YOUNG LATVIAN, ROBERTS VITOLS, WON ON HIS SUPERCAR DEBUT AHEAD OF OLLIE O’DONOVAN. 3 OF THE QUICKEST DRIVERS FAILED TO FINISH OR START THE FINAL.
In the final it was Ollie O’Donovan who made the best start from the front row. Poleman Mark Donnelly had failed to get moving while Julian Godfrey had to settle for second. Tristan Ovenden used his 4th place grid spot to climb into 3rd ahead of Derek Tohill. Roberts Vitols, seeing that O’Donovan was taking the standard lap, dived to the joker section. He was followed in by Connor McCloskey and Mike Sellar. Donnelly pulled off into the joker lap with a mechanical issue and scored 8th place points.
Ovenden was the first to joker from the leading group and slotted back out behind Vitols and McCloskey. Coming up to the final corner Godfrey slowed with a gearbox failure. Tohill had to wait to get past until Godfrey pulled aside and into retirement.
At the beginning of lap 4 O’Donovan dived to the joker lap. Behind Vitols got the cutback on Tohill out of the chicane with the Irish driver choosing to take to the alternate route. When O’Donovan exited the joker lap, Vitols was a couple of car lengths clear. From there he managed to hold an advantage over the chasing Ford.
Behind, Ovenden had managed to pass McCloskey out of the Devil’s Elbow. This put him into third place as McCloskey slowed with a technical issue. Tohill was next to pass the Northern Irish driver with Mike Sellar able to claim 5th place on the final lap. Vitols took the chequered flag by 1.3 seconds to secure his first ever British Rallycross Championship victory. He becomes the first ever Latvian to win a British Rallycross event.
Roberts Vitols – “This morning I did my first proper run in the car. Came a long way. Made a small adjustment before the final and it payed off big time.”
Tristan Ovenden – “That’s where you wanna be. Really really pleased, it’s brilliant.”
Roger Thomas was unable to take the start. The Welsh racer had suffered a cracked exhaust manifold with the team unable to fix it before the semi-finals. It meant a 5 car grid lined up with poleman Donnelly holding the lead. Andy Scott tucked in behind closely followed by Tohill and Sellar. O’Donovan was the only person to joker and looked to close on the leaders. Scott dived up the inside of the leader into North Bend. The pair made slight contact as Donnelly was able to get the cutback and retain the lead.
Scott split away from the battle on lap 2 to cover off the charging O’Donovan behind. When he exited the joker lap he pulled back onto the racing line while O’Donovan was still partially alongside. The pair came together with Scott spun onto the infield, collecting an apex barrier. His door flung open after making contact though no damage was sustained to the driver or car. Scott continued but limped round so as to save the car for Monday.
O’Donovan was able to get up into 2nd place once the joker laps had played out. Donnelly suffered a front left issue which slowed his pace considerably. He lost his sizeable lead but withstood the pressure to keep 1st place come the finish. Tohill had to settle for 3rd with Sellar making it to final for the first time since August last year.
Ollie O’Donovan – “He was slightly ahead of me. The rules says main track has right of way, joker has to merge. He needed another metre. It was a 50/50 call [the stewards] said.” Andy Scott – “I felt that I had enough space to come back to the racing line and Ollie obviously saw that different.”
Godfrey utilised pole position to the maximum. McCloskey had made a slightly better start from second but had to drop in behind through Chessons. Steve Hill and Vitols slotted in behind while Ovenden took the joker lap. On lap 2 it was Vitols who took his alternate route but couldn’t stay ahead of Ovenden. He set about chasing the cars ahead and when Hill and McCloskey completed their joker laps he jumped ahead of both of them.
Godfrey jokered with 3 laps to go and had to withstand pressure from Ovenden. The local driver attempted to get a cutback out of North Bend but wasn’t able to get alongside. It gave Godfrey 6 points in the championship while Hill was the only driver unable to progress to the final.
Despite winning, Vitols doesn’t lead the championship. After a consistent performance across the day Ollie O’Donovan heads the table on 24 points. Just 1 behind are both Mark Donnelly and Julian Godfrey. Tristan Ovenden sits on 22 with Vitols a further point back.
Racing continues on Monday with another full day of action. Connor McCloskey is the only Supercar driver not returning as he is travelling back to Ireland tonight for a family commitment. It means a 10 car grid will line up with many drivers hoping for more of the same, while others will looking forward to a fresh start.