British Rallycross: Bennett wins again and takes points lead

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Oliver Bennett dominated the second round of the British Rallycross Championship at a packed Lydden Hill circuit. News of the day was that Bennett is registered for the series and has now taken the points lead with a perfect score across the first 2 rounds.

In the final Bennett made the perfect start from pole position to pull a car length clear of second place Derek Tohill. Julian Godfrey got alongside the reigning champion but elected to dive to the joker lap straight away. Patrick O’Donovan just a couple days on from his debut podium slotted into third place on track. Tristan Ovenden followed closely behind and gave a slight nudge on O’Donovan at turn 1 with the young Irishman lightly tapping the inside barrier.

Patrick pulled wide moments later with a snapped gear leaver. That combined with slight misalignment of the front wheel after nudging the barrier, meant he had to stop after 1 further lap.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Steve Hill was the only other driver to take the standard lap at the start. The team had just fixed a valve spring using a piece of shoe lace. The makeshift fix seemed to work wonders as he looked to chase down a podium. Godfrey was closing quickly on the pack with Ollie O’Donovan and Dom Flitney following him into the detour.

Ovenden was forced to stop on lap 3 after the left front toe arm broke. The corner of the car dropped down and he crawled back to the paddock. Hill responded on the following lap but came out behind both Godfrey and Ollie O’Donovan. Flitney was some way behind the trio in his first ever final in the Volvo C30.

Out front the pace was blistering. Bennett and Tohill both set a series of laps in the 41s but it was Bennett who was edging clear. Tohill dived to the joker lap on the penultimate tour while Bennett put his 5th sub 42 second lap on the board. Come the final lap he was 2 seconds clear on the GB1 car and took his second ever Supercar victory.

Tohill remained best of the rest while Godfrey was another 4 seconds back. O’Donovan, Hill and Flitney completed the finishers while Ovenden and Patrick O’Donovan were early retirements.

Derek Tohill “I was gaining time on [Bennett] maybe at the hairpin. There’s other placing he’s itching away. I drove no mistake. Probably as good as I had this weekend”

Julian Godfrey “Good qualifying and semi and final. Very very happy with today. I was lucky that Steve Hill went into the joker, didn’t get held up at all.”


The first semi-final was an all Bennett affair. He got a clean start and kept straight into first. Godfrey followed him into Chessons with Hill, Mike Sellar, Bradley Westgarth and Roger Thomas right behind. Ovenden was the only driver to joker and set about to take a top 4 transfer spot.

Thomas was off the pace having lost drive to a wheel. Between Q2 and the Semi-final his clutch had been changed. However, on the way to the grid a drive shaft had come loose giving him only 3 wheel drive. He tried to push but nearly crashed a few times. In the end he pulled off a couple of laps from home after spinning at the Devil’s Elbow.

Sellar was in a fight with Hill for that all important top 4. He was running 4th on the road right behind the 72-year old but Ovenden was close behind. In a bid to overtake Sellar jokered on lap 3 of 5. Hill felt comfortable and stayed out until the final lap. When he came out he slotted into 4th with a healthy gap between Ovenden in 3rd and Sellar in 5th. Godfrey could do nothing about Bennett but was able to hold off Ovenden by under a second. The remainder of the gaps stayed static and Sellar, Westgarth and Thomas were eliminated. Westgarth was struggling with 4th gear throughout the weekend and a temporary fix on Sunday had resolved it all.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

The second semi-final started in dramatic fashion. Patrick O’Donovan from last squeezed past Flitney off the line to jump up to second, right behind Tohill. Joe Booth also went on the standard lap but quickly dropped behind the leaders in his underpowered Subaru.

Jack Thorne led into the joker lap but as he exited he spun. A front right drive shaft had broken and he was forced into retirement for the second round in a row. He had been saving tyres all weekend for the all important finals but was never able to use them. This gave Ollie O’Donovan 5th with Andy Grant close behind. O’Donovan was able to quickly dispatch of Booth while Grant had to wait a lap until Booth jokered to get past. Booth’s car was running to Retro 4WD regulations and was still using a manual transmission with around 450hp.

Patrick and Tohill responded on lap 3 and 4 respectively to cover off Ollie O’Donovan. Behind, Flitney had a clear gap to Grant and used it to hang onto the last transfer spot for the final. In a relatively uneventful race Tohill won again with the two O’Donovan, Patrick then Ollie, just behind. Grant, Booth and Thorne were eliminated.


Bennett dominated qualifying once again after topping both sessions. He drove clean round the outside of Ovenden at the start of Q1 but had a harder time reaching first in Q2. There, he was squeezed to the inside by Tohill and Ollie O’Donovan but stuck on the GB1 car’s bumper to slot into second. He jokered straight away into clear air and needed just a single lap to beat Tohill out of Chessons.

Tohill was his closest challenger all morning with a pair of second fastest times in part thanks to a clean run in Q1. Godfrey had a return to form in third overall with 2 lots of third place finishes. Ollie O’Donovan had 2 sets of 4th’s to end qualifying in that position.

Ovenden ended qualifying 5th. Having changed a turbo on Saturday he was going strong. Contact between him and Ollie O’Donovan in Q2 saw the pair switch positions on track which Ovenden wasn’t too happy with. However, the stewards saw no need to penalise the contact.

Tristan Ovenden “My spotter didn’t think that the move was on. He’s up the inside, hit the back wheel and it broke the rear arm.”

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Thorne stayed out of trouble to end qualifying in 6th place just one spot ahead of Hill. The pair were running first and second in Q2 where Thorne was able to use the joker strategy to come out ahead.

Flitney just beat Sellar in the points. Sellar was looking to challenge him in Q2 but ran wide at the hairpin costing him at least a few tenths. That time proved invaluable come the joker merge and he was forced to settle for 9th in that session and overall. Grant was next in his Ford Focus ahead of the pair of young racers.

Bradley Westgarth was nursing his car throughout the weekend with gear selection issues in his manual transmission Mitsubishi. He came out 11th thanks in part due to issues for others. Patrick O’Donovan had another terrible qualifying. Each session he stalled the car on the line and wasn’t able to get going for almost 30 seconds each time. In Q1 the car wasn’t in first gear while for Q2 the car simply lost power. He charged round the track but could only manage 14th and 12th. He passed Booth on the final lap of Q2. Each dived to the joker lap at the same moment and almost came together. Patrick took to the grass and overtook in the process. The stewards decided that no penalty was necessary as he had avoided a direct collision.

Thomas was running well in Q1 until he ran wide at Chessons. He returned to the racing line but Ollie O’Donovan right behind the pair made contact. Thomas was fired off the track and re-joined in last. Come Q2 he pulled off immediately with a clutch issue.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Booth was classified last. He missed Q1 with an electrical issue and launched over the line in Q2. He ran wide through the last gravel section just before the chicane. Unable to get it back on line he flew onto the infield, ripping off his front bumper. While he didn’t break the timing beam he had travelled further than the finish line. Thus he was classified in qualifying and able to start the semi-finals.


After it was revealed Bennett is a championship runner it now takes a commanding lead. He hold the maximum score of 52 with Tohill on 45. The rest of the field are far behind with Godfrey on 33, Ollie O’Donovan on 32, Ovenden on 29 and Patrick O’Donovan on 26. Each driver may drop their worst result but in an 11 round championship most drivers will hope to avoid using that so early.

Oliver Bennett has stated he won’t contest a full championship with such a busy schedule of events in Nitro Rallycross and Extreme E. Derek Tohill had been unsure of attending the next round in Pembrey due to it clashing with the RallyX Nordic season opener in Holjes. He is looking to compete in his Ford Fiesta TouringCar. He had stated that good results may persuade him to Pembrey and that if the TouringCar isn’t ready and tested before the weekend in May they won’t be at Holjes.

Oliver Bennett “We’re just doing these 2 one off rounds.”

Derek Tohill “Would be nice if Bennett could come out in his Fiesta. It’s a solid start to the championship. Still love to go up and do Nordic in the TouringCar. Depends if it’s ready or not.”

Several drivers are looking at racing in the first round of Nitro Rallycross at Lydden Hill in June. High entry costs and a potentially large jump being added are likely to dissuade the majority from competing. Before then, British Rallycross will visit Pembrey in 4 weeks time before a trip to Ireland in early June.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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