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 206.
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.
1. Dan Lofthouse/Jonny Koonja (Lofthouse Freelander) 2h 24m 11s
2. Paul Garner/Giles Tinkler (GSR V10) 2h 31m 15s
3. Tom Hipkiss/Rich Hipkiss (Milner R5) 2h 35m 36s
4. Phil Ibbotson/Will Jefferson (Metro 6R4) 2h 39m 25s
5. Mike Moran/Tony Coid (AT 4x4 Challenger) 2h 40m 12s
6. Toby Jefferson/Geoff Barlow (GSR 206) 2h 41m 49s
7. Andy Powell/Andrew Graham (Simmbugghini) 2h 49m 19s
8. Paul Myers/Alistair Myers (Land Rover Tornado) 3h 01m 17s
9. Steve Smith/John Griffiths (JRG Clio) 3h 16m 22s