AFTER a testing start to his Monster Energy British Rallycross Championship campaign with a few problems at the opening round at Lydden Hill earlier in the month, Barnard Castle driver “Mad” Mark Watson emerged victorious in the second round of the series held at Mallory Park last weekend.
With an innovative sponsorship system in place where fans and companies buy space on his ex-French Championship winning Citroen Xsara for as little as £45 which has enabled him to compete after two years away, with a revamped turbo from AET Motorsport of Leeds and modifications from the team between events meant that Mark had high hopes for a good finish.
In practice it was evident that the car was definitely quicker and that Mark was a little rusty still from not racing for so long, but a power steering failure also compounded the problems during qualifying.The team mechanics fixed the problem just before the heats and starting from row two in the first one, Mark recorded a fine third place.
Watson started heat two from the front row and following a great start,he ended up in second place behind multiple British Champion Julian Godfrey. In the third and final heat, Mark was on the front row again and another good start saw him lead into first corner but was clipped by another competitor causing him to spin out before restarting and qualifying the Jersey Farm Hotel-backed car on the front row for the Supercar final.
From there, Mark made a superb start getting ahead of Leeming driver Kevin Procter and Godfrey and leading into the fast first corner. Godfrey was hit from behind which loosened his bonnet and caused him to retire as Watson and Procter took up the battle with Procter nosing ahead.
However, Procter’s race was doomed once his turbo started smoking and Watson nipped past but not long after, the race was red-flagged as Procter’s Ford Focus caught fire meaning Watson claimed victory for the first time in over two years. The result sees Mark up to third in the British Championship just two points behind the leader going into the next round at Knockhill, in Scotland.
There was success for other competitors including Ferryhill’s David Bell who took runner-up spot in the BMW Mini class with Ainderby Steeple youngster Charlie Bean also coming home second in the Swift Juniors class to maintain their respective championship bids.
DRY but windy conditions greeted competitors for the Trackrod Motor Club’s annual Lookout Stages rally at Melbourne, near York, with mixed fortunes for a number of the regions crews, Leading the way with fifth overall was the Whitby Motor Club pairing of Chris Ford and NeilColman in their Subaru Impreza as Thirlby’s Ben Cree and Hawnby’s Mat Smith took their Peugeot 205 to tenth overall and a class win. The Chonka Motor Services-sponsored Vauxhall Nova of Pickhill crew Bruce Lindsay and Don Bramfoot finished third in class and 17th overall, two places ahead of the Nova of Northallerton driver Paul Atkinson and Ripon co-driver Kirsty Beckwith.
Masham’s Shaun Wilson and Kirkby Fleetham co-driver Errol Bairstow suffered problems in their Subaru to struggle home in 20th overall but for four other crews, they failed to make it to the finish.
Bill and Kari Bates,from Sinderby, endured problems early on in their Tanfield Engineering-backed Peugeot 106, as did Topcliffe’s Jonathan Kitchen in his Ford Escort which he was sharing with Andrew Trollope.
Thirkleby husband and wife Jonathan and Alison Trenholme were looking good until their Subaru expired with overheating problems on SS4 which was further than West Rounton driver Chris Blake and his Barnard Castle co-driver got as the engine failed on their NTB Ford Escort onthe opening stage.
GATESHEAD rider Chrissy Rouse, 17, leapt into the lead of the Triumph Triple Challenge after winning last Sunday’s race at Thruxton.
Rouse had qualified third on Saturday on his Stratstone Triumph Racing machine but was disappointed after heavy rain in the afternoon forced race chiefs to postpone the first race to a later date, leaving him with just one race last weekend.
The Geordie made a tentative start at the Hampshire track but hit the front after a couple of laps and despite a close call when previous championship leader Freddie Pett touched Rouse’s rear wheel and crashed out as he tried to take the lead.
Rouse maintained his lead all of the way to the chequered flag.
Also in action in the race was Stockton’s Keith Shepherd who brought his FDR Racing Triumph home in 24th overall and 19th in the Cup class.
JONATHAN Nell, of Northallerton, was back in action at Croft recently when the North-East Motorcycle Racing Club got their 2013 season under way with a packed entry list at the North Yorkshire track.
Aboard the Red Rooster Racing 350cc Honda with additional backing from Crushing and Screening, Nell qualified ninth overall in the Classics and third in the 350cc class and after some close racing, he came away with a pair of class wins on Saturday.
On Sunday, the opposition picked up there pace but despite having to work a lot harder, Nell managed to claim another pair of class wins to make it a clean sweep over the weekend.
Meanwhile Steven Nell was also in action for his first meeting and the Stanway Commercials-backed rider qualified 26th in the Novice class having to learn the track in the very cold practice session but with help from the team, he managed to finish 24th and then 23rd on Saturday. He improved his lap times on Sunday by ten seconds a lap and enjoyed some good racing before claiming a 23rd and 24th place finish.
Other local riders in action included Hartlepool’s Geoff Morrow who took his 600cc Honda to 11th in the Laird of Croft feature race with Darlington rider Richard Clennell claiming sixth in the Open class aboard his 1000ccc Honda. Thirsk sidecar ace Tony Thirkell took a brace of runner-up placings on Saturday with North Cowton rider Graham Ashbridge scoring a podium in the Thunderbike class on his Aprilia. There were wins for Hartburn teenager Richard Ferguson (125) and Chesterle-Street’s David Bell (Supertwin) over the busy weekend.