In only his first full season of senior competition, 17-year-old Patrick O’Donovan delivered a champion’s performance in the final round of the RX150 Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill to secure the 2021 title.
The Motorsport UK Academy member set the pace at the Kent circuit while under significant pressure from his nearest championship rival, and took the top qualifier position in the two-day season finale for the British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy support-category. He then led the all-important final from the front to claim victory and score the points required to secure the crown.
In the headline Supercar category, it was a difficult weekend for Team RX Racing’s lead driver Ollie O’Donovan in the Ford Fiesta Supercar. Entering the double-header event at the head of the standings, O’Donovan qualified fourth and finished second in his semi-final on day one, round six for the series. From the middle of the front row he seized the lead into the first corner of the final, but after taking the joker lap had contact with another car, the resulting three punctures slowing him to a crawl. On Sunday, O’Donovan qualified third overall, but third place in his semi-final meant a second row start for the final and having taken the joker on lap one, the London-based Irishman got held up behind another car and had to settle for fifth. The 2007 British RX Champion is now second in the standings, two points off the lead.
In the team’s Ford Focus Supercar, rallycross writer and commentator Hal Ridge made a last-minute return to the team to contest the event and qualified the final on both days. Having shown good pace Ridge was forced out of the final on Saturday with a power steering issue. On the opening lap of the final on Sunday he made an overtake for track position at the North Bend Hairpin but ran wide, and ultimately finished seventh, two places behind O’Donovan.
The planned final round of the season at Spa in Belgium has been cancelled, but 5 Nations BRX organisers are working on an alternative venue, which will be announced in due course.
Patrick O’Donovan (#13), RX150:
“I’m really happy with how the weekend unfolded, we managed to top practice and three of the four qualifiers which put us nicely into the Top Qualifier position, giving us pole for the final. The last race went well – crossing the finish line and realising that meant I had won the championship in my first full season was a surreal feeling. I still don’t think it’s sunk in yet to be totally honest, especially to have won the championship in such a rewarding car to drive like the RX150, it’s honestly so much fun and I have really enjoyed the past year of hard work and dedication”
Ollie O’Donovan (#2), Ford Fiesta Supercar:
“First of all I’m delighted for Patrick, he has worked very hard this season and it certainly hasn’t been easy in RX150 this year, Stephen Jones really stepped up a level from where he had been before and it was a brilliant battle at the front of the field. For myself it was a difficult weekend. I wasn’t happy about the contact, or the decision afterwards, in the final on Saturday after I took the joker while we were in contention to finish second. That resulted in three punctures and put us way down. Sunday was also hard day, we tried as hard as we could but it just wasn’t our day. We’re just behind in the championship but we won’t give up. Thanks to all of the team who worked very hard this weekend to keep us in contention.”
Hal Ridge (#187), Ford Focus Supercar:
“The car was awesome and I’m pretty stunned, especially considering that we didn’t put a single new tyre on the car through the double-header until the semi-final on Sunday – when I put two new on the front – that my best lap over the weekend was only 0.2 off Ollie’s and 0.8 off the ultimate best. Getting forced off at turn one in Q2 on Sunday was annoying when I felt we had the pace to take a qualifying race win there, and it was only thanks to a big effort by everyone at Tony Bardy Motorsport that we made it to the semi-finals having needed to change the rear diff following that contact. On a different weekend I think we could have finished higher than we did in the finals, but the end result is only a minor part of the story. I enjoyed every second! Big thanks to Ollie, Tony, Sam, Pete, Paul, Stuart and Ross, and well done to Patrick for winning the RX150 championship.”