Three is magic number for Wheeler at Lydden Hill

Torbay Weekly

Rally driver Chris Wheeler’s experience of driving at speed on suddenly changing surfaces stood him in good stead when he made his Rallycross debut at Lydden Hill this month.

The Torquay-based driver overcame wet weather and a slippery track early on and capped a solid performance by taking third place in the Modified Category Final on on Saturday May 8.

In the opening race, Chris adapted well to racing head-to-head against other drivers and took third behind Max Weatherly’s Suzuki Swift Sport.

Two more third places in the subsequent heats cemented his position on the category final grid.

On a drying track and with speeds rising rapidly, Chris lapped consistently under the one-minute mark, sticking close behind Weatherly and Maciek Florczak’s Citroen Saxo VTS.

In the closing stages, his rivals’ greater experience allowed them to pull away and finish 1-2.

However, Chris was pleased with third. “We concentrated on being sensible in the heats and then used what we learned to have a really good go in the final. Scoring a podium placing is a happy bonus,” he said.

Post-event, Chris gave his thoughts on the key to success in Rallycross: “You have to make a quick start and your car has to be reliable to handle being driven virtually flat out for the rest of each race.

"Good race tactics are essential, especially when deciding to drive the ‘Joker lap’ which involves driving around a different part of the course.”

Before racing began, the organisers arranged a demonstration of the starting lights procedure for newcomers.

“The teach-in was essential because it confirmed that races start when the red lights go out, rather than a green light coming on, which is the procedure in rallying.”

Chris said: “All in all, it has been a brilliant day: we learned a lot and made lots of new friends.

"Everyone involved in rallycross is willing to help newcomers and I can’t wait to do more meetings.”

The next round of the BTRDA Clubman’s Rallycross Championship is at Blyton in Lincolnshire on June 27.