Godfrey takes Pembrey win, Bennett overall leader


Julian Godfrey wins British Rallycross round 3 at Pembrey - Credit: RallycrossBRX.com

A brilliant weekend for Julian Godfrey at round three of the MSA British Rallycross Championship on the Pembrey Circuit in the south of Wales: the Sussex-based driver and engine builder has become the third winner in as many events held so far.

Godfrey, a former British Rallycross Champion, secured pole position in the final by setting two fastest times in qualifying. Just after the final had started, he brilliantly fended off the pressure Oliver Bennett was putting on him, gaining the lead of the race; as he was far enough in front, Godfrey took his joker on the last lap, taking the flag with a winning margin of almost six seconds.

“I had a really good day. I was able to set fastest time in Q2 and Q3 and took the lead after the first corner in the final,” said Godfrey.

“The new track at Pembrey is really nice, especially in the wet conditions in the morning it flows really well. It’s really good to get a win here and close the gap in the points. I haven’t won since Pembrey last year, so it’s great to stand on the top step again.The car had no problems at all and I’m looking forward to going to (the next round at) Mondello Park.”

Bennett’s fast, consistent run netted him a front-row start for the final; despite performing the best of launches, he then had to concede first place to his rival Godfrey on turn one. Nevertheless, the Bristol-based Ford Fiesta driver managed to clinch his second consecutive podium in what remains his maiden season in rallycross, and with it the overall Championship lead.

Round one winner Nathan Heathcote, who fought back from retiring from Q1 and not starting Q2, completed the final podium. Fortunate enough to secure a spot on the final grid, he profited from a brilliant joker lap strategy to climb up the order. He passed James Grint for third when the returnee driver took his joker on lap five, on his way to an eventual fourth place finish. Andy Grant, making a welcome return to the BRX, qualified for a front-row spot, to finish fifth.

Mad Mark Watson had a solid day in South Wales, winning the first race of the day and setting competitive times in his Citroen Xsara, on his way to a P6 finish.

Neither Steve Hill nor Warren Scott finished the final: Hill’s Mitsubishi picked up a puncture on the opening lap, while a misfire put Scott’s Citroen out of the race.  Not the ideal end of day for the former BTCC competitor, whose Q1 race had to be restarted due to a racing incident; after that, a fire broke out in his DS3’s engine bay, forcing him out of the race.

Forced to miss Q2, it looked like Scott’s day was over, but hard work from the LD Motorsports team repaired the car and Scott was able to set a competitive time in Q3 to make it into the final.
Not so lucky was the third LD Motorsports DS3 of Jake Harris, who was forced to retire after the fuel tank in his car became damaged early in the day.

Kevin Procter was aimed at making up for his missed victories in the previous rounds, and here at Pembrey he was fastest in Q1. Rear differential problems in Q2 meant the Yorkshireman would take no further part. It was also a challenging day for the Championship leader heading into the event, Ollie O’Donovan, who missed Q1 due to a broken upright, then retired from Q3 with driveshaft issues, marking the end of his day.

Points leader Paige Bellerby won the third round of the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship in a drag race to the finish line with title-rival Tristan Ovenden, thus extending her margin at the top of the standings.

Ovenden led the final on the opening lap, until he spun on the loose section, forcing him to fight from the back of the field. Despite losing significant time, the Renault driver from Kent closed on Bellerby’s Lotus on the final lap, after a decisive move on Todd Crooks, eventually finishing a few hundredths of a second behind the young, fast female from Yorkshire

Crooks complimented his third place in round two at Lydden Hill with another podium finish, despite having to effect substantial repairs to his BMW Mini throughout the day. Rear-wheel drive Vauxhall Corsa racer Allan Tapscott finished fourth, with Vincent Bristow fifth and Kirk Twyman sixth. Regular front-runners Tony Lynch and Guy Corner were, however, out in the semi-finals.

Welshman Tom Llewellin remains unbeaten in every MSA Junior Rallycross Championship event he has ever competed in, also claiming victory at his home round this Sunday.

Llewellin faced a stiff challenge in the qualifying stages of the event, beaten off the start line on several occasions but was able to fight his way back through the order to qualify on pole position and win his third event of the year.

Tom Constantine posed the biggest threat to Llewellin through the day, and seized the lead on the opening lap of the final: a short-lived lead, as Llewellin gained it on turn three. Technical problems further slowed Constantine down, allowing Llewellin to cruise to victory, while Norwegian driver Ole Henry Steinsholt scored his season-best second place, with Morgan Wroot on the podium for the second time. James Constantine was fourth, while Tom Middleton (fifth) and Ethan Rees completed the top six.

The single-make Swift Sport Rallycross Championship was once again Simon Ovenden‘s affair: the Canterbury-based racer snatched the lead on turn one, and on to winning the race. Rob Shield made the best start from the front row of the grid but even so, he had to settle for second, just maintaining the position after his last lap joker. Chris Woollett and Morgan Bailey took their jokers on lap one and ran nose-to-tail throughout, Woollett claiming the final podium spot.

Chrissy Palmer returned to his winning ways in the RX150 Championship, leading Scotland’s Marc Scott, another very welcome returner. Palmer won each of the qualifying races and the final, while title-rival Irishman  John Ward completed the podium having successfully fought off Kirk Langley‘s challenge.

Paul Coney won again in the amalgamated Super1600 / BMW Mini / Hot Hatch category with his Vauxhall Corsa as Craig Lomax finished second, after the damage his car sustained last time out at Lydden. Lomax held off the similar car of Phil Chicken, while Drew Bellerby (Paige’s younger sister) was fourth in the final and best of the  BMW Minis ahead of former champion, David Bell (Ferryhill). BMW Mini title protagonist Martin Hawkes, meanwhile, suffered a puncture in his semi-final, meaning he would go no further.

Roger Thomas won on his Retro Rallycross Championship début. Thomas led throughout the final in his MG Metro 6R4, chased by the hard charging Ford Escort of Ray Morgan while Irish driver Kevin Feeney, also in an Escort, completed the podium.

The MSA British Rallycross Championship returns to action next month, with the double-header weekend of 22-23 June at Mondello Park in Ireland.