Suprise after surprise in Canada

The seventh round of the 2019 season of FIA World Rallycross Championship was run in Trois Rivieres, Canada.

It was almost a month ago since the previous round in Höljes, but it was now history.

The Hansen brothers Kevin and Timmy were first and second in the championship before the weekend, followed by Andreas Bakkerud and Niclas Grönholm.

The Q1 and Q2 on Saturday were relatively drama free. Apart from both Jani Paasonen and Liam Doran having technical problems in Q2.

Niclas Grönholm was the best driver after the first day, ahead of Andreas Bakkerud, Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund, while the Hansen brothers made it to the semifinal by the skin of their teeth, after a bit of contact with some competitors in the two sessions.

The sun was out on Sunday, where Bakkerud had a bad start on his Q3 heat but then made it up. He was fifth on the way into Turn 1, but up to second on the way out. Nicely done by the Norwegian.

Andreas Bakkerud, Timmy Hansen, Liam Doran, Timur Timerzyanov

There was a commotion between Rokas Baciuska and Timo Scheider in their Q3 heat, where Scheider had a flying moment and was sent over by Chicherit. Baumanis made a mistake later on the lap, while Guerlain Chicherit retired with a broken front suspension. You’d think it was the finale, with that much action…

In Q4 things weren’t so much better for Oliver Bennett and Anton Marklund, when the two collided on the way into Turn 1, which broke a suspension on both cars. They were thus finished far down and out of contention for the semi final spots.

The last heat in Q2 all hell broke loose. Timerzyanov, Bakkerud and Grönholm had a collision towards Turn 1, which sent Bakkerud’s car over Timmy Hansen. In one way or another, Grönholm came out first in Turn 1, with Doran right behind him, while Timerzyanov drove around with an open door after the contact. Doran’s car got punctured on the right rear tire, which also sunk him. It put him under pressure not only from Timerzyanov but also Timmy Hansen on the last lap. It resulted in a contact between Timmy Hansen and Liam Doran, who then also got hit by Timerzyanov. Meanwhile, Bakkerud gladly drove past and snatched second place behind Grönholm. What a crazy, crazy heat.

After all the drama, Niclas Grönholm, Timur Timerzyanov, Janis Baumanis, Rokas Baciuska, Kevin Hansen and Cyril Raymond were in Semi 1, while Andreas Bakkerud, Guerlain Chicherit, Liam Doran, Anton Marklund, Timo Scheider and Krisztian Szabo were in Semi 2.

No Timmy Hansen, Guillaume de Ridder, Oliver Bennett or Jani Paasonen in the semi finals.

Andreas Bakkerud, Timur Timerzyanov, Anton Marklund, Kevin Hansen

Teammates Timerzyanov and Baumanis had the best start in Semi 1, in front of Grönholm, while Kevin Hansen and Baciuska chose to take the Joker Lap on the first lap. Timerzyanov got some problems with his left rear tire due to a broken suspension, but the Russian kept the lead. Raymond was the next person to take the Joker, while Grönholm waited too long and merged right behind Hansen, but ahead of Baciuska. Baumanis went to the Joker lap on the penultimate lap and came out right in front of Hansen, Grönholm and Baciuska, who caused so much panic that there was a contract between Grönholm and Baciuska. Miraculuosly, Timerzyanov took the victory, ahead of his teammate Baumanis, and Kevin Hansen. Niclas Grönholm, Rokas Baciuska and Cyril Raymond didn’t make it through.

Bakkerud took the start in Semi 2, in front of Chicherit and Doran. Szabo took Joker on the first lap, while Marklund took it one lap later. Doran, Chicherit and Scheider had a contact on second lap, where Chicherit had the best outcome and could hold on to second place. The Frenchman even managed to take the Joker Lap and came out on the third lap, while Doran remained behind him. Scheider was already last, with a damaged front, so he had no chance to make it to the final anyway, unless the other three retired. Bakkerud came in to take the Joker Lap on the fourth lap, in anticipation for a potential attack from Chicherit, while Doran waited for the last lap. Bakkerud won, ahead of Chicherit and Marklund, while Liam Doran, Krisztian Szabo and Timo Scheider could pack the cars in the containers again.

Timerzyanov had the best start in the final, but Bakkerud had the inside line in Turn 1 and took the lead. Timerzyanov and Marklund went to take the Joker Lap on the first lap, while the others waited a bit later. Chicherit had some problems with his gearbox and fell back to last place. Kevin Hansen was in the Joker Lap on lap three, and came out bumping on the side of poor Marklund’s car, which ended up in the concrete wall. On lap four, Kevin Hansen had a spin, since one of his drive shafts was broken. Bakkerud took the Joker Lap on the very last lap and came out in front with a comfortable gap to Baumanis in P2.

Andreas Bakkerud

Andreas Bakkerud took his first victory in nearly three years, ahead of Janis Baumanis amd Timur Timurzyanov. Guerlain Chicherit was P4, in front of Kevin Hansen, while Anton Marklund didn’t see the chequered flag. Later, the stewards gave Kevin Hansen a one-minute time penalty for an extremely dangerous driving against Marklund. However, it only cost Kevin Hansen one single championship point.

So, Kevin Hansen still leads the championship, but now with only five points ahead of Andreas Bakkerud, while Timmy Hansen is nine points further behind in P3. Niclas Grönholm is fourth, in front of Janis Baumanis, Timur Timerzyanov and Liam Doran.

Team Hansen MJP keeps the lead in the team championship, but GRX Taneco and Monster Energy RX Cartel have moved up much closer.

The next round will be run in four weeks’ time, when FIA World Rallycross Championship comes to visit Loheac, in France.

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