The third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship continues this coming weekend with the Belgian round, and this time we see 39 entrants divided between WorldRX and EuroRX, making this a huge event with lots of possibilities!
As you might remember this track at Circuit Jules Tacheny was built last year, and it included hard jumps and bouncy gravel sections. The track layout is similar to what we saw in Portugal, but it’s slightly shorter, reversed and with 35 % gravel as well as jumps. The first corner is critical here, as it’s very close to the start and things tend to become tight. Although it doesn’t show on the map, the joker lap is now gravel as well.
Last year we saw World Champion Petter Solberg collapse his rear suspension during the final, and Andreas Bakkerud saw his championship hopes disappear with several issues through the weekend. Topi Heikkinen took his first win at this event last year, maybe proving that the reliable Marklund Polos could be the best choice here? Johan Kristoffersson set the fastest laptime with 00:38:784, in what was his first podium at this level in rallycross.
Since this is the first EuroRX round this year, we have a lot of new names to go through! The most interesting team might be Pailler Motorsport with the two brothers Fabien Pailler and Jonathan Pailler. As well as being sons of the 1994 European Champion Jean-Luc Pailler, they are among the top drivers in the French Championship, where Fabien took the title last year in his Peugeot 208. Albatec Racing competed in a full WorldRX championship last year, but team owner Andy Scott decided to step things down a bit, and give the wheel to younger drivers in the EuroRX instead. Those drivers are 2013 French Champion Jerome Grosset-Janin and British crosscart talent James Grint. And yes, that’s actor Rupert Grint’s brother. Scott himself will not race here, but will make a wildcard entry at Lydden Hill later this month.
WRC-driver Henning Solberg returns to Eklund Motorsport after driving for Liam Doran and Monster Energy the last part of 2014, and will drive the usual Saab 9-3. That’s a car he’s used to and has achieved good results with despite the age. Joining Henning is Finnish driver Joni-Pekka Rajala, who got through to the final at his home event last year. Both very capable drivers, but with varying results.
Jean Baptiste Dubourg didn’t make the semifinals in Portugal, but his pace was good and he will look to start his EuroRX season in a good way here. Hungarian Tamas Karai entered in Italy last year, but failed to score any points there despite his experience. After his guest drive at Albatec in Argentina last year, Ire Ollie O’Donovan saw that he could match the speed with a lot of the WorldRX drivers. He decided that in a new car he could compete in the top of the EuroRX. Last year Peter Hedström got into the semifinals here at Mettet, and his Skoda Fabias proved their speed on several occassions last year. He will be very interesting to watch this weekend.
There’s a lot of talk about female racing drivers these days, but one that wants to show that girls don’t need their own series is Swede Ramona Karlsson. The former rally driver will enter the EuroRX with her own team this year partially thanks to crowdfunding, her second year in rallycross. She didn’t score that many points last year though, and will have to improve to compete in the top of the EuroRX. Lukas Walfridson scored even less points than Karlsson last year, but this year he’s running in both the Swedish championship and EuroRX with two different Renault Clios, which should help on reliability and speed.
Norwegian driver Frode Holte struggled with his new Hyundai i20 last year, but the driver is very capable and experienced after several seasons in the European Championship. Getting the car sorted is more of a challenge here, but photos from testing looked promising. Riku Takho was mentioned in the mega guide, and he’s driving for his own team here in a similar Mini as JRM uses. Belgians Ronny Scheveneels and Francois Duval are both experienced drivers from both rally and rallycross, but failed to score any points here last year. I haven’t heard anything about them doing this as a single event or a full EuroRX season, but it would certainly be cool. Norwegian Ole-Kristian Nøttveit is the together with Duval the only wildcard drivers to compete in WorldRX, driving a Volvo C30. Interesting tactics, but I’m not sure if he could go to a semifinal here. He’s also entered for Lydden Hill next week, so he might have some WorldRX ambitions after all. We also see Mark Flaherty make a return to the sport after 20 years off, but the entry list doesn’t say what he’s going to drive. I would imagine that he’s a bit rusty at the wheel though.
Even if this is two different championships, it doesn’t mean that they don’t race together. All entrants compete with each other during the qualifying heats, which means we might see Rustad against Solberg or similar. They have their own separate semifinals and finals though, so both a WorldRX and a EuroRX competitor can score up to 30 points at the same time. Of course this event is broadcasted on livestream, starting at CET Sunday
In case you need to know more about rallycross before making your picks for this round, take a look at the season guide. The rules are at the bottom of the guide, but they’re really simple so I can just repeat the most important thing here. You pick six drivers, but you can only pick one driver from each team. Will there be prizes? I’ll go to one or two events this year and I’ll try to get something prize-worthy there! In case you want to do an in-depth analysis, I’ve made a statistics spreadsheet for your pleasure. All entrants are listed below, and you can find the official entry list here.
SDRX - CITROËN DS3
#1 Petter Solberg (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 25.50 - Last year: 22
#33 Liam Doran (GBR) - Avg. last 10: 6.78 - Last year: 8
PEUGEOT-HANSEN - PEUGEOT 208 WRX
#17 Davy Jeanney (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 6.00 - Last year: 7
#21 Timmy Hansen (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 20.00 - Last year: 19
OLSBERGSMSE - FORD FIESTA ST
#13 Andreas Bakkerud (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 14.60 - Last year: 0
#15 Reinis Nitiss (LVA) - Avg. last 10: 14.60 - Last year: 10
#42 Timur Timerzyanov (RUS) - Avg. last 10: 12.80 - Last year: 12
VW MARKLUND MOTORSPORT - VW POLO RX
#57 Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) - Avg. last 10: 17.50 - Last year: 29
#45 PG Andersson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 7.75 - Last year: N/A
#24 Tommy Rustad (EuroRX) (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 2.33 - Last year: 0
VW TEAM SWEDEN - VW POLO R WRX
#3 Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 16.50 - Last year: 24
#99 Tord Linnerud (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 2.13 - Last year: 0
#52 Ole Christian Veiby (EuroRX) (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
EKSRX - AUDI S1
#10 Mattias Ekström (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 17.50 - Last year: N/A
#92 Anton Marklund (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 11.00 - Last year: 21
WORLDRX TEAM AUSTRIA - FORD FIESTA VII
#7 Manfred Stohl (AUT) - Avg. last 10: 6.00 - Last year: N/A
#31 Max Pucher (AUT) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
ALL-INKL.COM MÜNNICH MOTORSPORT - AUDI S3
#77 Rene Münnich (GER) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
#55 Alx Danielsson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 0.50 - Last year: N/A
PAILLER MOTORSPORT - PEUGEOT 208
#20 Fabien Pailler (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 2.50 - Last year: N/A
#18 Jonathan Pailler (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
ALBATEC RACING - PEUGEOT 208
#27 James Grint (GBR) - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#74 Jerome Grosset-Janin (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 4.50 - Last year: 0
EKLUND MOTORSPORT - SAAB 9-3
#88 Henning Solberg (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 6.70 - Last year: 1
#60 Joni-Pekka Rajala (FIN) - Avg. last 10: 6.50 - Last year: N/A
SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS*:
#4 Robin Larsson (WorldRX) (SWE), Audi A1 - Avg. last 10: - Last year: 15
#22 Koen Pauwels (BEL), Ford Focus - Avg. last 10: 2.43 - Last year: 0
#102 Tamas Karai (HUN), Skoda Fabia - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
#87 Jean Baptiste Dubourg (FRA), Citroën C4 - Avg. last 10: 3.00 - Last year: N/A
#2 Ollie O’Donovan (IRL), Ford Fiesta VII - Avg. last 10: 2.67 - Last year: N/A
#8 Peter Hedström, (SWE), Skoda Fabia - Avg. last 10: 3.50 - Last year: 7
#47 Ramona Karlsson (SWE), VW Scirocco - Avg. last 10: 1.60 - Last year: N/A
#48 Lukas Walfridson (SWE), Renault Clio - Avg. last 10: 0.17 - Last year: 0
#14 Frode Holte (NOR), Hyundai i20 - Avg. last 10: 1.75 - Last year: 0
#12 Riku Tahko (FIN), Mini Countryman JCW WRX - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
#68 Ronny Scheveneels (BEL), VW Scirocco - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#67 Francois Duval (WorldRX) (BEL), Ford Focus - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#32 Ole Kristian Nøttveit (WorldRX) (NOR), Volvo C30 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
#49 Mark Flaherty (GBR) - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
*Unless stated, all independent drivers compete in the EuroRX finals.
All stats are WorldRX stats, as this is the first year to have separate finals.