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.



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