O’Donovan wins second round of British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill
Ollie O’Donovan (Iver) experienced a turbulent day in the second round of the Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill [April 17] but climbed from sixth on the grid in the final to claim his first win of the season.
Following his third place finish in the opening round of the year at Croft Circuit last month, O’Donovan’s victory moves the 2007 Champion into the British RX points lead.
It was Kevin Procter (Northallerton), Julian Godfrey (Heathfield) and Steve Hill (Thame) who qualified on the front row for the final, thanks to consistent pace through the qualifying stages, while Warren Scott (Buntingford) and Oliver Bennett (Bristol) completed the second row.
Scott took the lead at the start of the race, passing Godfrey and Procter in the run to turn one, but received damage to the rear of his Citroen DS3 due to first corner contact. Bodywork rubbing on the right-rear tyre eventually caused a puncture, but Scott led until taking his joker on the final lap, returning to the main circuit just behind O’Donovan, who had made a slow start.
Godfrey passed Procter for second early in the race and chased down Scott, the multiple Champion following his rival into the joker lap on the final tour, allowing O’Donovan to claim the advantage. Attempting a move on Scott for second on the final lap, Godfrey hit a circuit marker and broke the front-right suspension on his Ford Fiesta, putting him out.
O’Donovan had also broken his Ford Focus’ suspension earlier in the day and missed Q2 as a result. He took the joker early in the final and passed both Jake Harris (Canewdon) and Bennett in pursuit of the leaders. As O’Donovan won his first event of the year, Scott and Bennett both scored their maiden rallycross podiums in second and third respectively.
“I made a slow start and did the joker quite early,” said O’Donovan. “I was counting the seconds to the boys ahead when I was going up the hill and in a lap I’d taken nearly eight seconds out of them, so I thought with a big push we had a chance. I think it was quite close coming out of the joker but I kept a nice tidy line and had better traction than them. We had some problems earlier in the day, that was driver error, but I think we made up for it later in the afternoon.”
Scott was pleased to fight for Lydden Hill victory and is enjoying his first season in British RX. “We had a great start. Liam (Doran) and the boys set the car up for me to get off the line with as little wheelspin as possible,” said Scott. “We got through the gap but unfortunately half way through the corner I got a hit and I knew I would get a puncture because of all the smoke from the tyre. I pushed as hard as I could for the laps the tyre was up for and pulled a gap. I took the joker on the last lap but just got pipped by Ollie and couldn’t do anything about him. The car was mega, the team did a great job and I’m loving every minute of being here.”
Bennett admitted to struggling with changeable track conditions in the mixed weather of the morning, but was more comfortable throughout the day as the circuit dried out. His maiden podium puts him second in the Championship, tied on points with Procter. “It was an interesting event. We had a few problems and then my clutch went so I had to do a rolling start from the back of the grid,” he said. “I guess the race unfolded along the way and a few calamities for others meant I managed to pick up third, which is really good. We had the pace in the final, the setup of the car was much better and I’m really happy with the result.”
Harris finished fourth despite losing fourth and fifth gear in his DS3 towards the end of the race, with Procter fifth. Hill was forced out with a broken driveshaft before the race got underway, as Mad Mark (Barnard Castle) had an event blighted by clutch cylinder problems.
Round one winner Nathan Heathcote (Ashford) also experienced a day beset with mechanical dramas. A broken gearbox in practice forced him to miss Q1, while broken power steering in Q2 spelled the end of his event.
Back-to-back victories for Bellerby as Ovenden sets pace
Following his debut event in the former title-winning Renault Clio V6 at the opening round of the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship at Croft, Tristan Ovenden (Renault Clio) dominated proceedings at his home circuit. He set the fastest time in each of the three qualifying races before winning semi-final one and leading the final until the penultimate lap, when the rear suspension broke on his car, sending him into a gravel trap. Second to Ovenden throughout, Paige Bellerby (Northallerton) was perfectly placed to pick up the pieces and claim her second win of the season to extend her points lead. Guy Corner suffered from driveshaft failure in Q2 and sustained a substantial accident in Q3 at the circuit's chicane. Thanks to the hard work of his team, Corner made it onto the grid for the semi-finals and a spirited drive in both the semi and final netted the Peugeot 206 driver second to Bellerby as reward for the team's efforts.
Todd Crooks (Royston) competed the podium with his BMW Mini. Gary Simpson (York) in fourth and Michael Howlin (Haverfordwest) fifth were the last of the finishers, as Allan Tapscott (Umberleigh) retired in the same place as Ovenden with broken steering and Michael Labedz (London) also stopped with mechanical issues. Reigning Champion Tony Lynch (Wigan) was sidelined with engine troubles for the second event in a row.
“This track is all about horsepower, the Clio goes exceptionally well here and Tristan drove amazingly today,” said Bellerby. “He really did deserve to win. We went round to get the points for second in the final but luck was in our favor. I’m absolutely over the moon. The aim is to get consistent results this year and so far so good.”
Llewellin extends points lead with Lydden win
Undefeated MSA Junior Rallycross Championship driver Tom Llewellin (Haverfordwest) won his second event of the year and sixth in a row to extend his lead at the top of the points table, but didn’t have things all his own way at Lydden Hill. Tom Constantine (Richmond) was twice fastest in the opening two qualifying races to secure pole position, but it was Llewellin who took the lead on the opening lap of the final, pressured by Constantine in the early stages. Morgan Wroot (Doncaster) took his joker on lap one and when Constantine took his joker on lap three, he returned behind Wroot on the main circuit. As Llewellin scored another victory, Wroot led a train of cars in the fight for second but held on to score his best result to date, with Constanine third.
Tom Middleton (Maldon) was fourth with Ole Henry Steinsholt (Norway) fifth and James Constantine (Dalton-on-Tees) sixth.
“It was a great day at Lydden, I really enjoyed the racing,” said Llewellin. “It was really close with the other Juniors which made it really enjoyable. I started on the back of the grid in Q1, then Tom (Constantine) was just too quick in Q2 but we managed to win Q3. I made a good start in the final but they were not far away. It’s always nice to win for sure.”
Ovenden dominates Swift Sport category at home circuit
Simon Ovenden (Canterbury) set the fastest time in each of the three qualifying races, won semi-final one and the final to get his Swift Sport Rallycross Championship title challenge underway at Lydden Hill. Morgan Bailey (Lincoln) lived up to the potential displayed at round one of the Championship with semi-final two victory and second in the final, while Norwegian driver Christoffer Lia (Norway) made his second appearance in the series and scored his second podium in a row. Local driver Don Macleod (Deal) earned a personal best result in fourth, as round one winner Chris Woollett (Herstmonceux) and Rob Maynard (Deal) both spun in the first corner of the final and lost ground.
For the first time in over a year, a new driver stood on the top of the podium in the RX150 Championship. John Ward (Dublin) won semi-final two as double-champion Chrissy Palmer (Chichester) claimed pole position for the final and led until lap the last lap when the points leader spun after contact with Ward and retired. Ward claimed his first RX150 victory with Brett Harris (Hawkwell) and Stephen Jones (Havant) both achieving their first podium finishes of the year in second and third.
Vauxhall Corsa driver Paul Coney (Dartford) won the amalgamated Super1600 / BMW Mini / Hot Hatch category for the second event in a row in his Super1600 specification car, ahead of local driver Darren Scott (Sittingbourne). Scott put mechanical troubles in the opening round of the year with his Citroen C2 behind him to finish less than half a second behind Coney in the final. Martin Hawkes (Stockton on Tees) was the best of the BMW Mini competitors for the second event in succession and finished third in the final, ahead of Championship rivals David Bell (Ferryhill), Drew Bellerby (Northallerton) and Bradley Durdon (Nazing). Tomasz Marciniak (London) was the top Hot Hatch finisher, the Polish driver fifth in semi-final one and just missed a place in the final.
Barry Stewart (Barcombe) returned to the Retro Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill with his Porsche 911 and battled with reigning Champion Ray Morgan (Hastings) throughout the final to claim victory. A Mini Clubman once again finished on the overall Retro podium, on this occasion in the hands of Lance Foster (Washington).
Full results can be found on the MSA British Rallycross Championship website.
Highlights of the MSA British Rallycross Championship will be broadcast on BT Sport, Motorsport.TV and online in 2017.
The next round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place at Pembrey in South Wales [June 25].