Local hero and title protagonist Max Coates had been fastest in the morning’s first free practice session (FP1) with a best lap of one minute.31.297 seconds.
But Rowbottom, now running under his own DRM banner, responded in the afternoon with an even better 1m31.246s.
Nobody could better it so he stayed top while Team Pyro driver Coates’s time from FP1 stood as the second best of the day.
Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin, the championship leader, was third at the end of the two sessions with Pyro’s Zak Fulk and WDE Motorsport’s Lee Pattison fourth and fifth. Pyro’s Bradley Burns completed the top six. Notably neither he nor Fulk have competed at Croft before…
The top five were under the existing race lap record (Jonathan Adam’s 1m31.509s from 2004!) while Rowbottom, Coates and Dorlin were also beneath the qualifying benchmark (Dave Newsham’s 1m31.452s from 2010).
Of the other teams, Michael Epps was Matrix Motorsport’s highest placed driver in tenth. The returning (newly married) Brett Lidsey was 13th for MRM with team-mate Jade Edwards in a freshly built car following her Oulton Park roll right behind in 14th and Luke Warr was 18th out of the 19 runners for BLG Racing.
Rowbottom commented: “It’s been a hectic couple of weeks setting up on our own again but we’ve got a handle on things pretty quickly. This morning I didn’t want to go too hard as it’s a brand new car but then this afternoon we put new tyres on it and I also changed my approach into Sunny In which made a difference. I’m really happy…”
Coates, just four points adrift of Dorlin at the top of the table, said: “We went slightly the wrong way on set-up this afternoon so I was only sixth in that session but the times are very close and we know what we need to do for qualifying tomorrow.”
Leading times, Free Practice, Croft Circuit Fri 22 June:
1. Daniel Rowbottom (DRM), 1m31.246s
2. Max Coates (Team Pyro), +0.051s
3. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +0.056s
4. Zak Fulk (Team Pyro), +0.236s
5. Lee Pattison (WDE Motorsport), +0.240s
6. Bradley Burns (Team Pyro), +0.286s
7. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport), +0.390s
8. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +0.414s
9. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport), +0.545s
10. Michael Epps (Matrix Motorsport), +0.605s
CLICK HERE for full times.