O’Donovan scores Croft victory as Higgins takes British RX points lead
Irishman Ollie O’Donovan (Iver) won the third round of the Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship at Croft Circuit [May 6] to become the third different 2018 winner in as many events.
The 2007 British RX Champion qualified second on the grid for the final, but when fellow front-row starter Steve Hill (Thame) retired from the first running of the race with engine problems, and then pole sitter Andy Scott (Dumfries), who had been fastest in Q1 and Q2, jumped the start and was put to the back of the grid, O’Donovan became the sole occupant of the front row for the restart.
He then led the round three encounter from lights-to-flag, fending off late pressure from round two winner Mark Higgins (Montgomery) to take victory by just 0.061s, the closest finish in recent memory.
“My game plan coming here was to try and bag points, a podium would have been great, we got that and more,” said O’Donovan. “We were lucky at the end, we had a bit of an incident with Mark in the last corner, it took a wheel off the car and I think we had about 100 meters to go to the finish, but we just made it across. Now we’re back into the championship fight so we need to keep pushing to be on the podium all the time.”
Higgins’ second place was enough to lift the Manxman into the points lead in his maiden rallycross season, while Scott made it an Albatec Racing double-podium in his first outing of the year, by finishing third. “It’s been quite a tough weekend, we were chasing a few problems but got it sorted for the final,” said Higgins. “I was just chasing Ollie all the way to try and get passed him. It was very, very close at the end but it’s ended up good for us with the championship points moving forward and it’s good for the team as well. Andy did a great job and it really bodes well for the coming races.”
Albatec Racing team owner Scott was pleased with the squad’s double-podium. “The day started really well, we had issues with the launch mode all day but we worked hard on that and I was just a bit too keen to get away to make sure we could be first to the first corner in the final, so it was my mistake there,” said Scott. “The target for here was a one-two, we’ve come away with a two-three and in good shape for the championship. Thanks to Croft for putting on a good event.”
Fourth place went the way of Croft local Mad Mark (Barnard Castle) with his self-run Citroen Xsara, while Steve Hill (Thame) was classified fifth by virtue of qualifying for the front row of the final but didn’t complete the race distance.
Running neck-and-neck with O’Donovan through the opening corners in the first running of the final, Hill dropped to third, before being slowed by engine problems with his Mitsubishi Evo.
While Hill was pulling off the circuit, points-leader Julian Godfrey (Heathfield) glanced the side of Hill’s car, sending his Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage RX into a series of rolls. Godfrey walked away from the incident unharmed.
Steve Mundy (Ludlow) meanwhile was forced to retire on the pre-grid for the final in the second event with his new Ford Fiesta Supercar.
Ovenden holds off Corner for Supernational win
Renault Clio V6 racer Tristan Ovenden (Canterbury) made the most of dry and sunny conditions at Croft to dominate the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship category, setting the fastest time in each of the three qualifiers before winning semi-final one and the final.
However, a small mistake on the second lap of the final allowed Peugeot 206 racer Guy Corner (Northallerton) to make a bid for the lead but Ovenden held on to score maximum points and extend his margin in the standings. Again driving a borrowed Vauxhall VX220, Paige Bellerby (Northallerton) finished third at her home circuit, while Craig Lomax (Knottingley) finished best of the Super1600 Rallycross Championship runners in fourth overall.
“It was close with Guy in the final, I knew from the qualifying races that he would be a threat, we were in different semi-finals so I didn’t see quite how quick he was, but I knew it would be close,” said Ovenden. “Trying to stay tight and cover the racing line, I went a bit too tight and clipped the tyres at the hairpin, but I got away with it. We just need to keep nice and consistent and be on the podium, but the wins help the championship points a lot.”
Gary Simpson (York) finished the final fifth, holding off a pair of Super1600 Citroen C2s, driven by Michael Boak (Jarrow) and Darren Scott (London), Scott coming out on top of the battle for sixth, while reigning Super1600 champion Paul Coney (Dartford) retired mid-race with technical issues.
Constantine doubles up at home circuit
On the back of his second ever win in the MSA Junior Rallycross Championship in round two at Lydden Hill, Tom Constantine (Richmond) beat younger brother and pole position starter Luke in the run to the first corner and led the race throughout for his second successive win.
Luke Constantine had twice set the fastest time in the qualifying stages but had to settle for second in the final, while the pair’s cousin, James Constantine (Darlington) battled over third with newcomer Ben Sayer (Northallerton) for much of the race, Sayer claiming the final podium position as Constantine crashed out.
“It was really competitive today, I had a lot of competition, mainly from the family and I was playing second fiddle in qualifying, but I got a pretty good start and managed to out brake them round the first corner and held on from there,”said Tom Constantine. “Our championship chances are looking much better than they were and I’m really looking forward to the next round at Pembrey.”
In a record 10-car entry for the 1300cc Suzuki Swifts, Morgan Wroot (Doncaster) finished fourth ahead of debutant Patrick O’Donovan (Iver), son of Supercar racer Ollie O’Donovan, while Matilda Procter (Northallerton) finished sixth in front of another driver making her maiden appearance, Kristiana Hvaal Engh (Norway).
Bailey, Bell, Palmer and Stewart score Croft victories
Like Constantine in the Junior category, in the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship it was a second win on the bounce for Morgan Bailey (Lincoln), the former autograss racer setting the fastest time in Q1 and Q2 before winning both semi-final one and the final. Second was reigning Junior RX champion Tom Llewellin (Haverfordwest), while Dominic Flitney (St Ives) passed Rob Maynard (Deal) for the final podium spot.
Former champion David Bell (Ferryhill) scored victory in the BMW Mini Rallycross Championship ahead of 2017 title-holder Martin Hawkes (Stockton-on-Tees), while round two victor Bradley Durdin (Nazeing) held off former Junior RX rival Drew Bellerby (Northallerton) for third.
RX150 Rallycross Championship points leader Chrissy Palmer (Chichester) dominated at Croft to extend his margin at the head of the table, while Kevin Procter (Northallerton) made a guest appearance in the buggy category after he was forced to withdraw his regular Ford Fiesta Supercar while its gearbox undergoes redevelopment and was second, with former rallycross driver and two-time British Rally Champion Jonny Milner (York) third in a one-off return to the sport.
Barry Stewart (Barcombe) won the Retro Rallycross Championship final in the Porsche 911 that won the first MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix in 1982, holding off former Retro RX champion Ray Morgan (Hastings) and round one winner James Harrold (Norwich), who was forced to miss two of the three qualifying races with oil leak issues but climbed from the back row of the grid to a podium place in the final.
Highlights of the MSA British Rallycross Championship will be broadcast on BT Sport, Motorsport.TV and online via BARC TV in 2018. Programme times are available on the British RX website.
Full results can be found here.