PROC­TER TAKES OPEN­ING WIN

Bri­tish Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship

Motor Sport News - - Sporting Scene - Pho­tos: Hal Ridge, kart­pix.net, LAT By Hal Ridge RE­SULTS MSA Bri­tish Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship (6 laps)

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.

DRIVER

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.

PLACE

Bly­ton Pem­brey Pem­brey Pem­brey Pem­brey Bly­ton Croft

PLACE

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

Proc­ter won last race of 2015 too Paige Bellerby was a class win­ner, hold­ing off close ri­vals through­out

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