Bailey Battles Through Challenging Conditions at Croft
The Swift Sport drivers skills were tested with challenging weather conditions for Round Six of the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship at the most northerly venue on the calendar, Croft Circuit.
Current championship leader Morgan Bailey was the leading man in Q1, followed by reigning champion Simon Ovenden and Guernsey driver Christian Hainsworth completed the top three. A spin into Clearvaux corner for Rob Maynard sent him backwards across the track into the path of junior champion Tom Llewellin leaving them both spectators for the rest of the race and it was also a non-finish for Dominic Flitney who suffered clutch issues.
Bailey once again took a comfortable chequered flag in Q2. With a front wishbone replaced, Llewellin was back out and making his way up the qualifying table after his DNF in Q1, and managed second ahead of Ovenden.
With the Peter Gwynne Motorsport Team on hand with championship spares, Team Flitspeed fitted a new clutch and Maynard replaced the rear beam and both were back out racing for Q3.
The Welsh Boy Wonder Llewellin took the top spot in Q3 followed by Ovenden and Swift returnee Chris Scott made the top three. Junior graduate Tom Middleton who had been plagued with issues on his new car this season, saw his first chequered flag in his race, and one happy Dad breathed a sigh of relief and wore a big smile for the rest of the day. A gear selector issue denied Bailey a finish.
It was the same configuration for the top three in the first semi final, with Flitney fourth to qualify for promotion to the final, ahead of Hainsworth and Don Macleod. Semi Final two saw Bailey back to take the win. Middleton showed it was no fluke with another good run to come second ahead of Round five winner Max Weatherley. Maynard secured the final place ahead of Joe Booth and Ian Flitney completed a successful debut appearance for his first rallycross experience in such tricky conditions.
Torrential rain started to fall as they lined up for the final and it was Bailey on pole position with Llewellin in the middle and Ovenden on the outside of the front row. Middleton and Weatherley took second row, with Scott, Flitney and Maynard completing the grid at the back.
The engines revved and the spray flew from the Yokohama AO50’s as they all headed for Clearvaux and it was Bailey who gained the advantage ahead of Llewellin and Ovenden slipped in behind them, ahead of the following four abreast flock all reaching the corner as one where it was Weatherley on the outside who lost out and ended up in the graveltrap where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
Bailey true to form got he head down and started counting down the six laps, although his job not made easy with Llewellin filling his mirrors. The weather conditions got the better of Middleton on lap three as he hit the brakes into turn one and he became a passenger straight into the gravel trap to join Weatherley. With waved yellows into turn one of the jokerless circuit meant passing opportunities were even more limited. Ovenden settled back in third whilst Llewellin kept on Bailey’s bumper just waiting for any mistake to find a way passed, but Bailey battled through the puddles to once again prove his skills as a driver and earn his deserved place on the top step of the podium. Llewellin scored second with Ovenden third, Dom Flitney fourth ahead of Maynard and Scott completed the final finishers.
Bailey now sits nineteen points ahead of Llewellin in the championship standings with Ovenden a further five points adrift. Join us as the championship heads to Ovenden’s home circuit, Lydden Hill on Bank Holiday Monday 27th August 2018.
For event details visit www.lyddenhill.co.uk