Reece Barr picked up his maiden MINI Challenge win on the British GT support package at Rockingham.
The talented teenager from Burt in Donegal was in impressive form all weekend, claiming pole position by two tenths from Max Bladon and Brett Smith, however the youngster was handed a five-place grid penalty that had been carried over from the previous round at Oulton Park.
Continuing his pace on from qualifying, Barr, who now lives in Silverstone village, stormed to a podium in race one, coming home behind Bladon and Mark Wakefield.
The best was yet to come, with the karting graduate taking a victory in race two. It was a sensational drive was Barr, who seemed to be in a class of his own in the second half of the race. After being swamped down to sixth in the opening few laps, contact between Wakefield and Rob Smith at Deene hairpin freed the youngster up, as he charged down on the leading pack.
He pulled of a sensational move on Bladon into Gracelands, before taking Charlie Butler-Henderson and finally breezing past reigning champion David Grady to storm to his maiden win.
“That was an amazing race,” said Barr. “I lost a few places in the first corners but then calmed myself down and started concentrating on pumping the lap times in and the car felt great. I had new-ish tyres on the front and the extra grip really seemed to pay off.”
Barr’s rivals were also full of praise after his drive, Grady said “I was blown away by Reece’s pace there, I didn’t expect him to come through as fast as he did. It caught me by surprise a bit.”
“I thought age and experience pays over youth, but that little Irish lad is quick!” added Butler-Henderson.
It was a trickier weekend for James Turkington, who could only finish as high as eighth despite having the pace to challenge for the podium.
Starting a career best fourth, being promoted a spot after Barr’s penalty, Turkington’s race was ruined after being punted off by team mate Butler-Henderson when running just off a podium spot in the early stages of the race.
The contact dropped Turkington down to 22nd place, but a storming drive witnessed him moving back up the order. He had claimed 16th place by the time the red flag came out for Will Neal’s stranded car, and he took a 10th place finish after the restart, setting the fastest lap in the process.
ONBOARD HIGHLIGHTS: James Turkington #61:
The Portadown driver, like Barr, was swamped at the start of race two, dropping to 12th, but another stellar drive, which was hampered by a power steering failure, saw Turkington battled up to eighth by the end of the race.
“Race one was frustrating as we got pushed around by our team mate,” said Turkington, “however we had a strong race to fight back from 22nd to 10th and setting the fastest lap of the race was an added confidence boost.”
“We made progress through the field in race two, however the car was difficult to drive as the power steering failed on lap 3. Overall we have to take the positives away from the weekend as we have proved that we have the outright speed to run at the front of the grid.”
Barr now sits third in the championship standings, 11 points behind leader Bladon, while Turkington sits 10th and will be hoping his rapid start to the season will be rewarded with a podium at the next round at Snetterton at the end of May.
Until the next time,