PROCTER TAKES OPENING WIN
British Rallycross Championship
Organiser: BARC/ LHRC When: March 6 Where: Croft, Yorkshire Starters: 71.
Any driver from at least 10 could have won the opening round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship round at Croft, where an exciting entry of both experienced and new Supercar drivers took part.
Picking up where he left off in 2015 with victory at the final round of the year at the same venue was local man Kevin Procter, who took the first victory of the season last weekend – but only just.
Procter, a former European Rallycross event winner, set fastest time in the second qualifying run and, in a new-for-2016 format that uses semi-finals and finals in a similar way to that of the World Rallycross Championship, the Yorkshireman won the second semi-final to line up on the front row of the grid. Pole position was claimed by reigning champion Julian Godfrey, who set a pair of fastest times to top the Intermediate Classification.
Neither Godfrey nor Procter are strangers to the front row of a Supercar final, but the man starting on the outside – 2015 Supernational champion Dan Rooke – finished second in the first semi behind Godfrey to secure his place at the front of the grid on what was his Supercar debut.
Procter won the race to turn one as the lights went green but he wouldn’t finish the opening lap at the front. Class newcomer Rooke passed the Ford Fiesta driver in the final corner of the opening lap to seize the lead.
Procter retook the advantage at the same hairpin on the very next lap, while Irish driver Ollie O’donovan ran in third position with a misfiring engine in his Ford Focus. Rooke pushed Procter hard to the chequer, but couldn’t do more than follow the experienced driver to the flag, the pair split by less than half a second.
“The car was faultless today,” said Procter. “Young Dan went really well, the final was spot on. It’s a pity I’m not going to be able to do the whole year, but it would be hard against him [Rooke].”
O’donovan finished third, with Dave Bellerby fourth on his first appearance in a Ford Fiesta Supercar freshly rebuilt by Tony Bardy Motorsport. Steve Harris finished fifth, with Jack Thorne sixth.
Godfrey, meanwhile, dropped to the back of the field by spinning off at turn one. The five-time champion was suffering brake problems due to a broken suspension component. He recovered to finish seventh.
“We broke an output flange, so the disc was wobbling and I had no brakes,” said Godfrey. “It could have been worse for sure. The car has been really good other than that.”
British Touring Car Championship convert Dave Newsham had a difficult first day of Supercar action, but qualified for the final. Unfortunately, the Power Maxed team were forced to withdraw the car with a misfire.
“It was a bit of a baptism of fire. We had some misting-up issues in the first race, then the propshaft broke in the second,” said Newsham. “The third race was pretty good. We’ve got issues on the bumpy stuff, but we’re all learning. If not for the misfire, we could have been mid-pack in the final. Hopefully we can come to the next event with an updated car and progress.”
Paige Bellerby won her first Super National event at the final round of the season in 2015, and got her championship challenge off to the perfect start by claiming victory at the opening round at Croft.
Bellerby held off Gary Dixon throughout the final, while Guy Corner finished third in his redeveloped Peugeot 206.
Tom Constantine won the MSA Junior Rallycross final after a penultimate-lap pass on leader Sam Jones, who would finish second. Matt Rainbow was third.
RX150 champion Chrissy Palmer dominated proceedings in the category. Never headed all day, the former Formula Ford Festival winner took the final by a margin of over 15 seconds.
Aiden Hills won the Swift Sport final, ahead of championship protagonists Jack Brown and Nathan Heathcote, while Ray Morgan cruised to victory in Retro Rallycross.
Kevin Procter Dan Rooke Ollie O’donovan Dave Bellerby Steve Harris Jack Thorne
Other finishers: 7 Julian Godfrey (Ford Fiesta) +22.560s; 8 Simon Horton (Subaru Impreza) +30.991s.
MSA Junior Rallycross Championship (6 laps)
RX150 Rallycross Championship (6 laps)
A famous ex-works TVR Griffith will return to racing at Goodwood later this month.
Chassis 1, registered ‘BFR 400B’, was the prototype for the Griffith and only raced during the 1965 season. Now, model enthusiast Mike Whitaker has had the car restored by Nigel Reuben ahead of its first race for 50 years.
Whitaker bought the car in 2011 as a road-going model and Reuben has painstakingly restored it to 1965 factory specification. “Nigel has spent a lot of time on the chassis; he even worked on it on Christmas Day,” said Whitaker of the project. “The pressure was on to get in ready for Goodwood, and it will race in the Graham Hill Trophy.”
The car raced at Goodwood in June 1965 in the Whitsun Trophy with factory driver Tommy Entwistle and last raced in October 1965 with Chris Lawrence, who had been developing the car for TVR. Before Whitaker, the previous owner had the Griffith for 22 years.
“We’re keeping it as original as possible,” said Whitaker of the narrow-bodied car. “It has been prepared in its original silver blue colour and runs with a V8 engine exactly as in period. At the time, journalist John Bolster hit 163mph on the road in Europe.”
Whitaker has become one of the leading TVR drivers in historic racing over the last five years and will continue to field his existing Griffith in Gentlemen Drivers and Guards Trophy races. Reuben, meanwhile, is widely regarded as the leading preparer of period TVRS from his workshop in Bromsgrove.
Blyton Pembrey Pembrey Pembrey Pembrey Blyton Croft
1 Prescott 2 Craigantlet 3 Harewood 4 Gurston Down 5 Shelsley Walsh 6 Loton Park 7 Doune 8 Barbon Manor 9 Harewood 10 Bouley Bay 11 Val des Terres 12 Wiscome Park 13 Shelsley Walsh 14 Gurston Down 15 Prescott 16 Doune 17 Loton Park