‘Hig­gins seals first Bri­tish Ral­ly­cross ti­tle’

Bri­tish Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Hal Ridge

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.

Re­sults

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).

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