Published: 16:09, 29 May 2017
Lydden Hill bosses say they will fight to get the World Rallycross Championship back after a record crowd watched the circuit’s last staging of the event.
Norwegian Petter Solberg claimed victory in front of an estimated 25,000 people on Sunday, beating teammate Johan Kristoffersson and Andreas Bakkerud to the flag.
Now circuit owner Pat Doran says he will he continue to work on plans to develop the Canterbury track, which has lost its annual round of the championship to Silverstone.
Doran told KentOnline: “To have something like this in Kent, between Dover and Canterbury, is incredible and we are going to have to fight even harder now to get it back.
“The reason we lost it was because we didn’t have the facilities and we don’t have the facilities because we haven’t been able to get the planning for different technical reasons.
“If we had got the planning which we should have had two years ago, we would have had our development in and we would have carried on.”
Circuit bosses submitted multi-million pound plans to update the venue in 2015, but a decision on the scheme is yet to be made.
They want to build a new hospitality centre, grandstands and entrance off Geddinge Lane, aimed at alleviating congestion on the A2 when the track holds popular events.
Championship organisers IMG announced in January that they will move the British round from the Canterbury track to Silverstone in Northamptonshire from 2018.
Doran added: “We had a high bar to meet this weekend – we wanted to make an event that would be the best world championship meeting ever made and, by what other people have said, I think we have done.
“I am not going to let the planning situation beat us – there has got to be a happy medium where everyone is happy.
“I am a great believer in fate and I think it will turn out best in the end.”
On circuit, Solberg dominated the Supercar qualifying proceedings on Saturday, taking victories in Q1 and Q2 aboard his factory-backed Volkswagen Polo.
He continued his fine form on Sunday, claiming top-spot in Q3 before dropping to third in Q4 behind Timmy Hansen and Kristoffersson.
Solberg saved three new tyres for his semi-final and swept to victory, while Kristoffersson led Sébastien Loeb and current champion Mattias Ekstrom home in semi-final two.
In the final, Solberg took his joker lap from the lead on the second tour and, when those ahead took their compulsory alternative routes, grabbed top-spot back to win from Kristoffersson and Bakkerud.
Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb took a strong fourth, while Mattias Ekstrom and Hansen were both slowed by rear punctures to finish fifth and sixth.
Solberg said: “I am really sorry that it is the last World Rallycross at Lydden as it is fantastic here and, for me, this race was absolutely perfect.
“I am so fast here and I like the track so I am sad but you never know, it could come back.
“I think it’s a sad thing but to win here at least, for the last time, will go down in the history books and that means a lot to me.
“I want to say thank you to everybody involved in Lydden Hill for so many years, and all the volunteers for doing such a fantastic job.”
Former British Touring Car champion Andrew Jordan excelled at Lydden, taking his MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta to eighth overall despite being unable to test the car beforehand.
In the support classes, Lars-Øivind Enerberg took victory from Steve Volders in TouringCar, while current British Rallycross champion Dan Rooke, 19, finished second behind Frenchman Cyril Raymond in RX2.
Circuit bosses also arranged a number of demonstrations featuring rallycross machines from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s to mark the sport’s 50th anniversary.
Lydden Hill will host round six of the British Rallycross Championship on August Bank Holiday Monday. Visit www.lyddenhill.co.uk for details.