BRI­TISH RALLYCROSSS CHAM­PI­ONSHIP O’dono­van’s day, but Rooke’s ti­tle

Pem­brey

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

Or­gan­iser: BARC/ LHC When: Septem­ber 25 Starters: 58

Just seven months and seven events af­ter step­ping aboard a Su­per­car for the first time, 19-year old Dan Rooke be­came the youngest Bri­tish Ral­ly­cross cham­pion yet in only his sec­ond year in the cat­e­gory.

Rooke fin­ished sec­ond to win­ner Ol­lie O’dono­van at the penul­ti­mate round of the se­ries at Pem­brey. Those points put Rooke far enough ahead of ti­tle-ri­val Ju­lian God­frey that even if he fails to start the fi­nal round at Croft next month, he can­not be beaten.

Rooke’s age means that he beats the pre­vi­ous youngest cham­pion Michael Shield, who won the ti­tle driv­ing an MG Metro 6R4 in 1989 aged 23.

O’dono­van won his first event of the sea­son at Pem­brey, de­spite start­ing from the back row of the grid, on a week­end sand­wiched be­tween Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship out­ings for the Ir­ish driver. The 2007 cham­pion took the lead at the first corner, as pole­sit­ter Dave Bellerby ran wide and four cars headed straight for the joker lap. They in­cluded Kevin Proc­ter, Rooke, God­frey and Andy Grant.

Rooke had to fight his way through the pack, hav­ing started on the out­side of the front row due to a dif­fi­cult run in Q1 and Q2 be­fore set­ting fastest time in Q3.

O’dono­van led the fi­nal through­out. Af­ter tak­ing his joker at the fourth op­por­tu­nity, the Ford Fo­cus driver had to fend off the at­ten­tions of Rooke in the clos­ing stages. Not driv­ing with the de­meanour of a man care­fully try­ing to wrap up the big­gest prize in Bri­tish ral­ly­cross, teenager Rooke pushed O’dono­van hard. The pair fin­ished just 0.006s apart at the line.

Bellerby had his best ap­pear­ance of his maiden Su­per­car cam­paign. He was in­side the top three qual­i­fy­ing times all day and fastest of all in Q2. He com­pleted the podium.

Steve Har­ris fin­ished fourth with Steve Hill fifth and God­frey, who has been beaten to the ti­tle for the first time in his six-year Su­per­car ca­reer, sixth. Proc­ter’s mis­er­able run of for­tune con­tin­ued when his Ford Fi­esta lost oil pres­sure in the fi­nal.

“I don’t know what to say,” said Rooke. “I’m ab­so­lutely over the moon about the cham­pi­onship but it hasn’t re­ally sunk in yet to be hon­est.”

The Su­per­na­tional fi­nal was a fran­tic af­fair. Top qual­i­fier Guy Corner won the race on track, ahead of Mike Howlin and Todd Crooks, but the re­sult re­mains pro­vi­sional.

Paige Bellerby had taken the lead early in the race but spun out of con­tention af­ter con­tact and crossed the fin­ish line fourth. Sam Jones ex­tended his lead in the Ju­nior Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship with vic­tory, while Chrissy Palmer sealed his sec­ond RX150 ti­tle in a row by win­ning his sev­enth event in a row. Jack Brown won the Swift Sports.

1 Ol­lie O’dono­van (Ford Fo­cus) 5m30.589s; 2 Dan Rooke (Citroen DS3) +0.006s; 3 Dave Bellerby (Ford Fi­esta) +3.363s; 4 Steve Har­ris (Citroen DS3) +11.994s; 5 Steve Hill (Mit­subishi Lancer) +12.640s; 6 Ju­lian God­frey (Ford Fi­esta) +14.282s.

1 Guy Corner (Peu­geot 206) 6m03.799s, 2 Mike Howlin (Ford Fi­esta) +7.539s; 3 Todd Crooks (BMW Mini); 4 Paige Bellerby (Lo­tus Ex­ige); 5 Gary Dixon (Vaux­hall As­tra); 6 David Ewin (Ford Fi­esta). Ju­nior Ral­ly­cross (6 laps) (All 1.3 Suzuki Swift): BMW Mini (6 laps): Suzuki Swift (6 laps): RX150 (6 laps):

O’dono­van heads Rooke

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