World Rallycross Championship regular Oliver Bennett was forced to withdraw from the British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy season opener after falling foul of a technical regulation regarding fuel.
Bennett was racing his Mini Cooper SX1 Supercar at the Lydden Hill event, using it as a test outing ahead of his anticipated World RX return and as such wasn’t scoring points during the weekend.
His car, set up for the world championship, was running on a fuel different to his fellow British RX runners.
However just as he was lining up to race in the semi-finals, having previously won all of his qualifying heats, a technical member highlighted that the World RX fuel was in breach of British RX regulations.
“We’re running the World RX car, so it runs on P1 fuel,” Bennett told DirtFish. “We did the British rounds last year and I told the organizers that we’re running P1, no problem, we were even refueling up in their area.”
Bennett added that the Mini actually runs “a bit slower” on the World RX fuel and that he was at “a disadvantage basically”, but that to run the approved fuel would require his Xite Racing team to remap and re-prepare his car.
While the late ruling was frustrating for Bennett, he stopped short of blaming the series organizers, whom he said were pushing for him to be allowed to run at what was the highest-profile rallycross event in Britain since the COVID-19 lockdown.
“It’s not the British Championship’s fault,” he insisted. “Pat [Doran, series managing director] was pushing to try and get me to be allowed out, even the drivers were all on our side but at the end of the day it was ruled.
“It’s just a shame that they told me that when I was sat on the line for the semi and not yesterday or this morning.
“The 5 Nations tried to help, they were supportive of me doing it and all the competitors were supportive of me doing it, it was just down to technical regulations not allowing it.”
The event was won by Mark Donnelly, who was making his Supercar debut. Olympic cycling legend Chris Hoy also took part in the Supercar event and finished fifth.
Isle of Man TT record-holder John McGuinness competed at Lydden too, in his first rallycross appearance, and finished second in the RX150 class. He is due to make his Supercar debut at Knockhill later this month.
Bennett is set to return to World RX later this year for the rounds at Spa-Francorchamps, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and the Nürburgring, subject to confirmation.