Cox charges to Ceri BXCC win

Aston Cox

Aston Cox and Simon Kerfoot led from start to finish to take Cox’s first Motorsport UK British Cross Country Championship (BXCC) victory at a hot and dusty Ceri forest in Wales.

Cox had suffered a disappointing opening round when throttle problems on his Rivet-Nissan dropped him down the leaderboard after being on course for a win, and he was determined to make up for the disappointment at round two. He was fastest on the opening run by six seconds from Richard Kershaw, with Paul Rowlands a further second back in his Can-Am Maverick R.

The Cox, Kershaw and Rowlands battle would last all through the opening day with Cox leading by 13 seconds from Rowlands overnight, despite breaking a diff 300 metres into the third run.

In contrast Aston’s father Martin didn’t make the start line, his GSR V8 having ECU issues on the drive-round lap.

Kershaw’s victory hopes ended on the opening run of day two as a throttle issue caused him to lose over five minutes. Cox and Rowlands continued their battle with Cox eventually triumphing by 24 seconds.

“We had some drama before the start having had to drive to France to get parts for the gearbox,” said Cox. “SWR turned the box round within four days and the boys in the workshop got the car looking top tier. We knew we’d have to push hard right from the start and we set fastest times on the first two runs but then we lost drive to the front near the start of the course. It was like driving a Mk2 Escort which was mega fun but not great for our time! The rest of the first day was a great fight with Richard and Paul.”

“With Richard’s problem it was down to Paul and myself for the win on day two. We managed the lead and got the win! Well done to Paul for second, it was a great battle. It was an unbelievable moment to win a BXCC event, from the age of 8 it’s been a goal of mine to win! Huge thanks to all the marshals and to Jon and his team for a cracking event.”

Third BXCC crew was Dave and Antony Hooper in their Lofthouse Fiesta who survived a tree smashing the windscreen to equal their best ever British result.

“It was my first time racing at Ceri and the huge drops off the side of parts of the course were pretty daunting initially,” said Dave Hooper. “We got quicker and more consistent on the second day and I found the sweet spot of pushing where I could, while being nice to the car. I’m very happy with third BXCC crew.”

Third overall on time, and winner of the BXC Trophy, was Ben Cundy in his Polaris RZR. Cundy also won the Trophy at the opening round.

“What a weekend! I really didn’t think such a result would be happening, I was aiming to be in the top ten”, commented Cundy. “The car was pretty much faultless and only spanner checks were required. Massive thank you to Jon and the team for putting on such amazing events.”

After a steady start Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy ended day one in 6th place and continued to improve on day two, setting top four times before driveshaft and power steering failure dropped them down to 10th.

Faulkner commented: “It was a great weekend, we started to show good pace and it was disappointing to lose out at the end of the event with a couple of mechanical failures, but we were pleased with the improvement in times and we continue to learn the capabilities of the car. We moved to 5th overall in the championship which I’m happy with.”

Max Cooke continued his impressive debut BXCC season in his Can-Am X3, finishing 12th overall and first in class.

“It was an absolutely awesome course, fast and flowing with some tight technical sections. The car performed faultlessly in very tough conditions, with only a puncture costing us some time. It was a great result for Team CRC, putting us 7th in the championship.”

Richard Green wrecked his car when the championship visited Ceri in 2016 so he was delighted to have a relatively trouble-free event this time, especially with son Owen navigating. His car had a new engine after cooking the old one at round one.

“We walked the course on Friday night and liked the look of it, although I was mindful of what happened last time,” said Green. “The Saturday runs went well, other than a puncture. Sunday was also good although we did have a definite ‘Code Brown’ moment when the car pitched up on two wheels approaching a chicane. Fortunately it came down the right way and we continued with no more issues. All in all a good weekend!”

Luke Sagar enjoyed Ceri after his various problems at round one, finishing 14th overall and first in class.

“I had a really good event, I found the fast speeds terrifying at first but got the hang of it in the end. We had starter motor issues so it was like Cool Runnings pushing the car about. We had a really good battle with my old mate Phill Bayliss, great fun!”

Chris Ratter and Kenny Clarke were out again in their Land Rover Defender and they enjoyed the testing terrain.

“It was a really fun event,” said Ratter. “We had two near offs when trying to push hard, including going on two wheels at the chicane. We enjoyed it and I’m pleased to say I’ve not broken my new navigator yet!”

Harry Nicoll and Emily Sibley entered their Tomcat as a weekender crew and enjoyed themselves despite a lack of power up the steep hills.

Nicoll commented: “We had a great weekend, the 3.9 running on carbs did struggle up the hills but we pushed as hard as we could and had so much fun! We hope to bring the more powerful Mattserati to Walters later in the season so we can fight with the faster beam-axle cars!”

Former champion Martin Gould made his return to the BXCC in his Buxton 4×4 Rivet but he had a big accident on the opening run, the car somersaulting in mid-air off the road and landing on its wheels with remarkably little damage. An extensive operation by the event’s recovery unit and marshals extracted the car and Gould was able to do another two runs before retiring.

As well as the competitors, the event officials enjoyed Ceri too. Competitor Liaison Officer Moira Aston commented: “As an organiser I’m always excited about each event but cautiously concerned, thankfully I think Ceri was a success and everyone stayed safe and in one piece. I’ve seen some of the in-car videos and it looked like an amazing, fast course. All of the racers I spoke to were really enjoying it. They were all very well behaved too so I’d like to thank then for making my job a lot more pleasant! I love the way they all help each other and work together but throw in a generous amount of cheeky competitive banter! It has long been Jon’s ambition to run a British round at Ceri and I’m really pleased he’s achieved that now.”

After two rounds it is Paul Rowlands who leads the BXCC title race on 162 points ahead of Jason Rowlands on 156. Aston Cox is in third on 155. Ben Cundy heads the BXC Trophy crews with 172 points, Jesus Henriquez Navarro is second on 151.

The BXCC now has a two month break before the third round near Llandrindod Wells.

The championship 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,, Whitchurch MOT Centre, Staffordshire Signs, PD Extinguishers and OR Tyres.

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