‘Higgins seals first British Rallycross title’
British Rallycross Championship
Organiser: BARC/ LHMC When: November 4 Where: Silverstone Starters: 70. Mark Higgins entered the final round of the British Rallycross Championship at Silverstone knowing victory was required if he was to lift his fourth MSA British title, and his first rallycross crown in his maiden season.
His event started well in Q1 as the Manxman passed both of his title rivals Ollie O’donovan and then Julian Godfrey with two accomplished outbraking moves into the first corner on successive laps to set the best time.
That first turn was then the Albatec Racing driver’s undoing in Q2 when he lost his Peugeot 208 as World RX regular Oliver Bennett set the fastest time.
Bennett was again quickest in Q3 as rain hit Silverstone’s Stowe rallycross layout, with Higgins second to net a pole position start for the semi-finals.
It was that stage of the event where pace-setting Bennett’s run would end as he was forced to stop with the rear of his Ford Fiesta on fire. Returning 2016 British RX champion Dan Rooke took the win.
In semi-final two, the three title protagonists lined up on the front row and it was points leader O’donovan who made the best start from the outside to take the lead. In slippery conditions, the title contenders had elected for dry tyres and as each of the runners took their compulsory joker laps, Higgins climbed to the front as O’donovan dropped to third.
That meant O’donovan would line up on the second row for the final, with Higgins on pole. The three-time British Rally champion duly took the lead of the final at the start, as O’donovan made the best launch but was hung out on the outside of the pack and dropped behind Pat Doran in the run to Turn 2.
Doran then climbed another position when Rooke spun at the loose surface hairpin. In an attempt to remove himself from the traffic, O’donovan took his joker at the first opportunity, followed by Steve Hill, but the pair returned to the main circuit behind Mike Manning’s Fiesta and began to drop time.
Having started on the outside of the front row, five-time champion Godfrey jokered on lap two and dropped behind Doran as Higgins up front extended his margin with a commanding performance.
With a penultimate-lap joker, Higgins maintained his lead to win his third event of the season and wrap up the championship. Godfrey finished second and just missed out on a sixth crown while O’donovan’s fourth place finish was two places down on where he needed to be to stop Higgins taking the biggest prize of the year. Rooke finished fifth with Hill sixth and Manning fatherand-son pairing Mike and Liam Manning completing the finalists.
Former Supernational champion Dave Bellerby made a one-off return to the class and beat regulars Jack Thorne and 2018 champion Tristan Ovenden for victory, while Tom Constantine bettered younger brother Luke to Junior class victory and the title.
Martin Hawkes and Tom Llewellin claimed their first wins of the season in the BMW Mini and Swift Sport classes, while Ford Escort driver Ray Morgan won the Retro Rallycross final. Chrissy Palmer passed Leo Forster to win the RX150 buggy class and maintain his clean sheet in 2018.
British Rallycross: 1 Mark Higgins (Peugeot 208); 2 Julian Godfrey (Mitsubishi Mirage) +6.075s; 3 Pat Doran (Citroen C4); 4 Ollie O’donovan (Ford Fiesta); 5 Dan Rooke (Ford Focus); 6 Steve Hill (Mitsubishi Evo).
Supernational: 1 Dave Bellerby (Lotus Exige); 2 Jack Thorne (Renault Twingo) +0.582s; 3 Tristan Ovenden (Renault Clio); 4 Paul Coney (Vauxhall Corsa); 5 Darren Scott (Citroen C2); 6 Vincent Bristow (BMW E46).
Junior: 1 Tom Constantine; 2 Luke Constantine +1.378s; 3 Patrick O’donovan; 4 Kristiane Hvaal Engh; 5 Ben Sayer; 6 James Constantine.
Suzuki Swift: 1 Tom Llewellin; 2 Dominic Flitney +1.898s; 3 Simon Ovenden; 4 Christopher Scott; 5 Nikita Abramov; 6 Max Weatherley.
RX150: 1 Chrissy Palmer; 2 Leo Forster +1.178s; 3 Jami Kalliomaki; 4 Stephen Jones; 5 Hal Ridge; 6 Luke Woodham.
BMW Mini: 1 Martin Hawkes; 2 Dave Ward +1.764s; 3 David Bell; 4 Andrew Hawkes; 5 Bradley Durdin; 6 Frankie Helliwell.
Retro: 1 Ray Morgan (Escort); 2 Rob Gibson (MG Metro 6R4) +0.148s; 3 James Harrold (VW Beetle); 4 Gary Dixon (Vauxhall Astra); 5 John Cross (Lancia Stratos); 6 Paul Easterbrook (Toyota MR2).