Sunday, 9 June 2013

Lofthouse battles fuel issue to take victory at Forrest Estate

Dan Lofthouse made it two wins out of two in the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship when he won the event at Forrest Estate in South West Scotland.

The organisers had laid on a very challenging course of nearly nine miles in length and the unusually hot and dry conditions tested crews even before the event started with some of them regretting the decision to walk the course!

The first run of the day saw Lofthouse take a commanding lead of 55 seconds in his Lofthouse Freelander with Mike Hannak’s Milner R5 in second and Tom Hipkiss third. Hannak continued to be Lofthouse’s nearest challenger until his car lost drive on the fourth run. Other crews joining Hannak on the retirements list included Karl Gudgeon who had the oil cooler pipe come off, Phil Ibbotson who bent a trackrod end on his 6R4 Evo and Ryan Cooke who had a puncture which resulted in a flailing tyre, a broken hub and suspension and damaged bodywork on his Milner LRM-1.

Lofthouse set the fastest time on all six of day one’s runs to go into the overnight halt with a good lead over Britpart’s Paul Myers in second and Paul Garner who moved up the leaderboard into third.

Lofthouse’s hopes for a troublefree run to victory on day two were thwarted when the car developed a fuelling issue on the third run. Frantic efforts were made in the service area to identify and then fix the problem. With his final run time deadline approaching Lofthouse had to do back to back laps and he started his last run with just four minutes to spare but he completed the course successfully.

“The lads in service did a brilliant job to get the problem sorted,” said Lofthouse. “A few more minutes and we’d have had to take a maximum for the last run which would’ve cost us the win. It was a very challenging course, a real test of car and crew and I’m very happy with the victory.”

Garner moved up to second in his GSR V10 with Myers rounding off the top three. Mike Moran took his Jaguar-powered AT 4x4 Challenger to fourth with father and daughter team Toby and Megan Jefferson in fifth.

“We had a good event in the end,” said Jefferson. “The weekend started badly with a puncture on the trailer when we were driving to the venue and then I wasn’t feeling too great when we walked the course. Megan did a brilliant job in the navigator’s seat and I’m happy with fifth although I struggled to get on with the course, it was very tough.”

Andy Powell was sixth in his Simmbugghini with Ian Bartlett in seventh. Steve Smith overcame a seized diff on his Clio early on Saturday to finish eighth and Tom Hipkiss battled back from a shedded tyre and crank sensor problem to take ninth. Andi Skelley completed the top ten in his Land Rover 3M 88.

In the Trophy class Richard Keasey and Paul Harris continued where they left off at Radnor, both drivers setting fastest times on day one. However, Keasey suffered a crank pulley problem which put him out of the event leaving Harris to claim the victory.

“It’s great to get the win and, with the second we got at Radnor, we’re in a good position in the Trophy championship,” said Harris. “It’s been a tough event, the course was physically very difficult to drive. Other than a couple of punctures we had no issues with the car and, once Richard had retired, it was a case of surviving and getting to the finish.”

Alan Thomas finished second in the Trophy with Mark Jaques completing the top three.

Andrew West won the Clubman event in a time which would’ve placed him sixth in the BCCC. Matthew Morgan won the Freelander Challenge ahead of Ian Letman.

BCCC Results:

1. Dan Lofthouse/Jonny Koonja (Lofthouse Freelander) 2:33:39
2. Paul Garner/Giles Tinkler (GSR V10) +9m 41s;
3. Paul Myers/Simon Kerfoot (Land Rover Tornado) +10m 58s;
4. Mike Moran/Tony Coid (AT 4x4 Challenger) +13m 32s;
5. Toby Jefferson/Megan Jefferson (GSR 206) +16m 45s;
6. Andy Powell/Richard Heath (Simmbugghini) +27m 23s;
7. Ian Bartlett/Aaron Burch (Bartletts 3M 206) +43m 07s
8. Steve Smith/John Griffiths (JRG Clio) +50m 18s;
9. Tom Hipkiss/Rich Hipkiss (Milner R5) +51m 08s;
10. Andi Skelley/Laura Shepherd (Land Rover 3M 88) +57m 38s.

BCCC Trophy winner: Paul Harris (GSR Maxilight)
Freelander Challenger winner: Matthew Morgan (Freelander)
Clubman winner: Andrew West (Milner R5)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Forrest Lodge next up for BCCC crews

Round 2 of the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship takes place next weekend at the Forrest Lodge venue near St.John’s Town of Dalry in South West Scotland.

After switching to the southern part of Forrest Lodge last year this year’s course will return to the northern end of the site and will use a similar route to the one used in 2009. The course will have a mix of Cat 1 gravel roads and offroad sections together with a quarry near the end.

Leading the championship after the first round is Dan Lofthouse on 86 points. After early competition from Tim Dilworth ended with engine problems on Dilworth’s car Lofthouse took a convincing win at Radnor. Martin Cox finished second and has 81 points with Toby Jefferson in third on 75. Jefferson’s daughter Megan will be in the navigator’s seat for Forrest Lodge, it will be her first BCCC event.

After problems with punctures at Radnor which cost him a lot of time Ian Bartlett has swapped tyre brands for Forrest Lodge and he’s hoping the stronger sidewalls of his new tyres will reduce the risk of punctures.

In the Trophy class Richard Keasey leads the championship after winning a close battle with Paul Harris at round 1. Defending champion Harris is keen to overturn that result next weekend in his Bristol Street Motors-supported GSR Maxilight.

Fresh from representing Race2Recovery at the Jim Clark rally last weekend Chris Ratter will be trying to repeat his round 1 win in the Freelander Challenge. He has also been hard at work repairing the Freelander of Ian Letman which rolled at Radnor.

The action on Saturday will kick off at 10am and, other than any stoppages to recover broken cars, there will be racing until around 5pm. Sunday’s competition will start at 9am with the event finishing early in the afternoon. Limited spectator parking is available in the picnic area at the entrance to the venue, please do not park on the verges on the access roads. The venue will be arrowed from the A713.