British Rallycross: Roberts Vitols wins night race as championship rivals clash.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Vitols won again at Lydden Hill during the championship’s night race. Under the lights the top 2 in the standings came together and has set up a close battle for the championship.

Roberts Vitols drove a commanding race to go from 6th on the grid to win. The young Latvian worked his way through the field using joker his joker strategy. He jokered on lap 2 to get out of traffic and was able to immediately put together a series of strong laps. Once the rest of the field jokered he came out in the lead for the final 3 laps. 

Roberts Vitols “I think I just enjoyed the final. My spotter, the last 2 or 3 laps told me I can slow down but every time I come down to Paddock I just want to throw the car in.”

Behind there was huge drama for the championship leaders. Derek Tohill took an early joker lap on lap 3 and dropped down the order. He had been right behind Ollie O’Donovan who responded on the next lap. The Irish drivers came together on the joker lap exit and O’Donovan drifted onto Tohill’s line. The pair were touching the whole way down the hill to the Devil’s Elbow. In the braking zone O’Donovan hit Tohill’s front bumper and punctured the right rear tyre. He slid wide and onto the grass during the next corner and dropped down. Trying to defend against Ovenden he made contact and suffered a second puncture. Trying to push with only 2 inflated tyres he spun and dropped to last.

Derek Tohill “If Ollie is joining off the joker, the car on the main track has right of way. To come across and push me towards the tractor tire [polystyrene barrier] he actually should get a penalty for that.”

Ollie O’Donovan “I didn’t mind [first] contact with Derek. I was in front of him, and then bang, bang, bang, bang on this corner here. This isn’t rallycross.”

This let Tohill into second with Jack Thorne in his newly acquired Peugeot 208 into 3rd. Thorne, a guest entry for the event, tried to put pressure on Tohill who was suffering with fading brakes from early in the race. With 2 laps to go the power steering also failed and Tohill put up no defence to Thorne who passed easily and without consequence for the championship.

Tristan Ovenden came home in 4th place after a strong series of performances in the afternoon and evening. Steve Hill was close behind in his Mitsubishi Evo 10.

Mike Sellar managed to secure 6th place after the issues that the Team RX Racing pair encountered. On his return to Supercars, Hal Ridge suffered a power steering failure in the final. He was running in 5th with a few laps to go when he was slowed to a crawl. This let O’Donovan get through to 7th with Ridge a lap down in 8th.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport


In the first semi-final it was Thorne who dominated from start to finish. He made the best start and stayed clear of Hill and Ridge on the standard lap. Ovenden was first to the joker with Dom Flitney is his new Volvo C30. There was little on track action with all overtakes down through strategy. Ridge was able to come out ahead of Flitney and relegated the Flitspeed driver to last and out of the final.

In the second semi-final O’Donovan and Tohill made contact immediately with Tohill forced to back off to not risk an off. It gave O’Donovan the lead Sellar the only other drive to follows the leaders in third. Julian Godfrey was ahead of Vitols on the outside of Chessons. Tohill looked to overtake O’Donovan on the next lap when he jokered. However, he came out right behind Godfrey in third place. O’Donovan copied he compatriot the next lap but dropped behind not only Godfrey but also Tohill.

Godfrey looked set to win but suddenly slowed with a fuel pickup issue. His Ford Fiesta spluttered back into life but not before dropping him to third. Coming out of the hairpin he again lost power and dropped down to 4th. Sellar closed quickly on the final transfer spot and was able to make the move with 2 laps to go. Come the checkered flag Godfrey was eliminated from the round in 5th place.

Vitols came home third despite having no power steering, the team only able to get a replacement part between this race and the final.

Roberts Vitols “Last 2 laps my hands were dead. I knew I needed that place for the final.”

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport


Thorne dominated qualifying as well by winning both sessions. He didn’t have it all his own way after a couple of mistakes. Off the start he was slow away in Q1 and was only able to take the lead after Godfrey hit the outside wall of turn 1. In Q2 he survived minor contact with Godfrey that spun the engine builder around. After his issues Godfrey could do no better than 6th overall.

Tohill was Thorne’s closest challenger with a pair of second places. The Irish driver benefitted from Godfrey’s misfortunes to take second on the road. He then made an aggression defensive move against O’Donovan exiting the joker lap before the Team RX Racing driver could get alongside.

Steve Hill made the most of clear air in Q2 to slot into 3rd place overall, tied on points with O’Donovan. Vitols failed to start Q2 after the team looked to fix a power steering issue. This dropped him to last in the standings.

Jack Thorne “Real learning curve but we’re getting there. Starts are the biggest problem at the moment. We’ve paid our money, we’re here to race but I wouldn’t take an unnecessary risk against a championship contender.”

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport


Tohill has now closed to within 3 points of O’Donovan who himself sits on 146. Ovenden has leaped up to third on 127 with Godfrey and Vitols both on 126. The planned final round at Spa-Francorchamps has been officially cancelled. A new season finale is currently being organised with a date and venue to be announced soon. It could mean that whoever leads after tomorrow’s racing will win the championship and all drivers are aware on the need to be in front.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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