British Rallycross: Patrick O’Donovan best of British in France as locals dominate day 1

Patrick O’Donovan ended the opening day of running as highest British runners. The first 3 qualifying sessions were run on Saturday including the last under floodlights. France’s drivers dominated with all the BRX runners down the order.

There was drama aplenty before a wheel was even turned. Overnight some cars had to be modified to pass scrutineering. However, for Derek Tohill and Dom Flitney it took until after practice for their cars to be prepared with both only getting a single lap to get used to the damp track.

Patrick O’Donovan was best of the championship runners in Q1 and Q3. He was forced to rebound after a puncture in Q2 while leading put him in last. His Q3 run saw him go 5th fastest overall, just 2.5 seconds off the front pace. That put him 12th in the standings with 1 heat remaining.

Tohill could only manage 19th in the opening run as he relearnt the track, 10 years after his European Championship victory here. Come Q2 he was back on the pace ending up 13th, a second clear of the other British drivers. Q3 saw the reigning champion make a great start. However, he dropped back through the race crossing the line side by side with a French driver in last. Post race he was disqualified for making contact when exiting the joker lap. This put him down in 25th.

Tristan Ovenden put in a pair of strong times and finds himself on the cusp of a qualification spot to the semi-finals. He had a clear run avoiding trouble. In the night session he looked set to overtake Ollie O’Donovan at the finish. As he exited the joker he ran wide at the final corner allowing the 2007 champion to get to the line first. He is second of the British runners and currently just 1 point away from making the semi-finals.

Ollie O’Donovan was involved in a collision in Q1 with pre-event favourite Yuri Belevskiy. The Swiss racer stalled at the start and set about catching the leading pack. O’Donovan had Belevskiy on his tail for the second half of the race after both jokered early. The Audi driver got the cutback out of the fast right hander at the end of the back straight. He dived up the inside into the final corner but thanks to a touch to the grass then tyre bundle was collected by O’Donovan. The British runner continued on while Belevskiy found himself stuck in the gravel. O’Donovan then used a forceful start in Q3 to take the lead. This would later be penalised and he dropped down the order, now sitting 22nd in points.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

Steve Hill, Flitney and Mike Sellar struggled to match the pace in Q1 on the drying track but progressed through the day and night. Save for slow starts for Sellar and Hill in Q3 they were sticking close to the French drivers. Currently they sit 24th, 26th and 29th respectively with 1 more qualifying session left at the Dreux track.

While others were able to turn their weekend around, Julian Godfrey was forced to sit out. The 6 time champion failed scrutineering due to his fuel tank being out of date, something not required in British Rallycross regulations. A spare couldn’t be sourced and Godfrey will be forced to watch from the side-lines for the remainder of the weekend.

Julien Febreau heads the overall classification overnight. The Peugeot driver has competed at only half of the French Championship rounds this year but won last time out in Mayenne. Sam Peu, currently 3rd, looks set to secure a second succession crown tomorrow. Action continues early tomorrow with Q4. From there only the top 16 will progress through to the semi-finals.

Feature Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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