Wed 03 Apr 2024

Euro RX regulars make winning start to domestic campaigns

FIA European Rallycross Championship regulars Ollie O’Donovan, Patrick O’Donovan and Máté Benyó all shone on the national scene over Easter weekend, with the father-and-son duo sharing the spoils in British RX and the Hungarian similarly triumphing on home soil.

Team RX Racing dominated the curtain-raising contest in the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy at Lydden Hill. O’Donovan Snr ended an almost six-year victory drought in Saturday’s opener, before fellow former champion O’Donovan Jnr repeated the feat on Monday.

Rolling back the years as he won his semi-final to secure a front row grid slot for the round one final behind the wheel of his Proton Iriz RX Supercar, the series’ 2007 title-holder benefitted from gear selection gremlins for his son to move past into the lead and draw first blood in the chase for the 2024 crown.

Having reverted to his older Ford Fiesta for the event while his Peugeot 208 WRX is rebuilt, reigning double 5 Nations BRX champion O’Donovan Jnr artfully held on despite his issues to take the chequered flag second and cement a popular one-two finish for the squad.

Two days later, it was his father’s turn to run into trouble, as electrical woes put him out of the lead of his semi-final and resulted in an early bath. There were dramas, too, for O’Donovan Jnr, as the front row-sitter’s engine stalled at the start of the final, seeing the 19-year-old get swallowed up by the pack.

What followed were six flat-out laps, as the rising star fought back and exploited a strong joker strategy to triumph – in so doing, seizing the initiative in the title chase. Even more impressively, he dovetailed his Supercar duties with a guest outing in the buggy-based RX150 Rallycross Championship, missing out on glory by a scant 0.055 seconds after being pushed off the track on lap one.

“That was a busy weekend!” acknowledged the 2023 Höljes Euro RX1 winner. “There’s some strong competition in the Supercar category and I knew driving the Fiesta would make things more difficult, but really I enter every event with one target – to win. Our pace was brilliant compared to the much newer cars, and even though I didn’t quite get the win on Saturday, I was so happy for my father to return to the top step.

“Then on Monday, when the engine stalled on the line in the final, I just knew I had to throw everything at it if I wanted to get the result the team deserved. Those were six of the biggest laps I’ve ever driven, and to win was fantastic.”

“I didn’t realise it had been so long since I last won a round of the British Championship, so it was brilliant to be on the top step of the podium, especially with Patrick standing alongside me,” added O’Donovan Snr. “The whole team put in a huge effort over the weekend, and it was a big shame that we were not able to take a double podium again on Monday, but these things happen and we will fight back.

“To stand and watch Patrick’s two finals on Monday afternoon, even if I would have liked to be in them with him, was a pleasure. He drove two brilliant comeback races and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Benyó – recently voted the 2023 ‘Rookie of the Year’ on the international stage – swept all before him in the opening round of the Hungarian Rallycross Championship with a flawless performance at the Rabócsiring, taking advantage of the absence of main rival Tamás Kárai to come out on top in the heats, semi-final and final and pick up a full complement of 23 championship points. The Budapest native has indicated his desire to return to Euro RX1 this season.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM