Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BTCC 2014: My Idea for the Jack Sears Trophy...

In 2013, The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship introduced the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers competing in Super 2000 regulation Touring Cars using 2 litre turbocharged engines.

This was a minority class as most of the field had switched to running full Next Generation Touring Car specification cars in 2013 but it also allowed those who couldn't afford to make the NGTC move to race for victorys in their own class. The turbos were set at one level but a class win would net a trophy with nothing awarded to anyone finishing 2nd, 3rd or lower. The Jack Sears Trophy was won by popular Independent driver Lea Wood.

For 2014, the JST changed to being a trophy for the Independent driver who makes the most overtakes during the season, rewarding those racers who race the hardest on small budgets.

However, I have a different idea that I wanted to share with fellow fans to see what they might think...

Now the basis of my idea goes back to the Group A heyday of Touring Cars where there were a mix of Sprint races in domestic series added to Endurance races that were the norm in the European Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship. Back then, WTCC and ETCC races were around 500 miles in length with 2 or 3 drivers assigned to a car and teams often ran two or three cars in their class. Pitstops were compulsory and included Tyre Changes, Refuelling and Driver changes of ten with a lead or nominated driver able to leap into a team mates car if their own car suffered issues or retirement.

The best example of this would be Roberto Ravaglia, who as BMW 's lead driver, would often end up driving a different BMW M3 if his own suffered during a race. This won him the 1987 WTCC and 1988 ETCC titles.

Now quite often, when the WTCC or ETCC raced in the UK, the BTCC regulars would take part and the series would often have its own Endurance race later in the year, usually held at Donington Park for around one hour in duration and part of my idea for the JST stems from this. The other part stems from the fact that all of the major Touring Car series have their own "Blue Riband" race during the season. For example the DTM has the Norisring, the V8 Supercars have the Bathurst 1000kms and the WTCC has its season ending races at Macau...

So my proposal is for two 70 minute BTCC Endurance races that would be held on the Silverstone Grand Prix layout.

Now take into consideration that almost every BTCC race is normally around the 40 minute mark, with or without a safety car period, and the fact that the teams and drivers race three times on the sunday after two practice sessions and qualifying on the saturday. Also take into account that the current NGTC regulations require having larger fuel tanks that the previous Super 2000 regulations and it seems to be feasible.

Now I'm fully aware that the current BTCC races are sprints races and that a study would need to be made into longer lasting parts for the cars, but aside from that it also allows a team running two cars to take on two extra drivers for the event. This means that it opens up the oppurtunity for drivers from different motorsport arena's to try out the BTCC NGTC equipment as well as offering the chance to drivers from the Support Series to try NGTC as well.

As for the two races, my thinking is this. A race weekend for the NGTC cars would entail two practice sessions at about 1 hours length, allowing time for everyone to get in race and quali setup work and anything else to be done. For Qualifying I imagine a 45 minute session with the quickest times setting the grid and the driver setting the fastest time also starting the race. This could see some gameplay by the teams as is often in this modern day in age.

Now there is the Success Ballast and Turbo Boost parity to consider as they play an important part in the BTCC itself. My thinking on this would be to have an equal boost setting on all cars, but to allow a higher setting than is normally used in the regular BTCC events. Also As this would be a Blue Riband event, all Success Ballast would be scrubbed, keeping all competitors on an even keel.

This would be implemented in both races. With regards to points, the normal points system would be used, however with qualifying used to set the grid for Race One, for Race Two that grid would be reversed. Now with a large grid of cars this year, at 31 entries, that would also allow the Independents to shine and add to the racing spectacle that is the BTCC itself. With regards to driver changes, this would take place with one driver driving for a certain amount of time only, goverened by Health and Safety to make sure drivrrs dont have accidents due to suffering from fatigue or over-tiredness.

As for the timing of when this race could take place, that would be down to what TOCA and ITV could arrange themselves, but I envisage it taking place potentially around August, giving it a date to fit in with the other big series where they take place later in the year. That way it offers the best spectacle to be utilised for advertising, Social Media and the like.

Now, this isn't just some crazy idea, its something that I put to Alan Gow early this year on the forum when people were discussing what the JST would be used for. His answer explained that when the teams annually meet to discuss the series and any ideas to further enhance it, the Endurance idea is often discussed with growing popularity so its always possible we could see an Endurance race of some kind as part of the BTCC in the future.

Now I admit I'm a fan and this is just an idea but I feel enthusiastically that the Jack Sears Trophy needs to be a bigger part of the BTCC package, adding to what is potentially the best Tintop series out there.

Thank you for reading this and hearing out my idea and please feel free to share amongst other fans.

Kind Regards


Monday, 16 June 2014

WTCC 2014: Moscow is host to Citroen Surprises...

The FIA World Touring Car Championship moved to Moscow Raceway for its next two races with two points of duscussion earlier in the season now firmly dealt with...

Citroen have conquered the traction issue in Touring Car racing to dominate in WTCC and Jose Maria Lopez looks to be the most settled driver in the team as he leads four-time WTCC Champion Yvan Muller in the Drivers Championship.

Yes, thats right, I did just say that somebody is beating Muller, in the same team, with the same equipment...and that hasn't happened since Gabriele Tarquini did in it 2009 at SEAT and Rob Huff did it at Chevrolet in 2012...

Third time lucky Pechito?

Something else thats also developing well are the Honda's. During pre season testing, it was obvious that the new TC1 Civic was going to need serious development to bridge the gap to Citroen and Honda have worked hard. The Civic makes the best starts and so far Monteiro has taken more podiums than Tarquini, showing that the car is capable and at Moscow it held off the Citroens quite nicely.

So to Qualifying at Moscow Raceway where Lopez took pole position ahead of Tarquini and Monteiro, showing for the first time this season that the Honda's had split the Citroens in qualifying. Loeb came fourth with Chilton fifth and Muller in sixth after not qualifying into Q3 for the first time this season. The anger of the Frenchman not making it into Q3 was evident as he slammed the door of his Citroen C-Elysee and left the pit garage immediatley.

Bennani and Michelisz took seventh and eigth with new Citroen driver Qing Hua Ma qualifying ninth ahead of Hugo Valente who took tenth and the race two pole position. Munnich and Borkovic were 11th and 12th with Coronel, Huff, Kozlovskiy and Thompson ahead of Morbidelli who wrecked his tyres in quali to start 17th just ahead of TC2 Pole winner Franz Engstler.

Race one saw Tarquini rocket ahead of Lopez into turn one but with a combination of a tap behind from Monteiro and Lopez going wide, the Citroen driver stayed ahead. Loeb managed to pass Monteiro for third whilst further back Huff passed Valente for 11th...all on lap one. Muller began hassling Monteiro whilst also defending from Chilton behind him in the second ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet.

At the end of lap two, Borkovic suffered a mechanical failure, leading to him spearing into Valente at the final turn and it was obvious that Borkovic was very upset at hitting his team mate. At the final corner on lap four, Muller tried down the inside of Monteiro for fourth but both cars went wide with Monteiro going through the gravel whilst Muller came back on track and lost out in a drag race to Chilton who took fourth and looked faster than Muller as he defended lap after lap.

Coronel spent several laps hassling Michelisz in the Zengo Motorsport Honda and each time down the back straight was able to close his Chevrolet to the Honda. His efforts finally paid off on lap eight as Coronel was sideways through the final corner, allowing him to come alongside Michelisz up the pits straight and pass the Hungarian into turn one for eighth place.

The Lada's didn't show too well on home ground with Huffy again the quicker of the three red Russian machines holding off Bennani and Morbidelli late in the race ahead of Thompson and Kozlovskiy who both suffered with steering and setup issues again while the team tries to make all three entries competitive. Muller spent the final few laps hassling Chilton and his efforts paid off as he passed his 2013 team mate into turn two on the final lap. Loeb spent all of the race hunting Tarquini but to no avail whilst put front Lopez looked serene and secure in a race where most of the overtaking was done at either Turn One or the Final Corner.

Lopez won race one from Tarquini, who held off the charging Loeb for second with Muller and Chilton with Ma finishing in sixth in his first WTCC race. Monteiro, Coronel, Michelisz and Huff completed the top ten with Bennani, Morbidelli, Munnich, Thompson and Kozlovskiy completing the TC1 finishers. Franz Engstler won the TC2 Class in his BMW 320TC.

In between races one and two, Campos Racing set about working on both its TC1 Chevrolets but with the focus being on Valente as he was the race two Poleman. After much repairs and welding, he left the pitlane with 3 seconds to spare allowing him join Qing Mua Ha on the grid. As for Borkovic he would start from the back of the grid in race two. Now Valente has been fast in the Chevrolet this year and its only been bad luck that has robbed him of podiums or points finishes, therefore everyone had their fingers and toes crossed for him.

The race two grid saw Valente on pole from Ma, Michelisz, Bennani, Muller, Chilton, Loeb, Monteiro, Tarquini and Lopez in the reverse of the race one grid and this would be a much more dramatic race...

Race Two saw drama from the start with Lopez failing to get off the line with gearbox issues leaving him to retire on the spot whilst others avoided the stranded Citroen. This was where Muller woulld seize his chance to close down his team mates points advantage.

Up front, Valente got a good clean start and led away from Michelisz getting another trademark Honda getaway into 2nd place ahead of Ma. Further behind Bennani pushed Muller wide in turn one after contact on the side of the Citroen with the front of the Honda leaving Muller with catchup to do from falling to 9th position behind team mate Loeb. Morbidelli passed Thompson, Huff and Kozlovskiy in three corners as Munnich and Kozlovskiy made contact causing the Russian Driver to retire but also make contact with Thompson causing James to fall back at the rear of the field...

All on Lap One!!!

Ma went to pass Michelisz at the final corner only for the Zengo Honda to pull alongside and out drag the Citroen into turn one to keep second place in a move  what would be repeated for several laps by Ma as he tried to get ahead of Norbert. Loeb and Muller meanwhile were in the middle of a ROAL Motorsport squeeze with Chilton ahead of Loeb in 7th and Coronel pressuring Muller for 9th position.

Disaster struck for Valente as he was awarded a drive through penalty for not having its wheels on the car by the 5 minute board. Valente would take his drive through several laps later in the meantime showing his TC1 Cruze had good pace. Behind this Michelisz fended off another challenge from Ma whilst Coronel passed Loeb who wobbled at turn one sending him wide allowing the Dutchman through.

In the Battle of the Honda's, Monteiro was passed by Tarquini in turn one as Ma and Michelisz fought for honours ahead, also allowing Chilton passed Tiago. A few corners later and Chilton was sent wide after contact from Tiago's Honda. Morbidelli also passed Chilton with contact as the englishman came back on. Morbidelli would also get past Loeb in the chaos on track. Bennani would go wide at the final corner on lap 6 with Tarquini and Monteiro passing him for fourth and fifth places, however Muller passed Monteiro and Bennani into turn two as he hunted after more places and points.

Coronel chased Bennani and Monteiro ahead of him as behind Loeb and Morbidelli swapped more paint with each other. Valente finally took his drive through penalty on lap 7 whilst Tarquini slowed with a problem leading to retirement. After seven laps of trying, Ma finally got past Michelisz and took the lead of the race, slowly building a gap. Loeb finally passed Morbidelli on the pits straight as Ma led. With Tarquini out, this left Muller in third amazingly and he set about trying to pass Michelisz.

Lopez watched from the pits as Muller hunted after Michelisz whilst Valente passed Munnich for tenth place in his battered Chevrolet Cruze. Muller finally passed Michelisz for 2nd on lap 8 and suddenly Citroen Team Orders became the worry. Ma is in his first WTCC weekend whilst Muller is fighting for Championship number five and so we all watched with baited breath in a race that held no let up at all to see if they would order Ma to let Muller through.

Monteiro was now chasing Michelisz for third as the Zengo Honda shed its rear bumper from previous contact earlier in the race. However Bennani was not done yet either as he too held off Coronel and Loeb whilst hassling the Castrol Honda. Bennani pushed Tiago into Turn two on lap 11 as Huff pulled his Lada in to retire with a gearbox problem in another quiet, pointless weekend for the Russian Outfit. Michelisz held off Monteiro again for 3rd on lap 12 as Monteiro would later pull off into a double retirement for the Castrol Honda Team in a weekend where they showed improved pace.

Valente hunted Morbidelli for eighth place on lap 13, giving plenty of contact with the former Italian Touring Car Champion and Gianni has shown he's not afraid to bump and barge this season. Up front Muller reeled in Ma over the final laps to close in for what seemed to be an almost certified victory for the french driver in the making whilst Michelisz, Bennani, Coronel, Loeb and Chilton fought for third. Michelisz slid wide on lap 15 out of 16 laps to allow Bennani and Coronel through, however on the last lap Muller closed down Ma and a final corner pass seemed to be on as Ma was slow out of the final turn...

However Muller slowed as well handing Victory to Ma and giving Citroen a 1-2 finish. Bennani and Coronel followed with Loeb taking 5th and Chilton 6th after both passed Michelisz at the final turn. Morbidelli, Valente and Munnich completed the top ten with Borkovic and Thompson the remaining TC1 runners in 11th and 12th places. Engstler stayed ahead of team mate Di Sabatino to clinch another TC2 victory.

So Muller closes on Lopez to be 41 points behind him as the series now moves to the epic, legendary and classic circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. Now the WTCC raced there only once in 2005 in the original S2000 regulation cars but with the newer TC1 cars having more downforce, seeing these beauties flying through Eau Rouge and coming through Blanchimont at full chat before braking for the Bus Stop Chicane will be a sight to see and one I'm looking forward to.

For me I'm happy to see Spa and later on in the season, the full Suzuka Grand Prix Circuit in use this year as it will challenge the teams with TC1 cars with regards to balancing a good setup against two of the most classic, high speed circuits in the world and put on an excellent show.

Most people think that Touring Cars don't work so well on circuits designed for Formula One but Shanghai, Monza and the Hungaroring have often shown good Tintop racing so Spa and Suzuka should both be special weekends, but its also something that I wish the BTCC would embrace as well by using the Silverstone GP layout...

But thats for another post...

This weekend is the Spa round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship as well as a return of one of my favourite Grand Prix venues in the form of the Red Bull Ring and the Austrian Grand Prix so The Guru will be a happy bunny this weekend!!



World RX 2014: Nitiss takes Maiden World RX Win in Hell

The third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship took place in Hell, Norway and proved to be another exciting encounter with more twists and turns taking place in this year epic season.

In the buildup to the event it was confirmed that Gymkhana Star Ken Block would make his World RX debut in his famous Mk 7 Ford Fiesta Supercar whilst DTM star Mattias Ekstrom also joined the Championship in his own ESRX team, running two Audi S1 Supercars in Red Bull colours for himself and Pontus Tidemand. However there was drama for the Albatec Racing squad before the event took place with Jacques Villenueve rolling his Peugeot 208 in testing Holjes leading to Team Principal Andy Scott stepping aside to allow Villeneuve to use his own 208 Supercar.

With another high number of 35 Supercars entered for the event, competition would be close over the weekend with a lot of teams and drivers looking to improve on previously poor weekends this season and Practice confirmed this. Peugeot-Hansen Superstar Timmy Hansen set the fastest time in his Peugeot-Hansen 208 WRX Supercar whilst team-mate Timur Timerzyanov was right behind him with the benefits of testing showing for the team.

Day one of the Heat Stages showed some impressive performances from different drivers. Villenueve beat Petter Solberg to take his first ever heat race win whilst Liam Doran won his heat race showing improved pace after two dire weekends. The ESRX Audi S1's were on the pace through the first day as well whilst Ken Block settled himself in for the weekend.

At the end of Day One and Heats One and Two, it was Ford OslbergMSE's Reinis Nitiss leading the standings from Doran and VW-Marklund's Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen with Timerzyanov, Hansen, Anton Marklund, Solberg and Emil Ohman completing the top eight positions. Villeneuve and Block were twelfth and thirteenth respectively with Championship leader Andreas Bakkerud down in 21st position after a poor Day One.

Day Two saw the Heat Three races get underway with Tommy Rustad winning race one whilst local man Daniel Holten won race two. Race three was won by by Petter Solberg's team-mate Alexander Hvaal in a better showing whilst Henning Solberg took victory in race number four. The fifth race in Heat Three was won by Andreas Bakkerud after early leader Peter Hedstrom in his Skoda took a late Joker lap and Dorans team-mate Krzysztof Skorupski retired.

Race Six saw a jump start for Tidemand, meaning he had two Joker laps to do whilst Marklund took the win ahead of Block. Race Seven saw impressive performances from Timerzyanov and Doran with Doran taking the race win from the Russian on the last lap in what was a very close final heat three race. This left Doran leading the Heat Three standings from Nitiss, Timerzyanov, Heikkinen, Marklund, Hansen, Solberg, Block, Emil Ohman, Villeneuve, Henning Solberg and Tidemand with Bakkerud in thirteenth place outside the cut off.

After Heat Four was completed, the places were set for the two six lap Semi-Finals to take place with Doran, Timerzyanov, Petter Solberg, Marklund, Holten and Henning Solberg all confirmed in Semi-Final One.

At the start, Doran and Timerzyanov squabbled for the lead into turn one whilst the two Solbergs and Marklund opted for an early Joker lap. Timerzyanov took the lead from Doran who stayed close to the Russian in the lead battle. Holten fell back with issues as Petter Solberg closed on the lead two with Henning Solberg ahead of Marklund. Doran fell back with a puncture which led to a broken wheel. Solberg took the lead on the final lap as Timerzyanov took his Joker Lap leaving Petter to win ahead of the Peugeot Hansen driver and Henning Solberg completing the top three.

Semi-Final Two consisted of Nitiss, Heikkinen, Hansen, Block, Ohman and Bakkerud on the grid. Hansen made a great start from row two to lead Bakkerud and Heikkinen into the Joker Lap whilst Nitiss led Block on track. Heikkinen spun around after contact with Bakkerud as the conditions became worse. Ohman retired on lap three as Hansen hunted down Block and Nitiss. As Nitiss and Block took their Joker Laps on the final lap Hansen slotted into second place and pursued Nitiss, bein beaten by the Latvian over the finish line by a hundredth of a second with Block third.

The SuperCar Final saw Nitiss on Pole from Petter Solberg, with the two Peugeot-Hansen drivers of Timerzyanov and Hansen on row two and Block joining Henning Solberg on row three. Nitiss led away from the grid, however the fast starting Petter Solberg took Hansen, Henning and Block with him on the Joker lap with Henning making contact with Hansen, allowing Block into fifth whilst Nitiss led Timerzyanov on track. Solberg set about catching the lead pair as Block took fourth from Henning Solberg who had suspension issues after his earlier contact with Hansen.

Timerzyanov took his Joker Lap on lap four, allowing the flying Petter Solberg to take second place and also allowing Ken Block to pass through into third. Meanwhile Nitiss kept setting fastest times to build a big enough gap to allow him to take his Joker Lap on the final lap and come out in the lead still, ahead of Solberg who pushed the Ford all the way to the line, but it was Nitiss who would take his first World RX Supercar win from Solberg and Block with Timerzyanov, Henning Solberg and Hansen completing the race.

This all means that Reinis Nitiss now leads the Drivers Championship by three points from Petter Solberg with Toomas Heikkinen in third and Andreas Bakkerud dropping to fourth.

FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship
1. Reinis Nitiss 72 points
2. Petter Solberg 69 points
3. Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen 60 points
4. Andreas Bakkerud 56 points
5. Timur Timerzyanov 41 points
6. Anton Marklund 39 points
7. Timmy Hansen 37 points
8. Robin Larsson 25 points

FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship
1. Ford Olsbergs MSE 128 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund 99 points
3. PSRX 78 points
4. Team Peugeot-Hansen 78 points
5. Monster Energy WorldRX Team 18 points
6. Albatec Racing 14 points.

After this weekend, it was good to see both tge Peugeot-Hansen Team and the Monster Energy World RX Team show some good, fast pace and score some good points in both championships. This weekend was also Round Two of the European Rallycross Championship with Championship leader Robin Larsson suffering this weekend in his Audi A1 Supercar with gearbox and suspension problems but he was still fast and will be a constant title contender. Henning Solberg now leads Larsson by four points with Emil Ohman tying for second place as well.

The next round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, the World RX of Finland will take place at Kouvola from 28-29 June. Thats also the same weekend where the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Croft...which means a cracking weekend of tintop racing!!!



Wednesday, 4 June 2014

WTCC 2014: Citroen Rules in Austria...

The FIA World Touring Car Championship headed to Austria and the high speed Salzburgring for its next two races in the 2014 season where Citroen driver Jose Maria Lopez is beginning to start showing a grip on a championship where most people were expecting Yvan Muller to be running away with it by now.

Well in Austria, the status quo of Citroen domination remained except it was the Chevrolets that posed the biggest threat in qualifying and the races. In fact it was Munnich Motorsports Gianni Morbidelli who took Pole Position for race one ahead of Yvan Muller by less than a tenth of a second.

However, Morbidelli was later stripped of Pole and given a five place grid penalty as his time was set whilst yellow flags were out due to a slow moving John Filippi in his TC2 SEAT Leon. This handed Muller Pole and he was joined by Loeb on the front row with Coronel, Lopez and Chilton completing the top five. With Morbidelli in sixth, The Honda's of Monteiro, Bennani, Michelisz and Tarquini completed the top ten with Tarquini on Pole for the race two reverse grid.

Hugo Valente suffered in practice with a huge crash which damaged the Campos Racing Chevrolet and caused yellow flags whilst the TC1 car was cleared away. The Lada's suffered during Qualifying on the high speed track, with the short wheelbase TC1 Granta suffering. Thompson, Huff and Kozlovskiy lined up in 13th, 14th and 15th places behind Rene Munnich and Dusan Borkovic in the 2nd Campos Chevrolet. Borkovic suffered a near mirror accident in qualifying as hi team mate did leaving a lot of work for Campos. Franz Engstler continued his domination of TC2 by taking pole for his class.

Race One saw Muller make his typical excellent getaway ahead of Loeb who fell back due to a worse start that saw Lopez and Coronel leap ahead of him. In fact Coronel passed Lopez at the first chicane but was soon passed back by the Citroen driver on the back straight whilst Muller stretched his lead out front. Behind Coronel and the Citroen's, Morbidelli made a poor start and was swamped in the field as he dropped to tenth.

Unfortunately, one characteristic of the Salzburgring's high speed nature added to the new aerodynamic regs for TC1 meant that overtaking was difficult and very few moves took place. Valente made two places but later retired with mechanical issues stemming from his practice accident. His team mate Borkovic also pulled in with issues, sidelining both cars until race two.

The Honda's fought their own private battle due to the Civic not being quick enough to hassle the Citroens and Chevrolets but that didnt stop Tarquini passing Michelisz for eigth place on lap five. Meanwhile Coronel was doing his best to hassle Lopez for second and on lap eight, the argentine driver out braked himself going into the chicane and using the escape road to rejoin. This gifted Coronel second place and he went on the defensive as Lopez tried his best to pass the ROAL Chevrolet for the last six laps of the race.

Out front, Muller won by a margin of almost four seconds from Coronel, who had Lopez only four tenths of a second behind him. Loeb, Monteiro and Chilton followed whilst Bennani, Tarquini, Michelisz and Morbidelli completed the top ten points finishers.

Race two was a slightly different affair however...

At the race two start, Tarquini led away from pole position in his Honda, with Monteiro making one of his season long epic starts to grab second from Michelisz and Bennani.

Further behind however there was drama, with Muller making a great start and diving across to the outside of the track in an attempt to try and get a run on team mate Lopez into the first corner. Lopez however cut him off, and as Muller moved back, he ran into the side of Thompson’s Lada, who himself made a great start and  who then crashed into the side of team mate Huff’s car, with the two Lada's spinning off into the barriers and out of the race.

Muller brought his Citroen into the pits at the end of the lap and the race was red flagged after further incidents taking place with Borkovic making contact with the rear of Chilton's Chevrolet putting both out of the race with damage. The race was stopped for 15 minutes as the cars were cleared from the track, with Tarquini restarting in the lead ahead of the three Hondas of Monteiro, Bennani and Michelisz, with Lopez having made his way from seventh up to fifth.

Lopez then went on to use the now trademark grunt and traction of the Citroen C-Elysee as he moved past the slower Hondas on each lap, passing Bennani on lap five, Michelisz on lap six and then Monteiro on lap eight and then began to hunt down race leader Tarquini.

On lap 11 the safety car came out after Munnich clambered across the first chicane, spilling gravel on the circuit. As the cars came past on the next lap, Coronel slid off on the gravel and this dropped the Dutchman behind Morbidelli. When the race restarted, Lopez launched himself into the lead on the first lap, going  around the outside of Tarquini before Turn 9, again the traction and grip of the TC1 Citroen showing its superiority.

Trust me, its not every driver that can pull off a move around the outside of 2009 WTCC Champion Tarquini and get away with it...

Lopez went on to win the race by just under two seconds ahead of Tarquini and Monteiro. Michelisz, Coronel and Morbidelli followed with Loeb in seventh, Bennani dropping to eigth with tyre issues ahead of Munnich in ninth and Kozlovskiy scoring a point in tenth.

Lopez left Austria having extended his lead to 41 points over Muller in the drivers’ standings and he is now looking the stronger of the three Citroen drivers both in TC1 machinery and in the championship whilst Muller is taking longer to get to grips with the new TC1 regs. He has already made it clear about this issue and how his many years of Super 2000 experience cannot be easily transferred to TC1 Touring Cars.

The Honda's again looked slow compared to the pace setting Citroens and Tarquini has said how the team cannot compete still with the French Manufacturer and that there will be more aggressive development on the Civics before the fly away season kicks off after Spa.

Morbidelli seems to have found a sweetspot in the Chevrolet and is now looking as fast as Valente, Coronel and Chilton in the TC1 Cruze and this will add to the fight the independent Chevrolet teams are bringing to the races. Lada meanwhile are testing where they can in an effort to get all three cars on the pace with the lack of pre season testing really showing now how far they are behind.

The series now moves to Moscow for the next two WTCC races on the same weekend as the BTCC races due to take place at Oulton Park in its International Circuit...



WorldRX 2014: Andreas Bakkerud Rules at Legendary Lydden Hill

Round Two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship took place at the legendary home of Rallycross... Lydden Hill in Kent. A record number of 37 Supercars descended on the Kent-based circuit today as World RX moved to the original home of rallycross, 47 years after the inaugural race was first held at Lydden Hill.

A star studded lineup of drivers were on show for the fans including former 2003 WRC Champion Petter Solberg, reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Timur Timerzyanov, reigning British Touring Car Champion Andy Jordan, American Rallycross legend Tanner Foust and Rallycross champions from across France, Sweden and Britain.

And we weren't let down one little bit!!!

With Petter Solberg taking victory in round one at Portugal, it was expected that he would keep up momentum at the UK track, however the Swedish Works Olsbergs OMSE Ford Fiesta Supercars of Andreas Bakkerud, Renis Nitiss and wildcard entry Andrew Jordan were soon on the pace and setting it too in the heats.

In fact, one of the EuroRX regulars taking part in the five event FIA European Rallycross Championship that kicked off at Lydden Hill should also be watched with interest. Sweden's Robin Larsson campaigned his Audi A1 Supercar and it proved to be the match of many of the WorldRX regulars. He'll be my favourite for Championship glory in EuroRX this season.

Some of the other regular WorldRX drivers suffered again over the Lydden weekend. The Monster Energy World RX team mates of Liam Doran and Krystof Skorupski suffered technical problems again, Doran stalling at the launch with an apparent anti-lag problem in one heat. Doran and his team have done more testing but they still seem beset with issues all weekend, although he did take a heat win even though he did two joker laps.

Petter Solberg, who won the event in Portugal, and guest driver with Marklund Motorsport Tanner Foust, both failed to take a joker lap in one of the heats. They also had some contact in almost every race they were in against each other, leading to a healthy rivalry for the weekend.

Foust and Anton Marklund both suffered from car fires early in the weekend but they were both able to continue during the event. Meanwhile Peugeot Hansen Motorsport had more disappointing results. Euro RX reigning champion Timur Timerzyanov and last year’s Rookie of the Year Timmy Hansen both suffered from car issues and were not able to compete in the semi-finals. Hopefully they should have these engine issues sorted for round three in Norway.

In the heats, Bakkerud got off to a flying start in heat one setting a time of 2m59s, while Solberg stalled his PSRX Citroen DS3 Supercar on the start line. He eventually recovered to finish his race second and the heat 12th overall.  VW Marklund Motorsport driver Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen was second quickest, with Team Peugeot Hansen driver Timur Timerzyanov third in his Peugeot 208 Supercar.

Heat two saw a comeback from Solberg as the PSRX driver pipped Foust to the post to clinch the quickest time. Third fastest was Audi A1 Supercar driver Robin Larsson who impressed after making the transition from the Touring Car catergory to the Supercar catergory in 2014. The Swede was fifth overall and led the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX) after day one.

Andreas Bakkerud led the standings after the opening two heats of the World RX of Great Britai. Last year’s winner Tanner Foust was second after a good but solid  performance on his return to the British race circuit, with Topi Heikinnen sitting third. Andy Jordan had an impressive opening day to finish heat two fourth and was eighth overall going into day two.

In the heat three races, Marklund won his race, whilst in race three Monster Energy World RX team mates Krystof Skorupski and Liam Doran took a 1-2 finish, finally showing some good pace and reliability. In race four, Jos Jansen finished in his Mk3 Ford Focus ahead of British Rallycross Champion Julian Godfrey in his Ford Fiesta Supercar whilst in race five Petter Solberg's team mate Alexander Hvaal got a poor start and lost out in the race itself because of it. He finished 3rd behind the Citroen DS3 of Alexandre Theuil and Portugal finalist Koen Pauwels in his Mk2 Ford Focus.

Race six in heat three saw Henning Solberg beat Albatec Racings Andy Scott whilst LD Motorsports Derek Tohill lost out after taking to the grass on his joker lap. In race seven, Euro RX regular Jerome Grosset-Janin won ahead of Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud whilst Timur Timerzyanov pulled out with engine issues. Race eight was won by Topi Heikkinen in his VW Polo from Larsson and Jordan. Foust and Solberg were 4th and 5th after some close contact together and again with Larsson who hit the Polo side on. However both Solberg and Foust forgot to take their joker laps, both gaining 20 second time penalties.

So the lineup of drivers that made it into the Semi - Finals after the completed heat four were Andreas Bakkerud,  Robin Larsson, Topi Heikkinen, Reinis Nitiss, Petter Solberg, Jerome Grosset-Janin, Tanner Foust, Andy Jordan, Henning Solberg, Andy Scott, Timmy Hansen and Anton Marklund.

Semi Final One had a lineup of Bakkerud & Heikkinen, P. Solberg & Foust and H. Solberg with Timmy Hansen. But before the start of Semi-Final One, Timmy Hansen pulled out with engine issues allowing Fabien Pailler in with his own Peugeot 208.

At the start, Foust bogged down as Hiekkinen headed the pack away. Heikkinen and H. Solberg took their Joker lap straight away with Bakkerud being pursued by P. Solberg. P. Solberg took the lead at the elbow from Bakkerud on lap one, just staying ahead of the Olsbergs Ford. Heikkinen stayed in third and began closing on the lead pair as the laps ticked down. Bakkerud took his joker on lap five whilst P. Solberg took his joker on the final lap. Heikkinen passed both P. Solberg and Bakkerud, whilst Bakkerud took second from P. Solberg at the line.

Plenty of action involving Petter "Hollywood" Solberg as usual with more to come...

Semi Final Two had a lineup of Larsson and Nitiss, followed by Grosset-Janin in his Renault Clio and Andy Jordan with Andy Scott and Marklund completing the grid.

At the start, both Jordan and Nitiss took thier joker laps whilst Larsson led the pack away. Andy Scott made contact with Grosset-Janin allowing both Scott and Marklund through. Later contact between Marklund and Grosset-Janin caused the Frenchman to retire the Clio with damaged rear suspension. Nitiss passed Scott at the end of lap one whilst Larsson disappeared in the lead. Marklund took his joker on lap three whilst Larsson took his on lap four. Meanwhile behind Marklund tried to fend off the closing trio of Nitiss, Larsson and Jordan. Marklund took his joker on the last lap, dropping down to fourth in the end.

So the Supercar Final saw the grid lineup as Heikkinen from Bakkerud, Larsson and Solberg with Jordan and Nitiss. However Nitiss had to pull out with mechanical issues, allowing Tanner Foust into the Supercar Final.

At the start, Larsson took the lead whilst Jordan and Foust opted for first lap joker options. Heikkinen, Solberg and Bakkerud chased Larsson as he completed lap one. Solberg took his joker on lap two, coming out alongside Foust which led to contact between Solberg and Foust at the Devil's Elbow after Petter tried a move from a long way back. Petter landed in the gravel but got his Citroen DS3 going again.

Jordan passed Topi on lap three at the hairpin, going around the outside of the VW Polo. However Larsson, Jordan and Heikkinen still had to take their joker laps. Bakkerud closed down Heikkinen and passed him on lap five for third, giving the VW driver a hard whack on the right front wheel as he passed him, causing smoke to pour out of the Ford's left rear. Larsson, Jordan and Heikkinen took their joker laps on the sixth and final lap, allowing Bakkrud to take a lead he would not lose.

Andreas Bakkerud went on to win the Supercar Final from Larsson who claimed the runner’s-up spot with Jordan ending the event third. Topi Heikkinen ended a solid weekend of racing fourth overall. Elsewhere, Foust and Solberg ended the final in fifth and sixth respectively. Bakkerud topped off the weekend by winning the Monster Energy Super Charger Award, presented to the fastest driver to the first corner off the final grid.

Bakkerud also takes the lead in the Drivers Championship points ahead of Petter Solberg, Topi Heikkinen and team mate Reinis Nitiss.

FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship:
1. Andreas Bakkerud 49 points
2. Petter Solberg 46 points
3. Toomas Heikkinen 44 points
4. Reinis Nitiss 43 points
5. Anton Marklund 26 points
6. Robin Larsson 25 points
7. Timmy Hansen 20 points
8. Timur Timerzyanov 19 points
9. Koen Pauwels 17 points
10. Andrew Jordan 17 points

FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship:
1. Ford Olsbergs MSE 92 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund 70 points
3. PSRX 55 points
4. Team Peugeot-Hansen 39 points
5. Albatec Racing 14 points
6. Monster Energy World RX Team 0

Well after another exciting FIA World Rallycross encounter, the series has once again done itself proud with more action packed heats and races and is fast becoming the new fan favourite against the other FIA World Championships and potentially giving them something to think about. At the moment, a lot of Motorsports World Championships are struggling to offer a good show whilst worrying about cost cutting.

Well, I think they could all learn a thing or two from this new World Championship...

Round three of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, World RX of Norway, will take place at Hell from 14-15 June.

Thats also the same weekend of the Le Mans 24 Hour race so pick and choose as you will...

Meanwhile this weekend sees the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, The FIA World Touring Car Championship is in Moscow and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes place at Oulton Park, so its an action packed weekend for the Guru!!