Albatec Racing brought its 2014 to a close with both two-litre 16v Peugeot 208s reaching the finals in the last round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Partnering Albatec Team Principal Andy Scott, 2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie Donovan joined the Dumfries squad aboard one of its 600bhp Supercars following a successful return to British rallycross action this year, and both drivers made it through to their respective semi finals in the Total Rallycross of Argentina at the stunning Autodromo Rosendo Hernandez.
For 2011 MSA British Rallycross Vice-Champion Andy, the weekend offered up another pair of heat victories, but the new track also produced its fair share of difficulties, primarily the dust raised during Friday’s two four-laps heats. A strong race win in heat two allowed the Scot the opportunity to maintain tenth place in the overnight standings, however to retain his hopes of a sixth semi final place of 2014.
While conditions were so bad it forced former rally star, and four-time RX150 Champion Ollie to pull over in his opening heat, it nevertheless placed the London-based Irishman just outside the crucial top 12 qualifying positions with two remaining heats.
Saturday’s race action was held in very different conditions however, after rain soaked the track ahead of the third heats. Both drivers went head to head, and a great start saw Ollie get the jump on the pack, before Andy surged ahead and went on to secure his second race win of the weekend. The final race proved one of the most exciting of the day, after a stunning start saw Andy head the field into turn one.
Holding the lead ahead of Peugeot rivals Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen, Reinis Nitiss and Manfred Stohl, another solid performance by Andy saw him hold the position, and despite coming under intense pressure he took third at the flag. Ollie’s final qualifier was even more eventful, a race-long battle with local hero Miguel Baldoni eventually going in the Argentinean’s favour, much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd.
With Andy again comfortably reaching the semi finals, there was further elation for the Lochfoot team when Ollie was later announced as a finalist for semi final two, marking the team’s first double of the year. Lining up fifth in the first race, Andy’s start was slightly compromised, but nevertheless he held fourth into turn one. Contact from another car tapped him into a spin on lap three and ended his charge, although he was satisfied with his day’s performance, claiming his sixth semi final position of the year to place him 12th overall, from 110 competitors, and finish as top Briton.
Ollie meanwhile lined up on the outside of the field in sixth, and consequently had a clearer view off the line. After overcoming the twice-aborted start he leapt into fourth into the first corner and a stirring drive throughout the four-lapper netted fourth place, narrowly missing a place in the six-car final.
Andy Scott, Albatec Racing driver #26:
“It was the best possible way to finish the season for us, and after a tough year was probably as good as we could have hoped for to reach the semi finals with both cars. The track conditions on Friday were difficult to say the least, and the early rain on Saturday helped to ease that, but naturally it also created a new challenge. From the Parade on Thursday, right through the weekend, the fans were amazing, so full of enthusiasm, which certainly added to the atmosphere.
“I’d really like to thank Ollie, for his professional, hardworking, and committed approach to bringing the second car home to its first semi final appearance of the year, it was a pleasure to have him in the team.”
Ollie O'Donovan, Albatec Racing driver #2:
“What a weekend. When I got the initial phone call from Andy inviting me to race, on a scale of 1-10, that was a 6! When I landed and arrived at the San Luis track it was more like a 10, but now it’s a 12! I’ve had a damn good time all weekend, a great craic really, and I’m very pleased to have made the finals.
"Yes it was a bit of the luck of the Irish with Liam’s exclusion allowing me through, but then I had bad luck with the contact with Miguel in one of the heats, which cost me a comfortable second place. It was a steep learning curve getting used to the car, but it was actually great to drive. Overall it’s been a great weekend from start to finish – I’m ready for some more now.”