Keen to consolidate her fantastic progress so far this year was 16 year old Shanel Drewe, who faced stiff competition from other Junior Saloon Car Drivers who have made the switch to this Championship.
The two month break was both a blessing and a challenge for Shanel, as it provided her an important period to concentrate solely on her GCSE exams, but meant she last saw, let alone drove her car when loading it on the Jade Developments trailer after getting two second place finishes at Croft circuit in April.
So Shanel arrived at Rockingham having not driven for two months, and only just completing her GCSE’s a few days before the event. Shanel said “it was like greeting an old friend when she first saw her Dansoft Aviation Services, Motul and Wrappedupcars.com backed car in the pits ready for her”.
In qualification Drewe initially struggled to get traction in the car and finding a clear lap to concentrate on, and laid fourth on the grid. In the closing stages, Drewe took the sensible decision to pull into the pits to reset and seek the valuable advice of her team Jade Developments. This obviously paid dividends as she re-joined in the closing moments and passed the start line on her final flying lap just a few seconds before the chequered flag. Drewe took 0.6 seconds off her previous best to go second on the grid. A post qualification review of her Goldstar-on-Board telemetry reaffirmed a slight error at Tarzan, without which, the team estimated she would have been a whole 1 second quicker.
In a development to the Clio format, the Races were scheduled to be 30 minutes long which in the heat of the day is a real test for any driver.
In Race 1 a fantastic start saw Drewe overtake team mate Harrison through the first corner, from which she then managed to build a vital few second gap. However, a separate incident bought out the safety car and all this hard work was undone. Another new learning for Drewe was a safety car restart, but a missed gear saw Thomas take the advantage, and Drewe had to defend 2nd from a charging Harrison. With such close racing over a series of laps Drewes front wheel was knocked and this unfortunately impacted her tracking which took the edge off her speed, meaning Drewe had to concentrate instead on defending 3rd place from determined Robinson, which she did to secure her fifth consecutive podium of the season.
Race 2, and a good start took Drewe to third, but unable to make it by Robinson in the first corner as Thomas was on the inside, so Drewe has to slot into fourth going into the hairpin. Drewe then stuck to Robinsons bumper and out-accelerated him coming onto the Rockingham straight, and set her task to pull out a gap and chase second place Thomas.
On lap 7, a mistake going into Tarzan by leading car Harrison push him back into 2nd and Drewe saw her opportunity. Making ground, Drewe caught up on lap 11, with Harrisons defending experience paying dividends, placing Drewe at risk to Robinson. On lap 12 the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place road class cars were all approaching the hairpin separated by just a few feet, and added to this the front running race class cars were also on top the pack fighting their own race. Drewe seized this opportunity and whilst navigating the race cars, drove round the outside of Harrison and pulled away to take 2nd position, which she held to the end.
This takes Shanel’s total this year out of three race weekends to second and two third place podium finishes. With such a break since Croft, this consolidates Shanel’s under laying pace, and with just three weeks to the next round at Donington, will provide Shanel increased momentum.
Shanel would like to say thank you to all her partners, including Dansoft Aviation Services, Wrappedupcars.com, Goldstar-on-Board, and Motul Oil for all the support, and to team Jade Developments who are helping her achieve her best on and off the track.