2013 Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship
champion Dan Lofthouse rounded off a perfect season with another win in the
final round at Walters Arena.
On a very muddy and slippery opening run the top three BCCC
crews were separated by just three seconds with Toby Jefferson leading ahead of
Lofthouse and Martin Cox . Cox’s hopes of finishing runner-up in the
championship were ended on run two though when the engine failed in his GSR
Torrential rain made parts of the course treacherous but the
crews battled on with Jefferson, Tom Hipkiss and Lofthouse sharing fastest
times on Saturday’s five runs. Lofthouse ended day one just over two minutes
ahead of Hipkiss with Karl Gudgeon in third.
With both Hipkiss and Gudgeon suffering steering problems on
day two Lofthouse was able to extend his lead over the day’s six runs and he
finished with a lead of seven minutes.
“It was a tough event, very hard on both the car and the
crew,” said Lofthouse. “We started on worn tyres but after a big moment at the
jump on an early run we put new ones on which greatly improved the grip.”
“We had no issues with the car and no punctures, it’s a
great end to what has been a perfect season.”
Paul Garner put in some great times on Sunday to pip Hipkiss
for second on the final run. Garner’s co-driver Giles Tinkler said: “We’re
happy with the result, we battled on through the conditions and got to the
finish with no problems.”
Despite dropping to third Hipkiss was delighted with his
performance: “It’s my best-ever BCCC result, second would’ve been even better
but third is excellent. I enjoyed the course, it was very demanding and we had
a few issues with the steering over the weekend. We managed to fabricate a
temporary fix which allowed us to get to the finish.”
Another driver celebrating his best-ever BCCC result was
Phil Ibbotson who brought his Metro 6R4 home in fourth.
“It’s my 30th year of racing and this is my
highest BCCC finish,” said Ibbotson. “I don’t usually like the Walters course
but this one was enjoyable in a sadistic kind of way! The car ran like a dream”.
Rounding off the top five was Mike Moran who was another driver
having problems with his steering. Toby Jefferson ended up sixth after his good
start, his car requiring to be nursed to the finish after suffering a damaged
frame.Andy Powell was seventh, a good
achievement in a car whose windscreen wipers stopped working. Powell had to
operate the wipers manually with a piece of string which slowed him
considerably in the awful conditions.Paul Myers and Steve Smith were the remaining finishers, both
experiencing problems on day two.
Non-finishers included Ian Bartlett who rolled his car on
the final run of day one and Andi Skelley who had electrical problems on his
new Milner part way through day two. In the Trophy championship Paul Harris took the win in his
Bristol Street Motors-supported GSR Maxilight ahead of Alan Thomas which meant
he retained the BCCC Trophy title.
“I’m over the moon to win the title again, I didn’t think it’d
be possible to win it twice. It’s been a difficult weekend, the conditions
caused the car windows to steam up a lot which made visibility poor but we got
to the finish.”
Matthew Morgan won the Freelander Challenge category with
Nick Lines in second. In the Clubman class Jon Damrel was victorious in his
Land Rover Tornado. Chris Bird led the Clubman event after the first run with a
time that was quicker than the BCCC crews but his event ended with a broken
diff on run two.
The 2014 championship will start in April with details
expected to be announced at the Autosport show in January.
The final round of this year’s Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship takes place at Walters Arena in South Wales next weekend with several crews in with a chance of taking the runner’s up position behind title victor Dan Lofthouse.
Lofthouse has won all four rounds so far this year to take an unbeatable lead in the championship. Currently lying in second place is Toby Jefferson on 285 points despite a broken throttle cable on the last round dropping him down the leaderboard.
“The throttle cable problem was unfortunate but we were still able to finish”, said Jefferson. “The car has a little bit of body damage from the last round but it won’t affect the performance at Walters.”
“It’s all to play for going into the last round, we’re aiming to maintain second place but with our consistently good results we’re potentially going to have to drop more points than others when our best four scores are counted so we need to finish as high as we can and hope we’re far enough ahead of the other drivers. It’s going to be a great end to what has been an excellent season, good luck to all the crews and thanks to all the marshals and organisers.”
Just 9 points behind Jefferson is Britpart’s Paul Myers who has had a good season in his Land Rover Tornado. A further 12 points behind lies Mike Moran in his Jaguar-powered AT 4x4 Indy Challenger. Moran has had a consistent season and a repeat of the podium finish he achieved in 2012 is a definite possibility. The current fifth and sixth place drivers Andy Powell and Ian Bartlett are separated by just one point on 252 and 251 respectively.
Martin Cox presently lies in eighth place in his GSR 206 but after not finishing the Forrest Lodge round he can keep all the points he scores at Walters and could pass everyone to finish second.
Hoping for a better event than the last round is Andi Skelley. His newly-purchased Milner suffered problems with the clutch on the first run at Myherin forcing Skelley and navigator Laura Shepherd to retire.
“Myherin was hugely disappointing. After two years of running the old faithful Land Rover we decided to go for an upgrade but it let us down,” said Skelley. “The bellhousing is now being reworked so hopefully we will be on form for Walters. It’s one of my favourite tracks and we’re looking for a good run to prepare for next season. I’d like to say a big thank you to all concerned in running and helping the championship who make it possible for us to have our fun.”
In the Trophy championship Paul Harris leads the field on 322 points in his Bristol Street Motors-supported GSR Maxilight despite transfer problems on the last event. Mark Jacques is second on 295.
“The transfer box has been completely rebuilt since the last round, we’ve still to fit it in the car but it should be ready for Walters,” commented Harris. “Our target for the weekend is to get a good finish which will mean we retain the Trophy championship that we won last year.
“We’re then hoping to move up to the main championship next year if we can secure the funding. Thanks to all involved for the hard work in running the championship.”
The Freelander Challenge has a two-way battle for the title with Matthew Morgan just 12 points ahead of Chris Ratter going into the final round.
The action starts at 10am on Saturday with a full day of competition. Day two will start at 9am with the final run expected early in the afternoon. Spectator parking will be available near the service area and the venue will be arrowed from the A4109. Please visit www.marches4x4.com for more information.