Wigan racer Tony Lynch was able to celebrate a podium finish as his 2020 Retro Rallycross championship campaign burst into life at Lydden Hill.
Westhoughton-based Tony made the long trip to Kent for his first outing at the wheel of his Toyota MR2 since the 2019 season finale back in October, with his Team Geriatric outfit having used the unusually long off-season to work on further modifications to the former rally car.
The season opener at the spriritual home of rallycross saw the Toyota running with a revised bodywork package for the first time, with the team having invested in a number of fibreglass panels in order to reduce weight as the latest stage of the ongoing development of the car.
After a solid start to the weekend in practice, the opening qualifying heat saw Tony finish in third spot behind Terry Moore’s Mini and the Citroen AX of Stephen Cozens, and he then repeated the feat in heat two – where he would also post his fastest lap of the weekend.
With Moore secure on pole for the final, he would then sit out the final heat, with Tony taking second behind Cozens to cement his place on the front row of the grid for the final.
Prior to the start, the team worked to resolve a brake issue that had developed in the final heat and – as had been the case in each of the three qualifiers – Tony made the most of the starting prowess of the Toyota to get away well off the line.
Contact with Cozens as his rival tried to find a way through would cause some minor damage to the Toyota but Tony was able to continue without issue to once again finish third on the road and secure a well-earned podium finish – entertaining the watching crowds at the same time with a showboating display on track.
“Having been out of a car for so long, it was great to get back on track at Lydden Hill and start racing again,” he said. “I’m happy that we’ve come away from the weekend with a podium finish and whilst a win would obviously have been nice, third is still a good way to start the new season.
“Aside from a small issue with the brakes after the third heat, the car ran without problem which is credit to the team for the work that they have done. The car felt really good and we just lost out a bit to Stephen and Terry on the uphill run to the hairpin, where they had an advantage in terms of power-to-weight compared to us.
“In the final, when I knew they had managed to break away and I had a gap behind, I was able to put on a bit of a show for the fans with some power slides and entertain them a bit.
“One thing we do know from this weekend is that running a standard gearbox is holding us back a little bit but we’re not currently in a position to make the investment in a close ratio box without missing some rounds, which we don’t want to do given it would impact on our ability to fight for the championship.
“Hopefully in the rounds to come, I’ll be able to really take the fight to Terry and Stephen and push for wins.”