DEREK TOHILL WON ON HIS RETURN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP. THERE WAS PLENTY OF WHEEL BANGING WITH THE STEWARDS SEEING HALF THE FIELD AFTER THE RACE.
Triple Irish RX champion, Tohill, made a good start from 6th place and slotted into 2nd into turn 1. He pushed Andy Scott wide in Chessons and followed poleman Roger Thomas through turn 1. At the Devil’s Elbow the leader ran wide gifting Tohill first place. Mark Donnelly had made a poor start and was 5th right behind Ovenden with neither taking the joker lap.
2 limping cars took to the alternative route on lap 1. Julian Godfrey running on 3 cylinders tried to use what power he had to fight back. Roberts Vitols was less fortunate. The round 1 winner could only crawl back to the pits with a technical issue. A poor end to a winning weekend for the Latvian. However, it was Ollie O’Donovan who was first to the joker lap and used the clean air to close on the pack.
When Scott responded on lap 2 he came out behind O’Donovan. Tohill then took the detour route and just held the lead. Down into the Devil’s Elbow O’Donovan tried to move up the inside. He slid slightly wide and made wheel to wheel contact with O’Donovan’s car being launched skyward briefly.
Up the hill Tohill defended the inside line. O’Donovan looked to go around the outside but it was Scott who dived up the inside to go for 2nd. The pair made contact through the corner with Ollie forced slightly wide. On the run down the hill O’Donovan pushed Scott onto the grass, just missing the tyre barrier. Scott backed out as they held their position going onto the final lap.
Ovenden slotted in between Scott and Thomas in Chessons. After dropping from the lead Thomas had jokered but came out ahead of Donnelly. When the cars ahead had made contact Donnelly got caught unaware and pushed into Thomas though remained behind.
Going into the Devil’s for the final time Thomas made light contact with Ovenden’s left rear, breaking the tow arm. Ovenden held position through north bend but was crabbing down the hill. Just as the cars came through paddock bend Ovenden span out. With no where to go Thomas made contact and went wide as well. Waiting in the wings were Donnelly and Godfrey who seized 4th and 5th places on the run to the line. Thomas got his car going before Ovenden’s to secure 6th.
Out front Tohill had checked out to take his 5th British Rallycross victory. Behind was more chaotic. Scott got a better run up the hill on the last lap. He faked to the outside before diving up the inside. He made slight contact only pushing O’Donovan a bit wide. The pair ran line astern down to the final sequence of corners to complete the podium positions.
Derek Tohill – “We started working on our starts late in the day. We took a bit of risk for the final, the risk payed off. I knew if I could hold [O’Donovan] off there I could win it.”
Ollie O’Donovan – “Andy Scott totally on the wrong up the top of the hill. He dived down inside me and hit me. So I wasn’t gonna let him down the hill in front of me.”
Andy Scott – “I lost the race at the start. I didn’t get a good start.”
After the final Roger Thomas was disqualified for failing to have an onboard camera. This promoted Ovenden and Vitols to 6th and 7th, with Thomas losing the 3 points he had scored. Andy Scott was given a verbal warning for the part he played in the contact. Ollie O’Donovan was given the largest penalty. He received a written warning and 2 points on his penalty licence. In a new rule for this year he loses a large amount of championship points.
Mark Donnelly looked set to continue his winning form. He jokered halfway through the race and held onto first. But with 2 laps to go his car slowed allowing both Thomas and Vitols ahead. A turbo had seized reducing his power. The team were able to fix it before the final. Thomas had made a great start from third and jokered immediately. Vitols responded 2 laps later but came out of Chessons just behind.
The pair had quickly closed on a still struggling Godfrey. Now down to 2 and a half cylinders, the 6 time champ just trying to limp around and finished in 4th. Only 4 cars had started the first semi-final. Mike Sellar suffered a broken coolant pipe in the pre-grid area. With extremely high water temperatures the team were unable to change the pipe and withdrew from the race.
It left Thomas out front on the final lap. Just as he crossed the line the underside of the car caught fire. The first he knew about it was when the marshals stopped him in the joker lap to extinguish the flames. The cause of the flames was a leaky power steering line. Once the hydraulic fluid hit the exhaust it caught fire. The team fixed the issue with just a minute to spare allowing Thomas to line up for his maiden pole position.
Andy Scott came from last to first to put his weekend back on track. At the start it was O’Donovan who made the best start. He out dragged Tohill who was on pole. The Irishman dropped in behind, followed by Hill.
Ovenden had dived to the joker lap closely followed by Scott. Tohill responded immediately but only came out of the joker lap level with Scott. With better drive on the standard lap the Peugeot runner took the place and set about on Ovenden. He survived contact with Tohill through the hairpin as the Irishman failed to get a cutback.
O’Donovan tried to cover off the second place man but instead dropped to third behind Scott. With a position gained the Scottish racer tried to dive up the inside of the new leader. Ovenden left room and ran wide allowing Scott a chance to overtake. The pair closed going down to Paddock bend. Scott braked super late and dived up the inside running slightly wide. Ovenden was unable to get the cutback and settled for second.
Tohill put pressure on O’Donovan with the positions swapping as they went up Hairy Hill. O’Donovan’s boost pressure had dropped through the race and couldn’t defend. He had secured a spot in the final as Hill’s car stopped at the side of the track. A transmission issue put the car out in a disappointing weekend for the 71 year old.
Steve Hill – “We’ve broken something in the drive train. I think we’ve nearly got good pace. Just burning out our tyres too soon.”
The championship battle remains wide open. Mark Donnelly has now retaken the lead in the title only 48 points. Tohill scored the most points at round 2 to vault up only 4 behind Donnelly. Vitols sits on 41, just a single points ahead of Ovenden and Godfrey. O’Donovan would have been 1 point behind Donnelly in second. However, due to his penalty he drops down to 6th. Rule 1.6.6 states that for every licence point incurred, a driver will lose 5 times that many championship points. It means O’Donovan loses 10 championship and now sits on 37, just 2 ahead of Scott.
Mark Donnelly – “That’s the thing about rallycross. You have to keep pushing. There’s a long way to go, only round 2.”
The Championship is set to return at Mondello Park in July. The Irish circuit is set to welcome back spectators for the first time in a while next month. It should mean that in 6 weeks time the series is able to run, potentially with a large number of spectators.