Manchester recovers in style

Jack Manchester experienced a turbulent weekend in the Radical Challenge Championship at Rockingham, as his disappointment in qualifying was rectified with excellent performances in races one and two before being taken out in the final race.

A 28-car strong field travelled to Rockingham Motor Speedway this past weekend to compete in round four of the Radical Challenge Championship. The weekend started off positively for the 18-year old as Friday’s practice sessions showed that Jack and the Scorpio Motorsport team had the pace to be battling at the front of the order.
 
Qualifying was a session to forget for Manchester however. Struggling with traffic through the entirety of qualifying at Rockingham, Manchester couldn’t find clear air to post a lap time he was capable of and a time of 1:19.602 was the best Jack could do on the busy track.
 
This meant that Jack started race one and two in 16th place – a result Jack was extremely disappointed with as he knew he could have been a lot further up the grid. 

Race One

Starting from the eighth row, Jack knew he’d have a fight on his hands if he was to convert his difficult starting position into a positive result. As the lights went out for race one at Rockingham, Jack got off to a flying start as he beat three cars off the starting line.

Placing himself on the outside, a risky move, Jack avoided the carnage at turn one and passed a handful of drivers as he navigated his way through lap one – crossing the line five positions better off in 11th place!

Jack’s fantastic pace through the twisty infield saw him break into the top 10 after the second lap. Looking like a man on a mission, Jack’s pace was almost a second faster than the cars ahead as he carried on carving his way through the field.

Despite the nature of the track only offering a few opportunities to overtake, Jack was finding space to overtake on nearly every corner of the track – showcasing his talent behind the wheel.

Running in 9th place, Jack’s pace remained on fire and the gap to the front cars began shrinking by the lap. Between laps seven and eight, Jack passed three cars in two laps as he flew into 6th place and onto the tail of the leading pack.

As the safety car was brought out at the end of lap 9, Jack was sat in 6th place and in a fantastic place to snatch more places before the race’s finish. When the safety car pulled in at the end of lap 10, Jack got another fantastic start and was already alongside 5th place heading into turn one. Late on the brakes, Jack took 5th place and was catching 4th heading into the final laps of the race.

With just one lap remaining, Jack again ramped up the pressure on the 4th place car and heading into the chicane took the opportunity to steal the place. A sensational move around the outside saw Jack put complete trust in his grip as he flew into 4th place right before the chequered flag dropped.

Race Two
 
Race two again saw Jack line up in 16th place and as the lights went out the Thunderhead-sponsored driver got off to another flyer! Reminiscent of race one, Jack flew past a handful of drivers and again took to the outside line heading into turn one. As the battle of the late brakers surged into turn one, one car misjudged its braking point and struck into the back of another - causing a domino effect of collisions. Jack, reacting quicky, managed to avoid any contact through the thick of the drama but had to take to the grass to avoid any unwanted damage.
 
Despite running onto the grass and losing precious time, Jack still crossed the line for lap one six places to the better, up in 10th place as he looked to recreate his race one heroics.  Making another swift move up the order, Jack was running in 9th place when he began to catch the #86 car. Being 1.3 seconds behind the car, Jack reduced the gap to just 0.3 by the end of the lap but struggled to find a way past.
 
Five agonising laps passed before Jack finally got a good run on the #86 car and sailed his way through into 8th place. With a few laps left to race, the #1 car retired and gifted Jack another place as he crossed the finishing line in 7th place and converted another difficult starting position into a solid race result!

Race Three
 
The final race of the weekend was the 40-minute endurance race and due to his fastest laps in races one and two, Jack started the final race of the weekend in 8th place.
 
Jack once again got off to a fantastic start, making it three flying starts from three races. Getting past two cars, Jack had made his way into sixth place and safely negotiated his way through the first few corners of the races.
 
However, heading into turn five, Jack was pushed wide off the track and onto the grass. Making his way safely back onto the track and with the pack all so tightly bunched up, Jack was struck from behind but managed to escape without losing his position.
 
As the safety car was brought out, Jack was in constant communication with the pitwall to explain what damage had been done to his car. With the car feeling fine and with no visible damage to be seen, Jack carried on behind the safety car into the green flags brought us back up to racing speed on lap three.
 
Flying down the banking at full throttle, Jack’s tyre, that had been struck in the previous collision, began to lose air and as the car braked heavily for the first turn; the tyre completely deflated, dropping Jack’s rear end and dramatically lifting Jack’s front end into the air before it came crashing down and into the gravel – ending Jack’s final race in disappointing fashion.

Jack reflected on a weekend of mixed fortunes but remained pleased with his performance in the races.
 
“It was a good weekend but it was a shame qualifying put us on the back foot before the races had even started. I struggled with traffic through the whole session and couldn’t hook up a lap I know I am capable of. My traffic management wasn’t ideal and I know this is an area that needs work. I really wanted to make it up to the team so put my all into the races!”
 
“I think they were my three best starts this season and our pace in the races was just mega. To go from 16th to 4th in a twenty-minute race felt amazing and I think we definitely could have been on the podium in the endurance race! Unfortunately, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got hit. We carried on running behind the safety car as the car felt fine but as soon as we were back up to racing speed the tyre gave way and ended our race. A big shame but we can still leave Rockingham with our heads high with lots of positives to take into the next weekend.”
 
Kieren Clark, Head of the MB Partners Young Driver Academy, was impressed by Jack’s maturity to bounce back after a tough qualifying.
 
“Jack had a tough session in qualifying but showed real character and maturity to bounce back the way that he did in the races. Jack looked calm and composed and went into the races confident he could pick up some good results. It was disappointing to see Jack not finish in the endurance race but that’s motorsport and these things happen from time to time.”
 
Next up for Manchester is round three of the Audi Sport TT Cup and it’s a first-time trip to the Norisring for Jack as he takes to the city roads to compete at his first street circuit!

#15 Jack Manchester

Qualifying: 16th (1:19.602, +1.810)
Qualifying 2nd Fastest: 16th (1:19.755)

Race One: 4th
Race Two: 7th
Race Three: DNF