Latvian rallycross driver Roberts Vitols won Supercar Round 6 of the 5 Nations British Rallycross Championship on Saturday Night Race, taking his 3rd Win of the season and keeping his title fight chances alive. The season continues with Round 7 on Sunday same place at Lydden Hill Race Circuit.
Vitols started Saturday’s race convincingly, showing the absolute fastest result in the warm-up practice. However, further luck disappeared – in the first qualifying race, Roberts reached the finish line with difficulty due to the power steering failure, there were some issues with electronics as well. Sixth place out of ten drivers in the first of two qualifying sessions. The team failed to solve the problem for the second qualification and, waiting for the delivery of the necessary parts, Vitols car didn’t rolled to the start line. Since the event consists of only two qualifications, the Latvian finished in 10th place overall after both races. An important element of the fight was the semi-final – the position in the final had to be secured in the race of five drivers. The car was still not repaired as the necessary spare parts were on its way from far away in UK. The task with an unprepared car was hard but successful, possibly physically the hardest 6 laps of young Roberts racing career – Vitols finished 3rd earning his place on the grid for the Finals.
Before the Final, team had received the necessary parts to finally put Robert’s Citroen C4 Supercar back in battle. In a great fight, Vitols did the impossible – winning the race starting from 6th place on the grid.
This win is important in the fight for the British Champion title, which, by the way, is much more complicated than the results of the previous stages dictate. In the previous race in Knockhill at the end of September, the race management made a difficult decision, as a result of which Vitols, the only foreigner in the championship, turned out to be the biggest sufferer in terms of points. The essence of the matter in a nutshell – a classic British Rallycross stage consists of four qualifications possibly over two day event, but on that day the athletes were offered to shorten the day to two heats as race was planned to complete in one day. Everyone agreed, however, the race was run with three qualifying sessions, which was a step back from the plan. The rules of the championship, on the other hand, provide that in the case of four qualifications, the result of each qualification race also gives points in the championship overall. However, the scenario with fewer heats is not described. As Vitols didn’t reached the finish line in two of three heats due to an accident in the qualifying one, he has not been awarded the required amount of championship points, which drops him from the planned shared championship overall leader position to the fourth place in the overall standings with pretty much none chances for the championship title anymore. To give a understanding, if everyone received 15-22 points for their race day, Roberts received only 7 for winning the Final. After appealing the situation, Provento Racing Team and Pat Doran’s team did not get satisfaction from the championship judges, so the case went to court – it is interesting for us Latvians that in Great Britain such sports situations are already dealt with outside the governing body of the sport.
Before the Lydden Hill weekend, Roberts was 18 points behind championship leader Ollie O’Donovan. O’Donovan was only seventh in the final, so even with the unlucky qualification, Vitols still has mathematical hopes for the championship title. Roberts has moved up from fourth to third, but O’Donovan is currently 19 points in front with two stages remaining. Without a positive court ruling, the championship chances now are quite slim, but still are. After Saturday, O’Donovan has 144 points, followed by Derek Tohill (141), Vitols (125), Tristen Ovenden (124) and Julian Godfrey (122) in total of 14 drivers.
Laura Vītola also had a respectable fight in the Junior class on Saturday. Before the race, the Latvian, who has only two race weekends to her credit, went through a four-hour training session with Peter Gwynne Motorsport specialists. Already after the first couple of hours, young Vitola admitted that she feels significantly more confident behind the wheel of the car.
On Saturday, in the first qualification, Laura achieved 6th result overall of 11 drivers, but in the second Qualifying, she was 7th. In terms of positions, they are in the second half of the list, but the difference from the battles of the previous rounds is the equal results of Laura’s race experience compared to the other British drivers. The class had to complete three qualifications – in the third race, Vitola already fought for the leading position in her group. While jumping on the inside between the leader of the race and the limits of the track, the ambitious move failed as a result of which the suspension of the car was broken.
Since according to local laws, no noisy activities can take place on the track after 6pm, Laura Vitola’s Junior class was left without semi-finals and finals. We are currently waiting for news whether the stage will be concluded with the qualification sum, or whether the fight will be continued on Sunday morning.