19 MARCH 2018 16:50
Driving Spencer Sport’s Mitsubishi Mirage RX Supercar competitively for the first time on Saturday, five-times British Rallycross Champion Julian Godfrey scored maximum points in this year’s opening round at Silverstone. It was a performance that also claimed fourth place overall, an impressive result considering the top three places were occupied by a trio of World Rallycross stars.
The first round of this year’s Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship marked a significant occasion in the sport, as it was the very first competitive event to ever take place at Silverstone’s new purpose built track that was commissioned last year. Whilst Friday’s temperatures were well into double figures, the near freezing conditions on Saturday were to make the loose surface sections of the track extremely slippery, with grip and visibility somewhat of a lottery.
To launch the championship and the new venue with a bang, organisers had invited three of the world’s leading stars to join the British regulars. They included nine-times World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb in a Peugeot together with WRX front-runners Timmy Hansen, also in a Peugeot and Andreas Bakkerud in an Audi.
For the Spencer Sport Mirage and Godfrey, third in the first Qualifying Heat after suffering visibility issues from the mud thrown up by other cars was a satisfactory first-ever competitive outing in the car. This was followed by an excellent run in the second Heat, with Godfrey leading from the start and only passed by three-times British Rally Champion Mark Higgins towards the end of the session.
The start of the third Qualifying Heat was somewhat frantic, with Godfrey pushed into a spin on the first corner. The session was red-flagged and shortly after the restart Godfrey was in the thick of it again, this time having to stop when another car hit the Mirage, causing the front bodywork to move and shut off the electrical cut-off switch.
The session was restarted for a third time and the result of the earlier contact caused the switch to activate when landing after a jump. However, Godfrey was now aware of what had caused the loss of electrics and was able to restore the power. His swift actions allowed him to finish seventh fastest and consequently, go through to the Semi Finals where he was able to keep out of trouble, end the race in third place and line up as the sixth-fastest qualifier in the Supercar Final.
With the trio of WRX drivers occupying the front row, Godfrey knew it would be difficult to penetrate the podium positions - but that didn’t stop him from trying. When the lights went green he launched the Mirage perfectly off the line - the Mitsubishi gathering pace so rapidly he almost went into the back of pole-sitter Loeb as they headed towards the first corner! At that point Godfrey was up to third, but later in the lap he was passed by Bakkerud.
Now in fourth and leading the British RX field, Godfrey opted not to challenge for an overall podium placing, but to consolidate his position and thereby claim maximum British Championship points. His plan worked perfectly and he crossed the line to give the Spencer Sport Mirage RX its first British Championship victory and clearly demonstrate the competitiveness of the Mitsubishi, not just against the UK’s top teams, but also some of the best Rallycross drivers and cars in the world.
"I'm very happy with the result. I was extremely impressed with the performance of the Mirage and that we had the opportunity to show what its capable of doing. It’s a great handling car and is fantastic off the start-line - and that’s exactly what you want in Rallycross”, said Godfrey at the finish.
“If I hadn't been hit by other drivers in the Qualifying Heats, then everything would have gone according to plan. Other than that the Mirage ran perfectly and, with a few adjustments to the set up, I know there's even more to come!"
Support for Spencer Sport’s Rallycross campaign comes from Spencer ECA, Motul, Oil 4 Wales, Speedline Corse, Hopkins Motorsport Specialist Race Trailers, Julian Godfrey Engineering and Sea & Slate Holiday Cottages.