GETTING TO KNOW 2016 BRITISH RALLYCROSS CHAMPION, DAN ROOKE
Photo Credit: http://www.rallycrossbrx.com/
This past October, MSA British Rallycross Championship completed its 2016 season at Croft Circuit. With the finale, the series crowned its newest champion, Dan Rooke. Not only did Dan earn the 2016 championship title, he also claimed the title of the youngest driver to ever win the series. At only 19 years of age, Rooke sealed the championship at the penultimate round in Wales. He was on his way to earning his fourth win of the season at the final round but denied that win by only 0.006 seconds, finishing right behind Ollie O'Donovan. However, with enough accrued points, Rooke was still able to claim the title.
Many rallycross fans, including us, are starting to take notice of Mr. Rooke. RX360 recently had the opportunity to chat with him to find out how he started in rallycross, his 2016 season, and his plans for 2017.
RX360: Please tell us about your racing background and how you progressed into rallycross.
DR: I first started racing when I was 8 years old, taking part in karting events around the South of England and Wales. I raced karts for five years before taking a small break out of racing to learn car control in a field with a 1.0L Nissan Micra.
I started racing again in 2012 when I was 15 competing in Autocross and managed to win the MSA British Autocross Championship in my first year driving a Citroen AX GTi. I stayed in Autocross for a further two years before making my Rallycross debut in the end of 2014 at a BTRDA event at Croft.
I really enjoyed racing in Rallycross and always loved watching it, so the decision was made over the winter to take on the British Championship in 2015.
RX360: After clinching the 2016 championship at the penultimate round in Pembrey, how long did it take for that achievement to sink in?
DR: It didn't really sink in until the Grand Prix event when I had GB1 stuck on the side of the car. I felt so proud being able to race with that number on the car for the first time.
RX360: The final round was a bit challenging for you and the team due to engine issues and a penalty. How do you deal with the ups and downs of racing? Are you able to shake off frustration pretty easily or do you tend to dwell?
DR: When you enter a season, you always expect to have the highs and lows. That's racing. At the time of it all happening, it can be very frustrating. But I tried my best to not let it faze me. I tend to take a breather in the motorhome and then come out pushing even harder the next time to show what I can really do.
Photo Credit: Matt Bristow Photography
RX360: Do you prefer your spotter to give a lot of feedback or do you prefer minimal chatter?
DR: I like to have a lot of encouragement over the radio. It really makes me feel like I'm racing for the team rather than just myself, and it almost gives me this second wave of speed that I somehow find within myself. Obviously, it's good to be encouraged, but also to know when to calm down as it's very easy to get carried away when you have 600bhp under your right foot.
RX360: Is there a driver you really enjoyed racing against this season?
DR: It's hard to say there is one driver in particular that I have enjoyed racing against. Everyone this season has been great to race against with some good battles with a lot of drivers. It was nice to race against Liam [Doren] twice this year and to see where my pace was compared to his, considering he is a World RX driver."
RX360: This season you raced in RX Lites at the British round and at the end of last season there had been talk about you racing in European Rallycross in the 1600 category. What happened to those plans and do you think you will pursue racing in either one of those classes next season?
DR: I started to assess what would be the best route into World RX. After having meetings with Pat Doran, we decided the best option would be to start off in a lower level but in a Supercar to try and get the seat time needed to get used to the machines.
Although it was fun and was a great opportunity that I had to drive the RX Lites round at Lydden, I don't see myself racing in the category unless another brilliant opportunity arises. Now that I have reached the top class within Rallycross, there isn't any looking back.