Published: 06:00, 17 November 2020
Much of the rallycross season may have been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, but Tom Ovenden has still managed to shine in the strangest of years.
Aged just 16, the former Canterbury Academy pupil – who only received his GCSE results in the summer – claimed his first title in the split-surface sport last month, beating a strong field of young chargers over the Covid-shortened campaign.
The Adisham ace, son of Supernational dominator-turned-Supercar frontrunner Tristan, grabbed the Junior crown in the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship, piloting a neatly turned-out Suzuki Swift.
Enjoying a 100% win record, Ovenden had not planned on completing a full campaign when the three-round season began at Lydden Hill in September.
But the former motocross rider, who was quick in karting and autograss before stepping up to rallycross in 2019, changed his mind following the opening event.
"After we won at Lydden, we thought we'd go to Blyton and then when we did the same there, we thought we better go to the final round, too," Ovenden said.
"When it started going quite well at Lydden, we had to do the whole thing and it was all worth it. I really enjoyed the year."
Ovenden, a former Buckmore Park karting champion, sealed the BTRDA title at Knockhill in Scotland, beating former champion Luke Constantine.
"I really wasn't driving very well all day," Ovenden admitted.
"I was making mistakes and missing gears in the heats – it was a bit of a dodgy day – but luckily in the final it just all came together and I managed to drive cleanly.
"I had learnt a few things from the mistakes I had made and used it all in the final."
As well as beating his Yorkshire-based rival to the BTRDA crown, Ovenden is also leading the Motorsport UK Junior Rallycross Championship.
The keen golfer won the first meeting at Lydden Hill in August, but Covid restrictions mean the second round is not being held until the first weekend of December.
"I feel like I have the pace to win at Lydden, but with rallycross you just never know," Ovenden said.
"I know Luke will definitely want to get his revenge and he is always really fast.
"I'll just do my best and go as fast as I possibly can."
Looking ahead, Ovenden, who is studying a motorsport-based Enhanced Diploma in Sporting Excellence course at Loughborough College, says his younger brother and rapid karter Will, 14, may take over his 1.3-litre Swift for 2021.
Tom does not plan to return to teenage competition in rallycross, but could enter the Ginetta Junior Championship which runs on the British Touring Car Championship support bill.
"It depends on what we can find a sponsor for, but it could be an option," Ovenden said.
"Luke said he really liked it when he did a round in Ginettas last month.
"And from my time in karting, I still love circuit racing."
If Ovenden does go down the Ginetta circuit racing route, he would follow Pluckley racer and former British Rallycross champion Nathan Heathcote, who won the Ginetta GT4 Supercup's 'Am' class in 2019.
The second and third rounds of the Motorsport UK Junior Rallycross Championship will be held behind closed doors at Lydden on December 5-6.