RAL­LY­CROSS Gra­ham sur­prises him­self with Bly­ton vic­tory

BTRDA Ral­ly­cross re­port Bly­ton Park, Lin­colnshire

Motor Sport News - - Sporting Scene - By Hal Ridge Re­sults

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.

Gra­ham took first blood

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