VTEC Challenge does Rockingham

Jonathan F

Nov 29, 2010
Rockingham: May 16th/17th 2015

(Rounds 3 and 4 of BRSCC Honda VTEC Challenge)

International Super Sports car - Long

Following a great first event at Silverstone in early April, the series moved to Rockingham for the next instalment of the 2015 Honda VTEC Challenge.

Running on the slightly longer “ISSC – Long” track layout, drivers would encounter the twisting infield section as well as the high speed banking.


04 – Luke Biel – EK4 Civic - Tuner

14 - Daz Smee – DC2 Integra – Production

20 – Craig Smith - DC2 Integra – Production

31 – Phil Wright – Accord Type R - Production

39 – Rob Burkinshaw – DC5 Integra – Tuner

45 – Mark Bennett – S2000 – Tuner

49 – Jeff Cooper – CRX – Super Tuner

67 – Peter Dixon – CRX – Super Tuner

68 – Martyn/Marc Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

73 – Stu King - DC2 Integra – Production

99 – Matt Le - DC2 Integra – Production

100 - Will Watkin – EP3 Civic Type R - Tuner

666 – Neil Holden – EP3 Civic Type R – Production


It was great to see a diverse turn out of cars for Rockingham, with the likes of Luke Biel, Mark Bennett, Peter Dixon, Jeff Cooper and Marc Kemp making their first appearance of the season, although all but Jeff had previously competed in the VTEC Challenge.

Marc had planned to be sharing the driving duties with his dad in the Panic Link Racing Civic, as his ex BTCC racer was still a way off completion.

Having raced at Brands Hatch last year, Luke’s Civic has been on the receiving end of a substantial amount of upgrading, not least of all a K20 engine swap.

Long term series supporter Mark Bennett was back in the seat of his beautiful S2000, and we will be seeing a lot more of him this season.

A pair of near identical looking CRX’s were welcomed to the paddock, with Peter Dixon’s being built from the best bits of his old EF Civic (a truly rapid machine) and Jeff Cooper’s who’s car was raced previously in the series by Gareth Broadbent.


With a fairly relaxed timetable of events for the weekend, everyone prepared for the day ahead with their routine checks and seeing the cars pass through scrutineering.

As the time for qualifying drew near, the drivers fired up their engines and headed to the infield, which consisted of a mini “tunnel run” under the circuit to the inner paddock for the statutory noise check.

All cars lined up for assembly and waited for the previous session to conclude, before being waved out onto the track.

With several of the drivers having never driven at Rockingham before, it took a couple of laps to familiarise themselves with the circuit before starting to push to get their best times recorded. With track conditions at their best, times began to fall with the top 3 covered by 8/10th of a second.

Showing great pace in a car that had only just been put back together the previous night, and without testing, Marc Kemp put the ST Civic on pole after 2 laps, but a problem with the gear linkage meant he had no option but to sit out the rest of the session on the sidelines.

Battling it out over 2nd and 3rd place was Peter Dixon and Rob Burkinshaw. The lightweight CRX took the fight to the DC5 of Burkinshaw and was rewarded with 2nd place by a little over half a second.

Top honours in “Production” went the way of Stu King in his DC2. Looking like a repeat performance from Silverstone was on the cards, Stu secured 1st in class and 4th on the grid with a flying last lap 9/100th of a second in front of Mark Bennett in the S2000.

Pole: Marc Kemp

2nd: Peter Dixon

3rd: Rob Burkinshaw

Race 1:

With the gear linkage issues resolved, Marc Kemp took to the track at the head of the field, with Peter Dixon alongside.

Following the formation lap, all cars lined up in readiness for the 15 minute race, and the excitement built as the countdown begun.

With the 5 second board hung from the starting gantry, revs began to rise and gears were selected.

Lights on…lights out and everyone is go!

On the inside going into the banking of turn 1 and it was Kemp who held the lead, however a broken throttle linkage caused the Civic’s throttle to jam wide open and Marc was left with no option but to carry on around the oval before shutting off the engine and coasting to a halt.

In the excitement, Burkinshaw took the lead onto the infield, closely followed by Dixon.

Working hard from the off, Stu was pursued by Phil and Mark, who whilst having their own battle, put the pressure onto Stu for 3rd.


Craig Smith and his DC2 got a great start to the race, but a fluffed gear change ended up sending the driver from Droitwich the back of the grid, leaving him a huge hill to climb throughout the race.


With everyone cleanly away and safely around the notorious turn at Deene (which is often the site of contact) the racing got underway in earnest.

Burkinshaw and Dixon began to increase the pace out in front, with both drivers putting in fast lap after fast lap. With the CRX crawling all over the rear of Rob’s DC5, there was no room for error on either part.


Still pushing hard, Stu found the handling of his Integra begin to suffer as the tyres began to overheat, resulting in Phil and Mark being able to find a way through. Not willing to give up without a fight, Stu kept it pinned, but came unstuck and the Integra caught the kerbs hard under braking resulting in a retirement rather than risk any further damage.

The second CRX of Cooper showed again how great these little Honda’s are, progressing through the grid. Unfortunately, with increasing engine temperatures, Jeff was left with the difficult decision to retire mid race in order to preserve the engine until the fault could be investigated.

Fighting back, Craig reeled in Will in the “Tuner” EP3, who was suffering from severe under steer before battling with Daz Smee in his similar spec’d DC2. On the final lap, a move on Luke in his K20 Civic around Tarzan meant another place gained as the chequered flag came out.


After dropping a few places at the start, Neil Holden launched a come back, battling with Jeff in the CRX before his retirement. With Jeff out, Matt Le was the next target, however with the time ticking down, there was nothing Neil could do to improve on his finishing position.

Soaking up the pressure out in front Burkinshaw was forced into an uncharacteristic mistake as the pair took Deene, resulting in a missed apex and an open invitation for Peter to nip through in the rex.

Out in front, Peter opened up a small gap over Rob and despite the driver from Sheffield fighting back at every opportunity, the win went the way of the CRX.

1st Peter Dixon

2nd Rob Burkinshaw

3rd Phil Wright

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Phil Wright

(T) – Rob Burkinshaw

(ST) – Peter Dixon

Fastest lap: Peter Dixon 1.41.189 on lap 4 of 9

With everyone back in the paddock, it was time to start addressing the issues encountered in race 1.

Reviewing the data log on Jeff’s CRX, it looked as though the head gasket was on the way out, but following a few checks and the fitting of a replacement radiator cap, Jeff was keen to get out for race 2.

An inspection of Stu’s Integra revealed nothing untoward following his excursion off track and with some cursory checks carried out, another car was ready for action.

The Civic driven by Marc Kemp would require slightly more remedial work before declared fit to race. The pedal box required a full rebuild, with the fabrication of new parts to eliminate some of the issue the team were experiencing. With everything back together, a quick test drive showed everything to be working as it should. With the issues in qualifying and race 1, it was decided that Marc would remain behind the wheel for race 2.

Race 2:

With 3 quick cars starting from the back of the grid, the action was expected to come thick and fast from the off.

With a mid morning start for race 2, everyone finalised their preparation ahead of hitting the track.

On pole, the CRX of Dixon started well as the lights went out, but Burkinshaw was soon alongside as Peter bogged down. Side by side into turn one and it was anyone’s guess as to who would emerge at the head of the pack, but the flash of red confirmed it was Dixon who had held onto a marginal lead.


Fighting to make up places, Stu made a good start from the back and was soon mixing it up with a trio of other Integra’s in the shape of Craig Smiths grey and green machine, Daz Smee’s Camo wrapped steed and Matt Le in the #99 car.

All four were joined by Will in his EP3, who found his car transformed following a session with the boys from TDi North, who had worked on the car’s suspension and geo set up following race 1.

Unfortunately for King, either as a result of the incident in race 1, or an unrelated issue, it became clear that the car was down on power and getting worse. The race ended for Stuart with the car limping across the line ahead of Smee who suffered from clutch issues.

Jeff’s CRX made a great start to race 2, and was soon climbing up the order and battling with Neil Holden in the HOT/TDi North Civic. However as the race unfolded, the water temps began to rise again, which forced Jeff to back off in order to cross the finish line at the expense of an overall position or two.


With Dixon and Burkinshaw out in front, the Civic of Kemp began to find it’s way through the pack and despite the best efforts of Wright in “Kato” the Accord, was to take 3rd place after 3 laps, where he would remain until the chequered flag.

Wright and Bennett again found themselves in another race long battle for position, with the S2000 of Bennett emerging the victor just a couple of laps from the end of the race. Both drivers racing hard, close but extremely fair for the duration of both races.

The EK of Luke Biel was to bring out the safety car at half race distance, when a lack of brakes saw the Civic in the gravel at “Tarzan”. Following a couple of laps to allow recovery, it was game on once more,

With the safety car off the circuit, Dixon went all out to retain the lead, but Burkinshaw was going to make him work for it! Into Deene and Dixon was on the brakes first, which meant Rob drew alongside and prepared to take the hairpin. However Rob overshot and in doing so ran off track and clouted the underside of the Integra hard enough to throw out the steering and squash the entire length of the exhaust!

This was all the invitation Peter needed, and he then opened up a small gap to take the 2nd win of the day.

1st Peter Dixon

2nd Rob Burkinsahw

3rd Marc Kemp

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Phil Wright

(T) – Rob Burkinshaw

(ST) – Peter Dixon

Fastest lap: Peter Dixon 1.39.985 on lap 8 of 9


Two fantastic races, with some really close battles throughout the pack. Unfortunately several of the drivers experience mechanical woes, but thankfully nothing too serious and hopefully they will be remedied quickly and be back on track soon.

A huge thanks goes out to everyone that turned out at Rockingham, be they driver, crew or spectator as you all help make this series a success.

Thanks to the series sponsors: Toyo Tires, Competition Clutch, Ultra Racing, Performance Autoworks, Eurospec, Honda’s On Track, 6TWO1, Honda Tuner and MOTORV8 MEDIA for their support.

In recognition of their efforts before the event in getting his car prepared and in working hard to overcome the issues following qualifying and race 1, both Marc and Martyn Kemp were awarded the “Spirit of the VTC” award. Great effort guys.

The Honda VTEC Challenge now heads to Snetterton on the 27th/28th June and we hope to see you and more there.

Words: Jonathan Fletcher

Pictures: Lindsey Fletcher & Jonathan Fletcher