British Rallycross: Godfrey tops Welsh qualifying overnight

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Julian Godfrey lead qualifying in Wales after a near perfect day. Championship leader Mark Donnelly languished down the order with work to do tomorrow at Pembrey.

Julian Godfrey put in a series of masterful drives to win 2 out of the 3 qualifying sessions on Sunday. The engine tuner and builder now holds an unassailable lead heading into the final qualifying session, only needing to start in order to finish top of the intermediate standings. His day started by jumping from 3rd on the grid to second only behind Ollie O’Donovan. The pair remained in that order even after jokering on separate laps. Come Q2 it was Godfrey who made the best start to leapfrog O’Donovan into turn 1. From there he put in a clean drive to win.

In the final heat he made a slow start, delayed in disengaging the clutch. It gave Steve Hill the lead. The pair remained in that order until Hill ran wide out of the hairpin leading onto the back straight. Hill gave the 6 time champ space on the inside and Godfrey took the lead and fastest time with it.

“Steve ended up in front of me. He went a bit deep into the hairpin. I just managed to get it up the inside of him and he was kind to leave a bit of space and not close the door”

It was O’Donovan who is second overall overnight just 2 points clear of Hill. After topping Q1, O’Donovan suffered a drive shaft failure in Q2 that dropped him down the order. The 4th fastest time kept him ahead of the rest of the pack. Hill had a poor start in Q1 and trailed home 7th overall out of 8. But his fortunes changed in Q2 and Q3 by going 2nd fastest in each session. Great starts in each heat gave him the lead. While he couldn’t fully capitalise on that in the final quali session he still jumped up the points standings.

Roberts Vitols is only 1 point back on Hill having finished 3rd in every heat so far. The young Latvian admitted to making some mistakes in the races. He was setting quick times but poor starts in the opening two sessions prevented him from challenging for victory. He is set to use some new tyres tomorrow having run the entire day with 1 set of tyres.

“**** day” is how Derek Tohill described his qualifying so far. Issues with the start, similar to those at Lydden Hill persisted. Other issues with the car combined, with some of those unable to be fixed for tomorrow. The Irish driver will line up on pole in heat 1 tomorrow morning. The track has been regularly watered throughout the hot day giving those in the second race a slightly quicker track. While admitting that the wet track was a disadvantage for the slower drivers who run first, he said it was the only way to race.

“It’s slower, but the track is undriveable in the dust. It’s no enjoyment, you just can’t see anything.” Derek Tohill

A miscommunication in the final session meant he took to the joker lap despite initially missing the entry. A half spin to make the alternate route prevented what he thought could be a session winning time.

“The joker was called and I panicked. I thought it was the last lap and I had to double back.” Derek Tohill

Tristan Ovenden slotted into 6th, one point behind Tohill and 3 ahead of Mark Donnelly. For championship leader Donnelly it was a poor day. He was 5th in Q1 but could only manage a pair of 7th in the remaining sessions. He held up Tohill during Q2 before taking his joker late in the race.

The only driver behind Donnelly was Roger Thomas. The Welsh driver struggled in every session. A stall at the hairpin in Q1 prevented him from getting close to the pack. In Q3 the front drive shaft broke causing him to spin several times before completing the session at reduced pace. An overnight fix should be possible with it seemingly resolving itself before making it back to the paddock.

Q4 is tomorrow morning with the 6-lap final in the evening at Pembrey Circuit.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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