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