Heathcote claims British Rallycross Championship title with final round victory
In his maiden season competing in the headline Supercar category, Nathan Heathcote (Ashford) secured the Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship title with victory in the final round at Croft Circuit (October 21 – 22), as title-rival Julian Godfrey (Heathfield) failed to finish.
Heathcote entered the event 10-points behind Godfrey in the title-race, but qualified top in the Intermediate Classification, won semi-final one and led the final from lights to flag.
Five-time British RX Champion Godfrey had initially led Heathcote in their semi-final race until a problem cost him time, resulting in a third-row start for the final. While climbing the order in the final, Godfrey’s Ford Fiesta suffered right-rear suspension damage after contact with Pat Doran (Dolton), causing him to retire.
Heathcote’s title comes just a year after winning the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship, the result emulating that of 2016 British RX champion Dan Rooke (Holsworthy), who won the British RX crown at his first attempt, driving the same Citroen DS3 Supercar.
The Croft victory was Heathcote’s third of the nine-round campaign. He was joined on the podium by home hero Kevin Procter (Northallerton), while Ford Fiesta driver Oliver Bennett (Bristol) concluded an impressive first season in the sport with his seventh podium finish, in third, matching his result in the overall standings.
Steve Hill (Thame) enjoyed his best finish of the season in fourth place with his Mitsubishi Evo X, ahead of Jake Harris (Canewdon) and Doran. Former British Touring Car Championship driver Warren Scott’s (Buntingford) season ended with a technical problem in the final, having run second to LD Motorsports team mate Heathcote in the opening stages, while Godfrey was classified eighth.
“I had to come first today so that was my aim, then I had done everything I could do. My starts hadn’t been great all weekend but luckily I made a good one in the final to make sure I was first at the first corner,” said Heathcote. “I was coming down the back straight and I saw a tyre on the side, then I saw Julian’s car, so I knew just to calm down to keep the lead to the finish. I hoped I would have the pace this season but never thought I would come out of the year as champion; it’s an awesome feeling.”
Citroen Xsara driver Mad Mark Watson (Barnard Castle) and Ford Focus campaigner Andy Grant (Barnstaple) both qualified for the third row of the final but neither were able to take the start, Watson out with transmission problems and Grant banished to the side-lines by a sensor issue. Their places were taken by Doran and Harris. Tony Bardy (Scotch Corner) deputised for the absent Ollie O’Donovan (Iver) but crashed out of the first qualifying race of the weekend with a throttle problem.
Heathcote followed his Championship success by dominating the Procters Coaches MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix at the same circuit. Details below.
Ovenden secures Supernational crown
Tristan Ovenden (Canterbury) graduated to the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship for the 2017 season with a Renault Clio V6 and won four events in the second half of the year to lead the two-wheel drive points into the final round. Ovenden led the final on the opening lap, but was passed by double-champion Ash Simpson (York) on the loose section on lap one. As Simpson extended his margin at the front, Ovenden was then passed by Guy Corner (Northallerton) for second, but the champion elect held off the attentions of title-rival Paige Bellerby (Northallerton) for the final podium position in the closing stages of the race.
“It feels like a long season, it didn’t really feel like the Championship was on until the third or fourth round and it started going well. When we got our first win I thought ‘actually, this might be doable.’ We just kept plugging away and it’s fantastic to win the Championship,” said Ovenden. “The car’s still tricky to drive at Croft, here probably suits it the least but we’ll keep working on it and we’ll be back to defend the title next season.”
Event winner Ash Simpson was equally pleased with his result. “That was really good. The pace has moved on since I last raced regularly in the Championship and it’s really good to win at my home track,” he said. “I’d like to do more next year, the calendar looks good with the Silverstone track and I’d like to give that a try.”
Peugeot 206 campaigner Corner made an inspired tyre choice for the final, using gravel tyres for the slippery conditions and finished on the podium at his home event. Polish driver Slawomir Woloch (London) ran as high as third on the opening lap but dropped down the order, while outgoing champion Tony Lynch (Wigan) retired within sight of the finish line.
Steinsholt scores second Junior RX win
Norwegian driver Ole Henry Steinsholt (Norway) claimed his second in his MSA Junior Rallycross Championship campaign, taking the lead of the race when Tom Constantine (Richmond) spun at the second corner, dropping him down the field. From there, Steinsholt led from the front while Morgan Wroot (Doncaster) and Tom Middleton (Maldon) ran second and third throughout to finish on the podium. “It’s fantastic to win the last race of the season, the conditions were really difficult but I pushed hard and I’m really happy,” said Steinsholt.
Constantine caught and passed his cousin, James Constantine (Dalton-on-Tees) for fourth later in the race but was re-passed by the less experienced driver, James eventually securing the position. Sebastian Hoidalen (Norway) made his second visit to the series and was fifth. Following the conclusion of the Championship, Tom Constantine was excluded from the results for a technical infringement (J3.1.6).
Llewellin stuns on Swift Sport debut
As Simon Ovenden (Canterbury) and Rob Shield (Cleasby) battled for the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship title at the final round, MSA Junior Rallycross Champion Tom Llewellin (Haverfordwest) made his maiden senior rallycross appearance and claimed victory. Llewellin dominated the final, as Morgan Bailey (Lincoln) finished second and Ovenden was third to secure the title. Shield spun after the first corner of the final but fought his way back to sixth at the finish.
Citroen C2 driver Darren Scott (Sittingbourne) claimed his third victory of the season in the Super1600 Rallycross Championship but second place was enough for Paul Coney (Dartford) to secure the title for the second year in succession. In the amalgamated category final, Hot Hatch RallycrossChampion Leigh-Anne Sedgwick (Paddock Wood) finished third overall and claimed top Hot Hatch honors. In a similar Citroen Saxo, Dan Lukaszewski (London) was fourth in the final.
Martin Hawkes (Stockton on Tees) claimed his first BMW Mini Rallycross Championship title in style by winning the final round from former champion David Bell (Ferryhill). Keifer Hudson (Harrogate) returned to the series and finished on the podium while his brother Kris (Harrogate) ran second on the opening lap of the final but retired on lap two. Title-contender Drew Bellerby (Northallerton) finished fifth.
Irishman John Ward (Dublin) did everything in his power to challenge for theRX150 Rallycross Championship title by winning the single-make buggy final, but second was enough for Chrissy Palmer (Chichester) to secure his third successive crown. Former double-champion Marc Scott (Dumfries) returned for another of his selected 2017 appearances and fought back to third having stalled on the start line, knocking former British Rallycross Champion Mark Rennison (Cleasby) off a podium finish in his return to the sport.
Barry Stewart (Barcombe) won his third Retro Rallycross Championshipevent of the season with his Porsche 911, finishing ahead of Gary Dixon (Lincoln) and Kevin Feeney (Hayes). Title contenders Lance Foster (Washington) and Ray Morgan (Hastings) both retired on the first lap of the final, but it was Foster who claimed the title for the first time.
Procters Coaches MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix
Newly crowned British Rallycross Champion Heathcote dominated the 24th running of the MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix, setting the fastest time at each stage of the event on Sunday (October 22) to secure victory. Procter finished the last race of the year second, passing Bardy on the final lap when the Grand Prix veteran ran wide on the loose section.
Bardy started in the event thanks to hard work from the Tony Bardy Motorsport team to repair the Ford Fiesta following his roll in the British RX finale on Saturday, efforts that were rewarded by a podium finish. Hill scored a solid result in fourth with double Grand Prix winner Doran fifth and the top two-wheel drive competitor, Tristan Ovenden, sixth. Darren Scott and Allan Tapscott (Umberleigh) also made it into the Grand Prix final and concluded the list of finishers.
Stewart won the first Martin Schanche Trophy race for Retro Rallycross competitors while Ward held off Marc Scott to claim victory in the RX150 final and Tom Constantine won the Junior final.
Full results for round nine of the Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship can be found on the here.
Full results for the Procters Coaches MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix can be found here.
Highlights of the MSA British Rallycross Championship will be broadcast on BT Sport, Motorsport.TV and online in 2017.