Higgins returns to British RX lead with Lydden Hill win
Mark Higgins (Montgomery) claimed his second career rallycross victory in round seven of the Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill [August 27] to return to the head of the standings.
The Albatec Racing driver entered the event tied for second in the points with Ollie O’Donovan (Iver), just one point behind leader Julian Godfrey (Heathfield). Campaigning Albatec’s Peugeot 208 Supercar, Higgins set fastest times at Lydden Hill in Q1 and Q3 to secure pole position for the final.
The three-time MSA British Rally Champion led the opening lap of the final as O’Donovan, who had started on the second row of the grid after a Q2 puncture, leapt from fourth to second by the first corner, then overtook Higgins at the hairpin to take the lead.
Running second, Higgins took his joker on lap two, but O’Donovan responded with a lap three joker and remained in the front of the Albatec driver, retaking the lead when Steve Hill (Thame) also took his extra route.
Making his return to British RX with his Ford Fiesta Supercar, Oliver Bennett (Bristol) qualified second on the grid for the final and finished third with an accomplished drive, behind O’Donovan and Higgins. After the race, O’Donovan was handed a two-second penalty for ‘gaining unfair advantage’ [during his pass on Higgins], promoting Higgins to victory and into a three-point lead in the title-race over O’Donovan.
“I’m pleased to have been given the win but would much rather it had been a victory achieved on the track,” said Higgins. “We’d had a good start, with strong pace and excellent reliability, and I was feeling confident we could convert that to victory. It’s a very competitive field and it keeps the Championship title wide open.”
O’Donovan was disappointed with the result, but says the Championship isn’t over, with two rounds remaining. “I disagree with the decision about the move in the final,” he said. “There was a gap inside Mark at the hairpin, I put car on the kerb and he shut the door. It was a rallycross move, the same move has been made at that corner for years. The Championship isn’t over by any means but we needed to be in front here and we won the race on the track.”
Bennett raced at Lydden Hill before returning to the FIA World Rallycross Championship next weekend in France. “It’s a great result, unfortunately I got pushed out a bit in the first corner but these boys are fighting for the points and I understand that,” say Bennett. “The Fiesta performed all day, it’s a great car and Lydden’s a great track. It’s crazy to think how far we have come in 18 months, we’re having a great season.”
Hill finished fourth with his Mitsubishi Evo. He passed Godfrey on lap five, the Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage driver slowed by a puncture. Steve Mundy (Ludlow) scored his best result of the season with sixth, finishing ahead of Kevin Procter (Northallerton) who had qualified on the front row of the grid but picked up a puncture from contact at the start and dropped down the order.
Jake Harris (Canewdon) made his second start of the season in an LD Motorsports prepared Citroen DS3 and qualified for the final but was slowed by a turbo problem. Andy Grant (Barnstaple) had another torrid event with his Ford Focus and only finished one qualifier due to a broken driveline flange.
Ovenden extends Supernational advantage with home win
MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship points-leader and reigning Champion Tristan Ovenden (Canterbury) took victory at his home circuit. He dominated qualifying and the final at Lydden Hill to further extend his advantage at the head of the field. Ovenden led the final from the start and only lost track position by taking an earlier joker than Paige Bellerby (Northallerton), who briefly led and then finished second with her Lotus Exige. After a season of poor luck, Guy Corner (Northallerton) returned to the podium in third with his Peugeot 206.
“It’s very physical round here in that Renault, it might look easy-ish from the outside, but it isn’t,” said Ovenden. “We’ve had a good day but it is hard work. We had a shakedown on Saturday and we’ve made good progress with the car. It’s great fun to drive. There’s still two rounds to go and nothing in this sport is for certain.”
Darren Scott (London) took top Super1600 Rallycross Championship honours with fourth overall in the Supernational final, ahead of fellow Super1600 racers Jack Thorne (Umberleigh), who returned to his former Citroen C2 for the event, and Paul Coney (Dartford).
Constantine beats brother and retakes Junior RX lead
Tom Constantine (Richmond) started on pole position for the MSA Junior Rallycross Championship final but it was his younger brother Luke Constantine (Richmond) who took the lead into the first corner from the middle of the grid as James Constantine (Darlington) led at trio of cars into the joker lap at the first opportunity.
Tom Constantine was first of the leaders to take his joker, on lap four, and took the lead when Luke Constantine took his joker on the final lap, the younger of the pair pushing his older sibling to the finish line.
“I was a bit surprised when Luke came past me at the start,” said winner Constantine, who moved back into the points lead. “I stuck behind him for a few laps then took my joker early and it paid off in the end. When he took his he was alongside me but I had the line for the next corner, so it worked out just how I wanted. I didn’t get a good result in the last two rounds so this a very welcome victory.”
James Constantine held off the attentions of Patrick O’Donovan (Iver) for the final podium place, as Ben Sayer (Northallerton) finished fifth and Will Layton was sixth on his rallycross debut in the single-make 1300cc Suzuki Swift class, racing a Peter Gwynne Motorsport-run car. Marius Solberg Hansen (Norway) and Morgan Wroot (Doncaster) completed the final finishers.
Single-make points leaders on top, Harris wins on Retro RX debut
Each of the Championship leaders in the single-make support categories to the British Rallycross Championship claimed victory at Lydden Hill to strengthen their position at the top of the respective tables, but none of those wins were clear-cut during the Bank Holiday Monday event.
Swift Sport Rallycross Championship leader Morgan Bailey (Lincoln) enjoyed close battles with reigning Champion Simon Ovenden (Canterbury) in qualifying and then set the fastest time in Q3 before winning semi-final one and commanding the final, as Ovenden spun in the last race of the day. Reigning Junior RX Champion Tom Llewellin (Haverfordwest) passed Dominic Flitney (St. Ives) for second as Flitney completed the podium.
David Bell (Ferryhill) took an early joker lap in the BMW Mini Rallycross Championship final to score victory, passing his rivals on track as they also took their jokers, while defending from reigning Champion Martin Hawkes (Stockton-on-Tees). Former Junior RX Champion Bradley Durdin (Nazeing) completed the podium, the top three covered by less than a second.
RX150 Championship leader Chrissy Palmer (Chichester) fended off a strong challenge from former British Touring Car Championship driver and GT racer Tom Onslow-Cole (Aylesbury) on the opening lap of the final for the single-make buggies to claim victory. Onslow-Cole was second in his second rallycross appearance as regular driver Stephen Jones (Havant) finished third.
British RX Supercar racer Steve Harris (Hullbridge) made his maiden competitive appearance in a restored Ford RS200 at Lydden Hill and won the Retro Rallycross Championship final ahead of the MG Metro 6R4 of Welshman Roger Thomas (Llandysul) and Super Retro sub-class points leader James Harrold (Norwich).
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 on the MSA British Rallycross Championship website here.
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The next round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place at Pembrey Circuit in South Wales [September 23].