CLITHEROE’S Simon Horton followed up his sixth place finish at Knockhill with a best-ever fourth position at Mallory Park in the latest round of the British Rallycross Championship.
Racing in the elite supercar class, Horton was out to continue his championship push approaching the midpoint in the season.
Mallory Park was bathed in glorious sunshine as the cars took to the grid for practice and qualifying.
Horton was quickly out the blocks, collecting valuable data of the revised circuit layout and set the fifth fastest time. Upon returning to the pits, the team make some minor modifications before declaring himself happy with the car’s setup, and taking up his starting position for the first qualifying heat of the day.
The first race was a story of two halves. As the supercars left the start for the first time, Simon slotted up the inside of three competitors into the first corner and secured fifth position on the opening lap.
But the race was red flagged when two drivers spun out during the opening phase of the race and their cars were in dangerous positions at the end of the long and fast gravel section, forcing a restart.
At the second attempted restart, Horton’s Subaru Impreza developed a serious misfire on the grid and forced him to complete the race with a huge loss in power and have to drive defensively to secure a sixth position finish.
As the cars pulled into the pits, the hortonracing pit crew instantly set too at analysing the issue, finding the faulty components and solving the problem, allowing Horton to continue the day’s action.
With the venerable Impreza fixed,he showed his true colours in the second qualifying heat, pulling off some spectacular overtaking manoeuvres and claiming a fantastic third position as the chequered flag fell.
He said: “In heat two I knew I had to push, and push hard, to make up for the issues in the first race and I was fully committed behind the wheel every lap.
A position in the supercar A final was secured and took some of the pressure off the team, allowing more time to focus on minor details and maximising the setup changes to the Subaru.
Horton was issued with fifth position on the grid for the final race of the day and presented him with the chance of securing his best result to date in the supercar class.
As he took up his second row slot, he started to believe that a potential first podium finish was on the cards if things went his way.
As the lights went green, he made a dream start off the line and was holding fourth position into the first corner, but unfortunately the Clitheroe-based driver was pushed wide onto the grass and lost multiple positions in the process as he re-joined the race.
With Horton in maximum attack mode, he charged back through the field during the next three laps and was closing back on third position when disaster struck on the final lap.
The car lost second and fourth gears at this crucial point and setup a grandstand finish as the rest of the pack closed back up to the ailing Impreza.
As the drivers entered the last third of the lap, Horton was passed by Colin Anson, who he had been fighting with all day, but he wasn’t letting the position go cheaply.
As Anson passed on the entry into the corner, Horton then slipped back up the inside on the exit to the corner and managed to hold onto his fourth position over the finishing line.
An ecstatic Horton said: “I battled hard all day for that fourth position and I wasn’t going to lose it at the final corner!
“At the beginning of the weekend I targeted myself with a fifth or sixth place finish, so to secure a fourth position is a fantastic result and I’m extremely pleased for the whole hortonracing team as we all deserved this.
“I may drive the car, but we win and lose as a team and I couldn’t do this without them.”
Simon and his team next travel to the Lydden Hill circuit in Kent on the August bank holiday weekend as the season enters its second half.