The FIA World Rallycross Championship had their 8th round of the season today in the French city of Loheac.
The Team Peugeot Total team hoped to do well at their home track, but the competition from Germany, in the shape of Audi Sport represented by EKS Audi Sport and Volkswagen with PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, would do everything to prevent that.
GC Kompetition were also on home soil with their two Renault Megane RS, but they are still quite new in the World RX game.
Sebastien Loeb had issues with his Peugeot 208 WRX in Q1, where the power steering was acting up.
After the two Qualifying rounds on Saturday, we had four German cars in front, while Timmy Hansen was best Peugeot driver in P5, right ahead of Loeb in P6. Johan Kristoffersson was leading after Day 1, followed by Mattias Ekström, Andreas Bakkerud and Petter Solberg.
The Sunday Q3 started on a very damp track, making it very slick and almost impossible to steer the cars. That resulted in a spin for Toomas Heikkinen, who was back in the Championship this weekend as a guest driver.
Loeb once again had technical issues in Q3, sending him on the bubble regarding a place in the semi finals.
Instead we had a surprise delivered by Liam Doran. The Brit was back in the Championship after a two year absence, and was running a GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS. He was leading in Q3 for a very long time, until Johan Kristoffersson beat his time by just over half a second.
The track was all dry for Q4, making the Joker Lap slightly slower to do, like intended. The morning runs on the slippery track had made the Joker Lap a couple of seconds faster than the regular lap.
After the 4 Qualifying rounds we had Johan Kristoffersson, Mattias Ekström, Timmy Hansen, Kevin Hansen, Niclas Grönholm and Guerlain Chicherit into semi final 1, while Andreas Bakkerud, Petter Solberg, Liam Doran, Timur Timerzyanov, Kevin Eriksson and Sebastien Loeb made it to semi final 2.
Well-known names like Janis Baumanis, Toomas Heikkinen and Andrew Jordan just had to be spectators, while their competitors raced on.
Ekström got off to the best start in semi 1, and closed the door on Kristoffersson going into Turn 1. Kevin Hansen was partly spun around by Chicherit, forcing Hansen to Joker instantly.
Timmy Hansen and Grönholm were the two next drivers to Joker, while Kristoffersson did it on Lap 4. Ekström took his on the penultimate lap, and left the joker with an almost one second lead to Kristoffersson.
Mattias Ekström won Semi 1 ahead of Johan Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen. So it was a goodbye to Kevin Hansen, Guerlain Chicherit and Niclas Grönholm.
Bakkerud took the start of semi 2, but Loeb made a super start, and was P3 after only a few turns. Doran and Timerzyanov were in the Joker Lap on the first lap. Solberg had made contact on the first lap, so he was putting out a smoke shield around the track, with body work rubbing on his tire.
Loeb was in the Joker Lap on the third lap, and re-emerged in P3. Solberg took the alternative route on the 4th lap, and rejoined behind Loeb. Andreas Bakkerud was in the Joker on the penultimate lap, and rejoined ahead of Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg, who went into the final. Kevin Eriksson, Timer Timerzyanov and Liam Doran didn’t make it any further.
It was an all EKS Audi Sport first row with Bakkerud ahead of Ekström, who made it away 1-2 ahead of Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, Loeb and Solberg.
Solberg was in the Joker Lap on the very first lap, while Kristoffersson took his on the second lap. Loeb chose to Joker on the third lap, and therefore was in last position.
Bakkerud, Ekström and Timmy Hansen waited until the very final lap, before they all went into the Joker Lap, and that was a huge mistake.
The victory was handed to Johan Kristoffersson on a silver platter ahead of Andreas Bakkerud, Petter Solberg and Mattias Ekström. Timmy Hansen finished P5 ahead of Sebastien Loeb.
It was an enormous mistake by EKS Audi Sport, with two cars on the first row in the finale, only to finish in second and fourth position.
The victory today meant that Johan Kristoffersson extended his lead in the Drivers Championship even further, while Andreas Bakkerud jumped into P2 ahead of Petter Solberg, Timmy Hansen, Mattias Ekström and Sebastien Loeb.
While Kristoffersson has left everybody behind, with a 59-point lead, there are just 14 points between Bakkerud and Loeb.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden continues to lead the Teams Championship ahead of EKS Audi Sport and Team Peugeot Hansen.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship cars are back on track in just 14 days, when they will compete at Bikernieki National Sports Base in Latvia.