Full Race Report
Poleman Barry Benham made a good start to lead Dave Loudoun, Matt Kelly and Alastair Lyall on the openening lap. Championship leader James Rhodes, who only had to finish ninth or higher to win the title, suffered a disastrous start and dropped to 12th.
At the front Benham led until lap 3 at 'Becketts', where Matt Kelly outbraked him. Benham was then tipped into a spin by Loudoun and dropped way down the order. Loudoun was delayed too but only Lyall got past him. A rain shower, mid race, made conditions damp and difficult for Alastair Lyall, whose wayward-handling car caught him out a copse and promoted Loudoun back into second.
Loudoun was now well fired up and slingshotted past Kelly for the lead at 'Copse' on lap 10.
A last lap thriller always looked on the cards. Matt Kelly thrust his way past at 'Becketts', only to then slide wide and allow Dave Loudoun to take the better line through the 'Ireland Esses'. Side by side Matt Kelly was then forced to take to the grass as he ran out track on the exit of the complex, after that he was unable to regain enough composure to retaliate before the chequered flag. Piers Johnson spun out of third on the last lap, at 'Abbey' after a sparkling drive, allowing Lyall back on to the podium. Rhodes recovered to take fifth and the championship win
A jubilant Rhodes said after the race:
"I was going to let Lyall and Kelly through and stay out of their way, but I let more than just those two by, about half the field in fact!"
"I was able to pick off a few places and then stay put and that was all I had to do to clinch the championship."
On the podium meanwhile, race winner Loudoun said:
"This was my last chance to win a race so I just went for it and it's great to at last have the win that has eluded me all season."
Matt Kelly, the local hero from Northampton, who was already assured of at least third overall in the driver's championship, followed Loudoun over the line, while Loughborough race ace Alastair Lyall came home in third to clinch second place overall in the driver's championship.
Kelly, second in the race and third overall in the series,
"I could see Lyall in my mirror and realised that as long as he was there I could finish no higher than third. If I had seen Lyall in the gravel trap then I would have really gone for the win." He, like Loudoun, vowed to be back next year to win.
Lyall in third commented:
"It was one of the best races we've had, I just struggled in the damp conditions"
Obviously disappointed, Lyall went on:
"I went out to win it. I felt we were quicker than Kelly and Loudoun, but getting past them was another matter. It's been a great championship, hard work, but good clean fun - now we'll just have to come back next year and win."
As winner of MGF Cup, James Rhodes wins a brand new MGF 1.8VVC
Alastair Lyall, runner up of the championship wins £3000
And in third, Matt Kelly, he takes home £1500
Final Round of 1998 Race Results
1..Dave Loudoun.....20m 36.297 @ 78.83mph 2..Matthew Kelly....+0.226s 3..Alastair Lyall...+3.075s 4..Nick Carr........+3.690s 5..James Rhodes.....+4.292s 6..Rob Mears........+5.195s Fastest Lap..Loudoun 1m 39.067 @ 81.83mph
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