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John Ward and Chrissy Palmer Win At Pembrey As Bakkerud Stars

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Title contenders John Ward and Chrissy Palmer each claimed a victory as the seventh and eighth rounds of the RX150 Rallycross Championship took place at the Pembrey Circuit in South Wales (September 23 – 24).

Palmer led the final on both days, with the circuit being run in an anti-clockwise direction for round seven on Saturday before switching to a clockwise layout for round eight on Sunday.

But, having led the race from pole position, thanks to setting the fastest time in Q1 and Q2, it was Ward who took the lead in the closing stages when Palmer picked up a left-rear puncture. The result keeps Ward in the title-hunt, even though Palmer dominated in round eight, setting the fastest time in each of the three qualifying races and winning the final by a comfortable margin.

“I love the wet and I’m really happy to have won. It was a shame to have a puncture on Saturday but we still managed to salvage second, so I can’t complain really. It’s been a good weekend,” said Palmer. “The championship is close, which I really enjoy and I can’t wait to fight for the title with John at Croft.”

Wet day two conditions were a challenge for all of the RX150 drivers, none more so than FIA World Rallycross Championship star Andreas Bakkerud, who made his return to the series for the first time in two years without any pre-event testing.

Third, fifth and third in the qualifying races, Bakkerud ran second on the opening lap of the final, but dropped behind Stephen Jones on the loose section after a minor mistake. He pressured Jones hard for the following laps to move back up to second by the finish. Jones meanwhile continued to improve on his pace in the single-seater machines and again scored a brace of podiums to secure third in the standings, and lie just 10 points behind Ward in a battle for second ahead of the final round.

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“The last time I raced the buggies was at Croft two years ago and I won. Today I had no feelings on the wet, it was really dirty – the mud was crazy. I would like to have had 20 more laps to see how it is, then maybe I could have done something but Chrissy was in his own division and there was no chance,” said Bakkerud. “It was great that Ollie invited me again. Driving cars is always a blast. I believe rallycross is like MMA – you need to be good on all surfaces. I got some good practice on the starts and I thought I was very good off the line this week, which is something I’m going to take to Estering in the World Championship next weekend.”

Having won on Saturday, Ward’s final on Sunday didn’t go to plan for the Irish driver. Contact between his buggy and that of University of Bolton Student Georgia Shiels in turn one of round eight cost both drivers time, Ward eventually finishing fourth with Shiels in fifth. New-for-2017 driver Shiels had arguably her best weekend of the season at Pembrey, the former rally driver setting times as high as third fastest in the qualifying races.

In round seven on Saturday, she had a close race with World RX television commentator Andrew Coley in the final, the pair exchanging places over the six laps, Coley eventually claiming fourth. It was the former rally driver’s second career appearance in RX150, having raced at Lydden Hill in 2015, and raced in round seven at Pembrey before vacating the buggy for Bakkerud on Sunday.

“Andreas gave Chrissy a bit of a run in through day two, but Chrissy just stormed away at the front as he does. I think Andreas enjoyed it, in difficult conditions for him getting chucked in at the deep end with a new circuit. He did well. Andrew too had a good drive, even though he had a problem with his buggy early on, he’s a good driver to be fair to him and I’m sure with more time he could do very well,” said RX150 Championship promotor, Ollie O’Donovan. “Georgia looked like she might get her first podium this weekend, she’s really improving, and John continues to impress me at every event with his pace in only his first year. Stephen is a dark horse in this championship for sure, he’s always there and always in the hunt. I’m sure soon he will be standing on the top step when his day comes.”

The final round of the RX150 Rallycross Championship will take place at Croft Circuit in Yorkshire on October 21.

2017 RX150 Rallycross Championship Round Seven, Pembrey, Result:

1 John Ward

2 Chrissy Palmer

3 Stephen Jones

4 Andrew Coley

5 Georgia Shiels

2017 RX150 Rallycross Championship Round Eight, Pembrey, Result:

1 Chrissy Palmer

2 Andreas Bakkerud

3 Stephen Jones

4 John Ward

5 Georgia Shiels

2017 RX150 Rallycross Championship Standings:

1 Chrissy Palmer 177

2 John Ward 162

3 Stephen Jones 152

4 Georgia Shiels 118

5 Brett Harris 115

6 Kirk Langley 114

7 Jake Taylor 103

8 Marc Scott 75

9 Adam Sargent 60

10 Larry Sargent 54

11 Mitchell Flaherty 51

12 Andreas Bakkerud 27

13 Andrew Coley

14 Steve Harris 18

15 Richard Moore 17

2017 RX150 Rallycross Championship:

1: Croft; March 19

2: Lydden Hill; April 17

3: Pembrey; June 25

4: Mondello Park; July 22

5: Mondello Park; July 23

6: Lydden Hill; August 28

7: Pembrey; September 23

8: Pembrey; September 24

9: Croft; October 22

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