Rockingham, Corby, UK – Tuesday 2nd May 2017: Mini Challenge sensation Reece Barr moved to Rockingham for the second round of the championship on the British GT support bill. The 16-year-old Irishman was coming off a strong display on his debut weekend at Oulton Park spent entirely inside the top six of this ultra-competitive championship.
Barr set the tone from the off in Friday’s pre-event testing, setting the unofficial fastest time of the field at the end of the day’s running. The Sili sunglasses driver then confirmed his pace on the official stopwatches on Saturday morning to claim his first pole position from only his third ever qualifying session in cars.
Carrying a five place grid penalty from the last round at Oulton Park, Reece started Sunday’s opening race from the outside of row three. Struggling at the start initially, Barr slipped just outside the top ten at the end of the opening tour. However from there he re-composed himself and set off on a charge back up the order. Initially his charge was aided by two safety car periods, however just at the half way point having moved into fifth, the race was red flagged. After some initial dramas with the re-start grid order, Barr took his fifth place starting spot and used it to good effect as the lights went out. Keen to make the most of the shortened six lap contest, the ExcelR8 Motorsport driver was already up to fourth going into lap two. With a podium debut at his fingertips, David Grady was next on his shopping list and a superb move on the next lap promoted Barr to the first of the podium places. Despite his efforts to close in on second, Reece took the flag in third after six laps to secure his first podium of the year.
Starting Sunday afternoon’s race two from the inside of row two, Barr now had a taste for the podium and was keen for a repeat visit. In a typical crazy Rockingham first corner, Reece found himself trying to avoid those around him and slipped to seventh at the end of the opening lap. Once again however it was clear to onlookers that Barr’s car had the pace to move forwards. Move he did, and by lap five he was back to his original starting position. Taking chunks out of the lead pair, a superb move on lap eight past the experienced Charlie Butler-Henderson promoted Reece to second overall. With time on his side, The Sili Sunglasses Mini JCW was on a charge and within two laps had caught and passed then race leader David Grady to take the lead. Such was Barr’s pace advantage over his rivals around the unique Corby circuit, taking the chequered flag he had built a seven second advantage over the rest of the field to make it a weekend of firsts, this time on the top step of the winners podium.
Reece Barr – #88 ExcelR8 Motorsport Mini JCW:
“We had good pace from the get-go on Friday which was great and the aim was to carry that pace into qualifying on Saturday. I took it easy at the start of the session to get the tyres up to temperature and then on my first flying lap I saw P2 on my pit board which was great. Then on my next flying lap we were P1 and from there I kept that pace up to make sure I kept the place. With the penalty from Oulton Park it was important to get the most out of qualifying so to get pole couldn’t have come at a better time. In race one we focused on my start as I had a few issues with that at the last event. This time was much better, but the opening lap was a bit hairy with people going everywhere so I slipped back a bit. After the red flag and the initial drama of being held at the back of the grid for some reason before being allowed to take my proper place on the grid, I got a great start. I quickly moved up to third but couldn’t get past my teammate who did a great job defending his second position. That gave me great confidence going into race two. I took it easy at the start which meant dropping a couple of places, but I set myself a goal of getting to the top five which I did in two laps. Then I aimed for the podium and from there I just picked them off one by one with some great moves before I got into the lead. From there I just put in qualifying laps to secure my first win which was amazing. A huge part of this successful weekend is down to my team ExcelR8 Motorsport, and the tyre strategy they went for in the races. The car preparation was fantastic and largely down to Matt’s hard work. This weekend we also launched our new partnership with the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, who care for families with Children with a life threatening or terminal illness. So these results couldn’t be a better way to start the partnership.”
Rounds 5 & 6, Snetterton 300, Norwich, UK – Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th May 2017.