This draws our 2019 season to a close - over the winter we plan to rebuild the car and prepare for an assault on the championship in 2020. Our latest vlog - Tracks With Todd from Knockhill will be out soon, and keep a lookout for our end of season review.
The BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship returned to the Knockhill circuit, near Dunfirmline, Fife, on the 20th of October for the first time in 8 years to close off the 2019 season. The circuit was fast and flowing on the tarmac, with the season’s longest straight leading into the feared Duffus Dip, while the loose was rough and slippery with thick mud across the track throughout the day.
Testing on the Saturday gave Todd the opportunity to push hard as soon as he hit the track on Sunday, refining the set up on the car and tyres in the short practice. With a full grid, Todd started on pole for Heat 1, yet struggled off the line compared to the RWD cars. Despite extensive traffic holding up the Mini racer once into the race, he scored 3rd behind the fast starting Lotus Exige of Guy Corner and the ever rapid Pat Ryan’s Nova.
Due to a few issues for other drivers, Heat 2 started as a grid of 3 for Todd’s race. He used that to his advantage to get a completely clear track for 4 laps - setting laps 1.5 seconds faster than his competitors and winning the overall heat by 3 seconds and 50 seconds ahead of the others in his heat race.
Heat 3 went much the same as Heat 2 - a one lap battle with the Cosworth powered Vauxhall Astra of Sam Bovill ended with Todd taking the lead with a clean overtake at Turn 1. The battle did not hold up either driver by much though as again Todd took the overall heat win by 3 seconds.
The 2 heat wins secured a Pole position start for the Supermodifed A final, alongise Corner and Ryan, with Bovill and other championship contender Alan Crockett on the second row. Out launched again by the fast starting rear wheel drive cars, Todd found himself 5th as he entered the loose section.
Passing Bovill in Turn 1 in a repeat of the Heat 3 battle, followed immediately by Alan Crockett in Turn 2, Todd worked his way up the field. A few laps later, having caught the leading pair of Ryan and Corner, a mistake by the Yorkshireman Corner led to contact between Todd’s Mini and the Lotus, damaging both, but resulting in Todd in second place overall in the final and 1st in class. It was unfortunately not enough to secure the championship - a 2 position over fellow Mini driver Leigh-Anne Sedgwick was required to take the class championship, but she drove well to finish 3rd overall, taking the class win.
To round out the season, the organisers of the race put on a Superfinal, inviting the fastest 10 drivers from every class to compete for the overall victory. The damage sustained in the final led to a busy 10 minutes for the team, having just one race between the Supermodified final and the Superfinal. With suspension components replaced and bodywork damage repaired, the team made it to the front row of the grid once more. A race long battle with Sam Bovill ensued, but down on power due to the damage sustained in the final, Todd couldn’t make any pass stick, and again finished second overall.
“I had so much fun this weekend,” said Todd with a smile on his face. “The team and the car were utterly fantastic this week - the guys in the pits turned a damaged car round in record time between Final and Superfinal, and the times we were setting proved that we really can be the fastest out there. To top it all off we were awarded driver of the day! It was a shame to not get the class championship - but we did absolutely everything we could, and the performance bodes well for 2020.”
The team would like to extend our thanks to the marshalls, organisers at DDMC and the BTRDA, Trev Coulson for the pictures and all our sponsors; Link ECU, ITG Air Filters, Woodford Trailers, Motul, Witham Motorsport, MJ Windscreens, Equip Rasen and Muk Junkie Cleaner.
This draws our 2019 season to a close - over the winter we plan to rebuild the car and prepare for an assault on the championship in 2020. Our latest vlog - Tracks With Todd from Knockhill will be out soon, and keep a lookout for our end of season review.
Lydden Hill always draws a big entry, and the 2019 edition was no different - with over 90 entries including visiting drivers from Norway, Germany, Belgium and Holland, British Championship contenders as well as the British and Irish Regulars. Key for the team though, was ensuring a significant points haul to take them into the last round of the championship still in the title hunt.
Heading out onto a damp track for practice, Todd was keen to try out some updates and set up changes made over the short summer break. It was clear from early on that the modifications had improved the car - despite a short 3 lap session with only 1 flying lap, the timing screens showed a top 3 overall lap time.
For Heat 1 Todd started on pole, with the fast starting Volvo 242 of Kenneth Kristiansen along side. Beaten to the first corner by the Norwegeian and the Escort Cosworth of Belgian driver Ludo Hermans, Todd used an early joker lap to his advantage and taking advantage of a clear track found himself at the front at the start of the last lap. Turning into Paddock Bend the Mini suffered a puncture, resulting in a messy run to the line, dropping only 1 spot on track, but 2 spots in the overall standings, Todd finished seventh.
Heat 2 Todd started from the back of the grid. Close fighting in the early stages gave Todd reason to once again dive for the Joker Lap early on. A driver error while coming over the jump to rejoin the main circuit resulted in driveshaft failure and a DNF. The team had a chance to fit the new uprated driveshafts to the car once the Mini returned to the paddock, having ran on standard parts up till this point in the day.
On the way to the grid for Heat 3, the team encountered a problem with the power steering and not wanting to get a 0 score in another heat, headed out anyway. The Mini is a handful with the hydraulic assist, so without it Todd struggled round, battling with the fellow Mini driver Leigh-Anne Sedgewick to 15th overall. Not a full demonstration of what the car and driver can achieve - but good enough to secure a front row start for the B final.
A close race with the Belgian driver Raf Verheyen in the B final resulted in second place and a ticket to start the A final from the back row. The back to back races and the warm south coast weather had taken its toll on the race car, with the residual heat creeping up, Todd battled up through the multinational field and brought the car home 7th overall, but importantly 3rd points scorer.
“Another challenging weekend for us and the team,” Remarked Todd. “But as usual, it all came good in the end, with a decent result and serious points, keeping us in championship contention. Every round is a learning curve for the team, finding teething issues with the new car - we never thought we’d even be in contention before round 1, so coming into the final round in the hunt for the title is a real delight”
The team would like to extend our thanks to the marshalls, organisers at LHMC and the BTRDA, Trev Coulson for the pictures and all our sponsors; Link ECU, ITG Air Filters, Woodford Trailers, Motul, Witham Motorsport, MJ Windscreens, Equip Rasen and Muk Junkie Cleaner.
Our next race event at the Scottish circuit of Knockhill, near Dunfermline as the last round of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship on Sunday the 20th of October. The latest episode of our mini vlog series, Tracks With Todd, is now live on our facebook and youtube channels, this time featuring a tour of the Lydden Hill Circuit.
On the hottest weekend of the year so far, TCM and the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship returned to Blyton Park, near Gainsborough in Lincolnshire for Round 4 of the series. All of the championships regulars were in attendance - along with Irishman Padraig Leeson in his super quick 2.4 Vauxhall Corsa, and the big winged turbo Mk2 Escort Zakspeed of Scot Wullie Stewart. The team were confident coming into the weekend - having won round 1 at the tight and technical circuit back in March.
After getting practice out of the way early in the session, Todd lined up on pole in heat 1. Leading from the start, he settled into a rhythm, knowing that the faster drivers in the other races had clear runs and that the driver with the fastest outright pace over the 4 lap race was the most likely to take the overall victory in heat 1. The Mini won the race clearly, 28 seconds up on Wullie Stewart and 53 seconds ahead of the Porsche Boxster of Michelle Swallow, taking 2nd overall and the fastest lap of all Supermodified cars in the process.
In Heat 2, Crooks had a back row start, so opted to use his older, slower tyres, in order to preserve his best slicks for later in the day. Despite this, he made a good start, battling his way past the S2000 Corsa of Alan Tapscott, until a driveshaft failure brought his race to a premature end on Lap 2. The team frantically repaired the car ready for heat 3 where a front row start was gifted to him due to some early retirements.
Setting off from pole and with a clear circuit ahead of him, Todd encountered the same issue again on the other side of the car. The drive shaft sheared in the middle which was an issue the team had not encountered before, different to the CV joint issues uncovered at Pembrey, and he was forced to limp back to the bits.
It was a more complicated fix to get the car ready for the B-Final as the breakage had caused parts to get stuck together. Various parts were mis-matched together to ensure the car made the A final. Now sporting two standard parts, rather than the strengthened ones fitted earlier in the day, a less aggressive drive was needed to get the car to the end
Off the start, Crooks made his way straight to the second position, with a bit of a gap to the leading Clio of Kenny Hall. This was good enough to guarantee a place in the A final, however, a small mistake from the Scotsman allowed Todd to catch and pass him, after which a lead was maintained and the car nursed home, with the high temperatures starting to affect the engine and the power steering in the car.
Starting from the back row of the A final, Crooks made a gentle start, both to preserve his car and to allow him to pick the best line, picking up 3 places by the first corner, putting him on the tail of fellow MINI driver, Leigh-Anne Sedgewick. The two battled for 2 laps, until Todd made a move up the long start straight, allowing him to slot comfortably into the P4 position. At this stage, without incident, the gap to the leading trio of Fred Ling, Pat Ryan and Padraig Leeson was unassailable, however a puncture dropped the Corsa of Leeson back into and behind Todd, moving him up to 3rd overall, and 1st in the 2101cc+ class, struggling again with intermittent power steering.
“After heat 3 I was not confident we’d even get to the start of any final this weekend, having broken the uprated shafts twice.” said Todd after the podium. “To come from that low point to the high of 3rd overall and 1st in class in the A final is something I’ve not really experienced before. I’m so grateful to the team for getting the car sorted and ready to go for the B Final under huge time pressures.”
The team would like to extend our thanks to the marshalls, organisers at the MDA and the BTRDA, Trev Coulson for the pictures and all our sponsors; Link ECU, ITG Air Filters, Woodford Trailers, Motul, Witham Motorsport, MJ Windscreens, Equip Rasen and Muk Junkie Cleaner.
Our next race event at the Belgian circuit of Duivelsberg, near Maasmechelen as part of the Minicross european tour on Saturday the 3rd and Sunday the 4th of August, followed a week later by the second event at Eurocircuit Valkenswaard, Holland. Until then, keep an eye on our social media for some exciting new video content, and expect some big news to come in the forthcoming weeks.
A slightly re-designed circuit greeted the team when they arrived at Pembrey, near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire, on Friday night. The circuit had been altered in recent years to be run in both directions - allowing clockwise competition on Saturday and anti-clockwise on Sunday. The racing was to be fierce - a strong Irish contingent, along with the return of Mike Dresser in his Honda powered Lotus were amongst the highlights of the supermodified entry list.
After getting used to the car and the track layout during Saturday morning practice and, setting the 2nd fastest time in the process, Todd made his way to the grid for heat 1. He won his race - but a slow start, a freshly watered track and traffic slowed him down to claim 4th overall. Heat 2 was unfortunately not as successful, with a broken CV joint causing a DNF.
After a driveshaft change, Todd started heat 3 from the back of the grid. Despite making it past most of his competitors in the first 2 laps, the Nova of Pat Ryan had already made his escape and a clear run in the other heat by 2 fellow competitors resulted in a second 4th place, resulting in a 4th place grid slot for the A Final.
Typical Welsh weather raised its head before the Supermodified final, sprinkling with enough water to turn the tarmac shiny and the loose to a sludge. The fast starting RWD Corsa of Alan Tapscott beat Crooks to the first corner and the Mini driver ran 5th until making a move on Tapscott late on in lap 1. During the move, contact was made between the two resulting in them both dropping down the order. Todd battled his way back up the field to 5th place, on the bumper of fellow 2101cc+ competitor Leigh-Anne Sedgewick, resulting in a 2nd in class.
After an overnight service, the team were ready to do it all over again on Sunday, on the better flowing Anti-Clockwise circuit. Practice resulted another fast time, so the team were aiming for a second successful day, but heat 1 did not oblige. A second CV joint failure, this time on the other side, was put down to a mixture of a damaging circuit and an underlying problem with the car’s differential not discovered until after heat 2. The car limped home and achieved 9th overall.
Not knowing about the differential issue, Todd knew he needed to make the most of his front row start in Heat 2. A clear and flat out run was rewarded with an overall win, 7 seconds ahead of the 2nd placed Corsa of Kieran Curran, and an even noisier differential. The team checked over the car, discovered there was nothing that could be done in the time frame available, so Todd got to the grid of heat 3 to nurse it home for 5th overall from the back of the grid.
The mix matched results earned the team a front row, 3rd place grid position in Sunday’s A final. Todd held that position through the first corners despite fast starting RWD cars behind, and caught the leading pair over the first 2 laps. Despite hassling the 2nd placed Vauxhall of Alan Crockett for half the race, he could not find a way past and had to settle for 3rd overall and 1st in the 2101cc+ class.
“It’s not been an easy weekend for me, and even harder for the team in the paddock.” commented Todd. “Despite this, we still came away with a class win on Sunday, a Second place on Saturday and the fastest lap of anyone from any category on Sunday. I think this really shows the capability of the car and team, being able to have success even when it’s really not our day. Returning to Blyton in June will really be a chance to stretch our legs.”
The team would like to extend our thanks to the organisers at BARC and the BTRDA and all our sponsors; Link ECU, ITG Air Filters, Woodford Trailers, Motul, Witham Motorsport, MJ Windscreens, Sunrise Signs, Equip Rasen and Muk Junkie Cleaner.
Our next race event is back at our home track Blyton Park, North Lincolnshire, for Round 4 of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship on the 30th of June. The car will also be featuring at Coventry Motofest on the 1st and 2nd of June on the Radio Plus stand on Greyfriars Green.
The television coverage can now be found on the Motorsport TV website on the following links:
Despite a bitterly cold wind, the sun was shining over Blyton Park for the first round of the 2019 BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship. The Lincolnshire circuit traditionally features at the start of the season and has seen success for the team before, so we were cautiously optimistic as we rolled the new car out of the trailer for it’s first run in anger.
After morning practice, a misfire that did not appear on our test day reared it’s head. Extensive investigation work was undertaken before the first heat, where we started on pole, however by the time we made it to the grid the misfire was back. Despite this, Todd made it to the first corner ahead of all of his rivals and held his lead until half distance, where a loose component in the cockpit resulted in a driver error and the lead was lost. This resulted in a 2nd in the race and 5th overall for heat 1.
Heats 2 and 3 both started with mid to rear of the grid starting positions, meaning Todd had to thread the Mini past 3 cars in each 4 lap heat resulting in 2nd and 3rd place overall finishes in the heats respectively. The team in the paddock were still investigating the misfire, replacing as many components as possible in order to eradicate it without success, including borrowing spares from competitors (thanks to Sedgewick Racing for their help) and travelling off circuit to get a new batch of fuel.
The consistent results left the team with a second row starting position for the A final. Todd started well against Rear Wheel Drive opposition and held 3rd position into the first corner. During the middle section of the first lap, going over the circuit’s ‘hump’, the mini’s traction allowed Todd to pull alongside the RWD Corsa of Allan Tapscott and pass him into the chicane. With the FWD Corsa of Alan Crockett in his sights, Todd started to close down the gap until a small mistake from the N.I. man with a lap to go resulted in a pass for the lead in the tight infield section. From there Todd maintained a comfortable lead to take the win.
“It’s hard to put into words what this means to me and the team” commented Todd following the final. “This is the culmination of 18 months of work from the team, our partners and our sponsors. To kick off the debut of the new car with a win is incredible, I can’t wait to see how we compare when we have cured our misfire.”
The team would like to extend our thanks to the organisers at the MDA and the BTRDA and all our sponsors; Link ECU, ITG Air Filters, Woodford Trailers, Motul, Witham Motorsport, MJ Windscreens, Sunrise Signs, Equip Rasen and Muk Junkie Cleaner.
Television coverage can now be found on the motorsport.tv website: https://uk.motorsport.tv/motorsporttv/video/clubmans-rallycross-round-1-blyton-park/20720?autoplay&t=39m25s
Our next race event is at Pembrey Circuit, South Wales, for rounds 2 and 3 of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship on the 18th and 19th of May.
Sometimes, race weekends don't always go to plan...
Our bank holiday weekend started well; a good days testing for Jordine, some good results for my cousins in their Super One Karting Championship and a reasonable couple of results for us on the Monday morning. In Q2 we'd finished 3rd in the field - the same position that we held in the overall Super National Championship table going into the weekend.
In Q3, however, things went downhill - literally. After a close battle with one of our fellow competitors all day, coming out of North-bend hairpin and feeling more competitive than ever, a racing incident began to unfold of which nobody was to blame. We made contact with each other meaning that the car turned sideways and gripped. As the two wheels lifted I realised I was nothing more than a passenger and sat tight as sky, then floor, then sky, then floor flashed before my eyes. It all happened in a matter of minutes, and the car was firmly planted on the floor before I could realise what had happened. After realising that it was so bright as the roof had come off, and a quick check that my legs and arms were still intact, I jumped out to let my supporters, and the rest of the crowd know that after all that, I was OK.
From what I can gather from videos, pictures, and peoples comments, the roll was pretty spectacular going end-over-end approximately 9 times and shedding all of it's panels. The integrity of the space frame and the roll cage, which still mostly resembled the mini cooper shape are a huge testament to Duncan and those who have worked to build my car - it could not have been safer or protected me any better - some may not have been as lucky, but I escaped with a bruised foot (an x-ray has revealed that there's nothing broken) and a stiff neck / shoulders. My helmet, belts and hans did an excellent job of protecting my head, neck and keeping me in the car too and I couldn't be more thankful that they stood up to the job they were intended to - and maybe now I'll be able to get that fancy Stilo I've had my eyes on :P
A quick look back on the car, and we've made the decision not to use the spaceframe or roll cage again as it is weakened in areas, but the engine runs with no smoke so we'll find a way of getting that into something new! The fact that the engine has survived is just another testament to how well built our car was.
A big thanks again to Duncan, for building me the safest and quickest car I've known, to mum, J, Linda and all my other supporters for looking out for and after me both before and since the accident, and to everyone else who has sent well wishes. I must also send my thanks to the marshalls, the medical and recovery crews and the management / organisers of the British Rallycross Championship who handled the situation excellently.
I've chosen not to share any pictures of the roll as it progressed - I'm not really sure it's appropriate - just know that I'm alright.
We're not sure on what our future plans are, or when we'll next be competing with that engine, but rest assured that this roll has not put me off, and I'll be back on the track as soon as possible :-)
I went to Lydden Hill full of optimism, as it was only the 3rd round of the British Rallycross Championship that we have contested this year. The fast and flowing track suited our car, and the dry weather forecast made a pleasant change from the last 2 British Championship rounds at Pembrey. Not only this but we took with us a pair of nearly new and newly available Michelin rallycross tyres, which had proved to provide incredible traction during the final of the last weekend at Pembrey.
Practice went well, the car felt great and the Lydden Hill circuit was the most grippy I've ever known it. I spent the session chasing and keeping up with the current championship leader Tony Lynch, which proved to me our capability to keep with the front of the field. For the first heat I started on the inside of the second row, surrounded by fast starting RWD cars. I headed for the standard lap from the start, alongside the BMW of Vince Bristow and behind the older BMW of Gary Simpson, both of which I passed coming out of the long loose right hander of Chessons drift, leaving just Paige Bellerby in her super-fast starting Lotus ahead. As I came round through Chessons for the second time, some tyre rubbing started from the rear of the car, followed soon after by a small amount of movement from the rear axle. This small movement steadily got worse throughout the race, until I the point where I had to back off and cruise to the finish. Once we got the car back to the pit garage, we were able to identify the problem as a broken rear axle link and coilover. Unfortunately, we did not have a spare coilover, and despite asking around the entire paddock we could not find anything to get us back on track, putting us out of the entire race day.
It was a shame to not make the final at Lydden Hill, as I have done at every other British Championship round I have contested this year, however it was good to know that the car was on pace, and I can't wait until the next round at Pembrey!
`Massive apologies for the delay in updating the blog! Things have been a little hectic in the TCM camp this year. Here's a little insight into what's been going on....
MDA Test Day (All the way back in February)
Unfortunately, the Supermodified Mini wasn't ready for the Blyton test day at the beginning of the year,so I spent the day running and looking after our Classic Mini. The car was driven by a bunch of people, myself, Jordine, Helen and Tom Brookes from Downforce Radio. In all it was a great and relaxed day and it gave several people a good chance to get behind the wheel of our race car.
Round One of the BTRDA Rallycross Championship, Blyton (Way back in March)
By the end of march and the first round of the BTRDA Rallycross championship, the Mini was still not ready. This was frustratingly down to delays in getting hold of various parts for the conversion of the car from supercharged to turbocharged.
Despite this, we still wanted to be able to enter and score good points in the BTRDA championship. So the decision was made to hire one of the Peter Gwyne Motorsport Suzuki Swifts for the first round, to enter into the up to 1600cc class. Despite not being at the front of the field like we were used to, the little Swift still allowed some great racing with both other Swifts and some Mini Coopers in the same class. It also allowed good points to be scored in the overall Modified class. The end result was a positive second in class, behind a Super 1600 car, which we were very pleased with!
Round Two of the BTRDA Rallycross Championship, Pembrey
Yet again, down to delays getting parts from suppliers, we did not have our Mini ready for the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the BTRDA Championship at Pembrey. For these rounds we were lucky enough to be able to borrow the production class Citroen C2 VTS of our sponsor Steve Gaunt at SG Haulage which we again entered into the up to 1600cc class of the supermodified class. We struggled more with this car as it is a near standard production rallycross car, including having to replace the clutch after practice on the first day. Despite this we were still able to closely compete with the Suzuki Swifts in our class, resulting in 4th place on both days.
2016 is set to be a really big year for me and Todd Crooks Motorsport. As I write this, the team and myself are working on massive upgrades to both the engine and the handling for the Supernational R53 Mini. Simultaneously we've been doing some maintenance work on the classic, making sure it's ready for it's new driver this year. More on that later!
Firstly though, the supernational. For 2016 we're working with our new sponsor AET Motorsport. Between us and AET we're converting the car from supercharged to turbocharged. This will give us big gains in power and torque, allowing us to compete better with the high powered cars of the British Rallycross Championship. This has had it's downsides though, unfortunately time has not been on our side and we've not been able to have the car ready for the first rounds of either the British or BTRDA championships. We'd rather not rush it though, do it right and do it once!
For the first round of the BTRDA championship, we've organised for me to drive a Suzuki Swift Sport in the up to 1600cc Supermodified Class. These little cars are fast, great fun and reward good drivers. Not only that but it will suit the tight and technical circuit at Blyton Park and will hopefully allow me to score some decent points towards the overall BTRDA and Supermodified Classes.
The classic mini will be returning to Blyton Park this weekend at the hands of it's new driver, my Mum, Helen Crooks. Helen has always had a love for racing and has been dying to have a go at rallycross ever since we got involved in the sport. The new classic class in the BTRDA rallycross championship gives Helen a chance to stretch it's legs against equal machinery and we hope to have the car and driver out at as many rounds as possible for 2016!
It's official - we've won the BTRDA Clubmans Supermodified Overall Championship!
It was a very wet and muddy weekend at Croft and there was some very stiff competition, with people coming from Norway, Belgium, Ireland and all over the UK to compete at the north Yorkshire circuit for the final round of the 2015 season. Despite the puddles and the competition, I set some consistently fast heat times throughout the day earning myself 5th on the grid for the final. The final was a close run race with my and Irish competitor and last year's champion Kieran Curran running nose to tail all race. In the end the Corsa driver finished 4th and I finished 5th. The modified A final was won by Norwegian competitor Herbjorn Haug in his obscenely fast Ford Puma, so a big well done to him and all of the other competitors, especially my girlfriend Jordine Wadge who impressed everyone on her rallycross debut!
I had entered the round level on points with my championship rival, Gary Cook. Gary qualified his MG for the B final, only to spin out of second place and the opportunity for me to race him in the final. This did mean however, that I took my first ever championship! I can't give enough thanks to my team and all my sponsors, especially my mechanic Duncan for providing me with an awesome car capable of taking me to this championship!