WTCC 2014: Citroen and Honda prosper in Shanghai…

The FIA World Touring Car Championship made its second visit to China at the Shanghai International Grand Prix circuit, one week after the series saw race wins for Tom Chilton and for Rob Huff and Lada take place in Beijing.

With the traction advantage of the Citroens this year, Shanghai was a circuit where they were expected to shine with its long corners and high speed back straight and it provided the first oppurtunity for Citroen to seal the Manufacturers Title before the season finale in Macau.

Lets see how things panned out shall we…

In Qualifying, It was Jose Maria Lopez who took his fifth pole position of the season in the Citroen C-Elysee ahead of his Chinese team-mate Qing Hua Ma. Title challenger Yvan Muller secured third ahead of the Zengo Motorsport Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz with Sebastian Loeb completing the top five, despite hitting a tyre stack on his fast lap.

Completing the Top Ten for the race one grid were the works Honda drivers of Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini in sixth and seventh respectively. Tom Chilton made it to eigth place in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze whilst Hugo Valente qualified his Campos Racing Chevrolet in ninth place. Mehdi Bennani secured tenth place in his ProTeam Honda Civic in the dying moments of Q2, beating Tom Coronel by two tenths to take the race two Pole Position.

The big losses in Qualifying were Tom Coronel, who was called in for a weight check whilst he was in tenth place, denying him the chance to try and secure the spot leaving the popular Dutchman in Eleventh place. Dusan Borkovic hauled his repaired Campos Cruze into twelfth whilst Gianni Morbidelli was mystified by a lack of pace to put his Munnich Mototsport Cruze in Thirteenth place ahead of the Lada trio who were suffering on the high speed back straight. James Thompson led Mikhail Kozlovskiy from Rob Huff whilst Franz Engstler took Pole Position in the TC2 catergory.

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Before race one had even begun, Thompson was in the pits with a broken steering arm on the Lada Granta TC1. At the start, Lopez held off Ma for the lead whilst Muller made his way back past Michelisz after a poor start. Loeb found himself with a fightback on his hands after falling behind the two works Hondas of Tarquini ahead of Monteiro. Further back, Chilton led a Chevrolet train with Valente, Coronel and Borkovic ahead of Bennani.

Loeb managed to pass Monteiro around the outside of the hairpin and the inside at the final turn for sixth place, however on lap three the right rear wheel flew off from Tom Chiltons Chevrolet, putting him into retirement. Loeb set about trying to pass Michelisz for fourth and did this on lap six into the hairpin, giving Citroen a 1-2-3-4 with Ma hasseling Lopez up front whilst Muller began to fall back.

Campos Racing’s TC2 entrant William Lok retired on lap eight after hitting the tyre stack on the last corner with his SEAT Leon, causing double waved yellows. Whilst Tarquini and Monteiro chased Michelisz, further back Bennani was hounding Valente for ninth place with the Honda proving quicker than the Cruze. The Lada’s suffered further with retirements for Huff and Kozlovskiy sealing a bad first race for them.

Lopez went on to secure his eighth win of the season ahead of Ma with Muller in third, being chased to the finish line. This result also secured the WTCC Manufactuers Title for Citroen in its first year. Michelisz came home in fourth ahed of Tarquini and Monteiro, with Coronel, Valente and Bennani completing the top ten. Engstler dominated the TC2 Class, winning from pole position.

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Race Two saw Chilton’s car fixed and starting from the pitlane after his first race retirement. At the light, Bennani launched into the lead with Tarquiniband Monteiro passing Valente into turn one after better starts. Loeb and Muller made good starts into fifth and sixth respectively ahead of Michelisz whilst Lopez, Coronel and Ma completed the top ten.

Muller passed Loeb for fifth at the end of lap one whilst Lopez passed Michelisz for seventh on lap two. From the back, Thompson made it up to fifteenth from last on the grid whilst Chilton passed the TC2 cars after his pitlane start. As the cars streamed down the back straight on lap two Muller tried to pass Valente into the hairpin, however the Campos Racing driver defended and this left Muller open to Loeb who hit his team-mate and damaged the right rear wheel, sending Muller into retirement. Loeb would carry on but he would be awarded a thirty second penalty by the stewards after the race.

On lap four, Bennani led from Tarquini, Monteiro, Valente and Loeb in fifth with Lopez, Michelisz being chased by Ma for seventh whilst Coronel and Borkovic completed the top ten positions. But that all changed at the hairpin with Lopez passing Loeb for fifth whilst Ma went wide while trying to pass Michelisz for seventh. Tarquini suffered engine issues on lap five whilst Huff and Morbidelli both retired from contact at turn two.

With Muller out, Lopez looked to further his points advantage iver Muller in the Drivers Championship by passing Valente for third with all of this holding up Loeb and allowing Michelisz to close. Thompson and Chilton continued their way up the field to be tenth and eleventh respectively. Meanwhile Valente was now defending from Loeb, Michelisz and Ma in the fight for fourth place. Loeb passed Valente on lap seven for fourth with Michelisz passing the Campos Chevrolet on the same lap to take fifth place with Ma passing the Frenchman on lap nine as he fell back.

Bennani went on to secure his first ever WTCC win and Honda’s first win of the year in the TC1 Honda Civic, also taking ProTeam’s first ever WTCC in the process with Monteiro and Lopez completing the podium. Loeb finished fourth on the road but would drop out of the top ten. Michelisz was classified fourth and Ma with Coronel, Chilton, Valente, Borkovic and Thompson completing the top ten.
Engstler again dominated the TC2 Class in his BMW 320TC, winning from pole position.

The series now moves to Suzuka for the penultimate weekend in the championship where this year the cars will use the full Grand Prix circuit after three years of using the East Circuit. It is also the next chance that Jose Maria Lopez has to secure the FIA WTCC Drivers Title

This is one of the WTCC Weekends I’ve been waitng for, ever since the confirmation that the full Grand Prix Circuit will be used. Its a thrill watching on TV as the F1 cars take the awesome 130R corner nearly flat out. Seeing how the TC1 cars do with the new Aero package and the extra engine power should be just as good to watch!

All the best!

Phil!

All the best from the Guru!!

WorldRX 2014: Bakkerud wins TurkeyRX

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.

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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.

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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 from the Guru!!

WTCC 2014: Chilton and Huff star in Beijing…

After what seems like an eternity (2 months), the FIA World Touring Car Championship returned in Beijing to begin its Asian Tour and the final third of the series as we head to Macau, looking to crown the 2014 WTCC champion.

And theres been a few changes…

RML have provided updates for the TC1 Chevrolet Cruze’s run by ROAL Motorsport, Munnich Motorsport and Campos Racing, who have tested these in Barcelona. Honda have been testing engine and chassis updates on the new Civic WTCC test car whilst Lada have also tested updates to the Grants TC1 as well as announcing that they will use the new Vesta TC1 from next year, whilst confirming they will retain Huff, Thompson and Kozlovskiy for 2015.

Also, this final third of the championship offers Jose Maria Lopez a good few oppurtunitiesto be crowned 2014 WTCC Champion before Macau with the huge points lead he has over teammate Yvan Muller.

So this is how it panned out…

ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Chilton took a surprise pole position in qualifying for the World Touring Car Championship in Beijing, beating Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini to the top time in a session featuring no Citroën drivers on the front row.

Chilton was the fastest driver in the all-important Q3 session, pipping Tarquini to pole by just 0.032 seconds after the Italian admitted to making a small mistake on his single lap.

Citroën’s Yvan Muller was third fastest, also within a tenth of a second of Chilton but unable to go faster than his former team-mate. Championship leader José María López was fourth, unable to match the pace he had in Q2 which would have been good enough for pole.

Münnich Motorsport’s Gianni Morbidelli, who had on Saturday been the fastest Chevrolet driver in two of the three sessions, could only manage fifth fastest, just over half a second off the pace.

Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz was the top driver to miss out on Q3, posting the sixth fastest time in his independent Honda. Sébastien Loeb was seventh, having missed out on entry into the final qualifying segment by two tenths of a second.

It was a good qualifying session for the LADA drivers, with both James Thompson (eighth) and Rob Huff (tenth) making it into Q2. Huff therefore starts race two from pole position, with ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel alongside him after the Dutchman was ninth fastest.

It turned out to be a poor qualifying session for Saturday’s pace-setter Tiago Monteiro. The Honda driver was only 11th in Q2, missing out on both Q3 and the reverse grid for race two after being more than a second off the pace. He will be joined on row six of the grid by Campos Racing’s Hugo Valente, who failed to make an impression.

Q1 was twice red-flagged. The first came when Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s Filipe Clemente de Souza went off at the final corner and beeched his BMW in the gravel. The second came after Campos Racing’s Dušan Borković lost control of his Chevrolet and spun onto the infield, dislodging his front splitter and requiring a tow back to the pits. He was thus only 16th fastest.

Franz Engstler again took class pole for TC2, with the Liqui Moly driver ahead of Campos Racing’s John Filippi and Michael Soong.

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Tom Chilton went on to score his first World Touring Car Championship win of the season in the opening race in Beijing, comfortably finishing ahead of Yvan Muller and José María López.

Chilton got off to a strong start away from the line, whilst behind him Muller got past front row start Gabriele Tarquini for second.

The race was neutralised after three laps, however, when the safety car came out as a result of a collision between Dušan Borković and René Münnich, with both Chevrolets having sustained damage in the wall. Borković later explained that their coming together was a result of Münnich in front having picked up a puncture.

The race eventually resumed on lap 11 and Chilton pulled away from the chasing pack untroubled, leaving Muller to defend from Tarquini. However the Italian pulled into the pits and out of the race on lap 23 having suffered from mechanical problems with his Honda.

Tarquini’s demise promoted López to third, reducing the gain of Muller into the Argentine’s championship lead.

Morbidelli finished the race in fourth for Münnich Motorsport after a quiet race, ahead of the third Citroën of Sébastien Loeb in fifth.

Norbert Michelisz was sixth, despite having passed Loeb for fifth on lap 12, with the Frenchman getting back past the Hungarian in the final laps of the race.

LADA duo James Thompson and Rob Huff finished the race in seventh and eighth, with the former taking his best result of the season, ahead of Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani in ninth. Bennani had earlier had a close race with Tiago Monteiro, but the Moroccan hit the back of Monteiro’s car and caused damage that would force the Portuguese driver out of the race.

Franz Engstler won the TC2 class once again, with the race’s high attrition rate allowing him to finish inside the top ten for only the second time this season.

Hugo Valente had been running in tenth but picked up a puncture on the final lap and thus finished in 12th position.

Ma Qing Hua made progress from his starting position of 14th and was running in eighth ahead of Thompson before the Chinese driver went off the circuit on lap 22. He would retire from the race just two laps later with a puncture.

Also failing to finish was Tom Coronel, who would start race two from the front row of the grid alongside pole sitter Rob Huff.

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Rob Huff took LADA’s first-ever World Touring Car Championship victory in race two in Beijing, scoring a lights-to-flag win ahead of Tom Coronel and Sébastien Loeb.

Huff, who started the race from pole position, led the entire race and was never challenged by Coronel, with the Brit opening up a lead of over four seconds just after the halfway stage of the race.

The win is the 26th of Huff’s career, and crucially the first-ever win for LADA in the championship.

Coronel and Loeb completed the podium, having been in the top three positions since the first corner of the race.

Championship leader José María López extended his points advantage by finishing in fourth, having made up more positions than anyone else inside the top ten. López, who started seventh, was in sixth by the end of lap one and then got past James Thompson for fifth on lap 11.

Norbert Michelisz was fifth, finishing one place better than race one, having lost out to the charging López on lap 16.

Thompson completed a strong day for the Russian marque by taking his best result of the season in sixth. The Brit had started third, but lost out to Loeb and Michelisz at the start and he was then hunted down and passed by López later in the race.

Gianni Morbidelli followed up his fourth in race one with seventh in race two, unable to make any progress in his Chevrolet and losing out to López at the start of the race.

Completing the top ten were race one winner Chilton, Muller and Tarquini. Muller therefore loses more ground to López in the title fight after being unable to repass Chilton after the ROAL Motorsport driver got by early in the race.

Monteiro had another poor race on the back of a disastrous qualifying and race one, finishing down in 13th position. Monteiro had spent much of the race battling with Ma Qing Hua, who finished in 12th and thus scored no points at home in China.

Franz Engstler was again victorious in TC2 for the 15th time this season despite a spin in the race, finishing ahead of John Filippi.

The only disappointment for LADA came at the start, with Mikhail Kozlovskiy failing to get to the grid after a fire in his car.

After their crashes in race one, neither Dušan Borković nor René Münnich took the start of race two.

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The WTCC Circus had little time to recover as it now heads to the Shanghai International Grand Prix circuit, using the shorter layout, where Citroen has its first chance to secure the Manufacturers Title.

Frankly, after their performance this year, that has never been in doubt. But what is good to see is that the pace of the Chevrolet’s and Honda’s had increased and that they were able to make life more difficult for Citroen, which is good for the championship as it moves back towards offering the close racing we know and love from the WTCC.

All the best!

Phil!

All the best from the Guru!!

BTCC 2014: Epic Silverstone has Spills and Thrills…

The 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has been a season full of RWD vs FWD arguments, close racing, exciting overtakes and Turbo boost moans. However the penultimate weekend of the series held at the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, reminded us of the spectacle of the BTCC and just how thrilling it can be…

And wow, we were not disappointed…

Going into the weekend, there were three drivers capable of winning the overall Drivers Championship: Colin Turkington, Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden and all three were made to work hard for their various targets.

For Turkington, he needed to score well at a track that didnt favour the BMW. For Plato, he needed to score well to close the gap to Turkington and take the fight to the finale. For Shedden, his aim was to catchup the ground lost at Rockingham at a track that didn’t suit the Honda historically.

This is how it all panned out…

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Jason Plato secured his third pole position of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship season in a closely fought session, ahead of championship leader Colin Turkington and Sam Tordoff.

In truth, Plato always looked favourite to claim pole in the delayed half-hour-long session, but given his points deficit to Turkington in the championship, he might have hoped that the eBay Motors driver would not be the next car behind him on the grid.

There was drama before any of the drivers had had a chance to set a timed lap, as Dave Newsham dropped his AmD Tuning Ford Focus on his out-lap and was forced to sit out the remainder of the session having damaged his front-end.

In a hectic start to the session, the rear-wheel drive cars of West Surrey Racing and Rob Austin in his Audi traded spells at the top of the times as they lowered the pace below the one-minute barrier, before Plato joined in on the action and immediately started lapping quicker, posting his pole-winning time of 58.511s on his fourth lap, with the session not yet ten minutes old.

But while Plato’s pole was decided relatively early on in the session – the fact that he completed 21 laps would suggest that he had time left to chip away should anyone take his pole – there was plenty of action left in the session. Andrew Jordan had a big sideways moment at Brooklands, while shortly afterwards the remaining MGs of Tordoff and Marc Hynes had their fastest laps deleted for exceeding track limits, although both retained their respective third and tenth positions.

Aside from the MGs at the front, the Airwaves Racing team had expected something of an upturn in form ahead of the weekend, and Mat Jackson hauled his Ford Focus into second with an off-the-radar lap as the session approached its halfway point.

The BMR Restart team had also shown plenty of promise in the two preceding practice sessions and Aron Smith and Alain Menu stated their intent to get in on the action as they moved into third and fifth respectively.

But with a third of the session remaining, Turkington ensured that he goes into raceday with a good opportunity to clinch the title as he first went sixth, before falling just short of Plato’s fastest time to slot into second on a 58.575, 0.003s ahead of Tordoff.

Jackson’s effort meant that he was the third driver to qualify within a tenth of Plato at the front, while Smith and Menu’s times were eventually good enough for fifth and sixth. Tom Ingram reinforced his credentials as a star of the future with a fine seventh place, ahead of late improver Hynes, Adam Morgan and Austin.

Jack Clarke also enjoyed his most competitive qualifying session of the year in 12th, while Aiden Moffat 18th birthday will be marked by a points-paying grid slot after he hauled his Chevrolet Cruze into 15th, ahead of the ailing Hondas of Andrew Jordan, Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal. United Autosports Driver Luke Hines would start his first race in the championship since 2005 from 26th, as he qualified 1.388s off the pace.

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Jason Plato went on to score a fourth British Touring Car Championship win of the season in the opening encounter at Silverstone, holding off points leader Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson.

The 46-year-old was expected to convert his pole position into victory with relative ease, but he was made to work hard for the win as the front three remained line astern until the penultimate lap.

Indeed, Turkington got the jump on his MG rival off the line, with the relatively short run to Copse still giving the rear-wheel drive BMW enough time to deploy its advantage at the start. Jackson was also able to jump Sam Tordoff into third, while Alain Menu passed teammate Aron Smith for fifth.

Despite being jumped at the start, Plato looked as though he was ready to dominate the encounter and after feigning a pass into Brooklands on the second lap, he quickly regained his lead on the next tour as he passed Turkington at the same spot.

But once in front he struggled to gap the group behind – which at that stage consisted of six cars, with Menu, Smith and Morgan latching onto the back of the leaders and each attempt he made to pull away from Turkington was matched by the Northern Irishman reeling him in the next time round.

Another group had formed behind the leaders, where Hynes headed eight cars for eighth place. Hynes initially appeared to be back those behind him into one another, but soon pulled a gap on Ingram, who found himself under real pressure from Rob Austin.

At the halfway distance Morgan made a forceful move past Smith for sixth, having threatened to do so for some laps, and set his sights on catching Menu, who had begun to gap his teammate. Morgan’s chase was to be short-lived, however, as Smith re-passed the WIX Racing driver at the start of lap 14, as his Mercedes slowed and was forced to pull off at the start of the Club straight.

Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden had both made progress from their grid slots as they looked to move into the top ten, but as a move from Austin put Ingram on the back foot, with the youngster then shuffled back through the pack, Shedden looked to get in on the action but was forced off the track as the Speedworks driver appeared not to have seen him.

Plato was still unable to break Turkington at the front as the front three started to pull away from Tordoff, with his lead rarely bigger than half a second. Despite that, it looked unlikely that Turkington would be able to pass the MG and the one moment that might have presented him with an opportunity – when the trio came round to lap Simon Belcher – worked against him as Plato got by early and finally pulled some breathing space from the BMW, with Jackson closing up to Turkington as the pair passed the Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis.

Jackson’s interest in second put pay to any hopes that Turkington had of claiming a win, as Plato crossed the line to win by a somewhat flattering 1.453s.

Behind the leading three, Tordoff, Menu and Smith retained their places in the top six, while a late charge from Rob Collard saw him pass Hynes for seventh on the final lap. Hynes nevertheless recorded his best result to date in the series, ahead of Austin in ninth and Jordan in tenth.

Shedden recovered slightly to 13th – which leaves him as the third and final driver still in the title fight – while his teammate Matt Neal was forced to take a drive-through penalty on the final lap and dropped to 21st as a result. Luke Hines, on his return to action, finished in 20th.

Jason Plato took a second win in as many races at Silverstone, but the win was overshadowed by a crash involving Rob Collard which caused the race to be red flagged.

The race followed a similar pattern to the day’s opening encounter, but the red flag was flown a lap from the end when Collard double-rolled, having attempted to avoid a spinning Jack Clarke.

Plato was again jumped by the fast-starting Turkington off the line, while  Menu got past Tordoff for fourth with Collard following suit as the field bunched up into Maggotts.

But Plato immediately looked to regain the lead and unlike in race one – where he took a look a lap early before making his move a lap later – squirmed straight up the inside of the eBay Motors man into Brooklands on lap two and into first. It was a good close but fair move from the MG driver.

For the second race in a row a train of cars lined up behind Plato, with the top nine in close company. Aron Smith utilised that situation to pass Tordoff into Copse at the start of lap six, as Turkington started to harry Plato for the lead.

After his pass on Tordoff, Smith looked keen to overtake Collard while two places further forward his teammate Menu hounded Jackson for the final podium spot. After several abortive attempts, Menu finally made the third place his with a good run through Copse and a pass into Maggotts on lap 13.

At this point, the top seven – who had dropped Marc Hynes and Andrew Jordan – were still closely bunched as they crossed the line just 2.014s apart, with Smith following his teammate’s example and passing Collard on the exit of Becketts for fifth.

The race finally appeared to have settled down a few laps later as Plato, Turkington and Menu all appeared comfortable in their positions, but a staunch defence was required by Jackson in fourth to keep the second Volkswagen of Smith at bay. The Airwaves driver was able to keep his former teammate behind him, however, and with just two laps left to run it looked as though the race would end quietly.

But that all changed on lap 21 as Clarke, who was running in tenth, spun through Becketts and as those behind him looked to avoid contact, Collard – who had fallen some way down the order – was side-swiped by the Crabbie’s Racing Ford Focus, sending the eBay Motors car off balance and over itself, taking some seconds before eventually stopping by the side of the track. Collard was taken to the medical centre for checks, where it was said he was ‘okay’.

The Safety Car was immediately deployed, but as the race had by now reached it’s penultimate lap, the decision was taken to red flag the event with the final result counted back a lap (lap 20 of 22).

That meant that Plato’s eventual winning margin was 1.013s ahead of Turkington and Menu, who scored his second podium in three races. Jackson and Smith were fourth and fifth, ahead of a quiet Tordoff.

Fabrizio Giovanardi finished in seventh and would start the final race of the day from pole, while Andrew Jordan was eighth. There was a maiden top ten finish for Warren Scott on his 43rd birthday after a stellar drive to ninth, while the count back meant that Clarke was also able to secure his first top ten finish in the series. Gordon Shedden was classified in 11th place, and as a result is out of championship contention.

Mat Jackson won the final British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Silverstone ahead of Aron Smith and Colin Turkington.

The Airwaves Racing driver made a decisive move past his teammate Fabrizio Giovanardi before a Safety Car was deployed to score his second victory of the season and the fifth of his career at Silverstone.

The start of the race was delayed when Sam Tordoff’s MG coughed out a plume of smoke as the cars headed for their formation lap, leaving a sheen of oil on the circuit, which had to be cleared before the cars were allowed to race. The delay meant that the field were forced to start a second formation lap, while the race distance was reduced to 21 laps.

When the racing did get going, Jackson took full advantage of the now vacant grid slot in front of him to jump in front of Smith, while Turkington also advanced into fourth place.

The race had been delayed by some 20 minutes but not a lap had passed before the Safety Car was called out. Hunter Abbott appeared to tap Robb Holland at Becketts, and while most of the remaining field were able to pass the incident, James Cole was unable to avoid Holland’s S3 and ploughed into the back of him, with Martin Depper also hitting the pair.

Holland ran straight over to Cole to remonstrate with him once he was out of the car, the American clearly disappointed to end his season with a first lap retirement. Holland however realised his mistake later on and publicly apologised to James Cole.

With cars able to race to the line until the first SC Board is seen, Jackson being really clued up in these situations, he attempted to overtake his teammate and was classified as the first-place man at the end of the first lap before tucking in behind Giovanardi into Copse where they joined the Safety Car. The decision was then taken to reverse the positions, given that Jackson had raced to the line, and as such he inherited the lead a lap before the Safety Car returned to the pits.

The Motorbase driver took full advantage of the clear track in front on him when the race restarted on lap six, leaving Giovanardi and the rest of the field for dust. Turkington had a similarly electric start, passing Smith before the start/finish line, before rightfully relinquishing the position on the run down to Copse.

With Jackson pulling away at the front, Smith saw it as imperative to pass Giovanardi, and duly passed the Italian on lap seven into Becketts. Turkington was then the next man to come against Giovanardi, but perhaps with the title on his mind, found it much harder to pass than Smith had.

With Jackson in a league of his own at the front, Giovanardi did, to his credit, keep Smith in his sights and put up a valiant fight against Turkington, before a lap-and-a-half of sensational racing saw him plummet down the order.

And it had me and the missus yelling at the TV as the best in the BTCC finally had some hard racing together…

At the end of lap 18, Turkington found himself on the inside of Giovanardi going into Brooklands, and despite the gap diminishing rapidly, kept his foot in to seemingly claim third. Giovanardi was having none of it though, and fought back through Luffield, forcing Turkington wide at Woodcote. Their squabbling allowed Menu to dive up the inside of the pair of them through Copse, as they started their 19th laps, but he ran wide on the exit and the pair re-passed him on the run down to Maggotts. Turkington again appeared to have a move done on Giovanardi, only for Plato to arrive behind him and push him into the side of the Italian, forcing him down to 11th, where he eventually finished the race.

Turkington moved into third as a result, with Plato fourth and Menu fifth. That was ultimately the end of the action, with Jackson cantering to victory and Smith equally comfortable in second. While Turkington did claim a third podium of the day, Plato’s performance across the weekend means that the title fight does go to the final round of the season, at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.

Behind, Andrew Jordan brought his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic in a solid sixth, ahead of ahead of Adam Morgan, Gordon Shedden, Warren Scott – who scored a second-consecutive top-ten finish – and Jack Goff, who completed the top ten.

All of this means now that Turkington can effectively tie up the Drivers Title in race one at Brands Hatch this weekend. If Plato were to take Pole Position, Lead the race, get fastest lap and win, Turkington needs only to finish second behind him. Considering the performances that the three eBay BMW’s showed on the Indy circuit back in March…thats quite possible.

What it also means is we can expect another exciting Finals Day with everyone racing for points and pride to get the best finish to the season possible. For me, that means either Gio or Menu or both drivers getting a race win before the seasons end and looking for more stand out performances up and down the grid.

One notable change for Finals Day will be Tony Gilham returning to the BTCC in thr Rotek Racing Audi S3. Robb Holland will be on VLN duties at the Nurburgring and unable to pilot the car and has asked Gilham to step in for the event. However with the car needing repair, its doubtful Tony will get to test the car before first practice on Saturday morning.

Either way it will be and exciting end to an… Interesting season. Not a classic, but an interesting one…

All the best!

Phil!

All the best from the Guru!!

World RX: Solberg Secures title as Hansen wins ItalyRX

The 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship has proven to be an exciting series to watch this year with different drivers leading intermediate stages with different drivers going on to win the event and with the Supercar entry numbers reaching around 40 in most cases, its been no disappoinment to watch and follow.

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And Italy showed another exciting, unexpected and thrilling chapter to this amazing series where the World RX and Euro RX drivers titles would be decided…

Johan Kristoffersson led the World RX of Italy after finishing as top qualifier at the half-way point in the Intermediate Classification stage. Timmy Hansen took the heat one victory and also the fastest lap time of the day for Team Peugeot-Hansen. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Anton Marklund was third making it three Swedes at the head of the field.

FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy leader Petter Solberg’s title charge suffered a setback due to an engine oil leak in heat one.

“What a day, I am very relieved to be in seventh after the day I have had I can tell you,” explained Solberg who can win the World RX title in Italy if he extends his Championship lead to 60 points. “At the end of free practice, there was an oil leak as the engine block had cracked.  We didn’t have time to change it during the heats so we took off the gearbox to try and fix the crack as best we could.  During the last heat I broke the left-rear damper and then got a puncture so I was lucky to finish ninth.  We have a big job ahead – we need to change the engine and the turbo.  We need to look at the gearbox and dampers too, it will be a big night ahead but Sunday is a new day and I have an amazing team so I’m confident they will do a good job tonight.”

After a near-perfect day in a VW Polo including the heat two victory, Kristoffersson was delighted to hold second overnight in what is only his fourth World RX outing. Kristoffersson also leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), of which Italy is the final round.  The Swede explained: “I’m really enjoying myself here – the track suits me and the car very nicely.  In the second heat, I had some technical problems as I had the throttle stuck on full but I got the fastest time so maybe it wasn’t such a big problem after all!”

Fourth and fifth are occupied by Championship contenders Topi Heikkinen and Reinis Nitiss. However Nitiss’ team-mate Andreas Bakkerud was not placed so well. The Norwegian incurred a double Joker Lap penalty for a jump-start and was later excluded for exceeding track limits.

Second in Euro RX and on track for securing the European trophy which concludes in Italy this weekend is Sweden’s Robin Larsson in the Audi A1 Supercar.

Arguably the most impressive drive of today was that of local driver Gigi Galli who excelled on his World RX debut with Ford Olsbergs MSE to lie ninth overnight. “I am really happy to be here, and also a little surprised,” admitted Galli who helped to design the RX circuit at Franciacorta. “To be racing against the likes of Petter who I know from my rallying days in WRC is amazing.  My aim here is to learn, to enjoy myself and to do my best.  The car was perfect so now I continue to learn and hope to go as far as I can in front of my home fans.”

Over 80 drivers started the tenth round of World RX, which is being staged at the all-new RX venue of Franciacorta International Circuit in Northern Italy.  The event marks the first time that rallycross has been staged in Italy since 1980, when the Gropello Cairoli circuit was included as a round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship.

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Petter Solberg entered the record books after becoming the first FIA World Champion in two different disciplines. He scored enough points in Italy this to secure him the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.  After a sensational performance for Team Peugeot-Hansen, Timmy Hansen was awarded the World RX of Italy event victory. Supercar debutant Richard Goransson finished runner-up.

Solberg’s podium position at the Franciacorta International Circuit has seen the PSRX driver stretch his lead at the top of the standings to 60 points with two events still remaining. Topi Heikkinen is currently second behind Solberg in the overall standings but with Solberg having already won four events this season to Heikkinen’s one, Solberg automatically becomes World Champion based on his higher percentage of event victories.

“This hasn’t sunk in yet, it is a dream come true,” grinned Solberg who is now a World Champion in both World RX and WRC.  “When I stopped rallying, I didn’t know what to do and then IMG took on rallycross and brought it to an amazing level so now it seemed like the right choice.  I broke the right-rear suspension in the final and my spotter was shouting on the radio that I needed to calm down because all I needed to do was get to the podium and I would win the Championship.  I just wish my family were here today with me – my wife Pernilla and my son Oliver are back home because Oliver won the Norwegian Crosskart Championship on Saturday. I have to thank them and my whole team who have worked so hard to make this happen, they really do an incredible job and have worked day and night for a lot of the season. I can’t wait to celebrate this moment with everyone tonight.”

Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of 21-year-old Hansen who looked virtually untouchable in his Team Peugeot-Hansen prepared 208 Supercar.  Hansen, the son of multiple European Rallycross Champion Kenneth, won the Monster Energy Super Charge Award, two heats, his semi-final and the all-important final to take his first ever World RX victory.

“This has been a brilliant weekend and it is the best feeling to win when I pushed so hard for this moment,” explained Hansen who was joined by team-mate Timur Timerzyanov on the front row of the six-car Supercar final. “During the final, I was pushing really hard but after a few laps in, I saw pieces from the other cars all over the track so I knew there had been a lot going on behind me.  Both Petter and Richard were giving me a lot of pressure but thankfully I was able to hold on and I’m so happy to finally take a win for my team.”

Joining Hansen and Solberg in the top three was multiple Swedish Touring Car Champion Richard Goransson who shone on his Supercar debut with Ford Olsbergs MSE.  Goransson, who stepped up from RX Lites to Supercar this weekend, battled against a hugely competitive field of 40 Supercars to make it through to the final where he finished second to Hansen. “I am speechless, it has been an absolutely crazy weekend,” explained Goransson. “This has been my first ever Supercar event and I would have been happy to have made the semi-finals, never mind second overall. I kept out of trouble in the final and that’s what led to this result.”

Alongside Goransson in the final driving a second Fiesta was regular Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud who retired on lap two after a string of misfortunate events over the weekend.  He finishes the event sixth overall. Bakkerud’s team-mate Reinis Nitiss was still in the title fight with Solberg but the 18-year-old’s chances of the World RX title was shattered when Nitiss was knocked out of the semis.  Johan Kristofferson led the Intermediate Classification stage yesterday and another strong performance today saw the VW Polo driver finish fifth in World RX and second in European.

Italy also marked the final round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), which Robin Larsson won after finishing seventh in the Intermediate Classification stage. Monster Energy World RX Team driver Henning Solberg finished runner-up in Euro RX after reaching the semi-finals while EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand was awarded third.

“It feels great to be European champion. We’ve been struggling all weekend with engine problems so we didn’t have the power we wanted. We have just been safe in all four heats and managed to finish them,” said Larsson, who follows in his father Lars’ footsteps by winning the title.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “Firstly, congratulations to Petter Solberg who has gone down in history today after becoming the first person to win two different FIA World Championships. Solberg and the entire PSRX Team have worked incredibly hard since their torrid season last year and are very worthy title winners.  Even though Solberg has taken the majority of the limelight today after winning the title, Timmy Hansen’s light-to-flag victory today must not go under the radar. I have witnessed the huge effort that the entire Team Peugeot-Hansen has put into this year and I’m pleased that the team have finally got the win that they truly deserve.  As well as the World RX title, we have also seen Championships won in Euro RX, Super1600, TouringCar and the supporting RX Lites Cup which was won by Kevin Eriksson today with one round still to go. It’s also incredible to have newcomers such as Richard Goransson and Gigi Galli reach the semis in what has been a hugely competitive field of entries. Even though the drivers’ title has now been decided, the Teams’ Championship is more exciting than ever before with VW Marklund and Ford Olsbergs MSE both tied with 313 points at the top of the standings.”

The penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at the former F1 venue of Intercity Istanbul Park (Turkey) in just under two weeks time (11-12 October).

DRIVER POINTS AFTER ROUND 10, WORLD RX OF ITALY

1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 235 points
2. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 175 points
3. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 167 points
4. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 152 points
5. Timur Timerzyanov (Peugeot-Hansen), 148 points
6. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE),146 points

TEAM POINTS AFTER ROUND 10, WORLD RX OF ITALY

1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 313 points
1= Volkswagen Marklund, 313 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 300 points
4. PSRX, 227 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 85 points
6. Albatec Racing, 32 points

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All The Best!

Phil!

All the best from the Guru!!

2014 FIA World RX: Solberg takes win No.4 in Germany…

Petter Solberg established an early advantage at Red Kiwi World RX of Germany, round nine of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, after a second and third fastest heat time projected the Championship leader to the top of the Intermediate Points. Team Peugeot-Hansen continued its run of good form with Timur Timerzyanov second overnight, while Team EKS driver Mattias Ekstrom is third in an Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.

A record-breaking 41 Supercars started today’s German RX event, which also forms the penultimate round of this year’s highly-competitive European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX).  Based 20 miles south of Hamburg, Estering is the second oldest track used in World RX having hosted international events since 1973. Eight German drivers are competing on home soil this weekend including World Touring Car team owner and driver Rene Munnich who made his long-awaited debut in the Audi A3 Supercar but had a torrid day after retiring from both heats.

Ekstrom posted the quickest time during free practice but it was Euro RX points leader Robin Larsson who clocked the quickest time in heat one with a time of 2m36s. Petter Solberg was second fastest, while his older brother Henning took third in his Monster Energy backed Citroen DS3 Supercar.

“I love this circuit – it’s really technical but that first corner can be crazy.  You need to get it just right and there’s more pressure with so many cars.  The tiniest mistake can knock you out of a heat and with 40 other cars and with the Championship to think about, I need to get the right balance between flat out and getting through all of the races,” explained Petter Solberg who leads the overall driver standings by 28 points.

Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud also spoke of the difficulties on turn one, which saw the driver break his car’s suspension during the first heat.  The Norwegian explained: “There is a lot of traffic on the first corner, and I could feel the car start to dance. I managed to get round the corner but then I lost control again and the car was everywhere. I could see Anton [Marklund] and Davy [Jeanney] behind and I started to panic but they were gentleman and slowed so they didn’t hit me.  It was really scary but I made it through and now I will push to make the semis tomorrow.”

Ekstrom went on to win heat two, pipping reigning European Champion Timerzyanov to the post by 0.3 seconds. “The joker is what makes this circuit really difficult,” explained Timerzyanov who is currently seventh in the driver standings. “I nearly rolled the car at one point, you need to be very careful.  My times have been good today and now I will get a good night’s sleep and hope to be fighting for the win tomorrow.”

Fourth overnight is Euro RX front-runner Tommy Rustad after a sterling drive in his Volvo C30 Supercar. Henning Solberg rounds off the top five and spoke positively about his performance at the end of day press conference: “I’ve been really happy with the car today and have enjoyed the gravel sections of the circuit.  I think we have shown the kind of speed that we should have had in the previous couple of rounds and I’m looking for a place in the final tomorrow.”

Solberg went on to win the Red Kiwi World RX of Germany, round nine of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy in what is the sport’s closest ever finish in its 47-year history. In a nail-biting final race, Solberg pipped Sweden RX winner Mattias Ekstrom to the post by an unbelievable margin of just five thousandths of a second.  Robin Larsson completed the podium line-up finishing third in his Audi A1 Supercar.

Over 10,000 spectators travelled to Estering Circuit in north-west Germany today as mixed weather conditions and a record-breaking entry of 41 Supercars made for action-packed racing.  Amongst the 76 cars entered to compete in SuperCar, TouringCar and Super1600, there were eight local drivers including the likes of six-time Guinness World Record Holder Ronny C Rock and World Touring Car regular Rene Munnich.  As well as World RX, there were also 26 entries in the penultimate round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), which Ekstrom won.  Euro RX points leader Larsson took second and Tommy Rustad finished third.

“Wow, I don’t know what to say – I don’t think I have seen anything so close in my whole life,” grinned Germany RX winner Solberg who has now extended his World RX Championship lead to 52 points with just three rounds remaining.  “The plan today was not necessarily to win but when I saw Robin’s [Larsson] mistake, I knew I had a chance.  Then on the second last lap I made a mistake – I couldn’t remember if there was one more to go so I hesitated at the joker and lost some time. I heard on the radio that I needed to go flat out to the finish so I really pushed on the last lap. I didn’t even know if I had won when I crossed the line, it was a really incredible moment.”

Despite the closest win in RX history, two-time DTM Champion Ekstrom was satisfied with the runner-up spot. “If you are going to lose, then to lose by five thousandths of a second is not a bad way to do it,” joked Ekstrom whose team-mate Pontus Tidemand finished fourth after reaching his third final this season.  “Of course I really wanted a victory for Audi here but we have two on the podium and three made it to the final with Pontus which is a great result for Audi on its home event.  Congratulations to Petter on his win – you can’t buy a victory, you need to work hard and he certainly did that.  I’m happy with P2.”

One driver who looked likely to become World RX’s seventh different event winner this year was Robin Larsson, whose rapid start off the start awarded the 21-year-old Swede with the Monster Energy Super Charge Award. However, a mistake by Larsson on lap three gave Solberg the opportunity to move in front.  Larsson took up the story: “If you have Petter Solberg behind you, it’s really scary I can tell you. I was nervous and I made a mistake and of course Petter jumped on this and went ahead but I’m really happy to be on the podium for the second time this year.”

Proving that points really do win prizes, Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Topi Heikkinen was catapulted to second in the overall driver standings after finishing fifth in today’s final.  The Finn steadily gathered points throughout the four heats before qualifying for the semis and reaching the all-important final.  Heikkinen’s move up the standings knocked Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss back into third after the 18-year-old Latvian suffered a setback when his car’s turbo failed during heat three.  Despite failing to reach the semis, Nitiss was feeling upbeat: “I have to be happy with the pace even if I didn’t make it past the heats – there were a lot of gravel sections here and I was happy with the driving. There’s still three events left so the Championship title isn’t over but Petter is so fast and of course the gap is bigger than before we came here. We’re leading the Teams’ Championship and to win that title is our ultimate aim.”

Team Peugeot-Hansen was unable to continue the team’s string of podium successes this weekend despite an impressive run in all four heats.  Both drivers were stuck in traffic at turn one of the semis but only Timmy Hansen progressed to the final. The 21-year-old Swede was running fourth for the majority of the race but after taking the joker on the final lap, Hansen dropped back to finish the event sixth overall.

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg was sitting third overnight in the Intermediate Classifications but a broken right steering arm during heat four knocked the Norwegian out of a chance in the semis.  Elsewhere, successful rally driver Ramona Karlsson had a difficult time on her return to World RX. Despite demonstrating raw pace in the Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 Supercar, Karlsson was eventually forced to retire after breaking her car’s steering during the final heat.  “I didn’t get the best start, dropping a few places, but then took a hit on lap two which broke the steering,” explained Karlsson who is also an FIA Women in Motorsport Commission member. “Coming into turn two I just couldn’t steer and went off into the gravel, out on the spot.  It was a disappointing end to the day, as I desperately wanted to reach the semi finals this weekend, but that’s rallycross. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving the car and working with the entire team, it’s the most fun I’ve had for a long time.”

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded: “Today we witnessed one of the closest finishes there’s ever been and the organisers have done a tremendous job at dealing with such a huge entry of cars. For two drivers to be separated by five thousandths of a second is really incredible and helps to demonstrate how extremely close racing RX creates. We also saw four manufacturers in the final today which goes to show just how diverse an entry that Germany RX delivered this weekend.  With Ford Olsbergs MSE leading a three-horse race in the Teams’ Championship, our next event in Italy is shaping up to be pivotal in the title chase. Today delivered one of the best TV shows that motorsport can offer and again goes to show the true potential of our fledging World Championship – well done to all the teams and drivers for putting on such a fantastic show.”

Round 10 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at the all-new RX track of Franciacorta in Brescia, Italy next week (27-28 September).

DRIVER POINTS AFTER ROUND 9, WORLD RX OF GERMANY

Petter Solberg (PSRX), 212 points
Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 160 points
Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 158 points
Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 136 points
Timur Timerzyanov (Peugeot-Hansen), 128 points
Anton Marklund (VW Marklund), 124 points

TEAM POINTS AFTER ROUND 9, WORLD RX OF GERMANY

Ford Olsbergs MSE, 294 points
Volkswagen Marklund, 284 points
Team Peugeot-Hansen, 250 points
PSRX, 204 points
Monster Energy World RX Team, 81 points
Albatec Racing, 32 points

All the best from the Guru!!

World RX 2014: RECORD 41 SUPERCARS FOR WORLD RX OF GERMANY

The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy is living up to its reputation as the FIA’s fastest growing motorsport series after attracting the biggest Supercar line-up of the season for this weekend’s Red Kiwi World RX of Germany (20-21 September).  With a record-breaking 41 Supercars representing 11 different marques and 17 nationalities across Supercar, TouringCar and Super1600, Germany RX boasts a truly international flavour.

Round nine of this year’s World RX, Germany RX is staged at the Estering circuit in Buxtehude: approximately 25 miles south-west of Hamburg. Buxtehude has a population of around 40,000 people and is the second-largest town in the district of Stade. The Estering circuit itself is the shortest of the season at 952 metres in length but with top speeds of up to 150mph, the back straight makes Germany RX one of the fastest events all year.  Estering is also the fourth and penultimate round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX), of which there are a total of 26 Supercar entries.

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On the back of two consecutive World RX wins, Championship leader Petter Solberg is eager to extend his advantage but admitted the difficult nature of Estering could prove troublesome. “Estering is a tricky circuit,” confirmed Solberg, who drives a Citroen DS3 Supercar for PSRX. “There are two key things to getting a good race here. The first is to get through the first corner safely. I remember from racing here before, there was a lot of action in that first corner.  The second big thing is to pick the right time for the joker lap and then get it absolutely right. I think the joker is more important here than at most circuits.”

Twenty-eight points behind Solberg and second in the standings is Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss. Since the previous round in Loheac, Nitiss has returned to Latvia where he has taken part in PR activities including a lawn mower racing competition – which the 18-year-old went on to win. “A good racing driver must be able to adapt to circumstances and different techniques, as well as to maintain a cool head,” explained Nitiss who is arguably Solberg’s biggest title threat this season.

Third in the driver standings for Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport is Topi Heikkinen, 10 points adrift of Nitiss. The Finn has been a solid points-scorer so far this season and is feeling confident that prior testing at Estering could give his team an edge over the others. Joining Heikkinen for Volkswagen’s home event in the Polo RX Supercar will be regular team-mate Anton Marklund and wildcard entrant Ronny C Rock, who holds the Guinness World Record for drift reverse parking. “We are very happy to have Ronny on board,” explained VW Marklund Team Principle, Jan Marklund. “His driving skills and famous stunts speak for themselves, and there are no questions over his talent. We are really looking forward to watching him race in World RX.”

After three podium finishes in three events, Team Peugeot-Hansen will be aiming for four-in-a-row when the Swedish-based squad travel to Germany this weekend. Timmy Hansen, however, admits that he is hungry to do one better and stand on the podium’s top step: “We want to win a race before the season is finished, that’s all I can think about right now,” said the 21-year-old Swede. “It was very special to step onto the podium in Belgium and France. Finally stepping up on the podium was amazing and very emotional for all of us. Now we have done it three times in a row and we’re all very hungry for the next step.”

Female rally driver Ramona Karlsson will replace Jacques Villeneuve in the Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 Supercar this weekend and is feeling buoyed following a successful test at Knockhill race circuit earlier this week.  Karlsson will be partnered in Germany with Albatec team owner, Andy Scott. Former F1 World Champion Villeneuve will return to World RX for round 10 at Franciacorta (27-28 September).

One of the biggest stars to compete at Estering will be Team EKS RX driver and founder, Mattias Ekstrom, who returns to World RX for the first time since his spectacular victory at Holjes back in July. The two-time DTM Champion completed two days testing in the Audi S1 Quattro and states his ultimate aim in Germany is to reach the final. “It’s always nice to be back in World RX and of course it will be exciting to be racing in Germany too as it’s a country I know well,” explained Esktrom. “It will be interesting to see if many of my DTM fans come to Estering – there aren’t so many race tracks close to Hamburg so I haven’t raced in this part of Germany before but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Monster Energy World RX Team will also be present in Germany with team drivers Henning Solberg and Davy Jeanney.  The talented duo will be eager to follow in the footsteps of Monster Energy athlete Ken Block who secured a top five position at the most recent World RX round in Loheac.

As Germany forms the penultimate round of Euro RX, competition will surely intensify among the Supercar entries that are eligible to score European points.  Top of the table is Sweden’s Robin Larsson who set the cat among the pigeons earlier this season by taking second overall at World RX of Great Britain.  He is currently leading the series by 36 points, two points ahead of Henning Solberg.  Two-time Snowcross World Champion Emil Ohman is third in the standings with a total of 31 points.  Former WRC driver PG Andersson will make his debut in Euro RX this weekend at the wheel of a Hedstroms Motorsport prepared Skoda Fabia.

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Martin Anayi – Managing Director for World RX at IMG Motorsport – concluded: “These next two weeks could prove crucial in the fight for the 2014 drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. With two events less than a week apart, the pressure is on the teams, the drivers and the cars to perform to the highest level – the smallest mistake could prove detrimental in the title chase.  What makes the task even more tricky is that Estering is one of the fastest and most technical circuits of the year, and Italy which follows is a brand new track which everyone will have to learn very quickly. With huge grids at both Estering and Franciacorta, the competition is set to be fierce in both World RX and Euro RX.  The perfect start will be key to success when such big numbers of entries are involved.  I am delighted that we have our 100th Supercar entered in World RX this season and of course it’s an honour that the man driving this centenary car is experienced rally driver PG Andersson. Best of luck to PG on his debut and all of the other Supercar, Super1600 and TouringCar competitors in what will be a flat-out fortnight of World RX action.”

All event information, live timing and streaming is available at http://www.rallycrossrx.com. All times remain provisional and please check the website for details of local coverage.

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All the best from the Guru!!

BTCC 2014: The Turk Rules at Rockingham…

Rockingham was host to the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship which saw its Eighth weekend of racing as the series entered the final nine races that will see this years champion crowned.

MG’s Sam Tordoff has scored his second ever British Touring Car Championship pole position with the MGs being split by championship leader Colin Turkington in second.

Tordoff was on top for most of the session, rising to the top of the times inside the first ten minutes. Tordoff and Plato then proceeded to improve their times at the top, before Turkington split the duo inside the final two minutes of the session. Despite posting the second fastest time, Turkington was still 0.484 seconds off the pole pace.

It is Tordoff’s second-ever pole in the BTCC and his first of the season. The MG driver also starts from first for the opening race of the day for the second consecutive meeting, after inhering pole at Knockhill last time out.

Plato ended up third, unable to respond to the championship leader with his final timed lap. The former champion will nevertheless keep the position, after having his earlier grid penalty overturned.

Gordon Shedden was fourth fastest, ahead of Andrew Jordan in fifth, who ended the session early complaining of set-up difficulties.

Adam Morgan was sixth fastest in his WIX Racing Mercedes, ahead of the third MG of Marc Hynes in seventh, who enjoyed his strongest qualifying session in the BTCC to-date.

Team BMR’s Alain Menu was in the top ten for the sixth time this season in eighth, with Honda’s Matt Neal and Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson completing the top ten.

There were problems for a number of drivers further down the order in the half hour session. Tom Ingram (12th) and Hunter Abbott (31st) both endured off-track excursions at the Tarzan Hairpin early on, whilst Welch Motorsport’s Ollie Jackson and United Autosport’s Glynn Geddie both stopped on the circuit with mechanical problems.

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Colin Turkington would go on to victory in the opening British Touring Car Championship race, beating poleman Sam Tordoff away from the line at the start and pulling clear thereafter.

Turkington was unchallenged in the race to take his seventh victory of the season and further extend his championship lead. Tordoff was forced to settle for second, unable to challenge Turkington once the BMW driver’s tyres were up to temperature.

Jason Plato finished the race in third, scoring his tenth podium of the season, having not been close enough to challenge his team-mate in front.

Finishing in a season-best fourth was Alain Menu, who continued to make progress in the race despite running on the softer option tyres. Menu pulled off convincing passes on several drivers at the Tarzan hairpin including a pass on both the Airwaves drivers of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mat Jackson on lap eight. He then set about and caught Jordan, and closed a near two second gap to Adam Morgan in the closing laps of the race.

Morgan himself was forced to settle for fifth after Menu caught and passed him on the penultimate lap, extending his run of top tens to eight in a row.

Reigning champion Jordan finished the race in sixth, ahead of Italian Giovanardi in seventh, who got past his team-mate on lap ten.

Eighth was Shedden, with the Scot losing ground on lap four when trying to pass Plato for a podium position. The Scot had a look at the MG driver into Gracelands but made contact, pitching him into a slide which lost him a handful of positions.

Completing the top ten were Airwaves Racing’s Jackson and Team BMR’s Jack Goff, who was forced to defend heavily on the final lap as eBay Motors’ Rob Collard and Exocet Racing’s Rob Austin looked to gain positions.

There was one safety car intervention for two laps during the race, which came about as a result of a big accident between Lea Wood and Warren Scott on lap five. Wood entered the turn two hairpin backwards, possibly as a result of contact, and hit the front-left of Scott’s car, causing significant damage to both cars.

United Autosport’s James Cole also failed to finish the race, having earlier been collected by BTC Racing’s Chris Stockton.

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Colin Turkington was in dominant form as he took his second British Touring Car Championship victory of the day  finishing ahead of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff.

Turkington led the entire race after a perfect getaway that gave him a clear advantage on the opening lap. In the end the eBay Motors driver was able to win by a massive 8.081 seconds.

Plato, who got the jump on team-mate Tordoff at the start of the race, had no answer for the Northern Irishman, and was two seconds down after just two laps.

Tordoff was third, despite losing out to Alain Menu on the opening lap of the race. However the Yorkshireman got back past the former champion a couple of laps later to take his second podium of the day, and only his fourth of the season.

Andrew Jordan was fourth, finishing as the top driver on the soft tyre after making up four places in the second half of the race. Rob Austin finished in fifth, following Jordan’s progress through the field despite running on the standard tyre.

Menu finished sixth, losing out to Jordan and Austin in the second half of the race. The Volkswagen driver will, however, start the final race from pole position after his number was selected for the reverse-grid draw.

Mat Jackson was seventh, ahead of Gordon Shedden in eighth whilst Rob Collard and Hunter Abbott completed the top ten, with the latter equalling his best race in the BTCC to-date.

Fabrizio Giovanardi finished in 11th position, having been earlier running as high as sixth. The Italian was once again found battling hard with team-mate Jackson, who found his way past on lap three at Yentwood with slight contact between the two Fords.

WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan was running in seventh position early on in the race, and was in ninth before slowing on lap seven with mechanical problems in his Mercedes. Also retiring from the race were Chris Stockton and Aiden Moffat, who made contact on the opening lap of the race.

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram and eBay Motors’ Nick Foster both retired from the race with two laps left to run whilst running in the final two points positions.

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Rob Austin emulated his 2013 success by taking victory in the final British Touring Car Championship race at Rockingham with a dominant display.

Austin used his rear-wheel drive advantage to get ahead of pole man Menu before turn one and never looked back, opening up a 1.5 second lead in his Audi A4 to take his second ever win in the series at the same venue he took his first victory.

Menu himself held on to finish in second and score his first podium since 2000, unable to close in on Austin and challenge for the win.

Reigning champion Andrew Jordan finished in third, scoring his first podium finish since Croft in June. The Pirtek Racing driver had to withstand heavy pressure from Turkington, although the championship leader settled for fourth in the end.

Mat Jackson scored his third top ten finish of the day in fifth and was involved in a close battle with Rob Collard, who finished in sixth.

MG duo Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff finished in sixth and seventh, with the latter passing Fabrizio Giovanardi for eighth three laps from the chequered flag.

Matt Neal finished in ninth and was the sole driver for the team to score points after title contender Gordon Shedden retired on the opening lap. The Scot had damage to the front-right of his car after contact with another driver.

There was a high attrition rate during the race, with nine drivers failing to finish. Marc Hynes retired on the opening lap along with Hunter Abbott after contact, whilst Adam Morgan also pulled into the pits with damage to his Mercedes. Aiden Moffat stopped exiting turn one with some emanating from his car, whilst Jack Goff stopped on the final lap after having been running in the top ten.

All of this now means that Turkington is 55 points ahead of Plato in the Drivers Championship, with Shedden slipping back to third place, 9 points behind Plato and out of the Championship hunt.

As the series moves to Silverstone in three weeks time, the scenario is simple: if Turkington can outscore Plato by 12 points, he will be Champion. However with Silverstone favouring the MG in the past couple of seasons, it may go down to the wire again at Brands Hatch.

Once again, after Rockingham, further comments were made about the state of play in the BTCC. Jason Plato has said he will now look to win the “Proper Championship” which he leads behind Colin Turkington who “is in a championship of his own.” Plato has also stated that his plans for 2015 remain fluid until TOCA outline what changes, if any, are made to be made to the NGTC regulations. Rumours have come about suggesting that Plato could be in a WSR BMW next year.

Thats something I find difficult to believe

Now Jason works hard to setup a good sponsorship package and sets out to reward this by good on track performance. But remember that MG are in their final year of contract with Plato and although there has been race wins, there has been no title glory, something that weighs heavily with Plato. So if he decides to leave MG, then he will leave to pastures new.

Thats something I find easy to believe.

In another related issue, Matt Neal has spoken out about the lack of equilibrium in regards of Turbo Boost regulation. 15 of this years NGTC cars use the Swindon built TOCA engine. However with Honda considering using the Civic Type R next year, he has warned tha Honda would consider leaving the BTCC if the boost issue is not resolved. The team use Neil Brown Engineering built engines, as do WSR and they always seem to have a boost reduction before racing at the more faster circuits on the calendar.

This is due to the excellent chassis built by Team Dynamics that makes up for this issue by giving excellent handling. However Neal has expressed the manufacturers strong unhappiness at boost regulation, something the fans have been unhappy with since 2011, to the fact that TOCA are trying to force out Honda by giving them a boost reduction instead of staying level with the TOCA engines.

Allied to this, remember that Honda is re-entering F1, potentially affecting the WTCC and BTCC programmes and the fact that the budget for the 2015 BTCC is not yet confirm could see Honda leave the series if not agreed.

This I could believe to happen.

Now, this all means that both of this years Works teams have now openly challenged TOCA over performance and regulation of the NGTC regs. Alan Gow has defended the championship and its regulations, but what this also means is that over the off season, we will see a lot of change in the BTCC, whether this is teams leaving the series or drivers moving teams.

But one thing is for certain. The sporting regulations will change. TOCA is always predictable in doing this to try and give the best show and it will react, not proact, to these comments made by Plato and Neal.

Lets just hope that the championship doesn’t lose its status as the best Touring Car series in the world because of unhappy teams, drivers and fans who are fed up with comments made during and after a BTCC weekend that overshadows the racing.

Something has to be done.

Cheers.

Phil.

All the best from the Guru!!

World RX 2014: Solberg wins in France.

Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen made a head start over the 36 other Supercar drivers competing at World RX of France after winning the opening two heats in Loheac. Current Championship leader Petter Solberg holds second overnight in his PSRX run Citroen DS3 with EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand third in an Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.

American Gymkhana star Ken Block set the quickest time during Saturday morning’s free practice but incurred a 30 second penalty after failing to take the joker lap during heat one. Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta quickly fought back to finish heat two second fastest and was 13th at the intermediate points stage. Block explained: “I made a dumb mistake not taking the joker in the first heat but I honestly thought I had one more lap to go. I came here to win so I will come back tomorrow and do the best I can.”

One driver who shone from start to finish was Sweden’s Timmy Hansen. The 21-year-old was a model of consistency as he stormed to two consecutive heat wins in the Peugeot 208 Supercar. “It’s been an incredible day – to be leading for Peugeot on its home event in front of all these passionate fans feels amazing,” explained Hansen. “To do well in Loheac it’s really important to be quick off the line and fortunately we had good starts on both of our heats. The track also allows me to go flat out in a lot of places which I love doing. What is even better is that my brother Kevin Hansen won the Swedish national championship back home and he did it at exactly the same time as I was winning heat two, it’s been a perfect day.”

Another driver in high spirits was EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand. “This is the best day I’ve had in RX so far,” grinned the reigning Junior World Rally Champion. “The competition is very tough with a lot of local drivers but I’m come here feeling confident after my WRC2 win at Rallye Deutschland last month and feeling good with the car. Now our aim is to be on the podium and to be back in the press conference.”

Fourth in the standings is Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss who was full of praise for the French RX round. “I love the Loheac circuit – it’s just like a karting circuit and it suits me really well. I won here last year in the Super1600s and want to do well again this year. Today we got stuck in a bit of traffic, especially in turn one but we made it through and now we will make some small changes to the car’s set-up and suspension before we get back in the game again tomorrow.”

Jerome Grosset-Janin leads out of the 16 French Supercar drivers competing on home soil as the reigning French Rallycross Championship rounds off the top five. Fellow countryman Gaetan Serazin is ninth and Fabien Pailler – who is currently leading the French national championship – is 10th.

Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for the Monster Energy World RX Team. Frenchman Davy Jeanney was excluded from heat one due to a technical infringement with his Citroen DS3 Supercar but recovered in heat two to post the third quickest time. Volkswagen Marklund’s Anton Marklund and Topi Heikkinen are sixth and 16th respectively, with both drivers reporting that the team will work on the car’s set-up overnight.  Andy Scott lies inside the top 12 for Albatec Racing as a race win in heat two sees him finish Saturday 11th overall.

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Norway’s Petter Solberg took a sensational victory at today’s World RX of France, round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. The result marks the third win of the season for PSRX driver Solberg as the former WRC Champion extends his lead at the top of the overall World RX standings. Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss and Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen finished second and third respectively.

Blazing sunshine greeted more than 70,000 fans at Loheac in north-west Brittany over the weekend to watch 79 cars battle it out across the Supercar plus the Super1600 and TouringCar categories. As well as an experienced field of 32 French drivers, the line-up in France also included star-studded names such as American Gymkhana star Ken Block who made his second appearance in World RX – and finished fourth.

“I’m tired, exhausted, sweaty and happy – this has been an unbelievable weekend,” grinned Solberg who is a likely contender of becoming the first double winner of two FIA World Championships. “Yesterday was not perfect – we struggled with tyrewear but my mechanics worked really hard on the car [Citroen DS3 Supercar] until 1am this morning and I noticed a big change overnight. I have a lot of new parts for the next race in Germany so as long as we keep scoring points, everything looks very good for the Championship. My son [Oliver] also won the Swedish Championship in crosskart this weekend so it’s been a really great weekend all round.”

Successfully pushing Ford Olsbergs MSE back to the top of the Teams’ Championship this weekend was Reinis Nitiss who finished on the podium for the fourth time this season. “Last year I won in Super1600 in Loheac so I am really happy to be back on the podium again but this time in the Supercar. I love this event – there are so many fans and the circuit is amazing with lots of flat out sections.” Team-mate Andreas Bakkerud won heat four but was unable to match of his competitors during the semis in order to reach the final.

Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend was that of Timmy Hansen for Team Peugeot-Hansen. After winning three out of the four heats and showing an extraordinary pace in the Peugeot 208 Supercar, the Swedish driver was on course to take a win for Peugeot on its home event. “I am a little disappointed to finish third but I know that I won’t be tomorrow morning as it is a great result for the team,” explained 21-year-old Hansen at the end of day press conference. “I gambled a bit in the semi-finals – I had the RPM too low and didn’t have the best start. I was at the back of the grid for the final but I think I had one of the best races of my life as I fought my way up to second place before dropping to third. I know we’ve had a fast car this year and I’m really happy to have been able to have been able to produce a podium for Peugeot in front of the manufacturer’s home crowd.”

Timur Timerzyanov made it a two-car final for Team Peugeot-Hansen but a race tussle on turn three saw the Russian hit a wall and break his car’s steering. Despite the retirement, Timerzyanov ended the event in sixth place and helped Team Peugeot-Hansen close the gap on VW Marklund in the Teams’ Championship.

America’s Ken Block put on a tremendous show for the huge amount of Hoonigan Racing fans that attended Loheac over the weekend.  After a string of top times including a second fastest time in heat two, Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ended the event fourth overall.

Team EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand was awarded the Monster Energy Super Charge Award after his rapid pace off the line during today’s all-important final.  In what was only his fourth World RX outing this year, Tidemand has consistently challenged the World RX permanent drivers in the Audi S1 Quattro Supercar and is proving to be one of the sport’s brightest prospects after finishing fifth.

Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport had a weekend of mixed results after the team reported difficulties with finding the right car set-up.  Team-mates Topi Heikkinen and Anton Marklund both made it through to the semis but missed out on a spot in the final after finishing fourth and fifth in their race. Heikkinen has slipped down the overall drivers’ standings to third place, nine points behind Nitiss.  Marklund remains fifth overall.

Albatec Racing’s Andy Scott showed good pace over the course of the weekend, making the semis for the Scottish-based team.  David Binks, who stepped in for regular World RX driver Jacques Villeneuve, made it an all-British team but the Englishman was unable to match the pace of the hugely competitive field of drivers in Loheac and was knocked out at the Intermediate Classification.

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Davy Jeanney finished third at last year’s Loheac RX and was a firm favourite with the home crowd.  However, a technical infringement following heat one saw the Frenchman disqualified and dashed the hopes of seeing him progress to the semis despite finishing second-quickest in heat two.  Team-mate Henning Solberg demonstrated good pace during the heats but was plagued by car issues which prevented him from going further.

Elsewhere, it was a strong event for the 18 French Supercar drivers who competed on home soil.  Reigning French Rallycross Champion Jerome Grosset-Janin was sixth at the Intermediate Classification stage but was caught in race traffic at turn one in the semis which caused significant damage to his car.  Serazin Gaetin also reached the semis but failed to make the final.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsport, concluded: “Loheac is home to rallycross in France and it’s not difficult to see why – the track, the atmosphere and the fans who come to Loheac make this one of the best events in the World RX calendar.  We always knew it would be tough to beat last year’s attendance figures as we had home hero Sebastien Loeb competing but I’ve been informed that we had over 70,000 spectators over the course of the weekend which is fantastic news for our growing Championship.  Congratulations once again to Petter for becoming the first driver in World RX to take a hat-trick of wins, he looked untouchable in the Citroen DS3 during the final and is an incredibly talented driver.  It is excellent to see Reinis back on the podium again, and of course I am delighted that Team Peugeot-Hansen have finished on the podium at Peugeot’s home event. Both Timmy and the entire teams have worked extremely hard this year and thoroughly deserve a podium here in France.”

Round nine of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at Estering in Germany in two weeks time (20-21 September).  Entries for World RX of Germany will be announced next week.

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DRIVER POINTS AFTER ROUND 8, WORLD RX OF FRANCE

1. Petter Solberg (PSRX), 185 points
2. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 157 points
3. Topi Heikkinen (VW Marklund), 147 points
4. Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), 126 points
5. Anton Marklund (VW Marklund), 124 points
6. Timmy Hansen (Peugeot-Hansen), 118 points

TEAM POINTS AFTER ROUND 8, WORLD RX OF FRANCE

1. Ford Olsbergs MSE, 281 points
2. Volkswagen Marklund, 269 points
3. Team Peugeot-Hansen, 227 points
4. PSRX, 176 points
5. Monster Energy World RX Team, 79 points
6. Albatec Racing, 32 points

All the best from the Guru!!

WorldRX 2014: France Day One…

Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen made a head start over the 36 other Supercar drivers competing at World RX of France after winning the opening two heats in Loheac. Current Championship leader Petter Solberg holds second overnight in his PSRX run Citroen DS3 with EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand third in an Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.

American Gymkhana star Ken Block set the quickest time during Saturday morning’s free practice but incurred a 30 second penalty after failing to take the joker lap during heat one. Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta quickly fought back to finish heat two second fastest and was 13th at the intermediate points stage. Block explained: “I made a dumb mistake not taking the joker in the first heat but I honestly thought I had one more lap to go. I came here to win so I will come back tomorrow and do the best I can.”

One driver who shone from start to finish was Sweden’s Timmy Hansen. The 21-year-old was a model of consistency as he stormed to two consecutive heat wins in the Peugeot 208 Supercar. “It’s been an incredible day – to be leading for Peugeot on its home event in front of all these passionate fans feels amazing,” explained Hansen. “To do well in Loheac it’s really important to be quick off the line and fortunately we had good starts on both of our heats. The track also allows me to go flat out in a lot of places which I love doing. What is even better is that my brother Kevin Hansen won the Swedish national championship back home and he did it at exactly the same time as I was winning heat two, it’s been a perfect day.”

Another driver in high spirits was EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand. “This is the best day I’ve had in RX so far,” grinned the reigning Junior World Rally Champion. “The competition is very tough with a lot of local drivers but I’m come here feeling confident after my WRC2 win at Rallye Deutschland last month and feeling good with the car. Now our aim is to be on the podium and to be back in the press conference.”

Fourth in the standings is Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss who was full of praise for the French RX round. “I love the Loheac circuit – it’s just like a karting circuit and it suits me really well. I won here last year in the Super1600s and want to do well again this year. Today we got stuck in a bit of traffic, especially in turn one but we made it through and now we will make some small changes to the car’s set-up and suspension before we get back in the game again tomorrow.”

Jerome Grosset-Janin leads out of the 16 French Supercar drivers competing on home soil as the reigning French Rallycross Championship rounds off the top five. Fellow countryman Gaetan Serazin is ninth and Fabien Pailler – who is currently leading the French national championship – is 10th.

Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for the Monster Energy World RX Team. Frenchman Davy Jeanney was excluded from heat one due to a technical infringement with his Citroen DS3 Supercar but recovered in heat two to post the third quickest time. Volkswagen Marklund’s Anton Marklund and Topi Heikkinen are sixth and 16th respectively, with both drivers reporting that the team will work on the car’s set-up overnight.  Andy Scott lies inside the top 12 for Albatec Racing as a race win in heat two sees him finish Saturday 11th overall.

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Tomorrow’s World RX action will continue at 0915 local time with two more heats across the Supercar, TouringCar and Super1600 categories.The semi-finals and all-important final will commence at 1500 with the RX podium scheduled at 1550.

For fans in the UK, British Eurosport is showing a Rallycross double bill with a 1 hour highlights programme of this weekends FIA World RX event from France at 11.00pm followed by a 1 hour highlights programme of Round Five from the 2014 British Rallycross Championship that took place recently at Lydden Hill.

All The best!!

Phil!