Thomas drives glorious Metro to Pembrey Retro RX win
The Retro Rallycross Championship visited Pembrey Circuit’s revised layout for the first-time last weekend, where an exotic collection of rallycross machinery battled it out on (September 23).
Wet overnight conditions made the South Wales circuit treacherously slippery for practice and the first qualifying races, but as the track died out the times tumbled. With restoration of his ex-Lawrence Gibson MG Metro 6R4 completed just before the event, Roger Thomas set the fastest time in each of the three qualifiers before winning both his semi-final and the final to claim victory.
“This was a great shake down for the Metro as prior to Pembrey I had only ever driven it up and down a car park,” said winner Thomas. “We had a few teething problems but overall it was a great first outing for the car. Watch this space!”
Second fastest through the qualifying stages was Super Retro points leader James Harrold with his rear-wheel drive Volkswagen Beetle. Harrold battled with the Ford Escort Cosworth of Derrick Jobb in the early stages of the final before having to concede track position to the four-wheel drive machine. Regardless, Harrold finished the race third and took top points in the Super Retro sub class.
“We knew the tight and twisty track wouldn’t really suit us but to stay with the 6r4 in the heats and set lap times quicker than the British Championship Supernational cars just goes to show how much progress we’ve made with the car this year,” said Harrold. “More boost problems meant we couldn’t use the full potential and a split intercooler in Q3 saw our power pretty much halved, but that probably helped. All in all it was a great result and we’re still just leading the Championship with one round to go.”
With Mini Clubman racer Ian Biagi finishing eighth in the final he took top Retro Rallycross points (for up to 1600cc competitors) and will battle for the coveted John Button Memorial Trophy in the season finale at Silverstone on November 4.
Fourth in the Pembrey final was multiple John Button Memorial Trophy winner Ray Morgan with his Ford Escort, who chased Harrold hard and was followed equally closely throughout the encounter by Gary Dixon with his Vauxhall Astra, and Steve Cozens with his Citroen AX. Paul Easterbrook also qualified for the final with his Toyota MR2. He enjoyed a battle with Biagi during the race and eventually finished seventh.
Ford Escort driver Simon Hart just missed out on a place in the final by finishing fifth in his semi-final with his Ford Escort, but took second overall in the Retro Rallycross class, while Mark Finch was plagued by technical issues early in the day but got his Ford Fiesta back on track for Q3 and took points for third in class at the finish.
“We arrived at Pembrey anticipating a close race and the drivers certainly didn’t disappoint. The weather improved throughout and we ended the day with perfect track conditions. James Harrold drove brilliant to overcome issues during the day and take on the might of the four-wheel drive machinery,” said Retro Rallycross Championship Manager Shirley Gibson. “Roger Thomas was on very good form with his recently restored 6R4 and we look forward to him returning for the 2018 finale at Silverstone, where we hope we will be joined by some other Group B cars and we will also enjoy the conclusion of the Championship and crown the 2018 Retro Rallycross Champion.”
2018 Retro Rallycross Championship: Round Six, Final Result:
1 Roger Thomas MG Metro 6R4 (Retro 4WD)
2 Derrick Jobb Ford Escort (Retro 4WD)
3 James Harrold Volkswagen Beetle (Super Retro
4 Ray Morgan Ford Escort (Super Retro)
5 Gary Dixon Vauxhall Astra (Super Retro)
6 Steve Cozens Citroen AX (Super Retro)
7 Paul Easterbrook Toyota MR2 (Super Retro)
8 Ian Biagi Mini Clubman (Retro)
9 Simon Hart Ford Escort (Retro)
10 Mark Finch Ford Fiesta (Retro)
Retro Rallycross (under 1600cc) standings:
1 Ian Biagi Mini Clubman 167
2 Mark Finch Ford Fiesta 137
3 Simon Hart Ford Escort 96
4 Stewart Bowes Mini Clubman 52
5 Steve Bowie Vauxhall Chevette 48
Super Retro (over 1600cc) standings:
1 James Harrold Volkswagen Beetle 17
22 Gary Dixon Vauxhall Astra 153
3 Ray Morgan Ford Escort 147
4 Paul Easterbrook Toyota MR2 132
5 Barry Stewart Porsche 911 71
6 Jason Bowes Volkswagen Golf 67
7 Steve Cozens Citroen AX 44
8 Gary Simpson BMW E30 23
9 Christopher Dawkins Peugeot 309 19
Retro 4WD standings:
1 Derrick Jobb Ford Escort 109
2 Roger Thomas MG Metro 6R4 87
3 Steve Harris Ford RS200 30
(Photos by Matt Bristow/mattbristow.net)