The fifth round of this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship was held in the Norwegian town called Hell.
Other than the usual faces in the World RX, there was a debut for another racing driver, who normally is associated with other parts of the motorsport – Alex Wurz. He is the son of the former European Rallycross Championship, Franz Wurz, so other than the fuel running in his blood, there surely is some gravel too. He has had an eye on Rallycross for some years, but he has to get used to the sport, so his results weren’t too good on the laptimes, but he performed quite okay in the Qualifying heats themselves.
After the two Qualifying heats on Saturday, Johan Kristoffersson was the leading driver ahead of Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg.
While the Saturday was run under sparkling sunshine, the Sunday started out under a thick cloud cover.
The fights in Q3 was really intense, when Petter Solberg and Mattias Ekström collided in their heat, going into Turn 1. Ekström chose to go for the Joker Lap on the very first lap, which made him hit Solberg in Turn 1, pushing the Norwegian all the way into the Joker lap itself, so he was forced to take it too. The stewards decided to give Ekström a 5-second time penalty for that contact with Solberg.
Sebastien Loeb made a huge mistake in the same heat, forgetting to take his Joker Lap. That gave him a 30-second penalty, so instead of winning the race and finishing on top of Q3, he would finish a long way down, which should be very costly for him regarding his starting position in the Semi Final.
Q4 was a nightmare for Ekström, who couldn’t get his car running, when the green lights went on. Instead he just had to sit and watch the other 4 drivers race. That cost him a lot of points in the fight for a good starting position in the Semi Final.
Timur Timerzyanov had troubles too in Q4, where he didn’t get to the start line at all. He broke a drive shaft on the way to the grid, so he wasn’t able to drive. That cost him a place in the Semi Final, where he actually was 12th after Q3. A great shame for the Team STARD driver.
Johan Kristoffersson ended up winning all 4 Qualifying heats, and was therefore starting from the first starting position in Semi 1, joined by Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Sebastien Loeb, Robin Larsson and Anton Marklund.
Timmy Hansen, Kevin Hansen, Niclas Grönholm, Kevin Eriksson, Mattias Ekström and Janis Baumanis were all into Semi 2.
There wasn’t any space left for Tommy Rustad, Jerome Grosset-Janin nor Guerlain Chicherit, since their results in the four Qualifying heats weren’t good enough.
Solberg got off to the best start in Semi 1, and dived straight for the Joker Lap alongside Loeb and Marklund. Larsson waited one more lap before he took his. Kristoffersson and Bakkerud waited for the very final lap to joker, but rejoined in first and second, ahead of Solberg. So it was goodbye to Loeb, Larsson and Marklund. That was the first time in 2018, that we didn’t have Loeb on the podium at a World RX event.
Kevin Hansen took the lead in Semi 2 and jokered right away, joined by Kevin Eriksson. Meanwhile, older brother Timmy Hansen took the lead on the track ahead of Ekström and Grönholm. While Janis Baumanis took his Joker Lap on the penultimate lap, Timmy, Ekström and Grönholm those to wait until the very final lap. While Timmy Hansen and Ekström rejoined first and second, Kevin Hansen was the guy advancing in P3 ahead of Grönholm, Eriksson and Baumanis.
Johan Kristoffersson got off to the best start in the Final, and kept everybody behind him. Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud collided going into Turn 1, and therefore were out of the fight for the podium positions, even before they got the cars heading in the right direction again. Mattias Ekström and Kevin Hansen chose to joker on Lap 1. Solberg waited until the penultimate, which proved costly, as he lost a position to Ekström.
But there was absolutely nobody who could catch Johan Kristoffersson, who won all heats through the weekend, including the Final. Mattias Ekström finished second while Petter Solberg ended up P3. Kevin Hansen, Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud took 4th, 5th and 6th.
Johan Kristoffersson continues to lead the World Championship for drivers ahead of Sebastien Loeb, while Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Mattias Ekström and Timmy Hansen are right behind Loeb.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden leads the Teams Championship ahead of EKS Audi Sport and Team Peugeot Total, where Audi and Peugeot are equal on points.
The next round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be the most prestigious of them all. Höljes in Sweden is the one round that everybody wants to win, with the final being run on 1 July.