Round 7 of this years FIA World Rallycross Championship was run in Canadian Trois-Rivieres.
15 cars had taken the trip across the water, and was ready to battle for the 12 semi final positions. A slightly disappointing number, but it’s hard when all the extra cars other than the basic 15 car entry, all are based in Europe – which the baseline is too. But even though we only had 15 cars, they certainly didn’t give each other any inches on the track.
There was action right from Q1 where Gregoire Demoustier and Guerlain Chicherit collided with the former having to retire with broken suspension, while Chicherit fought his way over the line.
Andreas Bakkerud and Johan Kristoffersson had half a lap where the two were almost side by side for the entire time, with Kristoffersson trying to get past the Norwegian, but failed to do so.
In Q2 we had Jerome Grosset-Janin hitting the tire barrier by himself, and when he car bounced back on the track, he was struck by Timer Timerzyanov, which broke his rear suspension.
Sebastien Loeb was leading after the Saturday running, but there were still two qualifying heats to be run on Sunday. Johan Kristoffersson was all the way back in P9, so he couldn’t afford any slip-ups or he wouldn’t even qualify for the semis.
There were troubles in Q3 again. Timerzyanov hit the wall and was then hit by Chicherit, while the rest of the field avoided them. That resulted in damage to both cars.
Kevin Eriksson braked too late going into Turn 1, which sent him and Kristoffersson into the two final spots on the heat. The defending World Champion still showed his speed, and ended up winning the heat anyway – and actually was the fastest man in Q3 after everybody had raced.
Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, Loeb and Bakkerud went 4 man wide into Turn 1, where Bakkerud was braver on the brakes and went around the outside. Ekström and Solberg once again hit each other, but the two just about avoided the concrete. There was contact again on the final lap, but this time between Ekström and Loeb. When Ekström exited the Joker Lap, Loeb tried to squeeze in front, and the two cars collided. That broke Eki’s steering, so the Swede actually didn’t cross the finishing line. Loeb fought his way to the chequered flag – 20 seconds after everybody else of the finishers.
The weekend didn’t get much better for Guerlain Chicherit in Q4, where he brushed the concrete wall with his right front wheel, breaking his suspension. So he didn’t make it to the semi finals. Neither did teammate Jerome Grosset-Janin, so it was a tough weekend for the Renault Megane WRX team.
Gregoire Demoustier didn’t have the speed nor luck this weekend, and was the final driver not to make it to the semi.
Johan Kristoffersson, Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, Niclas Grönholm, Kevin Eriksson and Timur Timerzyanov were all in Semi 1, while Sebastien Loeb, Timmy Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud, Kevin Hansen, Janis Baumanis and Robin Larsson were into Semi 2.
Ekström got the best start of all in Semi 1, but the two PSRX Volkswagen Sweden cars blocked his way, so the Swedish Audi Sport driver couldn’t overtake. Eki did manage to give Solberg a bit of a shoulder barge into Turn 2, and made his way past. Solberg were early in the Joker Lap, but ended being stuck behind Grönholm, who hadn’t jokered yet. Meanwhile, Kristoffersson and Ekström had a huge gap out in front, so even though they jokered on the final lap, they still remained 1-2 with Solberg finishing P3. So that was goodbye to Grönholm, Eriksson and Timerzyanov.
Bakkerud won the start in Semi 2, all the way from P3, and was the first driver going into Turn 1. Peugeot teammates Loeb and Timmy Hansen were the two next, while younger brother Kevin Hansen took his Joker Lap already on the first lap. Robin Larsson spun on lap to, but was dead last anyway.
Bakkerud hit troubles when his rear suspension broke after contact on Lap 1. The Norwegian didn’t give up and kept his foot flat on the throttle during all 6 laps, and tried to get into the final. He did however only make it home in P4, with a rear wheel having its own life.
There were drama on the very final lap, when Loeb hit the tire barrier from P2, and went around, so he was blocking the track. Baumanis almost T-boned the Frenchman, but managed to get his car manoeuvred around him and got home in P2, several seconds behind Timmy Hansen. But that didn’t matter – and Bakkerud, Kevin Hansen and Larsson were done for the weekend.
Kristoffersson took the start in the final, while Ekström tried to squeeze in between Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen, but without luck. Baumanis actually did the fastest start of all, but there was no room for him at the top, so he chose to joker already on the first lap. Solberg took his Joker Lap on the second lap, while Ekström did it on lap three.
Timmy Hansen did it with two laps to go, and made out ahead of Ekström. Kristoffersson and Loeb jokered on the penultimate lap, and rejoined in first and third respectively.
Johan Kristoffersson took the 6th win in a row ahead of Timmy Hansen, Sebastien Loeb, Mattias Ekström, Petter Solberg and Janis Baumanis.
He therefore extended his lead in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, so he leads by 55 point to Sebastien Loeb. It’s only possible to score a maximum of 30 on a perfect weekend, so the Swede is almost two weekends in front of everybody else! Timmy Hansen is P3, but equal on points with Loeb. Andreas Bakkerud and Petter Solberg are just one point behind – equal on points, too! Mattias Ekström is P5, a massive 6 points from P2. It’s insanely close behind Kristoffersson.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden still leads the Teams Championship, while Team Peugeot Total has moved into P2 ahead EKS Audi Sport, while GRX Taneco, GC Kompetition and Olsbergs MSE aren’t in the battle for top 3 any more.
The drivers and teams has almost one month of holiday again, before the next round will be held at the Loheac circuit in France on 1-2 September.