Wednesday, 30 July 2014

BTCC 2014: Oulton Park & Croft Catchup...

So, its been a full six weeks since the last BTCC encounter at Croft and its been longer since I posted about my favourite Tintop series (Add to that I've changed phones to write this on...) So heres a catchup of the six races from Oulton Park and Croft, with an added debate on the FWD/RWD debate...

Oh yeah, I've been waiting to put in my pennies worth on that.

I recommend a good cup of tea with this one...

First... Oulton Park...

Colin Turkington took his third British Touring Car Championship victory of the season in the opening race at Oulton Park, beating home teammate Rob Collard and Jason Plato.

The result means that Turkington and Gordon Shedden – who finished fourth – now sit at the top of the championship standings, after previous leader Andrew Jordan endured a frustrating opening race.

In an unusually quiet affair for the series, the majority of finishing positions were determined after the opening lap as Turkington and Collard romped away at the front, the latter utilising a fast-start to jump Plato and Shedden, while Rob Austin was also able to move up into fifth in his Audi.

There was some drama on the opening tour, as Warren Scott and Hunter Abbott collided at Hislops and spun, while Chris Stockton slowed in his Chevrolet Cruze on track and was forced to retire. Aiden Moffat also retired his Cruze on the first lap after his best qualifying performance, with Ollie Jackson exiting the race on the second lap.

Although Collard briefly applied pressure to his teammate at the front, the gaps slowly increased from the middle of the race, as the West Surrey Racing pair were able to control their pace, with Jason Plato relegated to a watching brief in third.

WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan did his best to keep the Oulton Park crowd entertained, first passing Jack Clarke on the run to Old Hall, before getting by James Cole into Lodge, as he progressed to 18th after his qualifying off.

Having set the fastest lap of the race, Turkington eventually cantered to the flag, coming home 2.692s ahead of Collard, with a further six seconds covering Plato, Shedden and Austin.

MG’s Sam Tordoff and Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson had lonely but useful runs to sixth and seventh, with eBay Motors’ Nick Foster, Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram and Quantel BiFold’s Marc Hynes completing the top ten, the latter taking his best result in the series so far.

But for Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal, the opening race served a blow to their title ambitions as they languished in the lower reaches of the points. Neal retained his 14th place gridslot, overtaking Jordan off the line but relinquishing a place to Alain Menu. Neal looked increasingly frustrated with his standing, and after two looks into Shell Oils at getting past, he made his move on the final lap into Old Hall to salvage a further point for 13th, with Jordan taking the final points spot.

Colin Turkington won his second race of the day ahead of eBay Motors team-mate Rob Collard in the second British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park.

The WSR driver led from lights-to-flag and was relatively unchallenged during the race, despite a strong start from team-mate Collard. The duo dominated the race and were able to pull away from the chasing pack, thanks largely to third-placed Rob Austin.

Austin got the jump on Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden at the start of the race, using his rear-wheel drive advantage to maximum effect. Thereafter he drove a defensive race to score his first podium of the season, with the former champions unable to find a way past on the Oulton Park International circuit. Austin was later promoted to second, after Collard was handed a time penalty.

Plato and Shedden finished fourth and fifth after losing out at the start, thereafter unable to do anything about passing Austin in front.

Sixth went to Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson, ahead of Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram in seventh.

Árón Smith finished in eighth for Team BMR, benefitting when MG’s Sam Tordoff dropped three places on the final lap of the race. Tordoff held on to finish in ninth.

Alain Menu completed the top ten, making it two Team BMR Volkswagen’s inside the top ten. However Menu made contact with Airwaves Racing’s Fabrizio Giovanardi on lap five whilst battling for tenth, causing the Italian to drop to 25th. The incident meant that Menu was given a post-race penalty dropping him to 11th.

Reigning champion Andrew Jordan therefore finished 10th and in the process loses the lead in the points standings, with Turkington and Shedden now tied at the top.

The third eBay Motors BMW of Nick Foster had been running in eighth when his car slowed dramatically on the penultimate lap, forcing him into retirement with throttle linkage problems. Adam Morgan also slowed on the same lap and retired from the race when “something broke” and prevented him from being able to turn right.

AmD Tuning’s Dave Newsham and Pirtek Racing’s Martin Depper both met the barriers during the race, with Newsham causing the safety car to come out for two laps when he crashed heavily on the run down to Cascades.

Ollie Jackson, Chris Stockton and Aiden Moffat all endured mechanical problems in the race, with the latter failing to take the start.

Race Three from Oulton Park is my favourite of the year with Team BMR taking their first win. Being a fan of Tony Gilham and co, knowing that Warren Scott and Tony are working together, there were tears in the house for ghis one...

Team BMR’s Árón Smith scored his second win in the British Touring Car Championship, and the first for his team, in a damp final race at Oulton Park, ahead of Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato.

Smith led the entire race from pole position, having been selected by team-mate Alain Menu after race two in the random reverse grid draw.

Shedden made his way up to second on lap three with a pass on Rob Collard at the chicane after the eBay Motors driver went straight on at the chicane. The duo had earlier in the lap benefitted when Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson slid out of second at Cascades on the damp circuit.

Plato initially secured the final podium position, with the move coming on lap 11 when the MG driver nudged Colin Turkington out of the position at the Shell Oils hairpin. Turkington went on to finish fourth, despite looking like a possible contender for victory two thirds into the race. However after the race the positions were reversed, with Plato receiving a 1.1 second time penalty after the move was adjudged to have been unfair.

Rob Austin enjoyed his strongest weekend in the BTCC so far in 2014 by finishing in fifth to add to his earlier fifth and third in the opening two races of the day.

MG’s Sam Tordoff finished in sixth, his third top ten of the day, ahead of Team BMR’s Alain Menu in seventh.

Reigning champion Andrew Jordan was eighth in his Pirtek Honda, taking his best finish of the day in a difficult weekend for the 25-year-old.

Airwaves Racing duo Mat Jackson and Fabrizio Giovanardi completed the top ten, with Jackson recovering from his earlier slide to pass Giovanardi on the penultimate lap of the race.

After his earlier off at the chicane, Collard was turned around by Plato at Lodge Corner on lap six and consequently could only finish in 11th position.

There were retirements for Jack Goff, Matt Neal and Tom Ingram on the opening lap of the race, with the first two making contact at Old Hall corner. Ingram stopped further around the lap with mechanical problems on his Toyota.

Robb Holland also failed to finish the race, slowing with problems on his Rotek Racing Audi after three laps whilst running in a strong 12th position.

Next... Croft...

Colin Turkington eased his way to a fifth win of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship season at Croft, ahead of nearest championship challenger Gordon Shedden and MG’s Jason Plato.

The result means that Turkington now has nine series wins to his name at the Yorkshire circuit, and has won four of the last five races in 2014.

An initial delay on the grid meant that the race distance was shortened by one lap from the scheduled fifteen, after the starting lights were held for too long.

When the race eventually got underway, it was Plato who initially looked to have got the better start, but Turkington powered away in the second phase of the getaway with the former relinquishing his second place grid slot to Honda’s Shedden.

There was plenty of action throughout the order as the cars filed into Clervaux, with two separate incidents between Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan, and Adam Morgan and Rob Austin resulting in three-times champion Neal being tapped sideways, collecting Exocet Racing driver Austin who was turned around.

Jack Goff and Nick Foster also collided slightly further back, with the latter losing his bearings and cutting across the infield, before returning to the pits and retiring with suspected suspension issues.

As the frontrunners settled into a rhythm, it quickly became clear that Plato was struggling for pace, with the leading duo staggered ahead of him and Rob Collard hounding the MG driver for the final podium spot, after a traditionally good getaway.

Morgan had looked set to be the best of the rest amongst six cars but he pulled off on the main straight, as Neal closed back in on Plato, Collard and Jordan after his turn one incident after passing Sam Tordoff in the second MG.

Turkington set a new lap record – a 1:24.815 – early on in the encounter as he began to pull well clear of Shedden, the Northern Irishman extending his lead to a comfortable 7.478s by the end of the race, despite carrying 45 kilograms of ballast.

With the top two positions nailed on, the real battle was for the final podium spot as Plato continued to fend off Collard. The eBay Motors driver was relentless in his application of pressure to the two-time champion, drawing alongside his MG on the main straight and running wide at Tower in a bid to close in, but Plato’s calm driving and Stout defending won him a deserved third place ahead of the frustrated Collard, with Jordan and Neal next up.

Tordoff was in a similar position to his teammate as he was left to defend seventh place, but pressure from Alain Menu eventually told as the Swiss passed him into the Esses on lap ten, with Mat Jackson following the BMR Restart driver through.

Tordoff then retained his ninth place to the flag, but the spate of incidents at the start and sensible driving meant that Hunter Abbott was able to claim his maiden top-ten finish in the series, the AlcoSense driver claiming only his second points finish having elected to run the soft tyre.

Dave Newsham also made good progress to finish in 11th, with Fabrizio Giovanardi in 12th ahead of the recovering Austin. Martin Depper scored his first points of the season as he pipped Tom Ingram to 14th on the line by just 0.041s

Colin Turkington also won the second British Touring Car Championship race at Croft, with Gordon Shedden second once more and Matt Neal in third.

Turkington’s victory looked just as comprehensive on paper as his first earlier in the day, but in truth Shedden kept him honest for much of the race before falling away in the final four laps.

After problems on the grid in race one, polesitter Turkington made a superb getaway in the second encounter as his teammate Rob Collard moved into third, while there was once again mayhem at the start as Fabrizio Giovanardi – who had appealed a decision to be moved to the back of the grid – moved across on Rob Austin as he looked to bolt between the Italian and Dave Newsham. The Audi driver was propelled into retirement as he spun onto the infield. Newsham eventually had to back out with suspension issues, bringing his 100th BTCC race to a disappointing end.

32-year-old Turkington once again flew away as the race settled down, beating the lap record he had managed earlier in the day, but Shedden stayed with the eBay Motors driver as the pair dropped Collard.

Behind the front three, Neal found himself in the same position as Collard had a race earlier with Jason Plato again struggling for pace, but he was able to fight past the MG as he made a staunch move into Sunny In on lap five stick. Neal was later excluded from the results for failing the ride-height check.

Plato’s struggles became more apparent thereafter, as two laps later Andrew Jordan forced his way through with Alain Menu, Mat Jackson, Sam Tordoff, Tom Ingram and Giovanardi all joining a train behind the MG.

The race wasn’t quite as eventful as the first encounter, but there was still plenty to enjoy as Marc Hynes, Jack Goff, Adam Morgan, Aron Smith, Jack Clarke, Martin Depper and Nick Foster all spent time in the lower reaches of the points, squabbling amongst each other and swapping paint in a bid to hunt down a top ten finish.

After passing Plato, Neal had plenty of clear air ahead of him and used it to catch Collard, making his move for the final podium spot on lap 11 at Sunny In once again. That was the furthest he was able to recover to, but it did at least mark his return to the rostrum after an absence of six races.

With Jordan lonely in fifth behind Collard, the battle between Plato and Menu made for the most interesting, the Swiss having waited patiently for an opportunity to overtake. Once it was presented to him, he dived up the inside of Plato into Clervaux but had his right-rear corner clipped, sending him off into the gravel, with Plato racing home from there.

Plato currently retains his sixth-placed finish, having finished ahead of Jackson, Tordoff and Giovanardi while a move from Jack Goff on Marc Hynes on the penultimate lap gave him 11th, with Hynes plummeting down the order to eventually finish in 16th.

Andrew Jordan grabbed a fourth victory of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship season in an incident-packed third race, with Rob Collard in second and Gordon Shedden third.

The Pirtek driver’s victory was made all the more significant by the fact that championship leader Colin Turkington failed to score, after retiring with clutch issues while in fifth.

The cars at the front of the grid all got similar starts, but the tone for the race was set almost immediately as the cars headed into Clervaux, where Tom Ingram managed to sneak ahead of Fabrizio Giovanardi into second, behind Jack Goff.

Having held position off the line, Goff took a normal line on the exit of the corner but got a small tap from Ingram and was sent off onto the grass before rejoining. That left Ingram in the lead, but he last no longer at the front as he went off himself, handing first place to Giovanardi.

There was yet more drama though, as Jordan closed on the Airwaves driver at a rapid rate of knots, cruising into the back of the Italian before sending him off into the barrier, ripping the front end off his car.

Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota had given up the ghost by this point, and having been left in a dangerous area, the decision was taken to deploy the safety car – a decision made easier by the amount of debris on track.

That left Jordan in the lead as the dust settled, with Goff somehow recovering to second ahead of Collard in his BMW. Glynn Geddie was also forced to pit with a left-rear puncture, while Giovanardi continued despite quite evident superficial and aerodynamic damage to his car.

With the distance extended to 18 laps to make up for the safety car period, the race resumed with five laps on the board but there was chaos almost immediately again, when a lap later Matt Neal, Rob Austin and Warren Scott tried to go three-wide and ended up collecting each other in turn two, although the call for a second safety car was abated after Neal dug himself out of the gravel and recovered to the pitlane.

The next tour saw just as much drama as Shedden made his way past Adam Morgan for sixth, which became fifth when Turkington pulled into the pits to retire his car.

A brief period of calm took over for a couple of laps, but that was only until the group behind Jordan – who had pulled himself clear of any further trouble – bunched up. A push from Collard forced Goff wide and the West Surrey Racing driver moved into second while Mat Jackson followed him through.

Two laps later it was Shedden’s turn to make a pass, with Goff running wide after pressure from the Scotsman who pounced on the exit of Sunny Out. The Honda driver’s intentions then turned to Jackson in third, who himself began backing cars into one another.

Shedden made an ill-fated attempt to pass the Airwaves car on the exit of the hairpin, but with the outside line disappearing he suffered damage to the front end of his Civic, with debris flailing from its wheelarch. The 2012 champion relented however, stealing through into third on the penultimate lap. However the positions were later reversed and Shedden handed a four-second time penalty for the move.

Jordan eventually won the race by three-and-a-half seconds from Collard, with Shedden and Jackson next up. The battle for fifth was equally as intense as the rest of the action, however, as Morgan pipped Goff for the place by 0.001s on the line, ahead of Nick Foster and Alain Menu, who had a magnificent recovery run. Aron Smith had been set to challenge for fifth, but he was over-zealous on the final lap and ran into the gravel after clouting Morgan, being overtaken by Foster and his teammate.

Jason Plato completed the top ten, ahead of Martin Depper and Hunter Abbott.

Now, between Oulton Park and Croft, the debate of parity between FWD and RWD kicked off after comments from Triple Eight boss Ian Harrison and Jason Plato about the start advantage of the BMW and the Audi, along with Airwaves boss Dave Bartrum talking about running an NGTC RWD BMW Series 3 in 2015.

Suddenly (although if your a follower of the BTCC) but not unexpectedly, West Surrey Racing & Rob Austin Racing were ordered to run a longer first gear from Croft onwards.

The last time this was implemented was back in 2010 and it nullified the S2000 BMW's of WSR and Motorbase, leaving them as midfield runners at best.

Now Turkington and Collard have shown at Croft its not an issue as they both made places of the line still, but it still remains that after comments made by leading BTCC bosses, TOCA suddenly acts...The cynics amongst you will immediately say that Jason Plato has Alan Gow in his pocket and jumps at the sound of Plato voicing his opinion, but Alan has made a move that will, and did, keep the BTCC racing close.

Now my view is this. Throughout Tintop history, any RWD car will make places at the race start and they will benefit on tracks with hairpins and fast flowing corners...just like Croft, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Knockhill...

You can see my point.

Which is this. Formula One recently stepped back from punishing drivers for incidents on track and I think TOCA should do the same in its parity thinking. Turbo boost adjustment, performance parity, racing boundaries and success ballast is great, but its also getting annoying for the fans with all the arguments from drivers and teams.

So do what the FIA do with the World Touring Car Championship. Set the boost at one level, keep the success ballast and let the guys race. Let them run over the white lines, let them race hard and fair and put on a better show than they do now.

My fear is the series will lose its star drivers its created or regained. Menu would probably return to the WTCC next year given the oppurtunity, he hasnt been happy with the lack of testing and the amount of contact that takes place. Giovanardi might stay but he needs a car tailored to his style and he's still getting to grips with NGTC. Its been said by many that Andrew Jordan could succeed in WTCC, but he's hoping that something may open up in the World Rallycross Championship.

We'll have to see, but its a debate that will roar on.

But we'll enjoy the racing all the same.


Phil aka The Guru!!!

2014 World RX: Heikennen rules in Belgium...

The 2014 World Rallycross Championship moved to a brand new venue for round six in Belgium, held at the updated Mettet Circuit where the series kept up its exciting and enthralling spectacle.

Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Anton Marklund made a head start over the other World RX crews competing in Belgium after winning the event’s opening heat.  Swedish Rallycross Championship event winner Johan Kristofferson won heat two to hold second overnight with Finn Topi Heikinnen third overall, making it a Volkswagen one-two-three.

A total of 67 drivers are took part in the sixth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy which is being staged at a brand new rallycross circuit in Mettet.  As well as the challenge of a new track, the drivers were also faced with wet conditions as rain fell intermittently throughout the day. The weather did not put off the fans, however, who descended on Mettet in their thousands to cheer on local star Francois Duval and regular World RX drivers such as Koen Pauwels. Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville was also spotted in the World RX paddock.

“We had two good starts in the heats and a good start is really important on this track because it is very narrow,” explained 21-year-old Marklund. “On the first heat we made no mistakes and then we had a good position for the second heat but then I started braking a bit too late.  We have not had much time for testing recently but I’m feeling more and more confident in the car.  I really need championship points this weekend and I feel like I’m ready for a win so that’s what I’ll be fighting for.”

After making his World RX debut in Sweden last week, Kristofferson was delighted to be second overnight in another VW Polo. Kristofferson also leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), of which Belgium is an official points-scoring round.  The Swede explained: “The Polo is pretty new to us but the car is running nicely. I’m enjoying the track too – it’s narrow which I like and I’ve had a good start which has helped me for the rest of the track. I want to stay out of trouble and it would be nice to get to the semis – maybe even the final.”

Fourth in the standings and second in Euro RX is Robin Larsson in his Audi A1 Supercar. The Swede, who was also fastest in Saturday free practice, commented: “We’ve been struggling a bit since coming second at Lydden Hill – the turbo pressure hasn’t been right and we’ve had some engine problems but the car is running much better so I’ve been able to concentrate on driving.  To win over the top guys in World RX, you need to be 100% on it so I need to focus as much as I can.”

Fifth at the end of Saturday was PSRX driver Petter Solberg who finished heat one fourth fastest and followed it up with a sixth fastest time in heat two.  Solberg was joined by another former WRC star today as Duval made his World RX debut in a VW Polo RX Supercar but hit trouble during heat one when contact with another car forced the Belgian out of his opening race.  Duval then went on to finish heat two seventh quickest and was 19th overall.

Elsewhere, it was a difficult day one for the Ford Olsbergs MSE team who are  leading the team standings.  Andreas Bakkerud retired in heat one following an engine issue with his Ford Fiesta Supercar while Reinis Nitiss collided with Henning Solberg during heat two and tore the right rear wheel clean off the car.

Topi Heikkinen went on to win the World RX of Belgium at the wheel of a Marklund Motorsport run Polo RX Supercar.  Heikkinen is the sixth different World RX winner in six events. Team Peugeot Hansen driver Timmy Hansen finished second with Johan Kristofferson third in a VW Polo.  After finishing fourth and collecting crucial points Petter Solberg is now Championship leader, three points ahead of Reinis Nitiss.

An estimated 25,000 spectators flocked to Mettet in southern Belgium this weekend to watch the latest round of the FIA’s newest World Championship. With mixed weather conditions and a brand new rallycross circuit to manipulate, the World RX drivers had little time to get to grips with the narrow, technical Jules Tacheny Circuit.  Local hero and former WRC star Francois Duval was a popular addition to the World RX paddock this weekend demonstrating good pace in the VW Marklund Polo but not quite enough to make the final 12.

One driver who was consistent from start to finish, however, was Mettet RX winner Topi Heikkinen. “I’m very thankful to my team – they have made such a huge effort and the car is excellent,” gushed the 23-year-old Finn.  “I’d like to thank Volkswagen Motorsport too for all of their help. Now we’re at the half-way point I think I can catch up in the second half. We’re only a few points behind Reinis Nitiss and Petter Solberg now so it’s going to get really exciting!”

After a troubled start to the season, Team Peugeot Hansen turned a corner as Timmy Hansen took a well-deserved second place in the Peugeot 208 Supercar. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the podium but I’m really happy to be here – especially after such a hard weekend,” said the young Swede. “The final didn’t go to plan, I think I was last on the first corner and then I made a mistake and dropped even further but the next few laps I just went flat out and was right behind Topi at the end. I have to thank my team for this – they have built a wonderful car.”

Securing the third step of the podium in Mettet was VW Polo driver Johan Kristofferson who stunned the crowds after a semi-final win in what was only his second World RX outing this year.  The Swede was also crowned the winner of the third round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX). “This is only the second race for us and I would have been happy just finishing in the semi-finals,” said Kristofferson who was awarded Monster Energy Super Charge Award after his rapid start. “To get to the final was amazing and to be on the podium is just the best feeling! We had a really good start in the final race as we were in pole position and I think that’s what really helped us get here. Hopefully we will be back for some more races in the second half of the season.”

Petter Solberg looked on course for a podium spot but broken suspension hindered the Norwegian’s progress during the event’s closing laps.  After an impressive drive Anton Marklund rounded off the top five while EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand took sixth place in his Audi S1 Supercar.  EKS RX wildcard entry Edward Sandstrom made an impressive showing on his debut in World RX with a series of quick lap times but the GT racer narrowly missed out on a spot in the semis.

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Liam Doran and Davy Jeanney had a weekend of mixed results. The pairing both made the semi-finals but broken intercooler near the start of the race knocked Doran out of a chance in the final. “The car worked well but I’m disappointed not to make the finals after getting this far,” said Frenchman Jeanney after losing out on a top three place in his semi.

It was a torrid weekend for Team Championship leaders Ford Olsbergs MSE who encountered a series of misfortunate events.  Andreas Bakkerud was first to hit trouble when an engine problem on his Ford Fiesta Supercar forced the Norwegian into an early retirement.  On the next heat Nitiss tore the right rear wheel off his car after colliding with Henning Solberg.  The team worked flat out overnight to repair the Fiestas but more bad luck was to follow when Bakkerud withdrew from heat three. Nitiss went on to take the heat win but was knocked out of his semi-final race along with Euro RX points leader Robin Larsson and Peter Hedstrom.

Albatec Racing had another difficult weekend after Andy Scott and former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve failed to make the final 12.  Both Scott and Villeneuve demonstrated good pace in their Peugeot 208 Supercars but contact on heat four saw Villeneuve damage his car’s steering and effectively put an end to his hopes of a World RX semi-final.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsport, concluded: “We couldn’t have asked for a more exciting opening half to the season for our inaugural year as a World Championship. We’ve had six different winners with four different manufacturers and now only eight points separate the top three drivers.  It’s also been fascinating to witness three different Championship leaders already this year and now we have round one winner Petter back at the top of the standings proving once again that points matter just as much as winning races. Volkswagen Marklund’s outstanding performance this weekend has also seen the outfit close in on Ford Olsbergs in the overall battle of the teams.  It’s been a pleasure to visit Mettet – the team in Belgium have done a terrific job and played a crucial role in attracting more than 20,000 fans to the circuit this weekend.  It’s been wonderful to be involved in the growing popularity of World RX over the past six months – we’re extremely lucky to have what I believe are some of the most talented drivers in the world and with more broadcasters starting to televise our Championship, the future of the sport is looking very bright indeed.”

After completing four races in five weeks, the World RX crews will now have a short break before the season’s second half resumes in Canada for round seven at Trois-Rivieres, home to the famous GP3R, next month on 7-8 August.

1. Petter Solberg, 125 points
2. Reinis Nitiss, 122 points
3. Topi Heikkinen, 117 points
4. Andreas Bakkerud, 99 points
5. Anton Marklund, 85 points 


1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 221 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund, 202 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 154 points
4. PSRX, 117 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 60 points
6. Albatec Racing, 16 points

Sunday, 27 July 2014

My Favourite Motorsport Moment: Autosport International 2015 Competition

My favourite Motorsport moment over the last 25 years has to be the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.

It was a year I was proud to be both a Williams fan and a Nigel Mansell fan. Having watched him charge through races in the previous season, chasing Senna all the way to what would be the Brazilian's final title, it was a joy to watch and see "Il Leone" win the first five races of the 1992 season and it showed the signs that he might actually win that first title.

All he needed to do to make it six in a row was win the one race he hadn't won...


Qualifying on Pole Position helped that cause and with team mate Patrese on the front row, I was sat forward on the sofa at home ready to witness what turned out to be an epic race.

I watched on as Mansell slid wide from pole and took the lead whilst Senna made his master stroke of a move by passing Patrese into Ste Devote for second. Murray Walker and James Hunt were performing their legendary commentary duties as Nigel stretched his lead lap after lap, getting further and further ahead.

Whilst the joy and excitement were building, it all fell apart on lap 71 when Mansell pitted for tyres after suffering a puncture. He sped out of the pits but Senna was already ahead.

The chase began...

My excitement was at fever pitch as I willed Nigel on whilst Walker and Hunt commentated on, looking for the slightest gap for Mansell to pass the worlds widest Mclaren.

Mansell broke the lap record five times whilst catching up to Senna. I watched on the edge of my seat as lap after lap he tried to pass at Ste Devote, then Mirabeau, then at the Loews hairpin, again at the Chicane, trying hard through the Swimming Pool, running wide at Anthony Nogues, but to no avail.

It was a worthy win for Senna and I felt as drained as Nigel looked as he stood on the podium. He'd tried his all, but what a race...

A memory I will never forget.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

2014 FIA World Rallycross Catchup: Rounds 4 & 5...

Welcome once again fellow World Rallycross fans!!

Since my last post on here regarding Round 3 from Hell in Norway, there have been two more events, back to back, from Finland and Sweden with very exciting results and very differing conditions taking place.

To make things easier, I've condensed all the information as best as possible...

Better grab that cup of tea...

Volkswagen Marklund’s Anton Marklund established an early lead on Day One at the World RX of Finland following Saturdays opening two heats. Reinis Nitiss, winner at the previous round in Norway, was second overnight for Ford Olsbergs MSE with team-mate Andreas Bakkerud and Peugeot Hansen’s Timmy Hansen in joint third.

A total of 24 Supercars entered the Finnish RX event including American Top Gear presenter Tanner Foust who entertained the crowds in his VW Marklund Polo, ending the day in sixth place. Two ex Formula One drivers, Jacques Villeneuve and Markus Winkelhock were also included in the stellar line-up but Winkelhock was unable to compete when a technical problem with his Audi S1 Supercar forced the German driver into an early retirement. Villeneuve finished Saturday 12th overall.

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Liam Doran clocked the fastest time during free practice in his Citroen DS3 Supercar but a technical hitch hindered the British driver’s progress in heat one. Championship leader Nitiss went on to take the heat win with a time of 2m54s – the fastest time all day.

Intermittent rain before heat two added an extra challenge as teams were forced to decide between remaining on slicks or swapping to Cooper’s wet compound tyres. The conditions suited several drivers including Marklund whose car was set up perfectly to cope with the tricky conditions on-track. Rounding off the top five from Day One was Monster Energy World RX Team’s Krzysztof Skorupski who had a solid day in the Citroen DS3 Supercar.

It was Tanner Foust though, who took a lights-to-flag victory on Sunday’s rain-soaked World RX Supercar Final. Driving a Polo RX Supercar as a wildcard entry with the Volkswagen Marklund team, Foust overcame tricky driving conditions to take his second win in Kouvola. Ford Olsbergs MSE team-mates Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss finished second and third respectively.

Despite limited experience driving his Fiesta Supercar in the wet, Nitiss proved himself once again as one of World RX’s brightest young prospects.  For the fourth time this season Nitiss won his semi-final race to progress into the all-important final where he was pipped to the post by team-mate Bakkerud. Nitiss extended his Championship lead by 14 points.

Krzyszstof Skorupski shone in Finland quietly plugging away throughout the heats to secure himself a spot in the semis for the Monster Energy World RX Team. Lined up alongside Bakkerud, Nitiss, Joni-Pekka Rajala and Team Peugeot Hansen team-mates Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov, Skorupski finished the second semi-final in third place.  A mature drive in the final awarded Skorupski with fourth place and his first top five finish of the season.

After two heat wins and second place in the first semi-final, Anton Marklund was on course for a podium finish this weekend.  However, the arduous conditions proved too much for the Swede who was unable to keep up with pace-setter Foust. He finished the weekend in fifth. Team-mate Topi Heikkinen made it through to the semi-finals but a tussle with Liam Doran and Derek Tohill saw all three drivers retire and miss out on a chance in the final.

Reigning Finnish Rallycross Champion Joni-Pekka Rajala gave the home crowds something to cheer about as he brought his Peter Hedstrom run Skoda Fabia Supercar home in sixth place. 

It was a weekend of mixed fortune for Team Peugeot Hansen as both drivers made it through to the semis but failed to make the final six. Team-mates Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov leave Finland with a healthy points haul to lie sixth and seventh in the overall driver standings. 

PSRX frontman Petter Solberg qualified for the Supercar final despite damage to his Citroen DS3 Supercar following an impact in the penultimate race. The damage incurred to the car proved too much and the Norwegian was unable to start the final.

Jacques Villeneuve was 12th after day one but a front-right puncture on his Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 Supercar prevented the French-Canadian from reaching the semis. EKS RX Team’s Pontus Tidemand showed good pace in his Audi S1 Supercar but failed to make the final 12. Foust was awarded the weekend's Monster Energy Super Charge Award.

There was little time to rest for the World RX crews as round five of the Championship, the Volkswagen World RX of Sweden, took place in Holjes the following weekend. Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timur Timerzyanov led the standings after Day One. Two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom was second for the EKS RX Team, while PSRX driver Petter “Hollywood” Solberg was third in his Citroen DS3 Supercar.

Solberg set the pace early on posting the quickest time during free practice and also during the nine Supercar races which made up heat one. “I’ve got hundreds of guests here this weekend – I had to put on a good show for them!” joked the Norwegian whose time of 3m0.85s was the quickest Supercar driver all day.

Timerzyanov went on to win heat two, pipping World RX Supercar debutant Sebastian Eriksson to the post by 0.2 seconds. After finishing runner-up in this event last year, Ekstrom was delighted to hold second overnight in his Audi S1 Supercar.

Volkswagen Marklund driver Topi Heikkinen was a model of consistency finishing heats one and two fourth quickest to end the day fourth overall. Team-mate Anton Marklund was not so lucky during heat one, however, as the driver landed heavily over a jump and broke the left rear suspension as well as the front and rear differentials.  The VW Marklund team worked hard during heats to repair the car and Marklund went on to finish heat two in seventh place.

Rounding off the top five was Sebastian Eriksson who shone on his World RX Supercar debut for Ford Olsbergs MSE. Jacques Villeneuve ran out of luck when a front-right puncture on his Albatec Racing run Peugeot 208 Supercar hindered the French-Canadian’s progress. Villeneuve was 22nd in the overnight standings.

Monster Energy World RX team-mates Liam Doran and Davy Jeanney had a day of mixed fortune. Doran began the day well winning his heat race but dropped to 12th after a slower time on heat two.  Despite no testing in the Citroen DS3 Supercar, Jeanney displayed raw talent behind the wheel after leading for most of heat two but narrowly missing out on a race win after incurring a puncture.

Mattias Ekstrom went on to clinch his first-ever FIA World Rallycross Championship victory after a flawless drive in the Audi S1 Supercar in the final. Ekstrom is the fifth different winner and fourth different manufacturer to win in this year’s World RX. The EKS RX Team driver is also the first this season to score maximum points after being placed highest in the intermediate classifications and winning both the semi-final and final. Andreas Bakkerud and Petter Solberg were second and third, despite both drivers incurring punctures in a dramatic final race.

Ford Olsbergs MSE successfully extended its lead at the top of the team standings after team-mates Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss finished second and fourth in their Ford Fiesta Supercars. Bakkerud had a troubled Saturday but a top three time in Sunday’s opening heat secured the Norwegian a place in the semi-finals. Bakkerud finished second to Sebastian Ekriksson in his semi and an action-packed final saw the Ford Olsbergs MSE driver take the runner-up spot.

Solberg once again put on a fantastic show for the World RX fans, winning two heats and moving ahead of Bakkerud in the drivers’ standings thanks to a healthy points haul. Reinis Nitiss finished fourth this weekend and remains the only World RX driver this season to reach the semi-final of every event. Nitiss now sits nine points ahead of Solberg in the standings.

Monster Energy World RX driver Liam Doran had his best result of the season so far after finishing fifth in his Citroen DS3 Supercar.  A likely podium contender, the British driver narrowly missed out on a higher placing due to his car being down on power during the all-important final.  Frenchman Davy Jeanney made his debut for the team this weekend and showed tremendous speed but failed to take the joker in heat four which led to a 30 second penalty.

Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of 21-year-old Swede Sebastian Eriksson who was a guest driver for Ford Olsbergs MSE. Normally a competitor in his national series, Eriksson made his international debut in the Ford Fiesta Supercar this weekend and threatened the World RX front-runners from the outset.  Eriksson won his semi-final and looked set for a podium finish after taking the Monster Energy Super Charge Award. A puncture and suspension damage to his Supercar halted Eriksson’s charge and saw the driver finish sixth.

Team Peugeot Hansen had another unlucky weekend despite team-mates Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov showing good pace in their Peugeot 208 Supercars. Timerzyanov was leading overnight but was knocked out of the semi-finals after a closely fought battle saw the Russian lose out on a top three placing.  Team-mate Hansen was knocked out of the next semi-final after an engine problem on lap three meant the 22-year-old was unable to continue.

Volkswagen Marklund driver Topi Heikkinen racked up four top 10 heat times to secure himself a place in the semi-final.  The Finn narrowly missed out on a final but remains fourth in the standings after once again proving that consistent times can be just as important as winning races in World RX. Team-mate Anton Marklund made up for lost time today after breaking his car’s suspension and differentials on Saturday but did not make the semis after qualifying 14th.

Jacques Villeneuve ended the Swedish RX event 17th in his Albatec Racing run Peugeot 208 Supercar. The driver finished the event’s opening heat in 15th and took a 13th quickest time on Sunday but broken suspension on heat two destroyed the French-Canadian’s chances of reaching the semis. Leading female driver Ramona Karlsson delighted a home crowd with a race win but like Villeneuve failed to make the final 12.

Round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will takes place at Mettet in Belgium this weekend as the Championship prepares for its fourth race in five weeks and its final event before the summer break.

FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship after Round 5:
1. Reinis Nitiss, 112 points
2. Petter Solberg, 103 points
3. Andreas Bakkerud, 90 points
4. Topi Heikkinen, 88 points
5. Anton Marklund, 64 points
FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship after Round 5:
1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 211 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund, 152 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 123 points
4. PSRX, 117 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 45 points
6. Albatec Racing, 14 points

Hopefully this has been ok and I'll be putting up a report about this weekends Belgium round of the FIA World Rallycross in the coming weeks.



Tuesday, 1 July 2014

I'll be back!!

Hello fellow Guru followers!!

You may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet of late and there is good reason for this.

Fear not, the blog is not closing!

Like most fans of motorsport, I have a job and life away from writing this lovely blog which at the moment is really a hobby whilst I work hard to earn a living.

Unfortunately, Work has kept me very busy and I've not had a lot of time to sit down and write about the various motorsport encounters of late, however with the summer break now upon us for both the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and the FIA World Touring Car Championship, this will allow me to catch up.

An interesting development to add is that I will also be writing for the motorsport website where I will be submitting reports on the FIA World Rallycross Championship, a series that is fast becoming one of my favourites.

So, stay patient Guru fans and keep an eye out in the coming weeks for my repprts on the BTCC encounters from Oulton Park and Croft as well as the WTCC races from Spa.

All the best,