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Bonkers Renault Kangoo

31st January 2017 — by Black Flagged

I love a van,  I can’t lie. Despite getting to drive some decent cars throughout my time in the motoring press, there is just something about a good van that really floats my boat.

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Now imagine my  excitement when I caught this video of this bonkers Renault Kangoo built by  the Andersson brothers on the Bilsport website

The stock 1.5 dci engine has been cast aside and replaced with a Mercedes OM606 turbo diesel engine. To us laymen thats a 3.0-litre, straight 6, turbo charged beast, that came in the Mercedes W210. The brothers haven’t left it stock, they’ve changed  the turbo and now have the executive car engine screaming out an impressive 4-500hp

To cope with the power, the rear axle of the  French mini-van has been switched to a tried and tested Volvo 940 set up

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Source: Bilsport

 

Topic

Welcome to a Rally Stage

26th January 2017 — by Ruben Langa

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"A rally is beyond a competition, it is an opportunity to spend a weekend with our loved ones."

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Welcome to a rally stage, this is beyond a competition, it is an opportunity to spend a weekend with your loved ones. Whether with friends or your family, it is the perfect opportunity to kick back & relax together. It all kicks off with finding the perfect camping spot on the mountain ready for the upcoming action. On arrival you are able to take in the stage at night, looking for the best bend & the closest place to it to camp. The night before the rally action, dinner discussions are always full of stories from other rallies, the fear of what could happen in the runnings & even upcoming events, the topic of the conversations build up the excitement on what is to come.

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The following morning will see the army of fans that have chosen to camp being awoken by the mountain’s peculiar surroundings. Many will be greeted by the sounds of cows and sheep, and eventually the familiar sound of horns and engines… each rally is a world of its own!

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After a good breakfast & finding a safe place to put your chair ready to watch, the chants start. This is followed with a continuous flow of stories of other rallies, with all fans & lovers of the same thing all chatting away & sharing a few beers. It is an awesome thing to be a part of and is only interrupted by the sound of an engine approaching at full chat.

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This is followed by a cacophony of horns and screams from bend to bend, encouraging the drivers to push the limits even further! No matter if you drive a Porsche 911 or a Saxo VTS, if it goes fast, the people go crazy.

As each participants tears past, it is an amazing opportunity to see and photograph incredible cars, and at times some truly epic classics.

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After the drivers have had their first run on the stage, feeding time approaches, the camping gas fires and the smell of cooking meat all becomes part of the landscape. But this is a brief break from the action & there is not much time to lose, the second run for each driver begins and nobody wants to miss the action. Within minutes, the action resumes & all eyes are on the course for another session. The crowds give equal cheers of encouragement for the cars passing by, regardless of who is first or last.

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There are however always accidents that remind us that it is not a game and the importance of choosing a good site to watch from. As fun as it is, you have to be safe.

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Do not be put off or discouraged by the potential dangers, a rally is an incredible experience and one I highly encourage you to be a part of. You can enjoy this sport if you stay safe.

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With this post I am hoping to persuade as many of you as possible to attend a rally, not only a WRC stage, but also your local rallies which are perfect opportunities to see great professionals running with incredible cars, spectacular classics and you will be surprised by some awesome landscapes. Not to mention its also a great opportunity to spend a weekend with friends without shelling out a fortune.

 

Reviews

The Abarth 124 Rally

25th January 2017 — by Dave Cox

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There is something about Rally Cars that seems get under people’s skin. Perhaps it is the heritage and romance or just the raw pace and sounds. There is no denying, they have a broad appeal.

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As I alluded to in our coverage of Autosport International I came across a special little car that stopped me in my tracks. Now I know there will be some of you expecting me to go on and talk about an aired out, wide body Ferrari or a gold Bugatti but I’m not. What I am talking about is a 1,8 litre Italian sports car built in Japan. But this car is really, rather special.

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You see, it has been some 40 years since the original Abarth 124 Spider last competed in the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally and now it is back, dedicated to those who share the same challenge and racing values. This version is based on the Abarth 124 road car, the more aggressive version of Fiat’s 124. The Rally version has replaced the standard 1.4 turbo engine and replaced it with a 1.8 direct injection turbo engine. This adds a nice boost in power from 178bhp to 296bhp at 6500rpm!

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Now we’re talking! Couple that to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox and this red and yellow bar of soap is going to get lively real quick! Weight is biased towards the rear and it has quick steering and a mechanical limited slip-differential. So when it gets sideways, and it will, you can keep it there. Other changes have been to the exterior too, gone is the soft top and in is the new composite hard top to help keep the centre of gravity low.

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I also really appreciate the styling tribute to the original Abarth 124. The colour scheme look as good now as it did back the, the yellow over fenders, the rally lights it is all lovingly recreated in memory of the original. It is this subtle detailing that really shows how much love there is for this sport. I adore this car, I really wish I could have seen it at the Monte Carlo Rally that happened this January.

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What was your car of the show?

Words and Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)

Event

Rear View Mirror 2016

14th December 2016 — by Steve White

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It pains me to admit it, but sometimes there are very rare occasions when motorsport isn’t the most important thing in life. I’m immensely proud of everything I have achieved this year but, in order to fit it all in, compromises had to be made with regards to the number of motorsport excursions I was able to make in 2016.

Knowing that I’d be unable to attend the quantity of events I wanted, my focus for this year instead shifted to ensuring that the quality of those outings I could make was as high as possible.

Despite the aforementioned compromises, I was at least able to get 2016 underway in the usual fashion: with rallycross of course! Round 2 of the British Rallycross Championship  also constituted part of the Belgian Rallycross Championship, so there were good entry numbers throughout the multiple Championship classes.

It was great to see the return of several British Championship stalwarts alongside a number of fresh faces. There was a notably high rate of attrition in the Supercar category, with several of the title favourites encountering difficulties throughout the day.

As the familiar names fell by the wayside, it was Supercar rookie Dan Rooke who made his way to the front of the field and went on to take the win. With Lydden marking his second podium finish in as many rounds, it was an early indication that Rooke was going to be one to watch.

From the mixed surfaces of Lydden, my next stop for 2016 was the hallowed tarmac of Brands Hatch for the first round of the British GT Championship. British GT seems to be in great health at the moment, with each round of the National Championship attracting large and varied entries. The presence of several BMW Z4’s on the grid at Brands really served as the icing on the cake, as I just can’t get enough of BMW Motorsports hardcore take on Barbie’s favourite Bimmer.

The opening British GT round gave me my first chance to see the GT3 variant of the Lamborghini Huracan in the metal and I liked it. I liked it a lot. The sound wasn’t quite on par with my beloved Z4 GT3 but, in terms of looks, the Huracan definitely gives the BMW a run for its money.

Barely a month had passed since my British GT outing when I found myself heading back to Brands to once again savour the sights and sounds of GT3 cars. The second round of the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup marked a rather significant milestone in the history of GT3 racing: it was 10 years to the weekend since the competitive debut of the class. The success of GT3 was reflected in the entry list, which was far greater in size than it had been on past visits to Brands Hatch.

As well as a packed main grid, the 2016 Blancpain round at Brands also boasted a much fuller support package than previous years. The Sport Club race was hugely entertaining, though it was the cars of the Hyperclub that proved the biggest draw to spectators. Not only were there a plethora of exotics present in the paddock, but many of them were taken out on track for a damn good thrashing.

Mettet would be one of three World Rallycross Championship rounds I was able to attend in 2016 and Belgium was the first occasion I could lay eyes on the M-Sport Ford Focus RS RX. I personally rate the M-Sport Fiesta as the best looking car in the current crop of rally and rallycross cars, so I was eager to see how the Focus compared.

Hoonigan Racing team mates Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud were both plagued by technical gremlins but, amidst the problems, glimpses of the true capability of the car could be seen.

Few were surprised to see the big names at the front end of the field in the World Championship races, but it was the success of the younger drivers in the European Championship battles that caught many by surprise. Defending European Champion Tommy Rustad looked outpaced by the likes of Joni-Pekka Rajala and Kevin Hansen. Much like Dan Rooke, Kevin Hansen was a name that rallycross spectators would become very familiar with in 2016.

Round four of the World Rallycross Championship took place at Lydden Hill just a fortnight after Belgium. Andreas Bakkerud demonstrated how rapidly development of the Focus RS RX was progressing, with a surge of pace that saw him qualify on the back row of the final. Mechanical woes would prevent him from challenging for a podium spot, but it was a clear sign that Bakkerud was ready to enter the fray as a serious title challenger.

Petter Solberg just pipped Matias Ekstrom to victory at Lydden last year and it looked like he would do the same again in 2016, with Solberg falling just short of a perfect set of qualifying races and absolutely blitzing the field in his semi-final. Ekstrom is a wily opponent though and in the final he edged out Petter by the narrowest of margins to take his third successive win of the season.

There were a plethora of Americas finest to ogle at American Speedfest IV but, for the second year in a row, it was the brutal Formula 5000 machinery that stole the show for me. The raw simplicity of these cars illustrates everything that is wrong with the current crop of premier open wheel racing cars.

I was unable to get my Le Mans fix in 2015 and the withdrawal hit me hard, so I was desperate not to miss out again in 2016. Le Mans never fails to disappoint and there was close racing throughout the classes, however it was the fight in LMP1 that proved most memorable. 12 hours in and the top three were just seconds apart. In the latter stages of the race the number 5 Toyota managed to stretch out a slim lead and victory looked assured…

…but with just 6 minutes to go, the TS050 began to slow, before grinding to a halt by the pit wall. The ending of the 2016 24 hours of Le Mans was absolutely heart breaking to watch, where even rival teams expressed sympathy for the distraught Japanese manufacturer. Still, although Porsche may have stood on the top step of the podium, the unclassified Toyota is the car I’ll remember.

My list of “must see” car shows has slowly dwindled over the years, but the Festival of Speed is one of the few exceptions. Even after a decade of attendance, I still cite it as an essential weekend for any motorsport fan. Virtually every discipline is represented in some form and, whatever your preference, I guarantee there will be at least one vehicle there to excite you.

As the car that ignited my passion for motorsport, watching Ryan Champion slide his Group A Impreza around the (critically underrated) Goodwood Forest Rally Stage was my personal highlight of the day. I’m sure many people in attendance were cursing the grey skies, but as the precipitation greatly reduced the grips levels on the rally stage, I was silently praising the wet stuff.

I considered myself very fortunate to get an invitation to the inaugural 6R4.net track day in 2015, so I was flattered to be invited back again in 2016. The formula of the event remained largely unchanged from 2015 but, given how much I had enjoyed that, I wasn’t complaining!

Heavy showers during the afternoon did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the drivers and the cars continued to run in the driving rain. It was a privilege to be able to watch the owners put these valuable classics through their paces and I was especially grateful to them for continuing to show off despite the slippery track conditions.

The August Bank Holiday round of the British Rallycross Championship has been a mainstay of my annual motorsport agenda for a decade now and, as long as it continues to deliver great racing, rallycross will always be my priority.

Proving that his win at round 2 was no fluke, Dan Rooke took a lights-to-flag victory in the Supercar final at round 6. Rooke maintained his form at the subsequent round of the Championship, where he claimed second place and, with it, the 2016 British Rallycross Championship. Dan is the youngest ever driver to take the British Championship and I hope we see him back to defend his title – and perhaps even challenge some of Europe’s finest – in 2017.

As the World Rallycross Championship passed its midpoint, the Championship battle was impossible to call. Petter Solberg arrived at round 8 in Loheac as the points leader, but he was unable to match the pace of his closest rival, Mattias Ekstrom, and by the end of the qualification stage Ekstrom had reduced the point deficit between the title rivals to zero.

Neither Ekstrom nor Solberg would set foot on the podium though. With Ekstrom failing to make it past the semi-final stage, Johan Kristoffersson fended off all challengers and led the final from start to finish. The damp conditions produced the best days racing I have seen at Loheac and made for a great conclusion to my World Rallycross Championship attendance in 2016.

World Rallycross weekends have consistently been the highlight of my motorsport expeditions over the last few years and I’m desperate to fit as many of them as possible into 2017.

As the summer drew to a close, it became apparent that my year had been rather lacking in two wheeled motorsport, but a trip to Swingfield in September was to rectify that. Not only was I able to check out some very sideways motorcycles, but the program at the European Grasstrack Final also incorporated two classes of sidecars as well.

The solo riders were fantastic to watch, but it was the sidecars that made the biggest impression. Watching a 1000cc sidecar tearing up a field is an incredible spectacle and I am certain that my first visit to a grasstrack event won’t be my last.

With the end of the season looming, I had just enough time left to sneak a visit in to my most local motocross track, Canada Heights, for the final round of the British Sidecarcross and Quad Championship. The sidecars here may not have been quite as rapid (or sideways) as their grasstrack counterparts, but what they lacked in speed they made up for with altitude.

However the highest fliers of the day were undoubtedly the quad riders. I briefly rode a quad on the flat and felt that a trip to casualty was an inevitability, so I have a great deal of respect for the British Quad Championship riders. Flinging a quad through the trees is a tricky task in itself: and that is before you factor in the other 30 lunatics all trying to do the same thing!

My final outing of the year was a slight deviation to the norm in that it concerned virtual, rather than physical, racing. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to drop into Codemasters studio in Southam and I returned again in late November for another behind the scenes look at proceedings.  Much awesomeness was demonstrated and many cool things were seen: but that’s about all I’m legally allowed to tell you!

Despite containing far less motoring content than I would have liked, 2016 has definitely been a year where quality has triumphed over quantity. When compiling end-of-year reviews in the past I have often omitted events that have fallen short of my expectations, but everything I attended this year has seemed worthy of mention.

Typically I would bemoan the lack of motorsport over the winter, but I’m actually rather grateful for it this year: the more work I can do during the quiet spell now, the more events I should be able to fit into 2017!

 

Want to see more? Click here for the full albums from 2016.

Event

British Rallycross Championship Round 6 – Lydden Hill

13th September 2016 — by Steve White

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Every round in a race Championship is significant, but the way drivers choose to approach a given event can vary immensely. In the latter stages of a Championship consistency often becomes more crucial than outright pace. For those chasing the leader every remaining round must be attacked as hard as possible in to reduce the point deficit, whereas those out front will seek to take as few risks as possible in order to preserve their lead.

As the British Rallycross Championship nears the end of its current season several drivers are now within sight of their respective class titles, so there were clearly mixed approaches being taken by the field at round 6 of the Championship.

One of the drivers keen to preserve his position was Dan Rooke. Dan’s remarkable performance in his debut year at the helm of rallycross Supercar has seen him claim a Championship lead which the more seasoned competitors have been unable to wrestle back from him.

Having won round 2 back in March, Rooke has a 100% success rate at Lydden in a rallycross Supercar. The last two August rallycross meets at Lydden have both been won by Ollie O’Donovan and, with thirteen Supercars entered in the class, both Ollie and Dan would have a full grid to fend off if they hoped to be first over the line again.

One name that was conspicuous by its absence from the Supercar entry was Dave Newsham. In the days leading up to round 6 the Power Maxed Racing team announced their withdrawal from the 2016 British Rallycross Championship. It’s a real shame that Newsham wasn’t able to complete the season as I had hoped the team would be able to iron the creases out of the ex-Marcin Wicik supercar.

Entry numbers in the Super National class were also strong, with season-long contenders joined by a number of familiar faces, including Gary Simpson who was making his first British Rallycross Championship appearance of the year and Stuart Emery, who was competing for the first time since injuring himself back in May.

Neither Emery nor Simpson could boast the longest hiatus from rallycross though. That accolade was firmly in the hands of Paul Easterbrook, who returned to rallycross for the first time in a decade. Alas, Paul retired early in the day, but I hope it won’t be another 10 years before his distinctive MR2 is back on track.

The Swift Sport Championship is at its most entertaining when the grids are full, so it was pleasing to see seventeen Swifts present at Lydden Hill. Among the numerous entrants was Barrel Sprint champion and Fueltopia fave Luke Woodham, making his rallycross debut at round 6.

In all 87 cars were set to appear at Lydden, which was a very respectable number for a National Championship event. Of course the only issue with this total – and this has been a reoccurring criticism of the British Rallycross Championship for several years now – was that those entries were spread across nine classes. Still, although the numbers weren’t huge in every class, there were at least enough cars to fill a grid. Sensibly the small Super 1600 entry was merged in with the Super Modified class for the heats, with just the final to be run separately…

…as it turned out though, the Super 1600 final was to be a non-event. Casualties claimed virtually the entire field and Tristan Ovenden was the sole surviving Super 1600 car at the end of the day. It was a rather lucky break for defending Super 1600 Champion Craig Lomax who, despite breaking a gearbox, managed to last long enough into the day to claim some Championship points and preserve his hopes of taking the title again this year.

Sam Jones had been the driver to beat in the Junior Swift Championship, but the mid-season arrival of Tom Llewellin put an end to Jones winning streak. Llewellin looked untouchable at Lydden, winning all three heats and the final by a comfortable margin. Tom joined this year’s Championship too late to challenge for the title, but if his current run continues then a fourth place finish looks more than achievable.

Second place was taken by Tom Constantine with Junior Championship leader Sam Jones placing third. As a consequence Constantine now trails Jones for the Championship lead by just three points, so the Junior title looks set to go down to the wire.

Kris and Keifer Hudson have been neck-and-neck in the 2016 BMW MINI Championship. Unfortunately Keifer was unable to challenge his brother for another win at Lydden as his car suffered a mechanical issue in the final, leaving Kris free to concentrate on collecting as many points as possible. Despite the absence of his brother Keifer, Kris continued to drive on (and occasional over) the limit which was evidence by a couple of very spectacular moments on the loose.

Even with his big push, it wasn’t Kris who would stand on the top step of the podium. Victory in the BMW MINI class was taken by last year’s Junior Swift Champion Bradley Durdin on his maiden drive in a BMW MINI. It was an impressive debut from Durdin and an early sign that the Hudson clan may face a new challenger in 2017. Second for Kris was enough to take the championship lead from Keifer and, no matter what the rest of the field are doing, I’m sure the siblings will be fighting up until the end of the season for the title.

With no Rob Gibson to contend with, Barry Stewart and Ray Morgan went at it for honours in the Retro Rallycross Championship. Morgan was close to Stewarts pace throughout, but Barry just took the win.

It was business as usual for Chrissy Palmer in the RX150 buggies, with Chrissy taking his sixth consecutive victory of 2016. Second for Stephen Jones was enough to bring him within one point of Jake Harris in the Championship standings and, with Palmer now holding an almost unassailable lead, the fight for second is going to be the main focus of the last two rounds of the Championship.

After winning at round 5 in Belgium, Tony Lynch came to Lydden with an increased lead in the Super National Championship. Lynch looked the man to beat, but several entrants seemed like they had the speed to challenge Tony, particularly Steve Cozens at the helm of the very rapid ex-James Bird Renault Clio V6. Sadly Cozens was to be denied victory whilst leading the final, as his Clio died in the closing stages of the race.

Paige Bellerby seems to be gradually getting the better of her Exige, but the dinky Lotus seemingly takes no prisoners when on the limit and, while fighting with Allan Tapscott for second, the tail happy Exige caught Paige out and she dropped down the order. That allowed Tapscott to go on and take second from Stuart Emery, who had a race long fight with Mike Howlin for third.

Second was the best result of the season for Allan Tapscott and third a fine return to form for Stuart Emery after several months out of action.

With fastest times in all three heats, first in his semi-final and first in the final it was a perfect weekend for Tony Lynch, netting him a maximum haul of points and furthering his lead of the Super National Championship. He hasn’t yet moved beyond the reach of second and third position title challengers Paige Bellerby and Guy Corner, but just a few more points should be enough to secure the 2016 title.

Nathan Heathcote arrived at Lydden with a slender lead from Aidan Hills and Simon Ovenden in the Swift Sport Championship. While Nathan enjoyed a trouble free day, both Hills and Ovenden encountered issues which resulted in Simon failing to make the final and Aidan placing eighth.

The greatest challenge to Heathcote instead came from Darren Scott, who made his first appearance in the Swifts of 2016. The pair were close throughout the day, but Nathan managed to shake off Darren in the final to take a comfortable win and open up a significant lead in the Championship.

After finding his feet in the opening heat race, Luke Woodham was forced to miss his second heat before coming back out again for heat three. With his pace increasing throughout the first Swift semi-final, Luke was just one spot away from qualifying for the final. Ninth overall was a respectable debut and I have my fingers crossed it won’t be long before we see the Fueltopia liveried Swift sitting on the grid of a final!

Following a successful weekend in Belgium, Graham Rumsey was just a few points shy of seizing the Hot Hatch Championship lead from Tomasz Wielgosz. Qualifying first put Rumsey on the front row of the final and a good result seemed assured… right up to the moment when Mariusz Mehlberg ploughed into the side of Rumsey and ended his race.

Mehlberg was subsequently excluded from the meeting and with Robert Potyra winning and Wielgosz finishing third, the damage to Rumsey’s championship challenge was minimized. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Graham’s Saxo, which is going to need some serious attention before Pembrey. The team have promised the car will be straight again for round 7, so I wish them the best of luck!

It was refreshing to see some of the rallycross veterans back on the pace in the Supercars. Pat Doran seemed to have the bit between his teeth in the ex-Liam Doran Citroen C4 and he was flying during the heats. Steve Hill also had a pleasingly trouble free day of racing and he actually flew in the semi-final after clipping the curb on the exit of the chicane.

After taking second place in the second semi-final, Hill went on to finish fifth in the final. Having persisting with the Evo X for so long I found it immensely satisfying to see Hill scoring Championship points in the car, so I can only imagine how good a decent result must feel for Steve!

Despite having his first heat time ruined by a puncture, Dan Rooke still managed to qualify second having placed second and first in heats two and three respectively. It was no surprise to see the top qualification spot go to defending Champion Julian Godfrey, who looked very much on form with top-three times in all heats.

Unfortunately round 5 was either a feast or famine for early season favourite Kevin Procter. Fastest time in heat 1 was followed by technical issues with the car and, although he managed to qualify for the final, Procter chose to relinquish his spot on the back row of the grid.

After winning his semi-final, Rooke lined up on the front row of the final alongside Ollie O’Donovan and Julian Godfrey. Godfrey looked to make a move on Rooke as the pack headed into the first corner, but Julian drifted wide, gifting Rooke some breathing space: and that was all he needed. As Godfrey was swallowed up by the chasing pack, Dan drove a clean race out front and went on to take the checkered flag almost 5 seconds ahead of the next car.

Second place was contested right up until the last corner. David Bellerby snatched the position from Godfrey on the first lap and had to defend right up to the line. The result elevates Bellerby to third in the Championship standings and, having denied Godfrey another point, means that Rooke has extended his Championship lead.

Lydden yielded the perfect result for Tony Lynch, Dan Rooke and Nathan Heathcote, as all three managed to not only retain the lead of their respectively classes, but extend them.

With just two rounds of the Championship left, the need for consistency will increase that little bit more, a task that will surely become even more difficult as the rest of the field push harder in the hope of forcing a mistake. It should be an interesting end to what has been a hard-fought season in the British Rallycross Championship!

 

Want to see more of the British Rallycross Championship at Lydden? Click here for a full image gallery.