RALLYCROSS Graham surprises himself with Blyton victory
BTRDA Rallycross report Blyton Park, Lincolnshire
Organiser: BTRDA/ MDA When: March 13 Where: Blyton Park, Lincolnshire Championship: BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship Starters: 46
Irishman Tommy Graham’s glorious Zakspeed Ford Escort wasn’t the ideal weapon of choice for the tight and twisty Blyton Park rallycross circuit, as the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross season got underway on Sunday.
Graham thought he faced an uphill battle following a pre-event circuit walk and admitted that qualifying on pole position for the Super Modified A final was a surprise.
Starting from the inside of the front row, Graham made the best start in the final to lead into turn one followed by the fast-starting Marc Jones, who launched from the back row of the grid into second in the opening corners.
Guy Corner and Phil Chicken battled over third on the first lap, but neither would make it further than the end of lap two – Chicken retired on lap one with a broken driveshaft while Corner came to a halt at the start of lap two. Corner had just passed Jones, who spun his Toyota in the first corner of the second tour.
Kenny Hall moved up to second following the demise of those ahead, with David Attiwell in third place.
Jones recovered from his rotation and pressured Attiwell for the final podium spot, but dropped more time on the final lap and had to settle for fourth.
Up front, Graham cruised to victory with a margin of over 10 seconds. “I wasn’t expecting this,” he said. “I walked the track in the morning, then went out in practice and thought ‘this isn’t going to work’. But, as the day progressed, I got faster. I was lucky to get pole, but it worked very well for me. I’ve never done the full championship before. Now I’ve got the first round out of the way and got some points on the board, I’m looking forward to the next rounds.”
James Orton qualified on pole position for the Production A final and led the race from lights to flag, fending off constant pressure from Richard Todd in a similar Peugeot 106. Paul Davis had a quiet race in third, not quite with the leading duo but ahead of the melee for fourth from which newcomer Adam Charlesworth came out on top in his Citroen Saxo. Eddie Gibbs had run fourth early on, passing Marco Balsamini at the first corner, before the latter reclaimed the place on lap four. The pair then became involved in a scrap that would last to the end of the race, allowing Charlesworth to claim fourth, making amends for rolling his car in heat three.
The Historic final was won by another driver who rolled in the heats, Mark Richardson, who upturned the Ford Sierra featured in MN’S track test last week. The rallycross debutant started alongside polesitter Vince Bristow on the front row of the final, and ran second to his more experienced rival until the final lap, where he made a pass for the lead into the first corner to win his maiden event. Marc Griffin finished third, while Gary Mitchell produced one of the drives of the day.
Driving an ex-vauxhall Vectra SRI Cup Car, Mitchell qualified for the C final but progressed through the B to the A, and finished fifth, just behind fourth placed Scott Stutchbury. Darren Clark finished sixth.