Round two of the MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, Kent gave former British rallycross champion Ollie O’Donovan a confidence boost after he secured victory and also snatched the championship lead. The national success follows on form his third-overall finish at the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Barcelona.
The Team RX Racing driver entered the event full of expectations: as he challenged for the lead in Q1, he hit a circuit marker, destroying the front right suspension of his Ford Focus Supercar.
The vehicle was damaged to such an extent that his team couldn’t fix the car on time for Q2, but thanks to incredible work from Tony Bardy Motorsport‘s engineers, O’Donovan went on to set the fastest time in Q3, which meant he would start sixth in the final.
A slow getaway in the final race dropped Ollie towards the back of the field, but thanks to an early joker lap strategy, he quickly caught up with the other drivers. His rivals Warren Scott and Julian Godfrey, however, took their jokers on the final lap, wile the Irishman managed to pass them on the inside, gaining the lead and scoring the team’s first victory.
At the Lydden Hill British RX events last season, Team RX Racing led both finals but were then slowed by technical problems. The squad made amends for the dramas of 2016 on Easter Monday to move into the 2017 Championship lead.
“Things were going well in Q1, I decided not to use the windscreen wipers because I didn’t want to smear the dirt on the windscreen. I just clipped a barrier and it caused a lot of damage. It was driver error,” said O’Donovan.
“To be honest I thought our event was over at that stage, especially when we missed Q2, but Tony (Bardy) and the boys did a fantastic job. I’ve worked with them for many years but they continue to surprise with what they can do. Not only did the car have four wheels on again but the setup was good and fastest time in Q3 really helped our cause.”
The result means that O’Donovan and Team RX Racing have finished on the podium in each of the three events so far this season, in the British and European Championships.
“I expected to joker late in the final, that was our plan if I could get up behind the leaders at the first corner and then do a different joker strategy. As it happened, I messed up the start and we had to change our plan.
“Although I had to pass some of the guys, I think we were saved from some of the action at the front and by pushing really hard we just managed to take the lead on the last lap. I was counting the seconds to the guys in front going up the hill on each lap and we gained eight seconds in three laps. I knew with a big push it would be possible. This is fantastic.”
The MSA British Rallycross Championship will move to Pembrey, Wales, for the third round on 25 June.