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!!