After the excitement of from the last round in Italy that saw Petter Solberg crowned as the first FIA World Rallycross Champion and Robin Larsson crowned as the 2014 European Rallycross Champion, one major title is left to be decided: The Teams Championship.
Whilst Ford OlsbergMSE started the season with the dominant Fiesta Supercar car, they were soon caught up by the VW-Marklund Motorsport with their Mk5 Polo Supercar. Since the French round however, the Peugeot-Hansen team has been steadily improving their 208 WRX Supercar, taking their first win in Italy with Timmy Hansen and now its a three horse race to the title with two rounds left...
Lets see how this panned out...
Timmy Hansen has established an early lead at the World RX of Turkey, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, being staged at the Istanbul Intercity Park. The Peugeot-Hansen driver was third quickest in heat one and followed it up with a heat two victory. Volkswagen Marklund’s Topi Heikkinen was second with Ford Olsbergs MSE wildcard driver Richard Goransson third.
Hansen, who won the previous RX round in Italy, clocked the fastest time during free practice in his Peugeot 208 Supercar. The 21-year-old Swede also set the quickest heat time of the day in heat two, beating Heikkinen’s heat one victory by 1.5 seconds. “I’m feeling really comfortable in the car here - I love the dirt section, it reminds me a lot of driving on ice back in Sweden because it’s so slippery,” explained Hansen. “The track overall is fantastic but I think the key to winning here is getting a good time in the gravel section. We made no mistakes on the dirt and that definitely helped.”
Heikkinen went quickest in heat one, but finished heat two tenth fastest after a false start saw the Finn lose time with a double Joker Lap penalty. Heikkinen’s team-mate Anton Marklund was seventh overnight in a second Polo RX Supercar after admitting driver errors hindered him from reaching a top five position.
After what is only his second outing in a Supercar, Swedish Touring Car driver Richard Goransson was set to challenge the World RX front-runners once again. “I’ve had a really fun day,” admitted Goransson. “I love this track – it’s very technical with a lot of gravel. There’s a lot to learn but thankfully I have two very talented team-mates [Reinis Nitiss and Andreas Bakkerud] that I can speak to and analyse the data with.”
Fourth overnight in another Fiesta Supercar was Bakkerud. Fifth place was occupied by PSRX driver Petter Solberg who spoke of small issues with the car and difficulties with handling on the slippery dirt section. EKS RX’s Edward Sandstrom was eight overnight after a solid performance in the Audi S1 Quattro Supercar. Team-mate PG Andersson did not get off to the best start after the EKS RX squad were forced to change the car’s engine after free practice which saw the Swede miss heat one. Andersson made up for lost time, however, after posting the second quickest time in heat two.
Elsewhere Timur Timerzyanov had a troubled day after handbrake problems in heat one and tearing the left-rear wheel off his car after an impact in heat two. Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg was ninth overnight with team-mate Lars Oivind Enerberg 15th after the Norwegian suffered turbo failure during heat two. LD Motorsports frontman Derek Tohill finished tenth overnight in his Citroen DS3, happy with his performance through the days heats. “We had a lot of work to do on our car after Italy and I’m pleased to say the guys have done a great job because the car is working better than it has in a long time. I really like this track, it’s very different from Italy and it suits my driving style. It’s been a good day,” concluded the Irishman.
Albatec Racing’s father and son duo Andy and Marc Scott were 11th and 12th overnight. “I’ve been finding my feet,” explained Scott Jnr. who is made his World RX debut in Turkey for the British-based team. “It was good to line up beside my dad in heat two but then I was fired off into the wall on turn one. I’d be really happy to make it to the semi-finals. I know it’s a tall order but that’s my aim.”
Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud went on to win the World RX of Turkey, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timmy Hansen and Volkswagen Marklund’s Topi Heikkinen finished second and third respectively. With Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen all represented on the podium, the fight for the first ever Teams’ Championship will now be decided at the final round in Argentina next month.
Bakkerud, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on the Friday, was delighted with his win at the Intercity Istanbul Park – the former F1 venue which staged the Turkish F1 race from 2005-2011. “This has been a great birthday present!" beamed Bakkerud who also became the first driver to win a rallycross event in Asia. “We have been struggling slightly in the last couple of races but everything came together and the car has been working perfectly. The final race was just crazy – Timmy was really close to me, it could have gone either way but I was really pushing after the semis and I was hungry for the victory.”
Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of Timmy Hansen who won three heats, semi-final one and the Monster Energy Super Charge Award. “I had the pace to win the final but I made a small mistake and Andreas jumped on the opportunity. We had some close racing with Andreas, Topi and Henning and then after I took the Joker, all I heard on the radio was that I had to push. I didn’t quite manage it but I’m happy with how the weekend has gone.”
Heikkinen’s third place in Turkey sees the Finn remain second in the overall drivers’ standings, 50 points behind Petter Solberg who has already secured the Championship title after accruing enough points at the previous round in Italy. “Volkswagen Marklund are now leading the Teams’ standings by four points – we’ve been tied at the top on two separate occasions this year but now we are leading it by ourselves,” explained Heikkinen whose team-mate Anton Marklund finished one place behind in fourth. “My driving hasn’t been perfect this weekend, I made a few small mistakes but I’m happy to have got some crucial points for the team.”
Rounding off the top five in Turkey was Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg who claimed his best finish of the season so far in the Citroen DS3 Supercar. His younger brother Petter Solberg joined him on the back row of the final, but both siblings retired before the finish.
“I’ve been really pleased with the car this weekend, the handling and power has got better and better, and the team have worked very hard,” explained Henning. “We changed some small settings with the differentials and, now the car really is so fast. It was a shame we weren’t allowed to re-fuel because of a time limit before the finals, because this cost us a podium for sure, but it has still been a great day.”
EKS RX had a weekend of mixed fortunes with former WRC star PG Andersson showing flashes of speed but unable to reach the semis due to missing heat one on Saturday following an engine change on his Audi S1 Quattro Supercar. Team-mate Edward Sandstrom consistently challenged the World RX front-runners this weekend and the GT racer was rewarded with his first semi-final place. However, Sandstrom was later disqualified after it was discovered that his car was underweight.
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “It’s been fantastic to bring rallycross to Asia for the first time. The feedback we have received from the drivers about the track at Intercity Istanbul Park has been extremely positive, which just goes to prove that an F1 track can also be the perfect home for an RX race. With only one round remaining, the battle for the Teams’ Championship is shaping up for a thrilling finale with Volkswagen, Ford and Peugeot all still capable of winning the title. Having just completed our fourth RX event in five weeks, the teams and drivers will be looking forward to the six-week hiatus before they make the journey to Argentina where we will stage our first ever event in South America.”
The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place in San Luis, Argentina, at the end of November.
DRIVER POINTS AFTER ROUND 11, WORLD RX OF TURKEY
1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 250
2. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 200
3. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 182
4. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 179
5. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 173
6. Anton Marklund (VW Marklund), 159
TEAM POINTS AFTER ROUND 11, WORLD RX OF TURKEY
1. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, 359 points
2. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 355 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 335 points
4. PSRX, 237 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 102 points
6. Albatec Racing, 42 points
All the best!!