The FIA World Rallycross Championship 2018 still has to wait for the first full dry weekend of the year.
But the racing drivers still delivered some great and close racing, like we’re used to in the World RX.
Kevin Hansen gave Guerlain Chicherit a small trip through the air during Qualifying Heat 1. Hansen got awarded with a warning for dangerous driving. Chicherit was still able to finish the heat.
While the Saturday had been dry, the Sunday started out wet.
There was no Kevin Eriksson during the Sunday, since he had a problem with his front diff on his Ford Fiesta. The team wasn’t able to such a repair fast enough to bring him on the track.
Kevin Hansen appeared to be on his way to a win in Q3, but stalled on the very final lap in the Joker Lap. So he lost out of important points in the aim to continue through to the semi finals.
There was a drama in Qualifying heat 4, where Jerome Grosset-Janin collided with Mattias Ekström going towards Turn 1. That sent his Renault Megane RS onto the side, where he slid very slowly down the straight, while the other 4 cars could continue. The heat was red-flagged, since the car was lying right on the racing line, and they needed to get it removed, before the heat was restarted.
Another drama happened in the final heat in Q4, when Johan Kristoffersson collided with Niclas Grönhom, and both drivers got far behind the field, before they got the cars heading the right direction again. Kristoffersson however jokered right away, and ended up winning the heat anyway.
Mattias Ekström, Johan Kristoffersson, Petter Solberg, Robin Larsson, Kevin Hansen and Niclas Grönholm made it into Semi 1, while Timmy Hansen, Sebastien Loeb, Andreas Bakkerud, Timur Timerzyanov, Janis Baumanis and Guerlain Chicherit all went to Semi 2.
So it was goodbye to Francois Duval, Jerome Grosset-Janin, Gregoire Demoustier and Kevin Eriksson – Grosset-Janin after his roll and Eriksson after the diff problem. The two others simply were too slow this weekend.
There was action at the start of Semi 1. The two PSRX Volkswagen Sweden cars won the start, even though they actually collided in Turn 1, while Ekström fell all the way to 4th. So Ekström and Grönholm opted to joker on the first lap.
Robin Larsson hit the tire wall all by himself on Lap 2, sending him out of the battle for a spot in the final.
The two VW drivers took a safe 1-2, while Ekström was the last driver into the final.
Andreas Bakkerud made a jump start in Semi 2, resulting in him having to do an extra Joker Lap.
In the second try getting the heat underway, there was a tangle-up towards Turn 1 where Bakkerud, Timmy Hansen and Baumanis all got stuck together, also sending Timerzyanov spinning. Somehow, all made it through Turn 1, but with Loeb having a big lead.
Timmy Hansen fought his way back through the field, where he overtook Timerzyanov, Chicherit and Baumanis in a straight fight on the track.
Even though Bakkerud had to do two Joker Laps, he still crossed the finishing line in second, only centimetres ahead of Timmy Hansen. Loeb was far ahead. A fantastic example of how unpredictable Rallycross is.
The final was even more exciting. Johan Kristoffersson got a really bad start, and was squeezed on the inside, where he rode up the concrete wall, and going into Turn 1 on two wheels. Bakkerud tried to make it around the outside, but had to take a long way around, and lost out.
Meanwhile, the two Peugeot drivers Loeb and Timmy Hansen got a nice gap. Kristoffersson took his Joker Lap straight away, and Solberg followed one lap later. Loeb and Timmy Hansen was taking the Joker Lap at the same time. While Loeb made it out in front, right ahead of Solberg, Hansen was right behind the Norwegian.
Ekström only jokered on the very final lap, dropping all the way down to 4th, 0,1 of a second behind the third.
Sebastien Loeb won the race ahead of Petter Solberg and Timmy Hansen.
Johan Kristoffersson still leads the Drivers Championship, while Sebastien Loeb moved into second ahead of Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Mattias Ekström and Timmy Hansen. 6 drivers within 16 points after three rounds – you don’t get much closer than that.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden also leads the Teams Championship, while Team Peugeot Total moved into second, ahead of EKS Audi Sport.
The next round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be run at Silverstone in England in two weeks’ time.