Double European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill returned to rallycross after an absence of more than a year at Lydden Hill for the opening two rounds of the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy (May 29-31) and claimed victory.
Just getting to the event at the world’s most famous rallycross circuit with the Covid-19 and Brexit challenges in place was a result for the PFCRX squad after months of waiting to return to action, and Tohill and the Olsbergs MSE-built, C-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta Supercar were straight back on the pace in the opening round with the fastest time in Free Practice on Saturday morning.
However, that strong pace couldn’t be converted into a podium finish, as the team battled their way through the season-opener in one of the most competitive Supercar fields in the championship in recent memory. Tohill ultimately befell a transmission problem in the latter stages of the day, but still salvaged fourth in the final.
In round two on Monday, the Irish team and driver ran at the front of the order throughout qualifying to take pole position for semi-final two, but third in the race meant a third row start for the all-important final.
In the last race of the weekend, Tohill pulled out all the stops and charged into the lead on the opening lap with a number of impressive overtakes. Running in clear air up front, the PFCRX Fiesta maintained the advantage throughout the race, only coming under pressure in the latter stages after taking the compulsory joker lap.
The result puts Tohill in the hunt for the series lead, with the next round set to take place at the team’s home Mondello Park circuit next month (July 9-10).
Derek Tohill | Driver | Ford Fiesta #111
“To begin with the success was just to get to Lydden Hill. We worked so hard for five months just to get to the event. The racing genuinely came second to that, but of course as soon as you get into it the mindset shifts.
We were fastest in practice on Saturday but we were a bit rusty because we hadn’t competed for so long. We just weren’t in the groove with the racing. It didn’t help having bad back row start in Q1 – had it been front row it might have been different. We never got a clear run, and found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, then on top of that we lost the gearbox so to get fourth in the final was good damage limitation.
The day to rebuild the car on Sunday was good, and it also gave us time to think everything though. We came out of the blocks fighting on Monday and it was strategy and setup of the car that made the difference.
It’s unbelievable how tight the whole grid was on pace, the win could have been anyone’s. We had a bad start in the semi-final which put us on the back row for the final, but the fact that we came from sixth to win it just showed how close it was. Our pace was really good and the racing was hard, but the really tough ones to win are the ones that feel so great. The lads in the team have made a lot of sacrifices to just be here so to win the final in round two was just mega for all of us.
I’ll be incredibly disappointed if the championship doesn’t get to Mondello for the next round. Racing is resuming in Ireland now and there’s no reason for rallycross not to go there. If there’s a will there’s a way – we’ve proved that the fear factor of the travelling is no big deal, everyone we spoke to about travelling to Lydden was very helpful and we can’t wait to welcome British Rallycross back to Ireland.”
Lydden Hill 5 Nations BRX R1 Final Result:
1 Roberts Vitols (Citroen C4)
2 Ollie O’Donovan (Ford Fiesta)
3 Tristan Ovenden (Citroen DS3)
4 Derek Tohill (Ford Fiesta)
5 Michael Sellar (Citroen DS3)
6 Connor McCloskey (Ford Focus)
Lydden Hill 5 Nations BRX R2 Final Result:
1 Derek Tohill (Ford Fiesta)
2 Ollie O’Donovan (Ford Fiesta)
3 Andy Scott (Peugeot 208)
4 Mark Donnelly (Citroen DS3)
5 Julian Godfrey (Ford Fiesta)
6 Tristan Ovenden (Citroen DS3)