Wigan racer Tony Lynch showed strong early promise with his new Ford KA despite a tough end result as the 2016 MSA British Rallycross Championship in association with Odyssey Battery season kicked off at Croft.
Westhoughton-based Tony made the trip across the Pennines eager to impress at the wheel of his new car, which was making its competitive debut in the colours of his team – Lucas Oil Team Geriatric.
Having only spent a single day at the wheel of the car prior to the season opener, Tony was keeping his feet on the ground going into the weekend but things started well when he topped the times amongst the Super National class runners in free practice.
Although a stall at the start of heat one – his first race start in the car and first with a sequential gearbox – cost Tony valuable time, he took tenth spot in a combined field and posted the fastest single lap amongst the Super National class field.
Tony followed that up with eighth place in heat two before an impressive second place in heat three, where he was once again the quickest Super National class driver over a single lap.
Sitting in a solid fourth on the grid for his semi-final, Tony was in good shape to secure a front row slot for the final only for misfortune to strike on the opening lap when a sideways moment saw him collected by one of his on-track rivals.
That contact was enough to hole the radiator on the KA and, mindful of the possibility of terminal engine damage, saw Tony forced to pull off track to retire.
Despite the undoubted disappointment of the end result however, Tony insisted there were plenty of positives to take away from the weekend, with his focus now turning to round two at Lydden Hill later this month.
“It’s never nice to head home from an event having failed to make the final,” he said, “but at the same time, it’s hard not to be happy with the performance we showed considering it was our first time out with the KA.
“We knew from last year that the car has the pace to run at the front, and it’s good that out laptimes were right in the mix from the very start despite the fact that both the team and I are still learning about the car.
“The stall in heat one was unfortunate but our pace across all three races was really good and put us in a good position for the semi-final. Sadly an early incident damaged the radiator and we didn’t want to risk the engine so it meant being forced to watch the final from the sidelines.
“Obviously that wasn’t the result we were chasing this weekend but when you consider how little running we had done before Croft, I think we’ve put down a solid marker for the season in terms of our performance.
“As I come to terms with the car and as the team learns, we’ll only get quicker and that is something that bodes well for the future.”