Dan Rooke (Holsworthy) backed up his debut podium finish in the MSA British Rallycross Championship in association with ODYSSEY Battery at Croft Circuit earlier this month by winning the second round of the championship at Lydden Hill Race Circuit [March 28].
Rooke qualified for the front row for the Supercar final, starting on the outside of semi-final winners Kevin Procter (Northallerton) and Ollie O’Donovan (Iver). Former champion O’Donovan made the best start in the run to turn one and led the race until the fourth lap, when he suffered turbo problems with his Ford Focus. Procter was out of contention after the first corner with a damaged intercooler, while Rooke took an early joker lap and set about pursuing O’Donovan, taking the lead on lap four and cruising to his maiden victory.
James Grint (Kimpton) made the best start of all from the back row of the grid and moved to second on lap one, only to spin and drop places. In a race of high attrition, the Albatec Racing driver climbed back to third by the chequered flag, behind Mark Flaherty (Wokingham), who finished second.
“That was amazing. I took it steady once I passed Ollie (O’Donovan), and tried to keep it neat and tidy. It just came together for us,” said 2015 Supernational champion, Rooke. “Driving a Supercar here is totally different to driving a Supernational car, I felt like I had a lot to learn. With this car you need to be so committed, it’s definitely a big learning kerb but so much fun! We never expected this at all, to be leading the championship after the second race is just fantastic!”
Flaherty scored his first podium since returning to the sport in 2014, after a 20-year absence. “From the weekend we’ve had, that’s a good result. We’ve had a misfire all weekend and we’ve still got a gearbox problem. It would be better to be on the top step, that’s what we all want,” he said.
Former RX150 front-runner Grint was delighted to score a podium for the Albatec Racing team. “It wasn’t the cleanest of finals for me, but I had a great time. We had a few issues all weekend but we’re on top of them now. Even with having a spin in the final, to come third, I’m absolutely delighted with that,” said Grint. “It’s been an up and down weekend for the whole team, so this is a great result for all of us.”
The event was joined by the Belgian Rallycross Championship. Johnny Verkuringen (Belgium) took top Belgian honours by finishing fourth in the final, ahead of the limping O’Donovan. Procter failed to complete the race distance. Steve Hill (Thame) and Andy Grant (Barnstable) both qualified for the final but neither finished, while FIA World Rallycross Championship driver Liam Doran (Winkleigh) set front-running pace in the event but broken driveshafts kept him out of the final stages and five-time British Rallycross champion Julian Godfrey (Heathfeild) missed the start of the first semi-final.
Emery returns with a bang
Stuart Emery (Faversham) returned to the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill with an updated Peugeot 206 and won at his home event. Guy Corner (Northallerton) led the final from pole position on the opening lap but was forced out by driveshaft failure, Emery then pressuring Mike Howlin (Haverfordwest) for the lead, taking the advantage on lap two. Tony Lynch (Wigan) took an early joker lap in his Ford KA and finished second, with championship leader Paige Bellerby (Northallerton) third.
“I said it was just a test event, but I was desperate to win really. We had such a massively hard weekend, we had been suffering with a bad engine cut problem that we solved just before the final, and the car flew,” said Emery. “I had a great tussle with Howlin and it went perfectly to plan.”
Jones takes double-points at Lydden Hill
Competitors in the MSA Junior Rallycross Championship ran in two events over the Lydden Hill Easter weekend, as they do not travel to the British RX event in Belgium in July. Sam Jones (Bexley) took maximum points with a pair of victories and moved into the championship lead, while round one winner Tom Constantine (Richmond) collected a brace of second place finishes. Tom Middleton (Maldon) finished on the podium in the first of the two finals, while former kart racer Matt Rainbow (Stafford) completed the podium in round three. Cameron Hawkes (Stockton-on-Tees) continued his learning in the category and scored a fourth and fifth place finish respectively.
“This was a very important weekend for us in the championship, so to get the full points that were available is great,” said Jones. “It was disappointing not to win at Croft, so it’s really great to come back with two victories.”
Kent trio lock out Swift Sport podium
Nathan Heathcote (Ashford) won the second round of the Swift Rallycross Championship after a close finish with Simon Ovenden (Canterbury) in the single-make category final. Rob Maynard (Deal) made his first start of the season at his home circuit and scored a podium finish, while round one winner Aiden Hills (Worthing) finished fourth, recovering from a spin in the semi-finals. Category pace setter Chrissy Palmer (Chichester) won the RX150 Rallycross Championship final, ahead of World Rallycross Championship driver Janis Baumanis (Latvia), who made his debut in the division and ran second to Palmer throughout the final. Adam Sargent (York) finished third.
Keifer Hudson (Harrogate) was victorious in the BMW Mini Rallycross Championship final after rival – and brother – Kris Hudson (Harrogate) retired early in the race. 2015 champion David Bell (Ferryhill) took his joker lap early and finished second, ahead of Martin Hawkes (Stockton-on-Tees). European Championship competitor Kasparas Navickas (Lithuania) won the Super1600 Rallycross Championship final in a Skoda Fabia ahead of Dennis Remans (Belgium) and Thijs Heezen (Netherlands). Phil Chicken (Barnsley) finished highest of the British RX regulars in fourth. Double champion Tomasz Wielgosz (London) led throughout the final to win the second round of the Hot Hatch Rallycross Championship, ahead of Robert Potyra (Hounslow) and Mariusz Mehlberg (London).
In the Retro Rallycross Championship, Ray Morgan (Hastings) claimed his second victory in succession, Lance Foster (Washington) finished second with James Harrold (Norwich) third.
Highlights of the MSA British Rallycross Championship will be broadcast on BT Sport in 2016.