Thomas claims debut Retro Rallycross victory at home circuit
Welshman Roger Thomas got his Retro Rallycross career off to the perfect start by claiming victory in the third round of the 2017 Retro Rallycross Championship at Pembrey in South Wales (June 25).
Racing his iconic Group B MG Metro 6R4 in Retro Rallycross for the first time, Thomas was the fastest driver for the majority of the day on the revised Pembrey Circuit, only some small mistakes in Q3 blotting his near-perfect copybook.
Fastest times in Q1 and Q2 secured Thomas pole position for the final, where he made a great start to take the lead at the first corner and progressively pull a margin over the rest of the field. Championship leader Ray Morgan was fastest in Q3 and followed Thomas on lap one of the final in his rear-wheel drive Ford Escort, but on the fast Pembrey circuit had no response for the 6R4 and unlike in round one at Croft, was unable to stay within the five-second window he needed behind the Group B car at the finish line to clinch victory (four-wheel drive cars are given a five-second penalty).
“I’m very pleased to have won, especially as it was only the second event I have done in the Metro and only the third rallycross event ever, after I raced an Astra Supercar in the Clubmans Championship back in May,” said Thomas. “The car and team were perfect, the only issues we had where some driver errors in Q3, with a few spins. I’m really looking forward to the double-header event at Pembrey in September now.”
Morgan also had to fend off the attentions of another of the Retro Rallycross newcomers, Kevin Feeney. Driving a Ford Escort Mk2, Feeney was as spectacular as ever as the former RX150 buggy racer got to grips with his new car. Second fastest in Q3, Feeney qualified for the front row of the final and finished third, ahead of the ever hard-charging Lance Foster, who was fourth in his familiar Mini Clubman.
Paul Easterbrook came home fifth in his Toyota MR2, while Paul Smith recovered from initially jumping the start at the first attempt of the final to finish sixth in his Volkswagen Polo. Simon Hart made his Retro Rallycross debut in his John Taylor-replica Ford Escort MkI and completed the event.
“We all enjoyed out first visit of the year to Pembrey and liked the new circuit layout,” said Retro Rallycross promotor, Shirley Gibson. “We were all excited at seeing what Roger Thomas could do in his 6R4, which certainly kept Ray Morgan on his toes, not only having to keep within the five-second gap of the Group B car but he also had Kevin Feeney to contend with. Our newcomers left on a high and we are looking forward to the next time both they and our regular competitors join us again.”
2017 Retro Rallycross Championship: Round Three, Final Result:
1 Roger Thomas MG Metro 6R4
2 Ray Morgan Ford Escort
3 Kevin Feeney Ford Escort
4 Lance Foster Mini Clubman
5 Paul Easterbrook Toyota MR2
6 Paul Smith Volkswagen Polo
7 Simon Hart Ford Escort
2017 Super Retro Rallycross Championship Standings:
1 Ray Morgan 84
2 Paul Easterbrook 73
3 Barry Stewart 30
4 Roger Thomas 30
5 Mark Flaherty 27
6 Kevin Feeney 25
7 Mark Richardson 23
8 Darren Grimston 23
9 Terry Maynard 21
2017 Retro Rallycross Championship (under 1600cc) Standings:
1 Lance Foster 85
2 Paul Smith 79
3 Stewart Bowes 57
4 Simon Hart 25
Round four of the Retro Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in Kent on August 28.