British Rallycross: Patrick O’Donovan supreme in France to put one hand on the trophy

Patrick O’Donovan showed he could match the lightning French pace at Dreux while his rivals all failed to advance to the semi-finals. It puts him at an almost unassailable lead only needing to start at Lydden to secure the crown.

O’Donovan Jnr was the only 5 Nations BRX runner to make it through to the semi-finals. A lowly 15th place in the morning session was enough to put him through in 14th. In his semi-final he survived carnage at the start to vault up the order. The 18 year old went from 7th on the grid in his semi final to 3rd out of turn 2. He held position at the launch but through the opening corners chaos ensued. A pair of drivers went wide at turn 1 with another pair getting tangled together at turn 2. Patrick went around the outside into third. Belevskiy in fifth looked set to make positions before being spun out of contention. 

Patrick was able to hold position just keeping Fabien Chanoine at bay. It meant he made it all the way to the final. There he managed to climb up to fifth place at the start, at one point looking set to take third before being pushed wide onto the grass. From there he kept pace with the French drivers and brought it home in fifth, right on the tail of Damien Meunier. It was Samuel Peu who won in front of a packed crowd. He had secured the championship title in the semi-finals with Meunier ending the year second.

Patrick O’Donovan “It was good. It’s nice to race with the French, their competition so close. Really happy with the pace. After an unfortunate puncture in heat 2 we had a lot to recover from. Our heat 3 was strong, I broke the gearbox in heat 4. New gearbox [in Semi-final].”

Derek Tohill started in the final heat alongside Q2 & Q4 winner Yuri Belevskiy. He followed the Swiss racer and was able to post the 9th fastest time in the session. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the reigning champion and he dropped out in 19th position in the final standings. One place behind was Tristan Ovenden. The Kent racer put in a consistent run through each session and wound up tied on points with Tohill.

Tristan Ovenden “Nice to come somewhere else. Well run meeting. We’ve gone backwards performance wise [over the weekend]. The last heat wasn’t very good. Not a great start, bit of a mess. In hindsight jokered at the wrong time [in Q4]. Overall we’ve had the most consistent run.”

Derek Tohill “If it wasn’t for Q3 we would have been in the semis. Amazing event, super competitive. Clean racing, very strict regulations. That’s how it should be. Nice to be mixing it with the ex-factory cars. We should be better next time.”

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

The remaining British runners brought up the bottom of the timing sheets. Ollie O’Donovan, Steve Hill, Dom Flitney and Mike Sellar held 24th through 27th place, only ahead of two locals. In an almost all British Q4 race, Hill passed O’Donovan on track while Sellar got by Flitney using the joker.

It unfortunately meant an early end to the weekend for almost all the runners. Points were allocated as if French competitors weren’t there. Due to Tohill’s disqualification it saw him drop down the order as among a smaller group of cars it affected the points more. Patrick took maximum points including 6 for the semi-final and now sits on 189 points. The remainder of the field only scored qualifying and final points with Ovenden in second and Ollie O’Donovan third. Hill, Flitney and Sellar all pipped Tohill thanks to the Irishman’s none score.

Patrick now sits 50 points clear of Julian Godfrey with the 6-time champion still holding second. It means O’Donovan only needs to start either of the final rounds without being disqualified to claim the championship. The battle for second is close with Ovenden just 6 behind Godfrey and Tohill another 9 back.

The season finale will take place at Lydden Hill in 3 weeks time. The Saturday final will take place under floodlights. A large contingent of Supercars in expected with at least 3 new cars and drivers to the series set to race. With the French championship concluded this weekend it is possible some drivers may extend their season to one more race at the Kent track.

Image Credit: Overtake Motorsport

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