Higgins Wins 2018 British Rallycross Championship With Silverstone Victory

by Steven Batey

Mark Higgins secured the 2018 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship with the win in the final round of the championship at Silverstone last weekend.

Higgins, driving the Albatec Racing Peugeot 208, started from pole in the final and led from start to finish in the six-lap shootout to take the title in his first full season of Rallycross.

After winning Q1 and then the first semi-final, the three-time MSA British Rally Champion started from the front of the grid and took his joker lap much later than both of his title rivals Ollie O’Donovan and Julian Godfrey to great effect.

Godfrey, who was second in the standings going to Silverstone, got the better of 2016 BRX Champion Dan Rooke off the start line before trying to catch Higgins by taking an earlier joker, but the Albatec driver had enough of a lead to come out in front after completing his joker and he held on to take the win.

Higgins won the 2018 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship with a win last weekend at Silverstone. Photo Credit: MSA BRX.

A delighted Higgins said on his championship win: It’s been a really good day, but it was open to anybody. It’s been so close, there were so many permutations. It was just trying to be the one that made the least mistakes – the conditions have been really, really tricky.”

“To win the Championship, I’m over the moon. “Rallycross is very exciting, you’re not driving for a long time but what’s happening in that time is really exciting and these cars are amazing, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

“Massive thanks to Albatec Racing, the University of Bolton and of course Eddie Stobart for supporting me again. In my 30 years of motorsport, to win another MSA British Championship is fantastic.”

Just two points separated Higgins, O’Donovan and Godfrey with the Irishman’s fourth place finish at Silverstone not enough to give him a second BRX title. Godfrey finished third in the championship after the results count-back system came into effect while Pat Doran in the Citroen C4 completed the podium last weekend at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Photo Credit: MSA BRX.

Behind O’Donovan at Silverstone was his Team RX Racing teammate Rooke who made his first appearance in the championship since his title win back in 2016. The youngster lost time at the hairpin on the first lap, dropping him down the running order and he finished ahead of Steve Hill, with the father and son pair of Mike and Liam Manning completing the eight-car finishing order.

BRX returnee Oliver Bennett in his Ford Fiesta looked set to be challenging at the front of the field after setting the fastest times in both Q2 and Q3, but his car caught fire during the second semi-final and he retired from the rest of the weekend as a result.

It was a battle of the Constantine’s in the MSA Junior Rallycross Championship decider with Tom and Luke battling until the very last lap of the final.

With both in championship contention going to Silverstone, it was first Luke who hit problems earlier in the day, with a series of mechanical issues on his Suzuki Swift.

Brother Tom didn’t have it all his own way however as he suffered from flu throughout the day’s action, but his semi-final win meant him and Marius Solberg-Hansen lined up at the front of the field for the final.

Luke decided to joker early to try and undercut his brother, but Tom’s choice to joker two laps later while running in third at the time meant the pair had to overtake both Solberg-Hansen and Patrick O’Donovan when they jokered late on, with Tom going on to take the final round win and the Junior RX title.

Tom Constantine took the Junior RX title. Photo Credit: MSA BRX.

Constantine commented on his victory: “I’m really happy to finally get the Junior title. It’s been a hard year, a hard day but it’s fantastic to finish the season like this and win the Championship.”

“I’ve been struggling with the flu for the last few weeks, I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night so I didn’t know how the day would go, but it went right for me in the end. Luke and I agreed that we would just fight for the win and he pushed me all the way.”

Fourth at Silverstone was the young Norwegian driver Kristiane Hvaal Engh, who overtook Solberg-Hansen and her countryman was then given a penalty after the race for his collision with Morgan Wroot who was spun out on the first corner. This enabled Ben Sayer and James Constantine to move up to fifth and sixth respectively.

The returning Dave Bellerby took the win in the ever competitive MSA Supernational class ahead of Jack Thorne and 2018 champion Tristan Ovenden.

Deputising for daughter Paige for the final round of the season, Bellerby passed pole sitter Ovenden in the final at Silverstone and didn’t look back, with Thorne then also passing the man who has now won the last two Supernational championships.

Bellerby said on his win: “I’m very happy with today, I’ve really enjoyed it. The idea was that in Paige’s absence we would take advantage of this event to develop the car. As the day went on I think we made some good headway.”

“I didn’t think that I would be able to beat Tristan (Ovenden) so I’m very pleased with where we ended up in the final. Everyone likes winning but the support I’ve had with coming back for a one-off event has been brilliant – it’s really a good feeling.”

2018 champion Tristan Ovenden at Silverstone. Photo Credit: MSA BRX.

Thorne’s second place was enough to give him maximum points in the S1600 category and help him also secure his second successive title. With Ovenden third, fourth went to Paul Coney with Darren Scott, who recovered from a roll in practice and Vincent Bristow completing the top six.

With the 2018 title already confirmed, Morgan Bailey chose to sit the Silverstone event out in the Swift Sport Championship class.

This enabled several other drivers to battle it out for the final win of the year with Tom Llewellin repeating his win in the class on his debut 12 months ago to take the victory.

The 2017 Junior RX Champion came out in front once everyone took their jokers as Dominic Fitney made the most of the battle between pole sitter Simon Ovenden, Christopher Scott and Max Weatherly to end the race second.

Ovenden completed the podium with Scott, Nakita Abramov and Weatherly finishing in the top six in the final race of the season.

2017 BMW Mini Rallycross Champion Martin Hawkes signed off his 2018 campaign by taking his first win of the season as David Bell secured the class championship.

Hawkes passed both Drew Bellerby and Dave Ward in the final, with Ward holding on to take second from a recovering Bell and Andrew Hawkes in fourth. Bradley Durdin and Frankie Helliwell finished fifth and sixth respectively.

Chrissy Palmer defeated former champion Leo Forster in the RX150 class to finish his 2018 season and fourth successive title win in style with Finnish driver Jami Kalliomaki taking third. The top six were rounded out by Stephen Jones, Hal Ridge and Luke WDoodham.

The Retro Rallycross Class saw Rob Gibson in his MG Metro 6R4 win on track, but as former champion Ray Morgan finished within the five second penalty given to four-wheel drive cars, the Ford Escort driver was classified as the winner.

Third in Retro Rallycross was James Harrold, who also took the class championship as he got the better of Ian Biagi. Gary Dixon, John Cross and Paul Easterbrook completed the top six in the final round of the season.

The Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship’s 2019 calendar has been announced this week, with the season beginning again at Silverstone, on March 24.

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