SAM BRABHAM celebrated double Scholarship class victory on his debut at Rockingham Motor Speedway amid a clean sweep of podiums, including outright second and a further third place rostrum, at Europe’s fastest racetrack.
The 19-year-old third generation driver from Henley opened his race weekend by topping the Scholarship times in Saturday’s damp qualifying session, securing fourth, sixth and fifth place grid slots for the triple-header race weekend.
Swiftly recovering from wheelspin off the line for round 22, the JTR driver soon retrieved fourth from a spinning Juan Rosso on lap two. And although temporarily dropping to fifth as the fierce battle for third unfolded, Brabham cleared teammate Camren Kaminsky and Jayde Kruger within two laps to lie third on lap eight. Clearly the quickest of the field in the closing stages, Brabham demolished Scott’s 3.2-second advantage to take second overall and the class lead and, with four laps remaining, closed to within 1.8 seconds of undefeated race winner Dan Cammish to seal a JTR one-two.
A blistering start from row three on Sunday morning saw Brabham run as high as third amid a frantic opening lap, with places won and lost at virtually every turn. Taking the Scholarship class lead on lap four, he went on to command the battle for third from lap 11 but his hopes of scoring another outright podium were demolished on the penultimate tour.
Tagged and sent into a spin by Juan Rosso heading into Yentwood, Brabham managed to rejoin in sixth spot to claim another class win his fourth of his debut season. The damage sustained, however, caused Brabham’s radiator to crack and the engine to overheat, leaving the JTR team with a tall task of replacing the powerplant to get Brabham back on the grid for race three.
Thanks to swift reactions, the Banbury domiciled driver did well to avoid a stalled Rosso off the line and move up to fourth on lap two of round 24. Despite battling with understeer, due to running a wet set-up on a rapidly drying track, Brabham kept all but Rosso at bay to finish fifth and seal second in class.
Speaking after the race Brabham said: “We had some tricky and changeable conditions here at Rockingham, so I’m really pleased to take two class victories and another string of strong podiums. Yet again, JTR did an amazing job to change the engine in record time today to get me back on the grid and I can’t thank the guys enough.
“We opted for a wet set-up for the final race, whereas Jamun Racing and Falcon Motorsport both opted for dry settings, so I had to put in a good defensive drive to get that final podium. Heading into my first Formula Ford season, and having missed the opening rounds, I never dreamt that I’d be lying fifth in the title fight. So now I’m just focusing on carrying this strong form into Silverstone and the final two events of the season.”