Dan Lofthouse got his Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship season off to the best possible start with a win at the opening round in Radnor forest. Martin Cox took second place with Toby Jefferson taking third.
Conditions on the opening runs of day one were very testing with rain and mist adding to the challenge of the course. Lofthouse took an early lead in his Lofthouse Freelander ahead of Tim Dilworth with Ryan Cooke, who was giving the Milner LRM-1 its BCCC debut, in third. Crews suffering problems early on included Mike Hannak who sheared the shafts on his ex-Bob Seaman Milner R5 and Steve Smith whose Clio lost drive.
The prospect of a battle between Lofthouse and Dilworth ended on run 5 when engine problems forced Dilworth’s Peugeot out of the event. By the end of the first day Lofthouse had built up a lead of almost two minutes over Cooke with Martin Cox in third.
Cooke’s hopes for a good result ended on the first run of day two when the car’s bonnet flew up and then sheared off as it was powering up one of the narrow offroad sections. With the cooling system reliant on the bonnet being fixed in place Cooke decided to retire.
Lofthouse continued to dominate the event, setting the fastest time on each run to win by over three minutes from Cox.
“We had no problems at all,” said Lofthouse. “It’s been a good weekend and the car has been perfect. I enjoyed the tussle with Tim on the first day but once he had retired we backed off a bit to preserve the car. It’s a great start to the championship for us.”
Cox equalled his best-ever BCCC result in second place.
“I couldn’t keep up with the young guys but the retirements have given us a good result,” commented Cox. “The car was pretty faultless, the power steering had some issues which meant it wasn’t operating as well as it should but other than that we had a troublefree weekend. I enjoyed the course and it’s been a good event.”
Toby Jefferson, who had former BCCC driver Gordon Monaghan in the navigator’s seat of his James Law Chemicals-supported GSR, took his best ever BCCC result in third.
Jefferson said: “Gordon gave me some good advice and it helped me push the car more. I’m pleased with the result, it’s a good start to the season. I was a bit worried on day one as we got two punctures early on and only had four spares for the weekend. Fortunately the rest of the event was puncture-free.”
Karl Gudgeon had a successful return to the BCCC with fourth place in his GSR Evo X with Mike Moran using the power of his new Jaguar engine to take fifth.
In the BCCC Trophy championship debutant Richard Keasey won in his Warrior Indy SSG after an event-long battle with the Bristol Street Motors-backed GSR Maxilight of Paul Harris. Alan Thomas rounded off the top three in the Trophy.
“I am delighted with the result and I loved the event,” said Keasey. “The last two runs were a struggle as we only had two wheel drive which made the uphill offroad sections difficult but we got to the finish. I can’t wait for the next round!”
Chris Ratter won the Freelander Challenge after overnight leader Nick Lines was forced out of the event.
In the Clubmans event 2011 and 2012 BCCC Champion Ian Rochelle, who is not contesting the full championship this year, led early on in his Millington Phoenix but he lost drive which put the Milner R5 of Andrew West into the lead, a lead which he held for the rest of the event.
The championship moves to Scotland for the next round with a challenging course being planned at the Forrest Estate venue near Dalry.
1. Dan Lofthouse/Jonny Koonja (Lofthouse Freelander) 1:21:412. Martin Cox/Paul Carson (GSR 206) +3m 23s;
3. Toby Jefferson/Gordon Monaghan (GSR 206) +6m 51s;
4. Karl Gudgeon/Richard Canterbury (GSR Evo X) +10m 57s;
5. Mike Moran/Tony Coid (AT 4x4 Challenger) +11m 25s;
6. Phil Ibbotson/Will Jefferson (Metro 6R4 Evo) +15m 47s;
7. Andy Powell/Richard Heath (Simmbugghini) +16m 41s;
8. Paul Myers/ (Land Rover Special) +21m 14s;
9. Andi Skelley/Laura Shepherd (Land Rover 3M 88) +23m 38s;
10. Ian Bartlett/Aaron Burch (Bartletts 3M 206) +25m 35s.
BCCC Trophy winner: Richard Keasey (Warrior Indy SSG)Freelander Challenger winner: Chris Ratter (Freelander)
Clubman winner: Andrew West (Milner R5)