BRX Croft: O’Donovan Wins Dramatic Round Three


Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

Ollie O’Donovan claimed the win in round three of the 2018 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship ahead of Albatec Racing pair Mark Higgins and Andy Scott.

The grid for the final saw O’Donovan line up second alongside Scott, who was quickest in both Q1 and Q2 and Steve Hill in his Mitsubishi Evo on the front row.

Scott was the first to suffer problems as he jumped the start and was sent to the back of the grid for the restart and when the race got underway, it was the pair on the front row that battled for the lead early on.

Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

But Hill started to slow after being moved down to third with engine problems and when he was pulling off the circuit, Julian Godfrey in the Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage clipped the side of HIll’s car, sending the Mirage into a series of rolls and catching fire in the process. Fortunately the five-time champion got out of the car unscathed.

With the final red-flagged as a result, the restart then saw O’Donovan line up solely on the front-row, enabling him to get a lead at the front when the race restarted for a second time.

However, both Albatec cars were in fast pursuit of the 2007 champion and despite being unable to fully see because of the large amounts of dust being kicked up on the gravel parts of the circuit, Higgins was soon on the bootlid of the O’Donovan Ford Focus.

The final lap saw Higgins again continue to close the gap and the man from the Isle of Man made a last-ditch move up the inside of O’Donovan, with the pair then making contact when running side by side on the run to the finish line.

Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

Despite finishing off the circuit and with broken rear suspension, O’Donovan crossed the line just 0.061 seconds ahead of new championship leader Higgins.

O’Donovan said on his win: “We had a fuel issue with the race being restarted, the car was only meant to have six or seven laps of fuel in it, but we got it to the finish. Other than that I had a great day.

“I don’t think the incident at the end was malicious. I was having a bit of a misfire with the car, he just me at the wrong time. It was just a racing incident.”

Second placed Higgins added: We had a bit of a challenging day today as we had a small problem which caused us to miss a heat. I was following Ollie for most of the final and I couldn’t get past; we had a little coming together at the end but I did well with second.”

“To have Andy out helped a lot – if it wasn’t for his starts he probably would have won the final. It’s been good progress for the championship.”

“Not having a joker lap at Croft isn’t ideal to be honest. It’s a great circuit, but it really needs it here to make the track more exciting and especially when it’s dusty like it was here. You’ll end up doing something silly because you end up hanging behind somebody.”

While third placed Scott commented: “It was my mistake jumping the start in the final. We still got a 2-3 out of it and Mark has got plenty of championship points. We’re stronger for the next race”

With Scott taking third in his first appearance of the season, fourth and the final finisher at Croft was ‘Mad’ Mark Watson in his Citroen Xsara T16 despite the car suffering a blown head gasket earlier in the day. Steve Mundy retired on the pre-grid to the restart in his Ford Fiesta,

Despite not physically finishing the final, both Hill and Godfrey picked up championship points, with Godfrey now trailing Higgins by four points after the first three rounds of the season.  Kevin Procter withdrew his Ford Fiesta entry before the action on Sunday as the transmission had not been rebuilt in time for Croft.

Tristan Ovenden won his second event in a row after holding off Guy Corner at Croft. Making the most of his fast starts in his rear-wheel-drive Renault Clio V6, Ovenden had dominated throughout the qualifying heats and semi-final, before again making a fine start in the final.

Despite seemingly going to win in comfortable style, Ovenden ran wide at the Croft hairpin on lap two enabling Corner to pull alongside. But the power of the Clio down the main straight enabled the defending champion to keep ahold of his lead and ultamilty claim his second win in three events.

Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

Behind the leading duo was Paige Bellerby in her loaned Vauxhall VX220, as her Lotus Exige continues to be rebuilt before appearing later in the season. She finished ahead of Craig Lomax in fourth and he was the first S1600 finisher. Gary Simpson took fifth ahead of Darren Scott and Michael Boak.

The MSA Junior Rallycross Championship saw a battle of the Constantine’s as Tom beat younger brother Luke to the win for his second victory in two events.

10 cars lined up in the class, a new record for the series, and it was the Constantine brothers who led throughout the day. Despite Luke winning two the qualifying heats, it was Tom who made the better start in the final and went on to win.

It was almost a Constantine one-two-three as Tom and Luke’s cousin James battled with Ben Sayer throughout the six-lap final, with Sayer coming out on top as James retired.

Fourth in Junior RX was Morgan Wroot who picked up valuable championship points, while Patrick O’Donovan, son of Supercar winner Ollie, finished fifth in his first appearance in the class. Matilda Procter rounded out the top six.

Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

The more powerful Swift Sport championship saw Morgan Bailey win ahead of defending Junior champion Tom Llewllin and Dominic Flitney in third while the BMW Mini category saw a battle between former and current champions for the win as 2015 champion David Bell beat defending champion Martin Hawkes to the top step of the podium.  Another former champion in the form of 2015 Junior class winner Bradley Durdin finished third ahead of Drew Bellerby in fourth at Croft. 

Chrissy Palmer took a dominating victory in the RX150 buggy class, as championship rival John Ward hit trouble with a mechanical failure during the qualifying heats and never appeared for the final later on Sunday.  

With Palmer and Ward the only full season entries at Croft, the entry list in the class was boosted with BRX regular Procter, former Supercar driver Dave Bellerby and former British Rally Champion Jonny Milner being part of the action at Croft. Procter took second and Milner finished third.

Photo Credit: Matt Bristow

Finally, The Retro Rallycross class saw Barry Stewart win the category in his Porsche 911 with Ray Morgan and James Harrold rounding out the top three. Harrold had only taken part in one of the three qualifying heats, but a strong performance from the back row of the grid saw him take third by the end of the six-lap final.   

Rounds four and five of the 2018 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship take place at Pembrey on June 23/24