O’Donovan’s flying #ERX start in Loheac ended by first corner contact

The Loheac Circuit in France hosted the fourth round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship, where Team RX Racing and Irish driver Ollie O’Donovan had chances of making the final ruined at the first corner of the semi-final by contact from another car (September 3).

Battling through both bone dry and torrentially wet conditions in the qualifying stages of the event, O’Donovan won his first race of the weekend and impressed with a solid performance in Q4 to qualify for the semi-finals, in front of a 75,000-strong weekend crowd.

Starting on the outside of the third row for semi-final two, O’Donovan made one of his now legendary brilliant starts to move from sixth to third for the first corner, and left room for the pack on the inside of turn one, only to be collected by Jerome Grosset-Janin’s Citroen DS3 which damaged the suspension on the Tony Bardy Motorsport-prepared Ford Fiesta Supercar.

Having dropped down the feild in the first corner scrum, O’Donovan took an early joker lap in a bid to climb up the order when those ahead took theirs, but a combination of a damaged car and hitting a large puddle of standing water sent the Fiesta into a violent spin, which ended in a concrete wall, causing damage enough to force retirement. The incident ended the event for Team RX Racing, and the only Irish driver ever to finish on the podium in the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercar (at round one in Barcelona earlier this year) ended up classified 12th overall.

“I’ve been to Loheac a few times in the last few years, but this weekend was much better in terms of our pace and our understanding of the track, which has very different characteristics to other rallycross circuits in UK and the rest of Europe,” said 2007 British Rallycross Champion O’Donovan. “We had to work hard in the qualifying races, but with a good time in the wet in Q4, we made the semi-finals. We had a clear plan for the first corner of that race; we made a good start but it was disappointing to get hit, which eventually put us out. There’s not much more to say about that really, racing in France in front of all those people is really a highlight of the season for us, and it’s a fantastic event personally for me that I enjoy with my family and friends, as well as the usual team. But, it’s a huge shame that the accident has meant the truck has had to go back to Tony (Bardy)’s workshops in Yorkshire to so the car can be repaired in time for the next European race in Latvia, next week. Tony and Sam put in a big effort to get the Fiesta fixed after the roll at Mondello Park (in July), and we’d caused no significant damage to it before the semi-final in France. That’s motorsport sometimes – we will fight hard to make the semi-finals and final again in Latvia.”

O’Donovan now lies 12th in the Euro RX standings and is targeting a strong result in the final round of the series in Riga, with the aim of securing a top-ten finish.

2017 FIA European Rallycross Championship Round Four, Loheac, Result:

1 Thomas Bryntesson (NOR)
2 Tamas Pal Kiss (HUN)
3 Firmin Cadeddu (FRA)
4 Anton Marklund (SWE)
5 Derek Tohill (IRL)
6 Tommy Rustad (NOR)

12 Ollie O’Donovan (IRL)

2017 FIA European Rallycross Championship Points:

1 Anton Marklund (SWE) 99
2 Thomas Bryntesson (NOR) 81
3 Tommy Rustad (NOR) 70
4 Robin Larsson (SWE) 65
5 Tamas Pal Kiss (HUN) 65
6 Alexander Hvaal (NOR) 62
7 Derek Tohill (IRL) 47
8 Peter Hedstrom (SWE) 43
9 Rene Munnich (GER) 38
10 Ola Froshaug (NOR) 30
11 Jerome Grosset-Janin (FRA) 30
12 Ollie O’Donovan (IRL) 29