Rallying

British Rallycross: Patrick O’Donovan scores maiden victory at Pembrey

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

The youngest driver on the grid, Patrick O’Donovan, scored victory in round 3 of the British Rallycross Championship in a commanding drive. He topped every session of the day in Wales and won by nearly 4 seconds.

In the final the front row men all made good starts. O’Donovan was able to hold first from pole position with Derek Tohill slotting into second and Tristan Ovenden also hanging onto his grid spot of third. Through the opening turns the field settled with Julian Godfrey keeping fourth from Steve Hill. Behind Ollie O’Donovan was the only person to gain position by getting up into 6th place ahead of slow starting Bradley Westgarth.

The 2 Mitsubishi’s of Westgarth and Hill dived to the new joker lap immediately. A new sweeping bend cut out the old hairpin leading onto the back straight. Now the detour took that hairpin bend with the normal lap saving a handful of seconds.

Hill quickly closed on the field so when Godfrey jokered a lap later he come out behind the Evo X. Ollie O’Donovan dropped into their clutches and started to hold up the pair. Having suffered fuel and electrical issues all day his pace was affected again in the final. This gave Ovenden a chance to pull clear of the drivers behind to try and hold onto third place.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

On lap 3 Tohill dived to the joker lap looking to get some clear air. The hot and dry day brought plenty of dust which made following a car almost impossible. Patrick responded on the following tour, holding off Tohill. It also gave Ovenden a slender lead, though was yet to joker. Not wanting to be held up, Patrick applied pressure and after running a bit wide Ovenden let the youngster by. At the next opportunity he took his alternate route and dropped back into third place.

Behind, Godfrey had been unable to challenge Hill. However, Hill suffered front right steering failure, possibly a legacy from Lydden Hill. The car ground to a halt through the long left hander and the driver extracted himself from the car. While off the racing line it gave drivers a tough time avoiding, especially with all of the dust. Fortunately all drivers avoided the stationary car and the positions remained static until the end.

Patrick O’Donovan won his first ever British Rallycross event in style. Tohill came home second with Ovenden completing the podium. Godfrey sat fourth ahead of Ollie O’Donovan, struggling with engine issues on the final laps. Westgarth was last of the runners while Hill was the only retirement.

No other cars started the event. Dom Flitney was a late withdrawal from with his Volvo C30 unable to be prepared for the Welsh trip. 

Patrick O’Donovan “It’s crazy the feeling when I was crossing the line. Since I was a child it’s been a dream of mine to make the podium, let alone the top step.”

Derek Tohill “Couldn’t follow in the dust. And lost the clutch on lap 3. Once I lost the clutch it was a case of trying to bring the car home. A day when you have a lot of problems and get second, that’s okay.”

Semi-Final

Patrick O’Donovan was able to stay clear of any drama in the first semi-final. Godfrey was the biggest mover. He jokered early from third place. O’Donovan senior responded on the next lap and came onto the back straight alongside the 7-time champ. The pair came close to contact into the hairpin with Godfrey holding the inside line and the position. Hill quickly tried to defend by taking his detour but it was too late and Godfrey moved into second.

Derek Tohill comfortably won his semi from Ovenden. Westgarth was unable to keep up with the top 2 and had to settle for third.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Qualifying

Patrick O’Donovan topped qualifying after winning both sessions. Starting from pole in Q1 he was able to stay out front, even with a wide moment in the gravel. The time was still good enough for first and meant come Q2 he was on pole again. He held his advantage through the opening corners and Tohill could only follow the young Irishman. 

Tohill was best of the rest in both sessions, even after winning his Q1 heat. An issue with the brakes put him wide costing him a lot of time. Without that he would have been quickest in Q1 and could have easily topped qualifying instead of O’Donovan.

Hill stayed out of trouble to set the third quickest in each session while Ovenden was fourth overall. Godfrey had an eventful qualifying to be down in fifth place. His differential had broken which caused the rear wheels to lock up easily under braking. It hindered his pace and saw him behind Westgarth in Q1. He looked to get better drive onto the back straight and pulled alongside into the braking zone. However, he locked up his rear wheels and spun off onto the grass preventing him from making the pass. The issue remained the entire day but he was able to work around it better and better with each session.

Julian Godfrey “When I brake, it’s like putting the handbrake on. Been like that all day but I learnt to drive around it.”

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Westgarth qualified in sixth place. Despite running manual transmission he was able to keep up with Godfrey and Ollie O’Donovan in Q2, only losing ground at the start. In Q1 he was 5th after other driver’s issues. Ollie O’Donovan’s qualifying was a nightmare thanks to multiple issues. The engine was continually cutting out with both fuel and electrical issues to blame. The team tried to fix the issue but weren’t able to fix it properly through the day.

Points

Derek Tohill takes the championship lead with Oliver Bennett absent from this round. He sits on 68. Patrick jumps up to joint second alongside Bennett on 52. Godfrey sits in fourth with 50 just ahead of Ovenden, Ollie O’Donovan and Steve Hill on 48, 44 and 38 respectively.

Round 4 takes place tomorrow on the reverse, clockwise layout of the Pembrey Circuit. Teams and drivers will be busy tonight preparing for a fresh start tomorrow.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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