Charlotte Birch has enjoyed her best weekend in the Junior Saloon Car Championship with a pair of impressive results at Rockingham. Charlotte, in just her second ever car racing meeting, finished 10th in race one before placing 11th in race two, showing good racecraft in two eventful races. The SVG Motorsport driver enjoyed a good battle with fellow newcomer Tony Rodriguez during the weekend, with Charlotte completing a last lap pass during race one to claim her first top-10 result.
After test sessions leading up to the weekend, Charlotte took to the track for the first official free practice session on Saturday morning. Unfortunately it was a short session where each driver only managed a couple of laps but Charlotte did a good job to set the 12th fastest time and gain valuable track time ahead of qualifying later in the day.
Qualifying got underway later in the day with Charlotte looking to achieve her best result to date after a 16th place starting spot at Silverstone in the opening round. Unlike at Silverstone, track space was not an issue and Birch could settle down into a rhythm to start improving her lap times. By the fourth lap of the session she had already surpassed her best time from free practice and made further inroads as the session continued. At the end of qualifying, Charlotte secured herself a pair of 14th place starting positions, narrowly behind Tony Rodriguez.
Race one began on Sunday morning with Charlotte looking to make progress and gain more valuable experience. Despite slipping back to 15th on the opening lap, Birch was still in contention as the whole field was covered by less than nine seconds. By the third lap Charlotte had regained the position following a pitstop for Robinson and was closing in rival Rodriguez. On lap six Birch was into her highest position to date following a safety car triggered by Thorburn Astin, before moving into 11th on the penultimate lap as more carnage ensued ahead of her. On the final lap Charlotte pulled off a great move on Tony Rodriguez to claim her first ever top-10 result in the Junior Saloon Car Championship.
Encouraged from her career best result earlier in the day, Charlotte was looking for another strong finish in race two where she would also line up 14th on the grid. A frantic start saw Birch hold her position in the opening exchanges, before climbing a place after passing Lucas Nannetti on lap three. With the places ahead being hotly contested, Charlotte was able to keep the midfield group in sight and following a retirement for George Smith on lap five, Birch had gained a further position as the safety car was once again deployed. As the racing got back underway, Charlotte was preparing an attack on Rodriguez but couldn’t complete the pass in the final two laps. Despite this, Birch finished in 11th after a late retirement from Ethan Hammerton rounding off a superb weekend at Rockingham for the SVG Motorsport driver.
Charlotte should be extremely satisfied with her weekend’s racing at Rockingham with two solid points finishes to her name. One of the tracks circuits on the calendar, Rockingham provided a different challenge to the high-speed Silverstone National circuit, but Birch coped admirably and collected her two best finishes to date. With just two weekends in the Junior Saloon Car Championship under her belt, Charlotte will be looking for further improvements throughout the season and will be targeting regular top-10 results.