- Simon Paice
Priaulx Fights Back To Brilliant Rockingham Podium
F4 British Championship star Sebastian Priaulx recorded the 30th podium finish of his car-racing career so far with a masterful drive to second position in tricky conditions at Rockingham this past weekend (11/12 August). Bouncing back from a heart-breaking early retirement from the front row of the grid in the second race, the 1st Central Insurance driver produced a superb display in front of the live ITV4 television cameras on his way to a fifth top three finish of the season so far. After securing a brilliant double podium finish at Snetterton, Priaulx was in high spirits as he headed to Rockingham, a circuit that was a happy hunting ground last season as he recorded a sensational triple podium finish in the Ginetta Junior Championship. Following a strong showing during an official test before the event, the Guernseyman got some more crucial mileage under his belt in mixed weather conditions during official free practice on Friday, finishing the day sixth fastest overall. Qualifying on Saturday morning would turn out to be an extremely close-fought affair, with Priaulx ending up just three tenths of a second shy of the pole position time as he finished seventh fastest overall in his Arden Motorsport machine. The Ravenscroft supported driver would start one place higher for the opening race though due to a grid penalty for a rival, a position he would maintain during a close-fought opening couple of laps around the unique 1.94 mile Rockingham circuit. After edging clear of his closest pursuer, Priaulx got his head down and closed to within half a second of the driver ahead in the second half of the race, however with no clear passing opportunity presenting itself he brought the car home in sixth place. That result had added significance as it secured Priaulx a front row start on the reverse grid for the second race of the weekend, which took place in vastly different conditions on Sunday morning following overnight rainfall. Unfortunately it proved to be a short-lived encounter though, as whilst challenging for the lead around the outside into the Deene hairpin for the first time, contact on his inside sent him off track and into an immediate retirement. The Walero brand ambassador came back stronger in the final race however, with a great launch off the line immediately moving him up to fourth place, before a dramatic incident ahead at Deene opened the door for him to slot into second place. Priaulx showed fantastic pace in the early stages and posted the fastest lap of the race as he stayed hot on the heels of the race leader, with a composed performance seeing him follow closely through to the chequered flag for a brilliant podium result. That result ensures Priaulx remains firmly in contention for a top six championship finish heading into the final three meetings of the season, starting with the annual trip north of the border to Knockhill in Scotland in two weeks’ time (25/26 August). Sebastian Priaulx: “It’s great to get on the podium for a second meeting in a row, especially at the end of what has been a real up and down weekend. The pace was incredibly close at the front of the field all meeting and I enjoyed being firmly in the mix. “The pace was there in qualifying and it was a case of me just not putting my sectors together, which was frustrating. We built on that in race one though and it was a solid result to start with, made even better by the reverse grid draw putting me on the front row. “Sadly there was nothing I could do in the second race. I got a great start, was positioning myself for a move and got collected on the inside. It was really disappointing as I felt we could get a top result, so I’m delighted it came our way in the final race. “Once I got up to second I was determined to get the victory, but while I could keep close to the leader, I didn’t quite have the pace to make a challenge so I just controlled the gap to those behind and focused on bringing the car home. “These last two meetings have been a good start to the second half of the season and we’ll be working hard in the next week or so to ensure we’re in the best position possible to challenge for race victory at Knockhill, a circuit I love!”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.