek Pierce – who had made contact with Ahmad Al Harthy on lap one – had a collision with team-mate Alex Martin on the last lap, while Rory Butcher was forced to pit with the first of what would be two Sunday punctures.
In Pro-Am 2, ‘driver of the weekend’ Yucel Ozbek took a well-earned first class win for Redline Racing after George Brewster was nudged off on the opening lap of the race, joined on the class podium by Steve Parish and Keith Webster.
The second race however was far less straightforward for Hankey. He made another great start from the pole position and left the rest of the pack jockey for position throught the turn one banking, with Jelley ducking down to the inside.
Into the hairpin for the first time however it was Sutton who lunged inside his rivals to tuck into second place behind leader Hankey, and the pair then made a break from third place man Jelley.
The ex-BTCC winner at this track then struggled to really find the pace and headed a five car train of cars with the other SAS Redline car of Meadows crawling all over the back of him, and on lap 11 the championship leader had numerous looks at sticking his nose inside Jelley’s Porsche for the podium position.
At the front the battle for the win reached a gripping finale. Hankey had pulled out a solid lead gap, but the pair soon encoutered backmarkers that allowed Sutton to close up.
When Hankey began to lap his slower rivals, many were not in a hurry to move out of his way, and soon Sutton was right on his tail with only a couple of laps remaining. As Hankey lapped the Pro-am2 battle he was baulked heavily at turns four and five and was forced to go around the outside of a car at Pif Paf, while Sutton chose the inside line and almost pulled off a Mika Hakkinen-esque move for the lead into the next bend.
It was not to be however as Hankey stood his ground and went on to claim a hatrick and complete a perfect weekend with his second victory of the day ahead of Sutton claiming his eleventh podium, Hankey’s fifth success meaning he is now the driver with the most wins to his name so far this season.
Jelley held on to third place with Meadows in close proximity, the latter hanging onto his championship lead in process. Behind them in fifth was Gelzinis, the Juta driver comfortably taking yet another Pro-Am1 win in the process, finishing ahead of Plant and Hetherington.
Pierce had a quiet run to a solid second place in Pro-am1 with eighth overall, Al Harthy completing the class podium.
Pro-am2 was an entertaining battle to watch as eventual winner Ozbek fought back from an early spin to take to lead from guest racer Chris Dyer who had brilliantly held the lead early on. Ozbek and Parish both caught and passed the prize winner who later spun and lost a podium position to Webster.
Class points leader Brewster suffered two punctures that dropped him out of contention while Webster’s race was hindered by having to pit to have an advertising banner removed from his car.
Championship standings after rounds 14/15:
|Pro-Am 1 standings:||Points|
|Ahmad Al Harthy||67|
|Pro-Am 2 standings:||Points|