British Rallycross: Donnelly crowned champion as season cut short

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Mark Donnelly has been confirmed as champion of the 2020 British Rallycross Championship. The final round in January has been officially cancelled with Motorsport UK permitting a full championship after 3 rounds were held.

The final event was set to take place on January 23rd and 24th as one round for the Supercar category. However, this has now been cancelled. It means Mark Donnelly takes the 2020 Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy in his rookie season. His 36 points secured the British driver the title, in a season where he won twice. He has only raced in a rallycross event twice before 2020, and only once in a supercar.

At the opening round he qualified in second place ahead of the semi-finals. From there he used pole position to win his race and started from pole in the final. Despite being under pressure from outgoing champion Julian Godfrey for the whole race, he took a commanding victory and the championship lead. At the second round he extended his points advantage as best of the British contingent. He retired in the round 3 final but this wasn’t enough to destroy his championship lead and he has now sealed the title.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

His closest challenger has come in the form of 2007 champion, Ollie O’Donovan just 2 points back. The London-based Irish driver was the only driver to stand on the podium at each race but poor finishes in 2 of the semi-finals cost him too many points. Godfrey finishes the season in third after suffering from technical issues throughout each weekend. Engine cutouts plagued his opening round qualifying before winning his semi-final and finishing in second in the final. At the second round he had less luck with a loose cam sensor forcing him to stop in the final. A clutch failure in the final race of the year caused a stall on the line and meant the GB1 car could only recover to 6th and 4th of the British championship runners.

Tristan Ovenden was an impressive 4th overall just 3 points back on last year’s champion. He had only raced his Citroen DS3 once before this season at a non-championship event. Oliver Bennett in his BMW Mini netted 5th place with a British championship win in the last race of the year. He competed at every round but was disqualified from qualifying in August for using the wrong fuel. This gave him a non-score and combined with failing to joker in the round 2 final meant he was unable to challenge for the title. He initially entered the series as a non-championship driver but it was later found out that he was scoring points. Remarkably him racing did not affect the top 4 in the standings, with each of the top 4 being cost exactly 2 points each.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Steve Hill, Pat Doran and Mike Sellar were joint level on 11 points each with journalist Hal Ridge on 10. Chris Hoy, Roger Thomas, Dom Flitney and Mike Manning sit at the bottom of the table. Mark Flaherty had been expected to race at every round but a fire in Q1 put him out of round 1. Cancelled flights also prevented the English driver from making it to the double header event.

Liam Doran, Enzo Ide and John McGuinness all raced in December as non-championship entries. Doran won both races on the road ahead of his Team JC teammate. Andreas Bakkerud had been expected to race in Doran’s place during round 3 but travel issues prevented that from occurring. Jack Thorne was also meant to be at the final rounds but a clutch failure left him on the sidelines. Derek Tohill, Andy Grant and Andy Scott were all set to race this season but each couldn’t make it to any event due to COVID-19.

Lydden Hill Circuit was opened up on Christmas Day to help alleviate trucks trying to cross the English Channel. Queues were formed with French border crossing checks taking much longer which require returning a negative coronavirus test result. Lydden may be used in the coming months to help mitigate congestion especially as new procedures for crossing into the EU begin in January. Some sports venues will also be utilized to help distribute vaccinations for coronavirus with Lydden Hill possibly being used. It left the circuit unable to guarantee the final event could be run and left the series with a 3 round championship.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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