British Rallycross Championship season draws to a close with title showdown and Grand Prix at Croft

19 Oct 17

Five-time champion Julian Godfrey could secure a sixth British RX title at Croft Circuit this weekend, but the renowned engineer enters the season finale (October 21 – 22) with only one hand on the coveted Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship trophy.

The North Yorkshire circuit will host the ninth and final British RX round on Saturday (October 21), before the Procters Coaches MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix takes place on Sunday (October 22). To give fans a jam-packed day of action on Sunday, the day will commence with the finals for the MSA Supercar and MSA Supernational categories.

Three drivers are still in the hunt to win the 2017 British RX crown. Experienced driver Godfrey will face opposition from two of the youngest and least experienced drivers in the series at Croft, impressive showings throughout the 2017 campaign from Nathan Heathcote and Oliver Bennett putting both in title-contention.

Having won four events so far this season, Godfrey enters the weekend with a ten-point advantage over Heathcote. Reigning Swift Sport Rallycross Champion Heathcote has experienced a turbulent season, but upset the established order by winning on his Supercar debut at Croft in March in an LD Motorsports Citroen C4, and also claimed victory in round eight at Pembrey (in a Citroen DS3) to remain in the title-hunt. In almost every event that the Kent driver has completed, he has been on the podium.

The same can be said for Bennett, who has only twice missed the podium in his first season of rallycross, racing an OlsbergsMSE-built Ford Fiesta Supercar. Bennett is four points behind Heathcote and 14 down on Godfrey, but also faces competition for an overall podium from Kevin Procter and Warren Scott behind.

Fourth in the points and the other driver with a shout of winning the British RX title is Irishman Ollie O’Donovan, but following an accident at Pembrey last month that put him out of the event in Practice, causing two broken ribs and broken bones in his right hand, O’Donovan will miss the season finale, his car instead being raced by experienced driver Tony Bardy.

Another Croft local, Procter, has had a difficult season by his own high standards and has only once finished on the podium, in round one at Croft where he challenged Heathcote for victory. The two-time MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix winner can expect substantial support from the home crowd, and will be seeking victory to move into the overall podium positions.

Former British Touring Car Championship driver Scott claimed his first rallycross victory in round six at Lydden Hill, driving an LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 and could also get onto the overall podium in his maiden campaign in the sport, currently sixth overall and 24 points behind Bennett in the standings.

Mitsubishi Evo X racer Steve Hill and Jake Harris are locked in a battle for seventh, Harris racing his father Steve’s Citroen DS3 in a year of Supercar learning while Hill’s team has switched its focus to developing its unique Mitsubishi for 2018 in the final events of the current campaign.

Former British RX champion Pat Doran will make his third start of 2017 driving the Citroen C4 with which Heathcote won the opening round of the year, while Andy Grant will conclude the season in his Ford Focus and Mad Mark Watson will compete at his home event with his Citroen Xsara.

The Procters Coaches MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix on Sunday will be headlined by the 600 horsepower Supercar machines. Jake Harris will vacate the LD Motorsports-run Citroen DS3 he is racing in the British RX finale for his father Steve to race in the Grand Prix, while multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby will also return in the Ford Fiesta Supercar he raced full-time in 2016. Former British RX event-winner Mike Manning will also return with his Ford Puma.

Tristan Ovenden leads the MSA Supernational Rallycross Championship by nine points ahead of local driver Paige Bellerby. Ovenden has won the last four rounds on the bounce in the two-wheel drive category, but it was Bellerby who won the first three events of the year, including round one at Croft and will be in the victory hunt this weekend. Reigning Champion Tony Lynch has climbed to third overall following a difficult start to the year and still holds a mathematical chance of winning the title.

Guy Corner is another of the local drivers capable of winning at his home circuit, the Peugeot 206 driver currently tied for fourth in the standings with Allan Tapscott. Former Supernational champion Ash Simpson will make his second start of the season in his title-winning Lotus Exige having finished second to the similar car of Bellerby in the opening round, while BMW racer Gary Simpson will also compete in his home event, as will David Ewin. Most of the Supernational racers will compete in Sunday’s Grand Prix, joined by additional two-wheel drive cars in the shape of Brian Jukes’ Audi TT TDI and the returning Mike Dresser in a Lotus Exige.

MSA Junior Rallycross Championship winner Tom Llewellin will graduate to the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship for the season finale, leaving Norwegian driver Ole Henry Steinsholt and Tom Constantine to conclude the season battling for the runner-up prize. Steinsholt is the only driver other than Llewellin to have won a Junior RX round in 2017 and holds the advantage in the points over Constantine, but it was the local driver who finished second behind Llewellin at Croft in round one.

Tom Middleton, Morgan Wroot and Sebastian Hoidalen will all challenge for a podium finish, Hoidalen having made an impressive debut at Pembrey last month. James Constantine will conclude his first season of Junior RX at his home event.

While Llewellin will make his first start in the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship at the finale, almost all of the title battles in the supporting categories are still to be concluded. Simon Ovenden leads local driver Rob Shield in the Swift Sport points and has one more win to his credit than his championship rival (four for Ovenden, three for Shield). Shield finished second in round one at his home circuit and can pose a threat to the points leader in the competitive single-make field this weekend.

A star rallycross name will return to the sport in the RX150 Championship this weekend, double British Rallycross Champion (1987, 1988) Mark Rennison will race a single-make buggy on both days, joined by son Ben Rennisn, who won the Junior Rallycross Championship in 2007. Chrissy Palmer currently leads the RX150 standings and is set to secure his third successive crown, but will face opposition from round two winner John Ward, who is 15-points behind. Former RX Lites racer Tejas Hirani will return to the buggy category in the Grand Prix support race on Sunday.

Over half of the field in the amalgamated Super1600 Rallycross Championship, BMW Mini Rallycross Championship and Hot Hatch Rallycross Championship category can call Croft their home circuit, but it’s Dartford driver Paul Coney who leads the way in the Super1600 field, ahead of Darren Scott who is 20-points behind in second. Michael Boak starred in the Grand Prix last year as the top two-wheel drive finisher and will be hoping for more of the same giant-killing performances this weekend, while former Super1600 champion Craig Lomax will race on Saturday before handing his Citroen C2 over to World Rallycross television commentator Andrew Coley for his second Rallycross Grand Prix appearance on Sunday.

Martin Hawkes leads the BMW Mini points in a local battle with Drew Bellerby for the title, while brothers Kris and Keifer Hudson will return to the sport as part of a four-car K Motorsport line-up in the 10-car class. Leigh-Anne Sedgwick has already secured the Hot Hatch title.

The battle for the Retro Rallycross Championship will be concluded on Saturday, currently led by Lance Foster with his Mini Clubman. Foster leads the up to 1600cc sub-category, while reigning overall Retro RX Champion Ray Morgan leads the over 1600cc division but trails Foster due to a number of niggling problems in recent events. A number of local drivers will return to the class at Croft, including father-son pairings Jordan and Stewart Bowes and Neil and Terry Maynard, the latter pair driving a brace of Triumph TR8s.

On Sunday, as a support class to the Grand Prix, the Retro drivers will compete in a non-championship invitational event with the winner being awarded the Martin Schanche Trophy.