Teenage motorsport driver Dan Rooke’s meteoric rise to stardom shows no sign of slowing as he currently leads the supercars class of the MSA British Rallycross Championship at the half way stage.
A Morris Lubricants Motorsport Programme ambassador, Dan, 19, from Holsworthy, Devon, has surprised himself and his team at how quickly he has adapted to his four wheel drive, 600bhp LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 this season.
Sixteen points ahead after four rounds, with a win, two seconds and a sixth place – after his engine blew up – to his name, Dan is aiming for podium consistency for the rest of the season to retain his lead.
His ultimate aim is to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, probably after first stepping up to the European Rallycross Championship, but he’s not counting his chickens as the British supercars championship is very competitive.
His success this season has been remarkable considering he had only one test drive in the Citroen DS3, which has double the power of the Citroën AX GTI in which he became the MSA British Rallycross Supernational Champion and British Rallycross Driver of the Year in 2015.
“I took everything that I had ever learnt about car control and threw it out of the window because Citroen DS3 is a completely different beast to tame,” said Dan, an outdoor instructor when he’s not racing. “This year was supposed to be a learning year in a new car and I never expected to fighting for the championship, to be honest.
“But things have gone really well so far and I want to make a big impact in the sport and work my way up. Ultimately, I want to be the World Rallycross Champion, but it’s really hard for a young lad from Devon to get sponsors on board.
“Hopefully my performances this year will help to attract some more sponsors so that we can take the LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 into the European and World Championships, but I know that I’m not ready for those challenges yet.
“I first need more experience, pace and confidence to be able to compete against the likes of Petter Solberg and Sebastian Loeb. Those guys have so much experience, but in a few years, hopefully I’ll be competing at that level.”
To prepare him for the step up, he is attending the World Rallycross Championship rounds with driver Liam Doran from LD Motorsports this season and working with him as his spotter during races and running a driver coaching aid to identify areas for improvement.
“If you had told me this time last year that I would be leading the supercars championships and going to the World Championship as Liam’s spotter, I wouldn’t have believed you,” confessed Dan.
He’s also delighted to have been appointed a Morris Lubricants Motorsport Programme ambassador, which sees the Shrewsbury company provide him with all the lubricants that he needs for his racing.
“It’s great to have Morris Lubricants’ backing,” said Dan. “It’s nice to have a family run business supporting a family run racing team (Dan Rooke Racing). I hope to be able to establish a strong working relationship with the company to help me on my journey.
“Dad has always used Morris Lubricants oils in his garage and recognises that they are quality products.”
It was Dan’s father, Terry, a former rally driver himself, who got his son hooked on racing from the age of eight. He has been responsible for preparing Dan’s cars during his rise to stardom.
Dan’s first venture into racing came in a go-kart but a big crash in only his second outing damaged his confidence and meant that he didn’t excel at that sport. It was only when he got behind the wheel of car that his racing career began to take off.
He entered the MSA British Autocross Championship in a 100bhp Citroen AX 1.4 GTI in 2012 and became champion. Next up was the Association of South West Motor Clubs Under 21 Champion in 2013.
At the end of 2014, he was introduced to a rallycross event, winning his class and coming third overall. That result persuaded the Rookes to switch to rallycross and Dan made an immediate impact by becoming British Supernational Champion in a Citroen AX 1.6.
At the end of 2015, he competed in the end of season Grandprix against all the rallycross class champions and won the front wheel drive award, which persuaded LD Motorsports to give him a chance to step up to supercars.
“I have always wanted to drive something fast,” explained Dan, “but going from 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds, these cars are pretty frightening when you get off the line. It’s great fun to drive but you need to know your limitations.”
With so much success already achieved and lots of potential yet to explore, the future is looking very bright for this young British motorsport star.
Craig Bastable, Morris Lubricants’ marketing manager, said: “Morris Lubricants is proud to be supporting young British talent like Dan. He’s extremely ambitious and, with his drive and talent, I’m sure he will achieve great success. The Morris Lubricants Racing (MLR) programme was launched to help young people establish themselves in motorsport.”