Christie Doran enjoyed mixed fortunes in the VAG Trophy opener at Rockingham this weekend. Coming into the weekend as a favourite for the Class B title, Christie showed excellent pace throughout qualifying to line up second, less than half a second away from pole. An incredible start in race one saw her gain ten positions on the opening lap, and despite setting the fastest lap in class, Doran found trouble at turn one in the closing stages of race one to record her first retirement of the season. Unfortunately with a quick turnaround in between races, Christie was unable to take the start for race two, but her pace will give her great cause for optimism. Commenting on her opening weekend, Christie said “I want to take as many positives from the weekend. That may seem hard after such a big crash but I was happy with my pace and Slidesports had given me a great car. For my first time at Rockingham the weekend was going really well, obviously until the big accident”.
After a positive period of testing, Christie was ready to see the result of her off-season work as the first qualifying session took place on Saturday morning. Doran was on the pace from the outset as she topped the Class B times after the first series of laps, just ahead of Martyn Culley. Continue to improve throughout the session, Christie first sector was particularly impressive as she began to challenge some of the Class A runners. However, Culley was able to respond and took Class B pole by under half a second with Doran closely behind in second. Encouraged by her qualifying performance, Doran felt she was unlucky not to take pole position, saying “I proved that I had the pace from qualifying 2nd in class and was in P1 for the majority of the session till the last lap”.
Looking for one of her trademark starts in race one, Christie gained an incredible ten places to pass the majority of the Class A cars to end the first lap in sixth overall, first in Class B. After getting shuffled back through the field, Christie set about getting into a rhythm and immediately posted personal best sector times. With Class B rival Martyn Culley directly ahead of her by lap four, Doran could sense the opportunity for victory and set the fastest lap in Class B, eclipsing the best lap she’d set in qualifying. Unfortunately on lap eight Christie had an incident at turn one which brought an end to her weekend, with a red flag also being brought out in the race. Despite the incident, Christie took the positives from the weekend and knows she will be back on the pace for round two adding “I managed to do another great start in the race where I made up loads of places in the race but unfortunately one very small mistake ended up in a massive impact with the concrete wall which ended the weekend. It is not the way I wanted to end the weekend but I know we can come back fighting at Snetterton. I just feel for the team because they have to fix the car”.
Due to the damage sustained in the earlier incident, Christie was unable to take place in race two with a short turnaround between the pair of VAG Trophy races. Nevertheless, Doran could take many positives from her first ever weekend racing at Rockingham including an impressive fastest lap during the opening race, a time which no Class B driver was able match over the day. Christie has definitely carried over the strong pace she found towards the end of 2016 and this will be crucial to mounting a championship challenge as the season progresses. With tracks to come which Doran has enjoyed success at, she’ll remain upbeat despite a tough start to the season and look to rebound with a strong weekend at Snetterton next month.
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