Round two of the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy Presented by Cooper Tires was run at Lydden Hill in Kent on the hottest day of the year so far causing a few issues for cars, teams and spectators who all suffered from the blazing sun. With around four thousand spectators surrounding the track, this was the most fans that has witnessed the British Rallycross in what seems like forever due to the pandemic.
The Motorsport UK Junior Rallycross Championship got the day underway with these young drivers really fighting for position. There were a few scrapes including Corey Padgett nudging Caitlin May’s rear corner almost spinning her but she showed skill in keeping the car on track and there was some paint swapping between Will Ovenden and Max Langmaid. In their final, Langmaid led with the dented car of Owen Robbins who rolled over in round one, hot on his tail with May close behind. Once all had jokered, we ended up with Langmaid crossing the line first with a train of May, Finley Scott, Max Watt and Ovenden not far behind.
The Electro Rallycross Championship gave us a few more races this time with all five of the Elimen Racing Fiat 500es racing hard, although silently. Each qualifying session had a different winner and when you consider that they do not have to take the joker lap and they are identical cars, it all comes down to driver skill. It was good to see them taking it seriously. We almost had a roll over when Daniel Welch clipped the tyres in Chessons Drift in qualifier one. In the final David Halford led the pack from the start with Dom Flitney trying everything to get past him to no avail and Halford took the checkered flag.
There were some great battles fought in this round of the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship with bodywork scraping and strong battles throughout all races, mainly between Luke Constantine and Max Weatherley. The final race started badly for James Constantine with a stall on the line leading to retirement in lap one. Weatherley, however, had a great race leading from the start. He was chased closely by James Chisman until Chisman jokered in lap five leaving Weatherley to leap ahead of everyone else by quite some distance even after taking the joker lap. Constantine and Chisman were fighting for second and once Weatherley had claimed first, it was Constantine that claimed second place with Chisman just half a second behind him.
As usual, the Motorsport UK Supernational and Super 1600 Rallycross Championships were run together creating some exciting racing with overzealous drivers doing anything they could to get ahead. Slawomir Woloch was pushing his BMW M3 RX hard to get ahead which resulted in him going off track a few times across the grassed areas. In qualifier two, half of the field retired due to various issues including Fred Ling’s Ford Fiesta suffering from damaged rear suspension following a collision with one of the polystyrene barriers and a trip across the grass in the last lap. The final race was another combined race where Paige Bellerby fired her Lotus Exige off the start line with Woloch and the Vauxhall Astra VXR of Lee Keeler close on her tail. Keeler unfortunately retired with a driveshaft issue in lap four. There was quite a bit of paint swapping happening between both Phil Chicken’s Citroen C2 and Craig Lomax’s Citroen C1 as well as Woloch’ beemer and Jason Bleasdale’s Vauxhall VX220. All coming away with side damage but Bellerby’s Exige raced to the finish unscathed to win the Supernational class with Wolock and Bleasdale not far behind. The winner of the Super 1600 class was Darren Scott in his Citroen C2.
The BMW Mini and All4Mini Rallycross Championships were also run together again with some interesting and scary moments. In the first qualifier race, Tom Constantine had a very dramatic retirement when his throttle link snapped and got stuck under his brake pedal meaning that his throttle was stuck fully open and he was unable to slow down, he even tried using the handbrake but unfortunately was launched from the tyres in Chesson’s Drift and ended up upside down with the back of the car on the Armco barrier. The red flags came out whilst all of the rescue teams attended to get Constantine out of the car safely and to get the car recovered. He was checked out at the medical centre and was thankfully unharmed, unlike the car which needs a lot of work to get ready for round three at Mondello Park in Ireland in July.
Martin Hawkes sadly retired his brand new BMW Mini Countryman All4 in the third qualifier due to mechanical issues. The final was dominated again by Dave Bellerby who had won every race in his class in round two. He did, however, have David Ellis breathing down his neck and nudging his rear bumper. Bellerby took the win with Ellis and Darren Bleasdale close behind.
The Retro Rallycross Championship was fraught with mechanical issues due to the age of all of the cars with qualifier two only having two cars racing. The final did provide us with some great racing with the Austin Mini of Terry Moore, who only managed to complete the first qualifying round, launching from the back of the grid to the front by the first corner just ahead of Tony Lynch’s Mk1 Toyota MR2. The two Fords of Rob Buckmaster and Simon Hart were then fighting hard for third place. Lynch gets past Moore at Chessons Drift on lap four then are side by side going up Hairy Hill where Moore retakes the lead at the very top and goes on to win the race with Lynch and Buckmaster not far behind.
The faster retro cars of the Super Retro Rallycross Championship gave us even more excitement with Ray Morgan spinning his Mk3 Ford Escort BDA at Devils Elbow, a great battle between John Cross, Barry Stewart and Jos Sterkens and even Paul Pascoe losing control coming out of Chesson’s Drift and going off track through a polystyrene barrier. The Mk1 Ford Escort of Sterkens and the Porsche 911 of Stewart had a bit of a moment resulting in some minor damage. The final was won by John Cross in his Lancia Stratos R making it his second win of the season.
The last of the retro classes was the Group B + 4WD Rallycross Championship and these guys absolutely fly around the track at full throttle. Andy Grant in his Ford Focus won every single race and had some great battles with Steve Harris’ Ford RS200 evo throughout the day. In the second qualifier, Liam Doran joined the grid driving the one-off Monster Energy liveried Ford RS200 owned by his dad Pat Doran. His race didn’t last long though as he spun the car in Chesson’s Drift and stopped facing the wrong way which led to a red flag situation whilst the car was recovered to safety. The final ran almost the same as the other races with Grant leading from the start and Harris close on his tail. Dom Flitney’s Subaru Impreza came in third place.
The RX150 Rallycross Championship was once again dominated by Patrick O’Donovan with the young driver winning most races of the day despite suffering a scary moment in the second qualifier where his car caught fire briefly after the race. In the final, Billy Alexander caught the tyre wall which spun him around causing him to retire. Stephen Jones spent the whole race fighting with O’Donovan, even bumping wheels at times with the pair running side by side down Hairy Hill where O’Donovan managed to get ahead and take the win. Ewan McGuinness, son of the Isle of Man TT racer John McGuinness, came in third place.
The main event, of course, was the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship Supercars. These are 600 BHP beasts that compete at a very high level and the skill needed to drive these monsters is incredible. There were some interesting battles between Tristan Ovenden in his Citroen DS3 and Roger Thomas in his Ford Fiesta WRX resulting in a few hard knocks and scrapes throughout the day. At one point Thomas was pushed off track and through one of the polystyrene barriers. With so many battles going on each race had it’s own winner. Prize drive winner and the winner of round one, Robert Vitols drove the borrowed Citroen C4 to win qualifier one, 2020 Champion Mark Donnelly won qualifier two in his Citroen DS3 and then the Peugeot 208 of Andy Scott won qualifier three.
The semi finals gave us a few surprises when Donnelly was leading semi final one until lap four when he suddenly lost power due to turbo issues and was overtaken but still came third. Thomas won that simi but as soon as he crossed the line, his car started heavily smoking. Luckily it stopped once the engine was turned off. In semi final two, Scott and the Mk7 Ford Fiesta of Derek Tohill were fighting each other hard resulting in Scott’s car taking some body damage that rubbed on his rear tyre making quite a bit of smoke for the rest of the race until he took the checkered flag.
The final started badly for Vitols who limped off the startline and then retired on lap two. Thomas takes the lead immediately, closely followed by Tohill and Scott battling for second place although Tohill gets past him on Hairy Hill. Tohill goes joker on lap five allowing Patrick O’Donovan to catch up to him and they collide side by side on the approach to Hairy Hill causing O’Donovan’s Ford Fiesta to go up on two wheels.They carry on up the hill side by side nudging each other with Scott trying to pass them both. Tohill takes the lead at the top of the hill leaving O’Donovan and Scott to fight it out which results in Scott being pushed off track and having to drop behind O’Donovan before the pit bend. As Tohill takes the flag with O’Donovan and Scott following, there is drama at the back as Ovenden and Thomas collide hard, spinning them both off track at the pit bend. Thomas ultimately gets disqualified for not being able to provide camera footage of the incident.
Round Three of the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy Presented by Cooper Tires will be held at Mondello Park in Ireland over the weekend of 10-11 July 2021