Rallying

British Rallycross: Vitols stalls then wins rain affected final

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Roberts Vitols came back after stalling at the start having accidentally switched his car off. He charged back through the field and benefitted from mistakes and issues with his rivals to score his second Supercar win.

In the final it was poleman Ollie O’Donovan who took the lead into turn 1. Tristan Ovenden looked to take second but Steve Hill took the place with a late braking move into the first corner. Mike Sellar was 4th after an impressive start with the DS3 driver still getting used to the track. Mark Donnelly slotted in just behind after fending off an attack from Derek Tohill. Young Latvian, Vitols was left on the line when he mistakenly shutoff the car while activating the anti-lag system and got going around 7 seconds back on the field.

Donnelly led Tohill into the joker lap but slowed around the hairpin. A misfiring engine slowed the reigning champion who decided to retire the car to save the engine. Julian Godfrey had retired from the semi-finals with engine failure and didn’t make it to the grid in the final.

At the beginning of lap 2 O’Donovan dipped a wheel on the outside of turn 1. The paint recently soaked from rain was super slippery and sent the Irish driver around. A 360 degree spin dropped him down to 3rd. As he rejoined the track Sellar spun in reaction and flew into the gravel trap. He wasn’t able to get out and sat there the remainder of the race.

Hill became the new leader and looked to extend his advantage over the field with Ovenden holding off O’Donovan behind. Vitols was quickly closing on the leading trio running 2 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else. At the end of lap 3, 3rd place O’Donovan dived to the joker lap in a bid to overtake Ovenden. Instead when Vitols jokered the following lap he came out ahead of the Irishman in 3rd place.

On lap 4 the leader Hill suffered a front drive shaft failure while approaching the joker lap. He pulled to the outside lane denoted by traffic cones. The fast approaching Ovenden tried to follow the leader in but took avoiding action and hit a cone. Through the chaos it was Vitols who took the race lead. O’Donovan was clear of the chasing pack in 2nd but the final spot on the podium was still up for grabs.

Hill was third through the opening corners but once back on the dirt the Mitsubishi driver spun with only rear wheel drive. Ovenden inherited 3rd with Tohill on his bumper throughout the final lap. He couldn’t pass giving Ovenden his second podium finish of the year while Hill was last of the runners in 5th.

“While turning on ALS I accidentally clicked the ignition button off. Pressing the pedals nothing’s happening, dash went blank. Then just 6 laps, put my head down. Three times I almost lost in [turn 1] where Sellar spun around, almost spun as well.” Roberts Vitols

Semi-Finals

O’Donovan and Vitols won their respective semi-finals to line up on the front row of the grid. In the first semi O’Donovan used pole position to his advantage to keep the rest of the field at bay. Ovenden was shuffled back to last place out of turn 1 but waited until the final lap to joker and with it secured second place. He was helped when Tohill crashed on the final lap. On the exit of the gravel section the Fiesta driver slid wide and clipped the outside wall. He was spun around losing both his front bumper and rear wing in the process. This gave Donnelly 3rd place as well.

Godfrey crept forward before the lights went out but not to set off the sensors. However, when they went out he bogged down and dropped to last. Vitols held first with Hill second and Sellar last though Hill jokered straight away with Godfrey. The pair quickly closed in on Sellar who was passed then jokered himself. With just over a lap to go Godfrey’s engine expired and he stopped on the grass with his day and weekend subsequently over. Vitols had already covered Hill by this point and won with Sellar in last.

Qualifying

O’Donovan won qualifying after topping Q2. For this weekend only 2 qualifying sessions are being run to not wear out the Supercars too much. In the first session it was Vitols who topped the time after setting a series of fastest laps after a lap 1 joker lap. This gave him the initial points advantage but a slow start in Q2 saw him drop down to last. He wasn’t able to make progress and stayed last in his race, though was good enough for 4th overall. It meant O’Donovan leap frogged him into first overall with Vitols doing enough to stay second in the intermediate standings. 

Tohill was 3rd in qualifying just ahead of Godfrey with the pair staying issue free through the morning. Ovenden slotted in just behind in 5th after admitting he wasn’t pushing enough during qualifying. Sellar struggled for pace and suffered a spin during Q2. He wasn’t able to get going quick enough and was classified as a DNF.

Mark Donnelly was absent from the opening heat race after suffering a fire in practice. A fuel sample line had broken spilling fuel over the hot engine which immediately burst into flames. The car was repaired quickly though not in time for Q1. He then suffered with some pace in Q2 yet won his race. Steve Hill missed the grid for Q2 after an oil pipe broke. It was a simple fix but came and just the wrong time to make it out on track.

“When you see the flames initial reaction is just get the extinguishers. Luckily we did and the marshals put the car out straight away, fair dues to them. We missed the first heat but the guys got it ready for that next one.” Mark Donnelly

Points

O’Donovan and Vitols remain 1 point apart at the top of the standings but have extended their lead over the rest. Godfrey sits 3rd on 86 but will not be able to race tomorrow after his engine failure. Tohill is just 2 behind and Ovenden a further point back after Donnelly dropped to 5th in the standings.

 

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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