Sunday, 21 December 2014

Tourings Cars: FIA TCN-1 or TCR... You Choose...

The World of Touring Car racing faces an interesting choice of regulations from 2015 thanks to some recent changes and news over the past few weeks...

So I've decided to compare the two different types of Touring Car regulations on offer, known as the TCR International series and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship's NGTC regulations, now known as FIA TCN-1...

Earlier this year Marcello Lotti, who ran the FIA World Touring Car Championship for 9 years, announced he was setting up a new International Touring Car championship that would take place in 2015 with a flagship International series, using a model that is based on the successful GT3 form of motorsport that would be transferred to Touring Car racing along with elements and ideas that he used in the WTCC as well.

He named originally named this the "TC3 International Series" however recently that changed to the "TCR International Series" for reasons that I will explain later.

Now with his experience of building up the WTCC from a successful three year stint running it as the FIA European Touring Car Championship between 2002 & 2004, to it becoming the FIA World Touring Car Championship and running until the end of 2013, Lotti knows what works and also has his race format already set out as well as the technical regulations for the series.

Now so far the TCR regulations have proven a popular option for different markets to choose to run in either 2015 or in 2016. Domestic TCR Series or Promotional Classes have been announced in Portugal, Italy, the USA and the BeNeLux region along with the already confirmed International Series and the Asian series as well.

So TCR looks quite healthy so far. There are benefits to having different series around the world running to the same regulations that remind me of the old SuperTouring Days. With cars being built to the TCR regulations, it will open up a market for these cars to be sold on as different and new teams around the world look to either build cars or buy cars to compete in TCR.

Already I can feel a tinge of excitement as I recall the height of the SuperTouring Days when the FIA ran three consecutive World Cup events between 1993 and 1995 with almost 40+ drivers from around the world competing in near equal tintop machines. This is something that could end up happening if TCR takes off in the manner it promises to, but the idea of a TCR World Cup is wild speculation at the moment.

I can even feel a tear in the eye...


There is another form of Touring Car racing already in use that could rival TCR and also has the backing of the FIA:

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship's "Next Generation Touring Car" regulations...

At the recent December meeting of the FIA World MotorSport Council, the decision was taken by the FIA to endorse and support the use of two types of Touring Car Regulations for other countries to adopt and use in an attempt to reduce costs for teams and drivers to take part in and for organisers to run those series. The FIA chose the NGTC regulations from the BTCC and decided to rename them as "FIA TCN-1" or Touring Car National - 1. The second set of regulations to be endorsed and promoted are the more Production based Argentine Touring Car Championship regulations or now known as FIA TCN-2 for domestic championships looking for a cheaper alternative.

The FIA also reclassified the structure of its Touring Car hierarchy to clear up any confusion about what tintops are eligible where. The FIA WTCC uses TC1 regulation cars exclusively from 2015. The European Touring Car Cup will use TC2T ( 1.6 litre Turbocharged S2000 cars) and also TC2 (2 Litre Normally Aspirated S2000 cars) alongside the other classes. Now with the FIA endorsing the new TC3 concept, a name change was needed to avoid confusion that the TC3 series could be part of the hierarchy. So the name was changed to TCR.

So the FIA Touring Car Comission now has its progression system in place, something that Alan Gow and Jonathan Ashman have wanted for a long time as heads of the FIA Touring Car Commission, allowing drivers and teams in national TCN-1 or TCN-2 national championships to compete with a common set of regulations and have a clear view of progression up the ladder to the ETCC and later the WTCC. This is something that has been missing in Touring Cars for many years since the demise of SuperTouring and the change from Super 2000 to TC1 in the WTCC whilst Single seaters and Rallying have had a clear progression in place for a long time.

Now effectively there are two lots of regulations that are on offer for the different countries/markets to use. The benefits of NGTC are something I've written about before, but in a nutshell, you have one company producing spec parts for the car such as Gearbox, Rollcage, ECU, Aero and other parts whilst a spec engine is also on sale to competitors who cant build their own power units. This then allows one supplier for spares etc and help keeps the cost down. The teams are responsible for choosing the shell and model of the car they wish to race and building the shell.

The BTCC has seen the benefits of this since Series Boss Alan Gow's introduction of the NGTC regulations back in 2011 when just five full NGTC cars were raced whereas as this year a full 31 car grid of full NGTC cars competed as most rounds. Again in a recall back to the SuperTouring days, if different countries adopt these regulations, it opens up a market for ex BTCC cars to be sold on whilst new cars are built by suppliers to teams wishing to enter the new domestic FIA TCN-1 championships.

Now currently there are no new FIA TCN-1 championships announced, but give this some time. The FIA only just gave this the green light so it could be that over the next 12 months we could see new championships appearing in Europe or Scandinavia. History has shown for example that the Swedish Touring Car scene has often followed the BTCC in its regulations and it spent between 2011 and 2013 deciding if NGTC was the way to go, causing a split in the tintop scene and the creation of the TTA series that has gone on to become the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, using the TTA regulations.

As far as race formats go, both the TCR and NGTC sporting regulations offer variety. TCR has announced a format of 2 60km races in duration whilst the BTCC holds 3 races on raceday of around 40 minutes in duration. However there is nothing to say that other markets will enforce these and only time will tell if they do.

As far as the cars and equipment being used, there are similarities. Both regulations support 2 litre Turbocharged Petrol engines, whilst TCR also offers the chance for 2 litre Turbo-Diesels to be used as well. Aerodynamic packages are provided by the organisers, keeping the advantage to a minimum whilst only the bodyshell of the model being used would be different. Both series offer spec parts or specify production parts only to be used and both series have a balance of performance system in place using weight to penalise a winning car and allow a close form of exciting racing where no one model of car dominates.

So, as you can see, there isn't much to choose from in the differences between TCR and FIA TCN-1, apart from the fact that the TCN-1 regulations have been in use since 2011 and quite successfully too. What Touring Car racing has needed to do for some time is to reduce costs and bring back the teams and drivers to the tintop arena. TCN-1 has succeeded in doing this in the UK whilst TCR looks just as promising with its wide European prescence for 2015 and 2016.

Theres one final point I want to make as I know my readers in the UK will ask this question:

Can TCR work in the UK?

My answer to this is No. The BTCC has re-established itself as one of Europes strongest series again, thanks to the success of the NGTC/FIA TCN-1 regulations. Thats also the reason as to why there is no UK round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship or the FIA European Touring Car Cup. Such a strong domestic series can often deter a World/European championship event from needing to take place, often because there is less popularity or knowledge for an FIA event than there is for the BTCC. Another reason as to why there is no UK round in the WTCC is because the manufacturers who compete have no interest in the UK car market and for them racing Touring Cars that win means they need to race where the car markets offer the best sales and thats a trend thats been in force for many years now. As for TCR, it just can't compete right now and it wouldn't survive against the BTCC.

But thats why the FIA chose the NGTC regs to promote as one of two sets of dedicated tintop regulations to be adopted from now on. If it works, don't fix it... Promote it so it can work just as well elsewhere and become more popular and even stronger.

Either way my final thought on the debate of TCR or TCN-1 is this. Pretty soon almost every country that holds a Touring Car Championship (Except Australia's V8 Supercars and Germany's DTM) will be exclusively running either a TCR Series, FIA TCN-1 or TCN-2 Championship and with so many Championships running in common, that can only be good for Touring Cars for the future. As to the most popular set of regulations... Well we'll find that out over the next few years.

Thank you for reading.



Friday, 19 December 2014

FIA EuroRX 2015: The Interest is growing...

Up until 2014, The European Rallycross Championship was the highest accolade in Rallycross circles to compete in and win. It started in 1973 and in 1979 Rallycross legend Martin Schanche won the first official FIA European Rallycross Championship.

Fast forward to 2013 and the series was reinvented as RallycrossRX, with a new promoter installed and increased media coverage. This move reignited interest in International Rallycross and this led to stars such as Tanner Foust, Ken Block and Petter Solberg joining the series. Russian Timer Timurzyanov beat off the competition to win his second EuroRX title whilst interest soared for 2014.

With the creation of a World Championship in 2014, the EuroRX was scaled back to five events that ran on the same five weekends and locations as WorldRX events, allowing for privateers to fight for the title. This led to entry lists of at least 40 Supercars at events such as Lydden Hill in the UK, Estering in Germany and Holjes in Sweden... To name a few...

So why the increased popularity of a five event FIA European Championship and why the increased interest for for 2015?

Well... Let me enlighten you...

First of all, the biggest attraction are the regulations. Currently all of the major European Domestic Rallycross Championships use the Supercar regulations which are:

2 litre Turbo powered Supercars, engines capable of producing 600bhp in 4 Wheel Drive monsters that are capable of beating the current F1 cars off the line...

The best part is that if you are running, for example, a Mk2 Ford Focus in the British Rallycross Championship for a full season, the same car can be used in EuroRX/WorldRX events.

I should explain to avoid confusion that EuroRX events take place at the same venue and on the same weekend as WorldRX, giving the drivers a chance to race the works supported teams and other privateers from their own domestic championships with a chance at FIA Title glory.

Next, its the chance to race against the best in World Rallycross. This year, EuroRX saw such talent as Tanner Foust and Ken Block go up against the likes of Henning Solberg, Robin Larsson, Jerome Grosset-Janin, Tommy Rustad and Johan Kristoffersson with Larsson beating the competition and winning the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Italy on the same weekend that Petter Solberg won the World Rallycross Championship. Now because of this, Larsson has already announced his intention to take part in WorldRX in 2015.

Not only that but talents such Larsson, Kristoffersson and Grosset-Janin made it from the Heat stages at various events through to the Semi-Finals and even the Final, where in the UK Larsson finished second behind WorldRX regular Andreas Bakkerud whilst Kristoffersson made the podium in his Scandinavian VW Polo Supercar behind event winner Topi Heikkinen in the Works Supported VW Polo Supercar. (Although he was later disqualified...)

But its EuroRX of late that is garnering the interest from many drivers. Tommy Rustad has announced that he will campaign a VW-Marklund Motorsport built VW Polo Supercar for next years EuroRX instead of his usual Volvo C30 Supercar. 2014 French Rallycross Supercar Champion Fabien Pailler has also confirmed he will contest EuroRX 2015 in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar, a similar machine to the Albatec Racing and Hansen-Peugeots campaigned this year in WorldRX.

Another Rallycross regular looking to join EuroRX next year is Knut Ove Borseth who has announced plans to run a two car team under the banner 'Drive for Life RX' which caters for children who do not fit into the traditional education system and giving them experience within motorsport. The intention is to run two Mk2 Ford Focus' during the season.

Finally the third point of the enticement of EuroRX is the exposure a driver can recieve, both on track and off. Earlier in 2014 at Loheac in France, at the end of the first days action with Heats One and Two completed there were four different regular French Rallycross drivers inside the top 12. Jerome Grosset-Janin, Gaetan Serazin, Fabien Pailler and Christophe Wilt were all in the top places that, if they stayed there after Heats Three and Four, would have granted a place in the Semi-Finals or The Final. As it was Grosset-Janin was the only french driver who made it to the Semi's.

Theres also the explosion of social media thats followed the reinvention of RallycrossRX. Drivers and teams are now taking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like to update fans with their progress over a weekend, any announcements regarding plans for the future and also give the fans a chance to interact with them.

Petter Solberg launched his own app that not only chronicled his 2013 EuroRX and also his WorldRX journey but also his sons journey as he makes his way through the ranks of Rallycross, learning the trade of offroad motorsport. So whether its Tweets or Apps, the fans can now follow the action even closer in Social Media, but it also allows the chance for teams and drivers to lure in new sponsors and offer more exposure.

For example, a driver contests an entire season in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar in the French Rallycross Championship, sponsored by a french company. However, that same driver also contests the five round FIA European Rallycross Championship which visits the UK, Germany, Norway, Belgium and Italy, allowing new markets and countries to see the sponsors on the car and the the other EuroRX cars. If that driver has a good weekend in the results, it opens up a new arena of possibilities for new sponsors which in turn allows progression to the WorldRX for the following year if thats the plan.

So its a huge benefit to Domestic Rallycross drivers who take part in EuroRX and its now clear to see why there is so much interest already in the series for next year.

Keep an eye on this one, 2015 is going to be a very competitive year for EuroRX.

All the best,


Sunday, 30 November 2014

WorldRX 2014: Solberg and Ford OMSE win in Argentina

So the final round of the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy took place in Argentina last weekend, closing off what has been a spectacular season of excitement and close racing with action that has rarely let up at every round. The first season of WorldRX can be crowned a success with many more seasons to come...

Lets see how things panned out...

Petter Solberg led the Total Rallycross of Argentina, the season-closer to this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy after Day One. In the all-important Teams’ Championship where Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, Ford Olsbergs MSE and Team Peugeot-Hansen are locked in a three-way battle, Olsbergs MSE established an early lead as team-mates Reinis Nitiss and Andreas Bakkerud place the Ford squad highest after two heats.

Only four points separated current Teams’ Championship leaders VW Marklund and Olsbergs MSE going into the Argentine RX round. Team Peugeot-Hansen can still mathematically win the title but started the event on the backfoot with a 38-point disadvantage. At the end of heat two, Heikkinen was third in the standings despite struggling with a gearbox issue in his Polo RX Supercar whilst team-mate Anton Marklund was eighth. Peugeot-Hansen team-mates Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov held fifth and sixth overnight.

Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius as 17 Supercar drivers took to the Rosendo Hernandez circuit in San Luis for the first ever rallycross event to be staged in Argentina.  Bakkerud was quickest in free practice but it was the inaugural FIA World RX Champion Petter Solberg who sealed the heat one victory.  Solberg was joined by former WRC star Manfred Stohl in a second PSRX car and, despite having had no time to test the Citroen before the event, the Austrian put in a strong performance to finish ninth on Day One.

Arguably one of the most impressive drives of the day however, was that of Supercar debutant Kevin Eriksson who is driving an Olsbergs MSE Supercar as a reward for winning this year’s RX Lites Cup.  “I’ve had an up and down day,” explained the teenager who was second quickest in free practice.  “On the first heat, I overshot on the Joker Lap, spun the car and had to reverse which lost me time.  Then during the second heat I got stuck behind Manfred Stohl after the Joker. The dust made it really hard to see when you’re behind but I’ve definitely learned a lot and happy to be seventh.”

It was a day of mixed fortunes for British driver Liam Doran who made his World RX comeback after a six-month absence from the Championship. The Monster Energy World RX Team driver had a troubled start after his Citroen DS3 Supercar suffered a misfire but recovered in heat two to finish seventh fastest.  “I’ve been out of World RX for most of the year now so it’s taking me a while to get back to grips with everything,” admitted the 27-year-old.  “I’m obviously not fighting for the Championship so heat points don’t matter – I’m just aiming to get to the semi-finals and hope to be up to speed by the end of heat four.”

Doran’s team-mate Henning Solberg had a troubled day after struggling with power steering issues in heat one and was unable to start the second heat. Also experiencing difficulties was LD Motorsports driver Derek Tohill whose Citroen DS3 was down on power.  “We had to limp through with some engine problems and the dust combined with the difficulties of a new track made today incredibly hard,” explained the Irishman.
Albatec Racing duo Andy Scott and Ollie O’Donovan were 10th and 13th respectively, while former Argentine Rally Champion Miguel Baldoni was 12th overall.

Petter Solberg ended his title-winning season in style by winning the closing round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy in San Luis, Argentina. Ford Olsbergs MSE won a three-way battle for the Teams’ Championship as team-mates Reinis Nitiss and Andreas Bakkerud finished second and sixth respectively.  RX Lites Cup winner Kevin Eriksson drove spectacularly on his Supercar debut to clinch third.

Solberg’s win in Argentina is the Norwegian’s fifth outright victory of the year for the PSRX Team and sees the driver end the inaugural World RX season with a total of 267 points. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Topi Heikkinen amassed enough points to award the 23-year-old Finn the coveted runners-up spot. Nitiss ends the season third overall in points.

“This is a dream come true.  We started the season with a win in Portugal, and to finish with another win in Argentina feels really amazing,” grinned Solberg who was also awarded the Monster Energy Super Charge Award after his rapid start from pole position. “This Championship has so many talented drivers and I am extremely impressed with the high standard of driving we have had this year – especially from the younger guys. Now I’m looking forward to Doha for the FIA Awards Ceremony but I will be back and fighting for more seasons to come. I’d like to thank my whole team for working so hard throughout this year – there will be a big party tonight, that’s for sure!”

There was a three-way battle for the Teams’ Championship going into Argentina with Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, Ford Olsbergs MSE and Team Peugeot-Hansen all still capable of winning the accolade. Peugeot-Hansen was knocked out of winning contention when Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov failed to score enough points at the Intermediate Classification stage. Tension mounted further when Topi Heikkinen’s engine failed in heat four and VW Marklund were forced to repair the Polo RX Supercar before the semis. 

A fraught two semi-finals were to follow, but the Ford squad sealed the silverware when Anton Marklund was denied a spot in the final and both Ford team-mates went through.  “I am so proud of my team – to win this trophy with Olsbergs who have worked so hard all year is such a good feeling,” beamed 18-year-old Nitiss. 
Speaking on behalf of VW Marklund, team driver Anton said: “It’s always disappointing to be second but actually our aim at the start of the year was to finish in the top three so this is something we must all remember.  I think we have learned a lot for next year and we will be back and fighting hard.  Topi finished second in the drivers’ standings to finish the year with two second places is something our whole team are really happy with.”

After another impressive drive in the Peugeot 208 Supercar, 22-year-old Timmy Hansen finished fourth in Argentina for Team Peugeot-Hansen.  The talented driver also ends the season fourth overall. Team-mate Timur Timerzyanov showed good pace in San Luis but retired on the first lap of semi-final two following a technical issue with his car.

Despite showing good speed, Britain’s Liam Doran had a troubled return to World RX. The Monster Energy World RX Team driver failed to qualify after a technical infringement cost him a spot in the semi-finals. Team-mate Henning Solberg was also denied a place in the semis after the driver struggled with car issues on day one.

The year ended on a high for Scottish-based team Albatec Racing who had both drivers in the semi-finals for the first time this season. Elsewhere local driver Miguel Baldoni had an impressive RX debut as the former Argentine Rally Champion entertained the local fans by finishing the event ninth overall.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “It’s been a sensational year for the FIA World Rallycross Championship and it’s remarkable to think that our season has started in the same way it ended – with a victory for Petter Solberg. I’ve witnessed first-hand how hard Petter and the PSRX Team have worked this year and their win is thoroughly deserved.  The Teams’ Championship could have gone one of three ways this weekend and all three of our teams would have been very worthy winners. Very well done to the Ford Olsbergs MSE who came out trumps. I firmly believe we have some of the most talented drivers on the globe competing in World RX and it’s incredible to have two 18-year-olds on the podium in Argentina this weekend [Eriksson and Nitiss].  The future of the sport is looking very bright but now we are concentrating on making 2015 even better. On behalf of IMG Motorsports, I’d like to thank the drivers, teams and everyone involved in helping to make World RX a huge success in what has been an incredible season for the FIA’s newest World Championship.”   

1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 267 points
2. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 221 points
3. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 210 points
4. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 199 points
5. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 193 points
6. Anton Marklund (VW Marklund), 173 points
1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 403 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, 394 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 351 points
4. PSRX, 261 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 76 points
6. Albatec Racing, 61 points

Finally a word from the Guru...

I can happily say I have really enjoyed watching this years first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship and I can also say that my decision to get into Rallycross back in 2013 has been completely justified.

I've said this all year and I will say it again. If you are bored with Formula One or fed up with the politics that plague motorsport and you want to watch an exciting, action packed series, then give the FIA World Rallycross Championship a try.

For me, its been one of, if not the most exciting FIA World Championship thats taken place this year with an ever expanding fan base. With upwards of 40 cars in the Supercars catergory entered at different events this year and the FIA  European Rallycross Championship open to Europes best, its just an amazing series to watch...and one I will be blogging about over the winter as the teams and drivers now test for 2015.

All the best!


Saturday, 22 November 2014

WTCC 2014: Its Macau Baby!!!

Street Circuits.

For the avid motorsport fan, the thought of motorsport taking place on a street circuit offers a greater challenge to the teams and drivers taking part. There are little or no run off areas, however in their place are metal barriers or concrete barriers. In order to gain the fastest laptime in Qualifying or the race, drivers have to be inch perfect whilst skimming the barriers to gain the fastest laptime.

Now almost every major series has a street circuit involved in its calendar: Formula One has Monaco, the DTM has the Norisring, the WEC has Le Mans...

And the FIA World Touring Car Championship has the awesome spectacle that is Macau. Sharing the weekend with the legendary Formula Three, Superbike and GT races that attract the best in the world of motorsport, Macau has been the finale of the WTCC for the last ten years and the 2014 edition didn't disappoint...

Lets see how this panned out...

Citroen’s Jose Maria Lopez claimed pole position for Round 23 of the World Touring Car Championship in Macau, heading teammates Sebastien Loeb and Yvan Muller.

Lopez, who is tackling the street circuit for the first time this weekend, set a fastest lap of 2:24.294s in the third segment of qualifying that was enough for him to seal top spot by 0.228s from Loeb, ahead of Sunday’s races.

The qualifying hour got off to a somewhat predictable start around the narrow streets, with Pepe Oriola – standing in for the injured Dusan Borkovic at Campos Racing – crashing his Chevrolet at Maternity, bringing the red flags out before anybody had had the chance to set a time.

As the session restarted, it was the Honda quartet of Tiago Monteiro, Gabriele Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz and Mehdi Bennani who headed onto the circuit first, with the former initially going fastest before Muller usurped him with a 2:26.918s.

The stoppage earlier in the session meant that by the time that drivers had set their first times and returned to the pits, half of the 30-minute Q1 had elapsed, and the field were keen to get on with things as Loeb went quickest with a time of 2:26.036s, while Tarquini and Rob Huff improved to fourth and seventh respectively, before Michelisz then set the fastest time in the session with a 2:25.920s.

Bennani’s second run hadn’t gone to plan, as he scuffed his tyres and found himself in 13th when he pitted for a third time, when he was forced to visit the weighbridge before he could return to the track.

But with the Moroccan able to rejoin the action, the pressure was on those in front of him to improve, and Ma Qing Hua in the fourth Citroen was that bit overzealous in his attempts to improve on a precarious 12th place, as he had a huge slide having set the fastest first sector. That hindered James Thompson in the LADA Granta, who finished the session in 14th place.

The session was then brought to a premature end by Thompson’s teammate Mikhail Kozlovskiy, who spun and blocked the track at Lisboa briefly. With the red flag flown for a second time and less than a minute-and-a-half remaining on the clock, race control decided not to restart the session, eliminating Bennani, Thompson, Kozlovskiy and Rene Munnich from the TC1 field.

Q2 was a much less dramatic affair, as the Citroen drivers all immediately got down to business on a less congested track, with Lopez fastest on a 2:24.539s. 

Just five minutes remained as the cars headed out for their final runs, although Morbidelli decided to remain in the pits, settling for 12th place on the grid for both of Sunday’s races. Tarquini made a late attempt to claim a spot in the shootout, but narrowly missed out with sixth place. He was beaten by the three Citroens, while Tom Coronel and Michelisz also made the final session after building on fast first runs. Hugo Valente would go on to start the final race of the season from pole position having qualified in tenth, where he is ahead Chilton and Huff.

Michelisz continued his fine form into Q3 at the track with a 2:25.327s, which was good enough for fourth as Coronel hit the wall and aborted his lap, having been faster than the Hungarian in the first sector. It was then left to the Citroen trio to battle for pole. Muller went first and set a WTCC lap record of 2:24.779s with his effort, before Loeb eclipsed that time by two-tenths-of-a-second with a time of 2:24.522s. But taking to the track last, it was champion Lopez who stole the show to claim a seventh pole of the season, with his 2:24.294s, which is now the best lap by a World Touring Car around the legendary street circuit.

Jose Maria Lopez won the penultimate WTCC race of the season, finishing ahead of a Honda trio headed up by Zengo Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz. Lopez cruised to his tenth win of the season from pole position, whilst behind him his Citroen team-mates struggled to maintain their qualifying form.

Loeb, who started alongside Lopez on the front row of the grid, lost out to Michelisz at the very start of the race. The former rally star tried to keep the pressure on the Hungarian, but on lap three he locked up at Lisboa and lost ground at the only real overtaking opportunity on the circuit. Loeb’s mistake allowed three cars to pass, the first of which was an under the weather Gabriele Tarquini. The Italian would maintain third for the remainder of the race despite his condition.

Tiago Monteiro finished the race in fourth, despite trying hard to pass his works’ Honda team-mate throughout the race. The Portuguese driver also had to defend from the Citroen of Yvan Muller, who finished fifth after having lost out to the Honda trio on the opening lap of the race. Following his earlier mistake Loeb finished the race in sixth and failed to consistently challenge Muller for the position ahead, guaranteeing his fellow Frenchman second overall in the championship.

Coronel finished the race as the top Chevrolet driver in seventh, ahead of the fourth Citroen of Ma Qing Hua, who passed three cars in the race to take eighth. Rob Huff was ninth, losing just one place from his grid position when Ma passed him into Lisboa on lap three due to a superior straightline speed advantage. Morbidelli completed the top ten, although the Italian benefitted the most from a bizarre penultimate lap incident involving Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani and Campos Racing’s TC2 entry of Henry Kwong. As the Moroccan went to lap the slower car on the start straight, Kwong moved over and hit the TC1 car, sending Bennani into a slide which ended with frontal contact with the barriers and a retirement from the race.

Franz Engstler took class victory in TC2, even finishing ahead of the TC1 Chevrolet of Rene Munnich. John Filippi was once again second in class, and the only Campos driver not to crash in the race after one-off drivers Kwong and William Lok both experienced self-inflicted contact with the barrier during the race.

Rob Huff took a dramatic final-lap victory in the final WTCC race of the season, after early race leader Tiago Monteiro suffered a mechanical problem on the penultimate lap of the race. Huff, who started the race from third, was immediately on the move as the lights went out, following Monteiro past front-row starters Valente and Chilton to settle in second position.

As the race progressed Muller, who also made a strong start to move from eighth on the grid up to third, began to pressure Huff for second. However the Brit put up a resolute defence of his position, continuing to hold second after a safety car period two laps from the finish, which was caused when Ma planted his car in the barriers at the final turn.

It all changed at the front just before the start of the final lap when Monteiro, who looked set for his first win of the season, suddenly slowed with apparent power steering problems. That promoted Huff to the lead for the final lap and one last defence into Lisboa corner on the final lap essentially secured him a second win of the season. Completing the podium behind Muller was Valente, who recovered to third after a disastrous opening lap. The Campos Racing driver, having lost the lead at the start, then tried too hard into Lisboa a couple of corners later and dropped to fifth. A strong restart after the safety car allowed the Frenchman to retake fourth from Michelisz, who settled for fourth.

Lopez finished the race in fifth, with Loeb directly behind him in sixth. The Frenchman made a pair of overtaking moves on ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton on laps five and six respectively to show strong racing skills to end a promising debut season. Chilton got past team-mate Coronel late in the race to take seventh, with the Dutchman following home in eighth. Completing the top ten were Thompson, who had been unable to emulate the performances of his team-mate all weekend, and TC2’s Franz Engstler.

Mikhail Kozlovskiy failed to take the chequered flag, retiring once again with mechanical problems on his LADA. There was also a retirement for Morbidelli on lap four when the Italian spun into the barriers at Fisherman’s Bend. A number of drivers failed to start the race. Tarquini, still suffering from illness, peeled into the pits at the end of the formation lap and called it a day. Mehdi Bennani also didn’t start due to the damage inflicted on his Honda in race one by TC2 driver Henry Kwong. Campos Racing’s William Lok also failed to start after planting his SEAT in the barriers in race one.

And so the 10th season of WTCC comes to an end with the new TC1 regulation cars still offering the same close racing that WTCC has been known for whilst offering a fresh challenge to the drivers.

Already there are rumours abound of what will happen in 2015 with the calendar due to be confirmed at the FIA World Motorsport Council meeting on 1-2 of December in Doha. We know there will be a special blue riband event held at the legendary Nurburgring in Germany whilst the season ending finale of Macau looks to be remaining on the calendar.

Meanwhile there rumours and whispers of who will drive what car with what team for next year. Already confirmed are Muller, Lopez and Loeb at Citroen whilst Sebastien Loeb Racing will field two more Citroens making five C-Elysee's taking part. LADA have confirmed that Huff, Thompson and Kozlovskiy will pilot thrre brand new TC1 Vesta's with increased support from french engine partner Oreca. As for the rest...

Well...we'll soon know.

So thank you for reading my WTCC blogposts this year and I look forward to bringing you more WTCC in 2015!

All the best!!!


Friday, 7 November 2014

TC3 Intl: So whats it all about then...

Over the past six months, there has been talk of a new Touring Car series to be launched in 2015 by former FIA World Touring Car Championship boss Marciello Lotti and in recent weeks, there is now an air of certainty to this.

The name of the series, I hear you ask?

The TC3 International Series.

Since the announcement of the series website launch in September we now have an idea of the series Regulations, Sporting Regulations and Calendar.  To add to the International series, there will be a TC3 Asia series and a series run to the TC3 regulations in Portugal. So there is progress in the works.

Now before we go further, please do not think that this is in anyway linked to the FIA's current ranking of cars used in the World Touring Car Championship, The European Touring Car Cup and any domestic series still using Super 2000 TC2T/TC2 regulation cars.

Its not.

TC3 is based on the idea of the GT3 catergory used in Sportscars racing where a set of regulations is in place to allow different types of cars to compete on a level playing field, using a system that balances out any advantages that different cars have using success ballast. The regulations are also designed to allow the championship to be an entry level series with the aim being that TC3 can be the next step up on the ladder from domestic Touring Car Championships to then move on to either the FIA European Touring Car Cup or the FIA World Touring Car Championship, hence its appeal.

So, what are the regulations for the cars I here you ask? Well here are the main details:

Eligible cars: WSC list for 4/5 door saloons.

Body shell: Reinforced production shell with wheel arch modifications allowed to accommodate tyres.

Minimum length: 4200 mm.

Maximum width: 1950 mm.

Engine: Turbocharged petrol or diesel engine up to 2.0 litres. Only one engine is allowed for an entire season and use of more than one engine will result in grid penalties.

Torque: Circa 410 Nm.

Power: Circa 320 bhp.

Traction: Two-wheel drive only.
(Front Wheel Drive and Rear Wheel Drive)

Gearbox: Production or TC3 International Series sequential, production paddle shift also accepted.

Front suspension: Production lay-out, parts free design.

Rear suspension: Original design of production car with reinforced components.

Front: Maximum of six-piston calipers with a maximum diameter of 380 mm. Rear: Maximum of two-piston calipers.

Front splitter: 2014 SEAT León Eurocup. Rear wing: FIA Appendix J Article 263 2014.

Ground clearance: Minimum 80 mm.

Power-to-weight ratio: Subject to the WSC Balance of Performance.

Now, with regards to this list of regulations that the cars must conform to, there is a list of cars provided by the series that are eligible to race:

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG.
The SEAT León Cup Racer.
The Volkswagen Golf R GTi.
The Ford Focus ST.
The Honda Civic Type-R.
The Opel Astra OPC.
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV.
The Hyundai Veloster.
The Nissan Pulsar GTI-R.
The Renault Mégane R.
The Audi S3 and etc.

Now for those of you that are regular Touring Car fans, some of those cars will be familiar with the Audi, Honda and Ford models already used in NGTC guise in the BTCC whilst the UK based Volkswagen cup already sees capacity grids that include the VW Golf. So the series is designed to attract cars that can be easily modified to the regulations and allow people to go racing...on an international level.

With rising costs being cited as a major issue in motorsport at the moment, (cough *Marussia/Caterham* cough) this is a good idea. Over the winter, there were various teams and drivers who were WTCC stalwarts that just couldn't afford to buy the new TC1 cars and left the series to go elsewhere.

The TC3 International series has also confirmed its Sporting Regulations regarding race length, points scored per position etc:

The series will feature a qualifying format split into two parts. Q1 will be 20 minutes (or 30 on street circuits) open to all competitors, whilst Q2 will be 10 minutes (or 15 on street circuits) where the top twelve from Q1 are allowed to compete.

The grid for race one is based on the combined Q1 and Q2 results, whilst the grid for race two is to be determined based on the reverse order of the top ten in Q2, as the current WTCC race two grid is determined.

The Races:
Each event will consist of two races of 60 km in length, both of which will feature a standing start.

Success Ballast:
Success ballast will be apportioned to the top three drivers from the previous meeting in the order of 30kg, 20kg and 10kg respectively.

Points System:
Championship points will be awarded to the top ten drivers in each race in the following format:

1st: 25 points
2nd:18 points
3rd: 15 points
4th: 12 points
5th: 10 points
6th: 8 points
7th: 6 points
8th: 4 points
9th: 2 points
10th: 1 point

Points will also be given to the top five drivers after qualifying:

Pole Position: 5 points
2nd Position: 4 points
3rd Position: 3 points
4th Position: 2 points
5th Position: 1 point.

Now seasoned fans of the WTCC will recognise the FIA points system, the Qualifying points system, Qualifying format and race length from last years format, however that just speaks if the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Which seems to be Lotti's thinking as well.

Now all this information has led to several teams declaring their intent to compete in the series next year:

Team Target Competition, who are SEAT Leon Eurocup regulars, will run several SEAT Leon Cup Racers.

Paolo Coloni has recently announced his Coloni Racing outfit will compete whilst Onyx Race Engineering will build several Ford Focus ST's after abandoning the Ford Fiesta TC1 WTCC attempt.

To add to this Scandinavian Touring Car Team WestCoast Racing announced last week that they would enter three JAS built Honda Civic Type-R's as well.

All this confirms that teams who are serious about their tintop racing see TC3 as an alternative option to the current TC1 WTCC regulations, adding in the entry level, cheap build regulations on offer to allow drivers and teams to make a start on the Touring Car ladder and progress up into other championships.

Now to throw in more detail, the 2015 TC3 International Calendar has been confirmed:

29 March: Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia

19 April: Shanghai International Circuit, China

3 May: Valencia Ricardo Tormo, Spain

10 May: Portimao, Portugal

24 May: Monza, Italy

31 May: Salzburgring, Austria

21 June: Sochi, Russia

26 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

9 August: Codegua, Chile

20 September: Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore

25 October: Buriram, Thailand

TBA November – TBA

The TBA date in November is expected to be Macau, which is due to lose its finale spot in the WTCC Calendar in 2015. Five of the venues are active Grand Prix tracks with three of those taking place on actual Grand Prix weekends, giving good exposure alongside GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup support package.

So it all seems to look quite positive so far and the TC3 International Series will be a championship I will be keeping an eye on next year as well as it blossoms and develops further. However whilst it may have reminders of the Super 2000 age of the WTCC with the Build Regulations and Sporting Regulations, thats not such a bad thing. There has always been close racing in the WTCC and theres nothing to say this wont be the same in TC3 as well.

I hope this has been helpful to you all and over the coming months I will keep you updated with all the releases from the series, regarding Teams and Drivers.

All the best!


Friday, 17 October 2014

BTCC 2014: Turkington wins the Title at Brands Finale...

The 2014 season of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reached its conclusion at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix layout on 12th of October and what a season it has been.

By the way, this one is a bit of a read so you might wanna stock up on the tea/coffee and biscuits...

I remember going to Media Day back in March this year and thinking what an epic season this would be. Seven former Champions competing, Thirty-One NGTC cars entered in the series first full season of NGTC entries only and the excitement of new cars, teams and drivers in this years championship.

Fast forward through the year and we've seen sterling performances from Andrew Jordan, Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and Colin Turkington as they fought out the honours for the title. We've seen how quick rookie driver Tom Ingram has been whilst Adam Morgan has shown how fast the new NGTC Mercedes was out of the box.

We've witnessed Matt Neal suffering a difficult season with the Honda Civic Tourer whilst Airwaves Racing turned their Ford Focus from midfield runners into race winners in the hands of Mat Jackson and Fabrizio Giovanardi. We've watched as Team BMR proved they have the pace to win races and take podiums with the super sleek VW CC whilst Rob Austin and Sherman have shown they can mix it with the best by taking race wins and pole positions to shake up the order.

But it all came down to the final weekend of racing at Brands Hatch in what was a typically miserable Finals Day for the series, as it now seems traditional to have at least one wet race take place. After Silverstone the situation was clear: Colin Turkington needed to finishon the podium in race one to seal the title and win his second BTCC Championship after a season where the rear wheel drive BMW 125i was the match of the front wheel drive MG6, Honda Civic Hatchback/Tourer, Ford Focus and VW CC cars out there, even with max ballast on board and a longer first gear...

Anyone could be forgiven to think it would be wrong for a RWD car to win a Touring Car Championship...

So lets see how Finals day panned out...

Jason Plato grabbed pole position for the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch with a stonking final lap, ending the session ahead of teammate Sam Tordoff and Honda’s Gordon Shedden as a red flag ended the action early.

The result was just what Plato would have been hoping to take into Sunday's races and with Tordoff between himself and championship rival Colin Turkington – who was fastest in the day’s two practice sessions but would start race one from fourth – the double champion can at least hope to extend his challenge into the penultimate round of the season.

The session got going 15 minutes later than its 15:35 scheduled start time in glorious sunshine, but with the circuit still damp as a result of rain between the end of second practice and qualifying, cevery driver opted to start on wet tyres.

The two MGs were the first two drivers over the line, with Plato setting the initial pace with a tentative effort of 1:41.239s, as drivers weighed up their tyre options. Alain Menu switched to slicks, but waited in the pitlane as those who continued to circulate dried the circuit.

Matt Neal took the opposite approach to the Swiss, and pitted for a fresh set of wet tyres. That choice appeared to have paid off, at least in the short term, as he went third fastest with his first flying lap before taking provisional pole with a 1:41.177s.

The Honda driver’s time at the top of the standings was short lived however, as Marc Hynes went fastest – albeit only briefly before his effort was disallowed for exceeding track limits – before Menu, now on dries, set a time of 1:40.072s. Not content with that, the Team BMR Restart driver continued to better his time, with an effort of 1:38.806s.

Shedden then took his chance to get in on the action with an effort of 1:37.795s, but Menu came back with a 1:37.015s. It was then that Plato – who had earlier spent some time at the top – split the pair with a time of 1:37.627s, as the times at the front continued to tumble.

It then looked for some time as though 2012 champion Shedden had pole position in the bag as a lap of 1:34.908s put him well clear of his rivals, but in the last three minutes of the session the times were rapidly improving with every lap, and Tordoff first jumped into second on a 1:34.844s, while Plato usurped his teammate with a 1:33.949s.

With drivers then gearing up for one final attempt, a frantic and enticing end to the season as brought to a premature end as Dave Newsham beached his AmD Tuning Ford Focus in the gravel, which brought the red flag out and saw the session ended with two minutes to spare.

Turkington had looked set to make a late dash for the top spots, and although fourth was still a strong position for him to start from, a win for Plato in the first race tomorrow would mean that no matter where the eBay Motors driver finishes, the title fight will go into the second event.

Behind the front four, the weather conditions certainly played their part in mixing up the order. Adam Morgan ended up an excellent fifth in his WIX Racing Mercedes, while Fabrizio Giovanardi claimed a sixth place grid slot in the final qualifying session of his comeback campaign. James Cole was an outstanding seventh in his United Autosports Toyota Avensis, taking full advantage of the conditions to score his and his team’s best qualifying result in the series to date, ahead of Mat Jackson, Nick Foster and Newsham, who still claimed a first top ten qualifying result of the season despite ending his day in the gravel trap.

Jason Plato won the opening British Touring Car Championship race of the weekend at Brands Hatch ahead of his teammate Sam Tordoff, but third place for Colin Turkington meant that he secured the 2014 drivers’ title.

In an enthralling encounter befitting the importance of the occasion, third place and a fastest lap was enough for Turkington to maintain a 44-point advantage which Plato would not be able to usurp.

There was drama immediately as the race got underway, as Plato made a sluggish start and was passed by Tordoff and Turkington who took a look at the lead around the outside into Paddock Hill.

Behind the front three, Gordon Shedden squeezed Fabrizio Giovanardi as the cars started to turn into Paddock Hill, but the Scot came off by far the worst as he was then spun sideways as the Italian kept his foot in the door, with the unfortunate Audi of Rob Austin plowing into the back of the Honda, as a traffic jam occurred. Dave Newsham was forced to slow on the inside of the corner to avoid Shedden, but as he did so Jack Goff had nowhere to go but the rear of his Ford Focus, and the pair joined Shedden, Austin and his teammate Hunter Abbott in the gravel on the exit of the corner, with all five as well as Shedden’s teammate Matt Neal, forced into retirement.

While the mayhem ensued in the lower order, Tordoff was able to hold onto the inside line heading into Druids, and forced Turkington wide through the hairpin, allowing Plato to regain second, before the safety car was deployed to retrieve the stricken cars.

With a considerable amount of damage to recover, the safety car was on track until the start of lap five, by which time the race distance had been extended to 18 laps. Turkington immediately found himself on the back foot as Tordoff got the race back underway, with Adam Morgan taking half a look at the inside line into Paddock Hill, and Mat Jackson joining in on the action. Those two then squabbled for fourth behind the eBay Motors man, which gave him the opportunity to catch back up to the MGs.

Turkignton’s teammate Rob Collard had started the encounter in 23rd after a disappointing qualifying session yesterday, but having avoided the incident at the start, found himself in eighth place which soon became seventh, as he forced a way passed the United Autosports car of James Cole.

But instead of looking forward, championship leader Turkington was forced to go on the defensive as Jackson took a look up the inside as the cars ended lap seven, with the eBay Motors driver squeezing his competitor close to the pit wall to ensure he could not pass.

Only three laps of racing had occurred before the safety car was deployed for a second time, after Warren Scott, who had been battling with Nick Foster for a place in the top ten, appeared to lose the rear of his car and had a huge front-end crash.

Just before that had happened, however, Plato had taken first place after his teammate Tordoff moved over to allow him through.

The race restarted on lap 12 and this time round Turkington looked much racier, immediately applying pressure to Tordoff ahead of him. Simon Belcher survived a trip through the gravel, while Collard continued his charge through the field as he passed Giovanardi for sixth after the pair rubbed bodywork.

Plato was able to build a comfortable margin at the front over the closing laps, so the question remained whether or not Turkington – who had the fastest lap to his name – would be able to maintain his third place, as he continued to press Tordoff.

There was a brief scare that there might be a third safety car towards the end of the race as the United Autosports team’s weekend unraveled as Luke Hines was collected by his teammate Cole, after the former was sent into a spin by Marc Hynes on the way down to Graham Hill bend.

The pair were however able to move their cars into a safe position, and with things finally stable, Plato crossed the line to clinch a sixth win of the season ahead of his teammate, with Turkington completing the podium to land a second series title with two rounds to spare.

“Just relief and pure happiness,” said Turkington, when asked to describe his emotions. “This is what you work for from the start of the year.

“It was winter 2012 when we decided we wanted to do this so to actually get it all over the line is a great relief for everybody – there’s never any guarantees that you’re going to win it, even with a 50-point lead, you don’t allow yourself to think that it’s going to be an easy task.”

Behind Turkington, Jackson survived a late scare on fading tyres to hold onto fourth ahead of Morgan and the rampant Collard. Giovanardi ultimately had a quiet run to seventh despite two moments of contact, while Tom Ingram drove maturely to claim eighth ahead of outgoing champion Andrew Jordan and Nick Foster in the third eBay Motors BMW.

Jason Plato made it two wins from two races at Brands Hatch, as he won the penultimate race of the 2014 British Touring Car Championshp season ahead of WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan and Sam Tordoff.

In a classic touring car encounter, Plato was one of a number of drivers who looked as though they could take the win, but his victory was marred by an incident between himself and new champion Colin Turkington, who was eliminated from the race at Paddock Hill bend on lap four as the pair vied for the lead.

It was Turkington who jumped into the lead when the race started, holding a clear first place through turn one. There looked as though there might be a similar incident to the one that occurred in race one as a charging Mat Jackson found himself sandwiched between the two MGs of Plato and Tordoff in the battle for second, before the latter yielded the position with Jackson slotting into third.

The safety car was nevertheless deployed when moments later Alain Menu appeared to lose his Team BMR Restart Volkswagen CC through the corner, sliding uncontrollably backwards into the infield tyre wall and subsequent retirement.

With the incident able to be cleared relatively quickly, however, the race resumed at the start of lap three as Turkington attempted to break away at the front. Unable to do so, the action came to a head one lap further round as Plato made an optimistic lunge for the lead into Paddock Hill, only to punt the rear of the BMW, sending Turkington into the gravel trap for his third retirement of the season. The MG driver was later penalised for the crash, and as it was his third offence, will start race three from the rear of the field.

To be honest, it was reminiscent of the same move that Plato pulled on Dave Newsham at the same corner in 2012, when Newsham was leading in the Black and Yellow Team ES Racing S2000 Vauxhall Vectra, where Dave ended up in the gravel trap whilst Jason was given a reprimand for the move...

Its interesting how Jason seems to be the only driver in the BTCC that tries to overtake into Paddock Hill Bend using the pitlane exit and the grass...

Anyway where were we...

As Plato recovered from the incident, Jackson stole into the lead and looked to immediately build a gap, only to run wide on the exit of Westfield before spinning down the order. That meant that Rob Collard – who had started the first race of the day in 23rd – inherited the lead of the race, having himself found a way past Plato, before the safety car was deployed once more.

One lap was once again the only break needed, with Collard leading the field away for a second restart. There was yet more action lower in the order though, as Fabrizio Giovanardi looked to follow Andrew Jordan through past Tom Ingram, only for the Italian to receive a tap from the Speedworks driver through Westfield, performing a half spin before a further 360 degree rotation, with those cars following through taking avoiding action with only Jack Clarke making minor contact with the Ford Focus.

The race was yet to reach it’s halfway course at this stage, but the excitement continued as Morgan muscled his way into the podium positions with a forceful pass on Tordoff into Druids. A third place would have marked Morgan’s first podium of the season and a first for him in his Mercedes A-Class, be he had no intentions to settle for the final spot on the podium as he set his sights on Plato – who looked increasingly frustrated behind Collard – climbing onto two wheels through Paddock Hill.

And wow did that Mercedes have some pace in her, something Wix Racing and Morgan have threatened all season...

As Collard appeared to find it harder and harder to keep the three cars behind him, Plato made a slight error as they crossed the line to start lap 14, which allowed Morgan, who had backed off into the entry of Paddock Hill, to carry his momentum up the inside of the MG into Druids and into second place.

And that second became first less than a lap later, when a slow and wide exit from Clearways for Collard allowed the WIX Racing driver to sail into the lead across the line, while Plato followed him through to claim second.

Morgan’s stint in the lead was shortlived, however, as he ran wide in similar fashion to Jackson earlier, and although he was able to hold onto his car, relinquished the lead to allow Plato into first. With a comfortable distance between himself and Morgan – who rejoined ahead of Collard and Tordoff who continued to argue over third – Plato was finally able to relax, and cruised to the finish to claim a seventh win of the season.

Second place nevertheless marked Morgan’s best result in the series to date, while a move at the start of the final lap gave Tordoff third place. Jordan also squeaked past Collard on the line, clinching fourth with Ingram a lonely but season’s-best sixth. A great recovery drive from Gordon Shedden saw the Scot finish seventh, just 0.001s ahead of Aron Smith, while Jack Goff and Nick Foster completed the top ten, with the latter on pole for the day’s reverse-grid race. There was also a second points finish for Aiden Moffat in 13th, who improved one place from his 14th place in race one.

But it didnt finish there...

Plato was later given a post-race twenty second penalty for the incident with Turkington, dropping him to 13th position and handing Morgan his first-ever win in the BTCC. The first of what will be many I forsee for Morgan and the NGTC Mercedes A-Class.

With the rain hammering down in what is now traditional for the final race of the year, Gordon Shedden went on to win that final race of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch, with Jack Clarke securing a landmark second place finish and Mat Jackson completing the podium in soaking conditions.

The Honda Yuasa Racing driver’s third win of the season brought the season to a typically exciting conclusion, as visibility faded with heavy rain taking hold just before the start of the race, to create similar conditions to his victory at the circuit 12 months ago.

Nick Foster leapt into the lead at the start of the race, overtaking pole-sitter Clarke – who had the grid slot after a post-race penalty for Jason Plato in race two – well before the field reached Paddock Hill, with Clarke tentatively holding station in second place.

Plato had opted to start the race from the pitlane with a view to avoiding any contact at the start, but the majority of the field made it through safely, with only Simon Belcher taking a trip through the gravel after he received a tap.

It didn’t take long for the safety car to be deployed though, after James Cole looked to have beached himself in the gravel, before digging himself out whilst Rob Collard slowed on circuit.

But with both issues quickly resolved, the racing resumed on lap three and Clarke immediately went on the attack, as he harried Foster into Druids before lining up a pass at Graham Hill, grabbing the lead on the run into Surtees.

Shedden, who had made a good start, was keen to keep the Crabbie’s Racing driver in his sights and swiftly overtook Foster, immediately turned his attention to Clarke’s lead.

The pair had an enticing scrap at the end of the lap, when Shedden forced a gap from nowhere to have a run up the inside of the Ford Focus driver heading into Paddock Hill at the start of lap four. Clarke, however, held on around the outside, and with the assist of a slide for Shedden, held onto his lead with a dogged piece of driving.

Despite that move, Shedden would quickly make the move stick when he swept around the outside of Clarke through Westfields on the next lap, to gain a lead that he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race.

Shedden was flying at the front, but with only Colin Turkington and Plato making progress through the field, the next incident of note came on lap nine when Martin Depper got stuck in the gravel at the bottom of Paddock Hill. The safety car was swiftly deployed to recover the stricken Honda Civic.

The delay behind the safety car meant that when the racing resumed on lap 12, the race distance had been extended to 18 laps. Shedden bolted away once more, but there was action at Druids in the battle for third, as Jackson tapped his ex-teammate Aron Smith into a half-spin, allowing himself and Sam Tordoff through.

With Shedden now well clear at the front, attention turned to Clarke’s second place, and whether or not he could hold onto a maiden podium position. After a few hairy moments, the 26-year-old put in a stellar last couple of laps to keep Jackson and Tordoff at bay, to follow Shedden home – the Scot having salvaged something from the day for his Honda Yuasa Racing team, who had suffered a horrendous first two races which included a trip to hospital for his teammate Matt Neal.

Smith had a quiet run to fifth after Jackson’s contact, ahead of outgoing champion Andrew Jordan and Plato, who made great progress. Early leader Foster was the only eBay Motors driver to bring his car home in the points in eighth, with Tom Ingram and Marc Hynes completing their rookie years in the championship in ninth and tenth respectively.

The Final Championship positions ended with Turkington as Champion on433 points ahead of Jason Plato on 401 with Gordon Shedden in third on349. Mat Jackson secured fourth place on 234 points whilstAndrew Jordanwas fifth with 309 points.

Rob Collardwas in sixth place in the end of season standings on 275 points whilst Sam Tordofffinished his year off on 255. Matt Neal finished a poor year by his standards on 207 points in eighth whilst Team BMR's double race winner Aron Smithwas ninth on 201 points. Adam Morgan's first BTCC win was enough to secure him tenth in the drivrrs championship183 pts.

In the Manufacturers Championship, MG/888 secured the title in their third year of the BTCC, finally beating Honda/Team Dynamics who have won it for the previous two years in NGTC Machinery.

And so endeth the 2014 British Touring Car Championship. Its been a roller coaster ride with door to door racing, exciting race finishes, amazing moves and stellar driving from the Class of 2014.

For the Guru, well its been a year of exciting tintop action from Britains best and long with Nik and Aaron, my long suffering partner and my son, we've watched through the year as the racing has taken place on TV as the home filled with shouts of "YOU CAN'T HAVE THREE INTO ONE CORNER!!!" from me followed by "WELL THEY JUST DID!" from Nik. Or "HOW DID HE PASS THERE???!" from me followed by "HE DROVE ROUND HIM DIDN'T HE!" from Aaron.

We've sat on the edge of the sofa as we've witnessed some amazing racing and some very questionable moves and contact and penalties given of which we've questioned and argued about for hours afterwards and we can't wait for next season.

In the meantime, whilst the Guru enjoys the final race weekends of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the FIA World Rallycross Championship which will soon appear on the blog, I'm also preparing to spread my wings a little...

Not only will I continue to write my blogs on here but from 1st of November, I will be writing WTCC and WorldRX articles and race reports on a new website called so keep an eye out for me there. I can happily say that we will all be at BTCC Media Day on 24th March 2015 as we've booked the time off work already (its the earliest we've managed to do it in 4 years of trying...) and in January, my latest dream will be realised as I will be attending the 2015 Autosport International Show as an official Blogger for the event...

Anyone would think that Im too busy to work you know? Trust me, I'm not. DHL Northampton will attest to that one. But apart from all of that I'll be putting up articles on here as news over the winter is released about next years BTCC season, drivers and teams whereabouts and any developments that appear

All the best!!


WTCC 2014: Citroen rules in China as Bennani wins...

The FIA World Touring Car Championship made its second visit to China at the Shanghai International Grand Prix circuit, one week after the series saw race wins for Tom Chilton and for Rob Huff and Lada take place in Beijing.

With the traction advantage of the Citroens this year, Shanghai was a circuit where they were expected to shine with its long corners and high speed back straight and it provided the first oppurtunity for Citroen to seal the Manufacturers Title before the season finale in Macau.

Lets see how things panned out shall we...

In Qualifying, It was Jose Maria Lopez who took his fifth pole position of the season in the Citroen C-Elysee ahead of his Chinese team-mate Qing Hua Ma. Title challenger Yvan Muller secured third ahead of the Zengo Motorsport Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz with Sebastian Loeb completing the top five, despite hitting a tyre stack on his fast lap.

Completing the Top Ten for the race one grid were the works Honda drivers of Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini in sixth and seventh respectively. Tom Chilton made it to eigth place in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze whilst Hugo Valente qualified his Campos Racing Chevrolet in ninth place. Mehdi Bennani secured tenth place in his ProTeam Honda Civic in the dying moments of Q2, beating Tom Coronel by two tenths to take the race two Pole Position.

The big losses in Qualifying were Tom Coronel, who was called in for a weight check whilst he was in tenth place, denying him the chance to try and secure the spot leaving the popular Dutchman in Eleventh place. Dusan Borkovic hauled his repaired Campos Cruze into twelfth whilst Gianni Morbidelli was mystified by a lack of pace to put his Munnich Mototsport Cruze in Thirteenth place ahead of the Lada trio who were suffering on the high speed back straight. James Thompson led Mikhail Kozlovskiy from Rob Huff whilst Franz Engstler took Pole Position in the TC2 catergory.

Before race one had even begun, Thompson was in the pits with a broken steering arm on the Lada Granta TC1. At the start, Lopez held off Ma for the lead whilst Muller made his way back past Michelisz after a poor start. Loeb found himself with a fightback on his hands after falling behind the two works Hondas of Tarquini ahead of Monteiro. Further back, Chilton led a Chevrolet train with Valente, Coronel and Borkovic ahead of Bennani.

Loeb managed to pass Monteiro around the outside of the hairpin and the inside at the final turn for sixth place, however on lap three the right rear wheel flew off from Tom Chiltons Chevrolet, putting him into retirement. Loeb set about trying to pass Michelisz for fourth and did this on lap six into the hairpin, giving Citroen a 1-2-3-4 with Ma hasseling Lopez up front whilst Muller began to fall back.

Campos Racing's TC2 entrant William Lok retired on lap eight after hitting the tyre stack on the last corner with his SEAT Leon, causing double waved yellows. Whilst Tarquini and Monteiro chased Michelisz, further back Bennani was hounding Valente for ninth place with the Honda proving quicker than the Cruze. The Lada's suffered further with retirements for Huff and Kozlovskiy sealing a bad first race for them.

Lopez went on to secure his eighth win of the season ahead of Ma with Muller in third, being chased to the finish line. This result also secured the WTCC Manufactuers Title for Citroen in its first year. Michelisz came home in fourth ahed of Tarquini and Monteiro, with Coronel, Valente and Bennani completing the top ten. Engstler dominated the TC2 Class, winning from pole position.

Race Two saw Chilton's car fixed and starting from the pitlane after his first race retirement. At the light, Bennani launched into the lead with Tarquiniband Monteiro passing Valente into turn one after better starts. Loeb and Muller made good starts into fifth and sixth respectively ahead of Michelisz whilst Lopez, Coronel and Ma completed the top ten. 

Muller passed Loeb for fifth at the end of lap one whilst Lopez passed Michelisz for seventh on lap two. From the back, Thompson made it up to fifteenth from last on the grid whilst Chilton passed the TC2 cars after his pitlane start. As the cars streamed down the back straight on lap two Muller tried to pass Valente into the hairpin, however the Campos Racing driver defended and this left Muller open to Loeb who hit his team-mate and damaged the right rear wheel, sending Muller into retirement. Loeb would carry on but he would be awarded a thirty second penalty by the stewards after the race.

On lap four, Bennani led from Tarquini, Monteiro, Valente and Loeb in fifth with Lopez, Michelisz being chased by Ma for seventh whilst Coronel and Borkovic completed the top ten positions. But that all changed at the hairpin with Lopez passing Loeb for fifth whilst Ma went wide while trying to pass Michelisz for seventh. Tarquini suffered engine issues on lap five whilst Huff and Morbidelli both retired from contact at turn two.

With Muller out, Lopez looked to further his points advantage iver Muller in the Drivers Championship by passing Valente for third with all of this holding up Loeb and allowing Michelisz to close. Thompson and Chilton continued their way up the field to be tenth and eleventh respectively. Meanwhile Valente was now defending from Loeb, Michelisz and Ma in the fight for fourth place. Loeb passed Valente on lap seven for fourth with Michelisz passing the Campos Chevrolet on the same lap to take fifth place with Ma passing the Frenchman on lap nine as he fell back.

Bennani went on to secure his first ever WTCC win and Honda's first win of the year in the TC1 Honda Civic, also taking ProTeam's first ever WTCC in the process with Monteiro and Lopez completing the podium. Loeb finished fourth on the road but would drop out of the top ten. Michelisz was classified fourth and Ma with Coronel, Chilton, Valente, Borkovic and Thompson completing the top ten.
Engstler again dominated the TC2 Class in his BMW 320TC, winning from pole position.

The series now moves to Suzuka for the penultimate weekend in the championship where this year the cars will use the full Grand Prix circuit after three years of using the East Circuit. It is also the next chance that Jose Maria Lopez has to secure the FIA WTCC Drivers Title

This is one of the WTCC Weekends I've been waitng for, ever since the confirmation that the full Grand Prix Circuit will be used. Its a thrill watching on TV as the F1 cars take the awesome 130R corner nearly flat out. Seeing how the TC1 cars do with the new Aero package and the extra engine power should be just as good to watch!

All the best!


World RX 2014: Bakkerud Wins in Turkey as Hansen Flies again

After the excitement of from the last round in Italy that saw Petter Solberg crowned as the first FIA World Rallycross Champion and Robin Larsson crowned as the 2014 European Rallycross Champion, one major title is left to be decided: The Teams Championship.

Whilst Ford OlsbergMSE started the season with the dominant Fiesta Supercar car, they were soon caught up by the VW-Marklund Motorsport with their Mk5 Polo Supercar. Since the French round however, the Peugeot-Hansen team has been steadily improving their 208 WRX Supercar, taking their first win in Italy with Timmy Hansen and now its a three horse race to the title with two rounds left...

Lets see how this panned out...

Timmy Hansen has established an early lead at the World RX of Turkey, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, being staged at the Istanbul Intercity Park. The Peugeot-Hansen driver was third quickest in heat one and followed it up with a heat two victory. Volkswagen Marklund’s Topi Heikkinen was second with Ford Olsbergs MSE wildcard driver Richard Goransson third.
Hansen, who won the previous RX round in Italy, clocked the fastest time during free practice in his Peugeot 208 Supercar. The 21-year-old Swede also set the quickest heat time of the day in heat two, beating Heikkinen’s heat one victory by 1.5 seconds. “I’m feeling really comfortable in the car here - I love the dirt section, it reminds me a lot of driving on ice back in Sweden because it’s so slippery,” explained Hansen.  “The track overall is fantastic but I think the key to winning here is getting a good time in the gravel section. We made no mistakes on the dirt and that definitely helped.”
Heikkinen went quickest in heat one, but finished heat two tenth fastest after a false start saw the Finn lose time with a double Joker Lap penalty.  Heikkinen’s team-mate Anton Marklund was seventh overnight in a second Polo RX Supercar after admitting driver errors hindered him from reaching a top five position.
After what is only his second outing in a Supercar, Swedish Touring Car driver Richard Goransson was set to challenge the World RX front-runners once again.  “I’ve had a really fun day,” admitted Goransson.  “I love this track – it’s very technical with a lot of gravel.  There’s a lot to learn but thankfully I have two very talented team-mates [Reinis Nitiss and Andreas Bakkerud] that I can speak to and analyse the data with.”
Fourth overnight in another Fiesta Supercar was Bakkerud.  Fifth place was occupied by PSRX driver Petter Solberg who spoke of small issues with the car and difficulties with handling on the slippery dirt section. EKS RX’s Edward Sandstrom was eight overnight after a solid performance in the Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.  Team-mate PG Andersson did not get off to the best start after the EKS RX squad were forced to change the car’s engine after free practice which saw the Swede miss heat one.  Andersson made up for lost time, however, after posting the second quickest time in heat two.
Elsewhere Timur Timerzyanov had a troubled day after handbrake problems in heat one and tearing the left-rear wheel off his car after an impact in heat two.  Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg was ninth overnight with team-mate Lars Oivind Enerberg 15th after the Norwegian suffered turbo failure during heat two. LD Motorsports frontman Derek Tohill finished tenth overnight in his Citroen DS3, happy with his performance through the days heats.  “We had a lot of work to do on our car after Italy and I’m pleased to say the guys have done a great job because the car is working better than it has in a long time. I really like this track, it’s very different from Italy and it suits my driving style. It’s been a good day,” concluded the Irishman.
Albatec Racing’s father and son duo Andy and Marc Scott were 11th and 12th overnight.  “I’ve been finding my feet,” explained Scott Jnr. who is made his World RX debut in Turkey for the British-based team.  “It was good to line up beside my dad in heat two but then I was fired off into the wall on turn one. I’d be really happy to make it to the semi-finals. I know it’s a tall order but that’s my aim.”

Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud went on to win the World RX of Turkey, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timmy Hansen and Volkswagen Marklund’s Topi Heikkinen finished second and third respectively. With Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen all represented on the podium, the fight for the first ever Teams’ Championship will now be decided at the final round in Argentina next month.
Bakkerud, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on the Friday, was delighted with his win at the Intercity Istanbul Park – the former F1 venue which staged the Turkish F1 race from 2005-2011. “This has been a great birthday present!" beamed Bakkerud who also became the first driver to win a rallycross event in Asia. “We have been struggling slightly in the last couple of races but everything came together and the car has been working perfectly.  The final race was just crazy – Timmy was really close to me, it could have gone either way but I was really pushing after the semis and I was hungry for the victory.”
Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of Timmy Hansen who won three heats, semi-final one and the Monster Energy Super Charge Award. “I had the pace to win the final but I made a small mistake and Andreas jumped on the opportunity.  We had some close racing with Andreas, Topi and Henning and then after I took the Joker, all I heard on the radio was that I had to push.  I didn’t quite manage it but I’m happy with how the weekend has gone.”
Heikkinen’s third place in Turkey sees the Finn remain second in the overall drivers’ standings, 50 points behind Petter Solberg who has already secured the Championship title after accruing enough points at the previous round in Italy.  “Volkswagen Marklund are now leading the Teams’ standings by four points – we’ve been tied at the top on two separate occasions this year but now we are leading it by ourselves,” explained Heikkinen whose team-mate Anton Marklund finished one place behind in fourth.  “My driving hasn’t been perfect this weekend, I made a few small mistakes but I’m happy to have got some crucial points for the team.”
Rounding off the top five in Turkey was Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg who claimed his best finish of the season so far in the Citroen DS3 Supercar. His younger brother Petter Solberg joined him on the back row of the final, but both siblings retired before the finish.
“I’ve been really pleased with the car this weekend, the handling and power has got better and better, and the team have worked very hard,” explained Henning. “We changed some small settings with the differentials and, now the car really is so fast. It was a shame we weren’t allowed to re-fuel because of a time limit before the finals, because this cost us a podium for sure, but it has still been a great day.”
EKS RX had a weekend of mixed fortunes with former WRC star PG Andersson showing flashes of speed but unable to reach the semis due to missing heat one on Saturday following an engine change on his Audi S1 Quattro Supercar. Team-mate Edward Sandstrom consistently challenged the World RX front-runners this weekend and the GT racer was rewarded with his first semi-final place. However, Sandstrom was later disqualified after it was discovered that his car was underweight.
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “It’s been fantastic to bring rallycross to Asia for the first time.  The feedback we have received from the drivers about the track at Intercity Istanbul Park has been extremely positive, which just goes to prove that an F1 track can also be the perfect home for an RX race.  With only one round remaining, the battle for the Teams’ Championship is shaping up for a thrilling finale with Volkswagen, Ford and Peugeot all still capable of winning the title.  Having just completed our fourth RX event in five weeks, the teams and drivers will be looking forward to the six-week hiatus before they make the journey to Argentina where we will stage our first ever event in South America.”

The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place in San Luis, Argentina, at the end of November.

1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 250
2. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 200
3. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 182
4. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 179
5. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 173
6. Anton Marklund (VW Marklund), 159

1. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, 359 points
2. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 355 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 335 points
4. PSRX, 237 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 102 points
6. Albatec Racing, 42 points

All the best!!


Sunday, 5 October 2014

WTCC 2014: Chilton and Huff star in Beijing...

After what seems like an eternity (2 months), the FIA World Touring Car Championship returned in Beijing to begin its Asian Tour and the final third of the series as we head to Macau, looking to crown the 2014 WTCC champion.

And theres been a few changes...

RML have provided updates for the TC1 Chevrolet Cruze's run by ROAL Motorsport, Munnich Motorsport and Campos Racing, who have tested these in Barcelona. Honda have been testing engine and chassis updates on the new Civic WTCC test car whilst Lada have also tested updates to the Grants TC1 as well as announcing that they will use the new Vesta TC1 from next year, whilst confirming they will retain Huff, Thompson and Kozlovskiy for 2015.

Also, this final third of the championship offers Jose Maria Lopez a good few oppurtunitiesto be crowned 2014 WTCC Champion before Macau with the huge points lead he has over teammate Yvan Muller.

So this is how it panned out...

ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton took a surprise pole position in qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship in Beijing, beating Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini to the top time in a session featuring no Citroën drivers on the front row.

Chilton was the fastest driver in the all-important Q3 session, pipping Tarquini to pole by just 0.032 seconds after the Italian admitted to making a small mistake on his single lap.

Citroën’s Yvan Muller was third fastest, also within a tenth of a second of Chilton but unable to go faster than his former team-mate. Championship leader José María López was fourth, unable to match the pace he had in Q2 which would have been good enough for pole.

Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli, who had on Saturday been the fastest Chevrolet driver in two of the three sessions, could only manage fifth fastest, just over half a second off the pace.

Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz was the top driver to miss out on Q3, posting the sixth fastest time in his independent Honda. Sébastien Loeb was seventh, having missed out on entry into the final qualifying segment by two tenths of a second.

It was a good qualifying session for the LADA drivers, with both James Thompson (eighth) and Rob Huff (tenth) making it into Q2. Huff therefore starts race two from pole position, with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel alongside him after the Dutchman was ninth fastest.

It turned out to be a poor qualifying session for Saturday’s pace-setter Tiago Monteiro. The Honda driver was only 11th in Q2, missing out on both Q3 and the reverse grid for race two after being more than a second off the pace. He will be joined on row six of the grid by Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, who failed to make an impression.

Q1 was twice red-flagged. The first came when Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Filipe Clemente de Souza went off at the final corner and beeched his BMW in the gravel. The second came after Campos Racing’s Dušan Borković lost control of his Chevrolet and spun onto the infield, dislodging his front splitter and requiring a tow back to the pits. He was thus only 16th fastest.

Franz Engstler again took class pole for TC2, with the Liqui Moly driver ahead of Campos Racing’s John Filippi and Michael Soong.

Tom Chilton went on to score his first World Touring Car Championship win of the season in the opening race in Beijing, comfortably finishing ahead of Yvan Muller and José María López.

Chilton got off to a strong start away from the line, whilst behind him Muller got past front row start Gabriele Tarquini for second.

The race was neutralised after three laps, however, when the safety car came out as a result of a collision between Dušan Borković and René Münnich, with both Chevrolets having sustained damage in the wall. Borković later explained that their coming together was a result of Münnich in front having picked up a puncture.

The race eventually resumed on lap 11 and Chilton pulled away from the chasing pack untroubled, leaving Muller to defend from Tarquini. However the Italian pulled into the pits and out of the race on lap 23 having suffered from mechanical problems with his Honda.

Tarquini’s demise promoted López to third, reducing the gain of Muller into the Argentine’s championship lead.

Morbidelli finished the race in fourth for Münnich Motorsport after a quiet race, ahead of the third Citroën of Sébastien Loeb in fifth.

Norbert Michelisz was sixth, despite having passed Loeb for fifth on lap 12, with the Frenchman getting back past the Hungarian in the final laps of the race.

LADA duo James Thompson and Rob Huff finished the race in seventh and eighth, with the former taking his best result of the season, ahead of Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani in ninth. Bennani had earlier had a close race with Tiago Monteiro, but the Moroccan hit the back of Monteiro’s car and caused damage that would force the Portuguese driver out of the race.

Franz Engstler won the TC2 class once again, with the race’s high attrition rate allowing him to finish inside the top ten for only the second time this season.

Hugo Valente had been running in tenth but picked up a puncture on the final lap and thus finished in 12th position.

Ma Qing Hua made progress from his starting position of 14th and was running in eighth ahead of Thompson before the Chinese driver went off the circuit on lap 22. He would retire from the race just two laps later with a puncture.

Also failing to finish was Tom Coronel, who would start race two from the front row of the grid alongside pole sitter Rob Huff.

Rob Huff took LADA’s first-ever World Touring Car Championship victory in race two in Beijing, scoring a lights-to-flag win ahead of Tom Coronel and Sébastien Loeb.

Huff, who started the race from pole position, led the entire race and was never challenged by Coronel, with the Brit opening up a lead of over four seconds just after the halfway stage of the race.

The win is the 26th of Huff’s career, and crucially the first-ever win for LADA in the championship.

Coronel and Loeb completed the podium, having been in the top three positions since the first corner of the race.

Championship leader José María López extended his points advantage by finishing in fourth, having made up more positions than anyone else inside the top ten. López, who started seventh, was in sixth by the end of lap one and then got past James Thompson for fifth on lap 11.

Norbert Michelisz was fifth, finishing one place better than race one, having lost out to the charging López on lap 16.

Thompson completed a strong day for the Russian marque by taking his best result of the season in sixth. The Brit had started third, but lost out to Loeb and Michelisz at the start and he was then hunted down and passed by López later in the race.

Gianni Morbidelli followed up his fourth in race one with seventh in race two, unable to make any progress in his Chevrolet and losing out to López at the start of the race.

Completing the top ten were race one winner Chilton, Muller and Tarquini. Muller therefore loses more ground to López in the title fight after being unable to repass Chilton after the ROAL Motorsport driver got by early in the race.

Monteiro had another poor race on the back of a disastrous qualifying and race one, finishing down in 13th position. Monteiro had spent much of the race battling with Ma Qing Hua, who finished in 12th and thus scored no points at home in China.

Franz Engstler was again victorious in TC2 for the 15th time this season despite a spin in the race, finishing ahead of John Filippi.

The only disappointment for LADA came at the start, with Mikhail Kozlovskiy failing to get to the grid after a fire in his car.

After their crashes in race one, neither Dušan Borković nor René Münnich took the start of race two.

The WTCC Circus had little time to recover as it now heads to the Shanghai International Grand Prix circuit, using the shorter layout, where Citroen has its first chance to secure the Manufacturers Title.
Frankly, after their performance this year, that has never been in doubt. But what is good to see is that the pace of the Chevrolet's and Honda's had increased and that they were able to make life more difficult for Citroen, which is good for the championship as it moves back towards offering the close racing we know and love from the WTCC.

All the best!


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

FIA World RX 2014: Solberg wins Title as Hansen wins in Italy...

The 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship has proven to be an exciting series to watch this year with different drivers leading intermediate stages with different drivers going on to win the event and with the Supercar entry numbers reaching around 40 in most cases, its been no disappoinment to watch and follow.

And Italy showed another exciting, unexpected and thrilling chapter to this amazing series where the World RX and Euro RX drivers titles would be decided...

Johan Kristoffersson led the World RX of Italy after finishing as top qualifier at the half-way point in the Intermediate Classification stage. Timmy Hansen took the heat one victory and also the fastest lap time of the day for Team Peugeot-Hansen. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Anton Marklund was third making it three Swedes at the head of the field.

FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy leader Petter Solberg’s title charge suffered a setback due to an engine oil leak in heat one.

“What a day, I am very relieved to be in seventh after the day I have had I can tell you,” explained Solberg who can win the World RX title in Italy if he extends his Championship lead to 60 points. “At the end of free practice, there was an oil leak as the engine block had cracked.  We didn’t have time to change it during the heats so we took off the gearbox to try and fix the crack as best we could.  During the last heat I broke the left-rear damper and then got a puncture so I was lucky to finish ninth.  We have a big job ahead – we need to change the engine and the turbo.  We need to look at the gearbox and dampers too, it will be a big night ahead but Sunday is a new day and I have an amazing team so I’m confident they will do a good job tonight.”

After a near-perfect day in a VW Polo including the heat two victory, Kristoffersson was delighted to hold second overnight in what is only his fourth World RX outing. Kristoffersson also leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), of which Italy is the final round.  The Swede explained: “I’m really enjoying myself here – the track suits me and the car very nicely.  In the second heat, I had some technical problems as I had the throttle stuck on full but I got the fastest time so maybe it wasn’t such a big problem after all!”

Fourth and fifth are occupied by Championship contenders Topi Heikkinen and Reinis Nitiss. However Nitiss’ team-mate Andreas Bakkerud was not placed so well. The Norwegian incurred a double Joker Lap penalty for a jump-start and was later excluded for exceeding track limits. 

Second in Euro RX and on track for securing the European trophy which concludes in Italy this weekend is Sweden’s Robin Larsson in the Audi A1 Supercar.

Arguably the most impressive drive of today was that of local driver Gigi Galli who excelled on his World RX debut with Ford Olsbergs MSE to lie ninth overnight. “I am really happy to be here, and also a little surprised,” admitted Galli who helped to design the RX circuit at Franciacorta. “To be racing against the likes of Petter who I know from my rallying days in WRC is amazing.  My aim here is to learn, to enjoy myself and to do my best.  The car was perfect so now I continue to learn and hope to go as far as I can in front of my home fans.”

Over 40 Supercar drivers started the tenth round of World RX, which is being staged at the all-new RX venue of Franciacorta International Circuit in Northern Italy. The event marks the first time that rallycross has been staged in Italy since 1980, when the Gropello Cairoli circuit was included as a round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship.

Petter Solberg entered the record books after becoming the first FIA World Champion in two different disciplines. He scored enough points in Italy to secure him the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. After a sensational performance for Team Peugeot-Hansen, Timmy Hansen was awarded the World RX of Italy event victory. Supercar debutant Richard Goransson finished runner-up. 
Solberg’s podium position at the Franciacorta International Circuit has seen the PSRX driver stretch his lead at the top of the standings to 60 points with two events still remaining. Topi Heikkinen is currently second behind Solberg in the overall standings but with Solberg having already won four events this season to Heikkinen’s one, Solberg automatically becomes World Champion based on his higher percentage of event victories. 
“This hasn’t sunk in yet, it is a dream come true,” grinned Solberg who is now a World Champion in both World RX and WRC.  “When I stopped rallying, I didn’t know what to do and then IMG took on rallycross and brought it to an amazing level so now it seemed like the right choice.  I broke the right-rear suspension in the final and my spotter was shouting on the radio that I needed to calm down because all I needed to do was get to the podium and I would win the Championship.  I just wish my family were here with me – my wife Pernilla and my son Oliver are back home because Oliver won the Norwegian Crosskart Championship on Saturday. I have to thank them and my whole team who have worked so hard to make this happen, they really do an incredible job and have worked day and night for a lot of the season. I can’t wait to celebrate this moment with everyone tonight.”
Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of 21-year-old Hansen who looked virtually untouchable in his Team Peugeot-Hansen prepared 208 Supercar.  Hansen, the son of multiple European Rallycross Champion Kenneth, won the Monster Energy Super Charge Award, two heats, his semi-final and the all-important final to take his first ever World RX victory.
“This has been a brilliant weekend and it is the best feeling to win when I pushed so hard for this moment,” explained Hansen who was joined by team-mate Timur Timerzyanov on the front row of the six-car Supercar final. “During the final, I was pushing really hard but after a few laps in, I saw pieces from the other cars all over the track so I knew there had been a lot going on behind me.  Both Petter and Richard were giving me a lot of pressure but thankfully I was able to hold on and I’m so happy to finally take a win for my team.”
Joining Hansen and Solberg in the top three was multiple Swedish Touring Car Champion Richard Goransson who shone on his Supercar debut with Ford Olsbergs MSE.  Goransson, who stepped up from RX Lites to Supercar this weekend, battled against a hugely competitive field of 40 Supercars to make it through to the final where he finished second to Hansen. “I am speechless, it has been an absolutely crazy weekend,” explained Goransson. “This has been my first ever Supercar event and I would have been happy to have made the semi-finals, never mind second overall. I kept out of trouble in the final and that’s what led to this result.”
Alongside Goransson in the final driving a second Fiesta was regular Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud who retired on lap two after a string of misfortunate events over the weekend.  He finishes the event sixth overall. Bakkerud’s team-mate Reinis Nitiss was still in the title fight with Solberg but the 18-year-old’s chances of the World RX title was shattered when Nitiss was knocked out of the semis.  Johan Kristofferson led the Intermediate Classification stage yesterday and another strong performance today saw the VW Polo driver finish fifth in World RX and second in European.
Italy also marked the final round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), which Robin Larsson won after finishing seventh in the Intermediate Classification stage. Monster Energy World RX Team driver Henning Solberg finished runner-up in Euro RX after reaching the semi-finals while EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand was awarded third.
“It feels great to be European champion. We’ve been struggling all weekend with engine problems so we didn’t have the power we wanted. We have just been safe in all four heats and managed to finish them,” said Larsson, who follows in his father Lars’ footsteps by winning the title.
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “Firstly, congratulations to Petter Solberg who has gone down in history after becoming the first person to win two different FIA World Championships. Solberg and the entire PSRX Team have worked incredibly hard since their torrid season last year and are very worthy title winners. Even though Solberg has taken the majority of the limelight today after winning the title, Timmy Hansen’s light-to-flag victory today must not go under the radar. I have witnessed the huge effort that the entire Team Peugeot-Hansen has put into this year and I’m pleased that the team have finally got the win that they truly deserve.  As well as the World RX title, we have also seen Championships won in Euro RX, Super1600, TouringCar and the supporting RX Lites Cup which was won by Kevin Eriksson today with one round still to go. It’s also incredible to have newcomers such as Richard Goransson and Gigi Galli reach the semis in what has been a hugely competitive field of entries. Even though the drivers’ title has now been decided, the Teams’ Championship is more exciting than ever before with VW Marklund and Ford Olsbergs MSE both tied with 313 points at the top of the standings.”


1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 235 points
2. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 175 points
3. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 167 points
4. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 152 points
5. Timur Timerzyanov (Peugeot-Hansen), 148 points
6. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE),146 points
1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 313 points
1= Volkswagen Marklund, 313 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 300 points
4. PSRX, 227 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 85 points
6. Albatec Racing, 32 points

The penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at the former F1 venue of Intercity Istanbul Park in Turkey, in just under two weeks time on the Guru's Birthday weekend of 11th -12th of October...

Add to that a very busy weekend for the Guru, consisting of: The BTCC Finale from Brands Hatch, The WTCC event from Shanghai, The first ever Russian Grand Prix, the FIA WEC 6 hours from Fuji and The V8 Supercars Bathurst 1000kms!!!!
Theres also a little something else that happening to the Guru that will be seen in a future blogpost.

All the best!