Above Par Performance from Rowlands at BXCC Opener

The Motorsport UK British Cross Country Championship (BXCC) made a successful return with the opening round won by PAR Homes Racing’s Jason Rowlands and Liam Dudley in their Lofthouse Freelander. Paul Rowlands and Neil Lloyd, also of PAR Homes Racing, were second in their Can-Am Maverick R and in third were Rob Bool and Philippa Tennant in a Lofthouse Freelander.

The event, held near Pickering, had drama even before the first car had left the startline with Andy Degiulio injuring himself when cycling the course on Friday, forcing him out of the event.

“I’d already walked the course and then decided to cycle it,” said Degiulio. “Unfortunately a pedal and crank came clean off causing me to lose balance and go over the handlebars. I landed heavily, hurting my hip and shoulder. I’m walking my daughter down the aisle in a few days and didn’t want to risk further damage so I took the decision not to start. I’m gutted, especially after a 7 hour drive to get to the event.”

It was Richard and Mason Kershaw who made the quickest start to the event, setting a time two seconds faster than Aston Cox and Adam Evans, who were giving their new Rivet Nissan it’s BXCC debut. Another Rivet was in third, driven by Ant Jackson. Cox took the lead after the second run but Kershaw regained the top spot after run three. However, this was to be short-lived, with Kershaw’s Lofthouse suffering an engine failure. Cox too then had problems, with a throttle sensor issue causing him to stop on the course, just along from Jackson’s similar car which had also come to a stop.

Amidst the chaos it was Jason Rowlands and Liam Dudley who held the lead overnight, with Ian Gregg and Jason Noakes in second in their Polaris and Paul Rowlands setting the fastest time of day one on his way to third.

Gregg lost his second place on the opening run of day two, a broken ball joint putting his car out of action. This made it a Rowlands one-two with Bool in third, positions that would be held until the finish.

Jason Rowlands commented: “It was a good weekend and I’m very happy with the result. The weather had made the course very muddy in places so it was a case of put your foot down and see what happens!”.

Bool was pleased with his third place: “It was a very tough event but I enjoyed it. The car was brilliant, no problems at all other than one puncture. It was extremely slippery with a few sections of foot to the floor and hope for the best.”

In fourth was Simon Adams and Richard Rawlinson in their GSR Can-Am X3, a puncture and a few overheating issues being their only issues. Cox fought back from taking a maximum time with his throttle sensor problem to take fifth, just six seconds ahead of father Martin in his GSR V8.

“We had a good first stage, finishing second to Richard and we knew it would be a weekend where we would have to push, which we did,” said Cox. “We were leading and then the throttle sensor packed up, there was nothing we could do, gutted wasn’t the word!”

“We started day two down in 27th place and we decided that if we went flat out we could maybe get back up fifth or sixth. With the fastest time of the weekend we overtook my father on the last run to get fifth! The day wasn’t without its problems though, we lost second gear on the first run of day two which hampered us. It was great to be back at the BXCC, all of organising team’s hard work has paid off! Thank you to them and all the marshals.”

Ex-Scottish Rally Championship competitors Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy achieved their aim of getting into the top ten with a seventh place finish in their Fouquet Nissan, despite conditions which were not like any rally they’ve competed on. They span on the first run and the car stalled on the second but cleaner runs later in the day saw them just outside the top 10. As day two progressed they moved to fifth but two punctures and quick times from both of the Coxes dropped them back to seventh.

Faulkner, from Wigton, commented: “It was great to join the relaunched BXCC, we were under no illusion it will take time to adjust, build speed, learn the capabilities of the car and understand where we need to take care. The competition was tough, but we were pleased to get a reasonable finish to start the season.”

OFG Racing crew Phill Bayliss and Lance Murfin finished 11th and first in class after a fairly trouble-free run.

“We struggled to find our feet on the first lap but steadily improved with no real troubles,” said Bayliss. “We replaced a diff as a precautionary measure as it developed a bit too much play. We would’ve liked a higher overall position but I’m really happy with our times compared to some of our competitors in lighter and more powerful cars.”

Making his BXCC debut was Owen Green who was navigating for father Richard. Green has attended every BXCC (and previously the BCCC) round since he was born in 2007! Mum Karina said: “It was really special for them to race together and they both had a great time and enjoyed the fantastic course. They had issues with a radiator hose blowing off early on which resulted in a water loss and a damaged engine. The engine was then overheating but they soldiered on, making it to the ninth run before it got so bad that they had to admit defeat”.

Another son of a BXCC racer making his “British” debut was Max Cooke, whose father Ryan has raced at the top level for many years. Cooke was in a GSR Can-Am X3 and he had a successful event despite some overheating issues.

“We had a great weekend racing,” said Cooke. “A real tough course with the weather really not on the organiser’s side. The thick mud caused a couple of overheating problems, the lack of air flow causing the car to go into limp mode for the last section. It was a challenging event but a rewarding finish for the CRC Motorsport team.”

Luke Sagar had a problematic weekend with a broken steering box, failed wiper motor, two punctures and a blown front diff but he rounded his event off setting the fastest live-axle time on the final run.

“It was one issue after another but I’m chuffed with the times we set on the last two runs so that’s something to take from the weekend,” said Sagar. “We had a great weekend under difficult circumstances, thanks to all involved.”

Toby Jefferson and his new navigator Neil Hartley entered as a “weekender” non-championship crew in their 206 and were enjoying themselves until the radiator cooling fan stopped working, forcing them into retirement.

“The first run was very slippery,” commented Jefferson. “The car and navigator, on his first event, working brilliantly. Sorry to the marshals for any sticks and bunting I hit, I didn’t mean to! The course dried up as the event went on which made for a fun lap. Unfortunately our brand new fan broke after the second lap on Sunday so we had to stop. Thanks to everyone who makes the events happen.”

Round two of the BXCC will take place on 11/12th May in Ceri forest in Wales. Entries for non-championship crews will open on 29th April. Please visit crosscountryuk.org for more information.

The BXCC is supported by Par Homes, Voxcloud, Roodsafe, Roadflash, Gregg Motorsport, Fairview Farm Machinery, Fairview Farm Log Cabin and Holiday Accommodation, Aspire Park and Leisure Homes, Johnnie Drysdale, Whitecliff 4×4, Dynatech, NickyGrist.com, Whitchurch MOT Centre, Staffordshire Signs, PD Extinguishers and OR Tyres.

For more information on the championship please visit crosscountryuk.org.

For the full results please visit results.wizzyideas.co.uk