It’s a busy period for WorldRX now, with rounds every fortnight until mid-October. This weekend we have the event with the highest amount of spectators, Loheac in France. This is also a popular event for wildcard drivers, and in addition to the WorldRX regulars we find a WTCC champion, former WRC-drivers and the best from the French rallycross championship.
But before we turn our attention fully towards France, let’s take a recap of what happened in Hell last time around. With some of the best weather we’ve seen in Scandinavia since Höljes (weird how WorldRX brings summer to the cold north), conditions were perfect for the huge startgrid divided between WorldRX and EuroRX.
Capitalizing on the dry and good conditions was Timmy Hansen, who topped the intermediate standings the second time in a row, just ahead of Petter Solberg and teammate Davy Jeanney. The biggest surprise of the weekend was perhaps the absence of Topi Heikkinen from the semifinals, even though it’s the third time that happens this year. Liam Doran also had a troubled weekend (again), and Tord Linnerud also unable to get a good result (again). Johan Kristoffersson qualified in sixth, but was late to the pre-grid. That allowed PG Andersson into the semifinal instead.
Semifinal 1 was won by Timmy Hansen in dominant fashion ahead of Jeanney, with Robin Larsson also coming through to the final from the back row. The Swedish independent driver found a gap where he could pass Marklund and kept a steady pace through the race, probably his best performance so far this year. The real action came in semifinal 2 though, where home favourites Petter Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud were up against each other. Solberg had a perfect start, with Bakkerud and Alx Danielsson chasing. Meanwhile PG Andersson did a brilliant joker lap, overtaking both Mattias Ekström and Timur Timerzyanov at the same corner. Down at the bottom of the hill Andreas Bakkerud got up the inside of Petter Solberg, who also ran wide and allowed both Bakkerud and Danielsson to pass. In a desperate move, Solberg goes to the joker lap and falls between Ekström and Timerzyanov. Trying to pass Solberg, Timerzyanov drives up the back of the Citroën (!) and nearly rolls. Solbergs car is now so damaged that a semifinal spot is out of the question.
Up front, Danielsson is chasing a limping Andreas Bakkerud, which has a front left puncture after taking too much curb. He manages to pass in turn 2 where Bakkerud runs wide, damaging the front suspension even more. Meanwhile, Timerzyanov drives up the back of Mattias Ekström, inducing a complete rollover and damaging Ekströms Audi in the process. PG Andersson is the only driver to finish the race without incidents, earning a spot on the front row! Danielsson is second, and Timerzyanov limps through in third. This is the first time this year that Andreas Bakkerud misses a final, and only the second time ever that Petter Solberg doesn’t qualify for one.
In EuroRX, Tommy Rustad was once again top qualifier, and a dominant display in both the semifinal and the final earned him his second win this season. He’s also now leading the championship ahead of the two last rounds in Spain and Italy. Joni-Pekka Rajala and Janis Baumanis completed the podium, with Jerome Grosset-Janin just missing out.
With three of the big guns crashing out in semifinal 2, Timmy Hansen and Davy Jeanney had an easier task than expected in front of the final. With Timur Timerzyanov in a battered Ford Fiesta, Alx Danielsson in his first ever final and PG Andersson who qualified 13th, the final grid was more a result of who could stay out of trouble than pace alone. The result is a double victory for Peugeot-Hansen, with Robin Larsson getting his first podium of the year as well.
1. Timmy Hansen, 4:02.645
2. Davy Jeanney, 4:06.320
3. Robin Larsson, 4:09.172
4. Alx Danielsson, 4:10.427
5. PG Andersson, DNF
6. Timur Timerzyanov, DNF
With the win and a perfect score, Timmy Hansen moves up to second in the championship. Petter Solberg still has a gigantic lead of 41 points, but that can shrink fast if he has to use another engine and his bad form continues. Davy Jeanney also moves past Johan Kristoffersson, making it three drivers inside 5 points in the fight for third. Top 10 below.
1. Petter Solberg, 193
2. Timmy Hansen, 152
3. Andreas Bakkerud, 140
4. Davy Jeanney, 139
5. Johan Kristoffersson, 135
6. Reinis Nitiss, 122
7. Mattias Ekström, 118
8. Topi Heikkinen, 95
9. PG Andersson, 63
10. Robin Larsson, 62
In our fantasy game GiuRX decided to pick EuroRX drivers only, but had bad luck with Veiby and Walfridsson. Picking both Grosset Janin and Rustad still earned him 86 points and a third place. Wildcard entrant Dusty Ventures picked mostly WorldRX drivers, but found a spot for James Grint who actually did decent this time. Having only one driver to score over 20 points means it’s only 91 points (but second place!) for Dusty. That means this is one of those rare occassions where I have a dominant victory, with Hansen and Rustad two of the reasons why I got 127 points! The championship lead is also mine, but only three points ahead of Giu. AntMic’s late entry would’ve scored 94 points, but was put up after the final. Better luck next time!
After a rather long recap, let’s take a look at the next round! Loheac is located in the Bretagne region of France, just outside Rennes. Dubbed “The Temple of Rallycross”, the circuit is designed with the spectator in mind, with a perfect view of the track from almost anywhere around it. That’s probably why we see numbers reaching up to 80 000, the highest in WorldRX. The track consists of rough tarmac and hard packed gravel, making it an event where tire management is important. Don’t be fooled by the 34 % tarmac 66 % gravel distribution, because the gravel gives more grip here than on any other event. The track seems to favour drivers with a background in racing, but Petter Solberg won here last year beating Timmy Hansen in the final. The fastest laptime was set by Ken Block (!), with 0:36.948. The track is short, with few spots to pass, so the start and first corner is critical here. The joker is also on the long side, so perfecting that is crucial for a good result.
Since rallycross (and motorsport in general) is huge in France, we have a large entry here as well. Most notable is the guest driver in Albatec Racing, four time WTCC champion Yvan Muller. He’s making his rallycross debut here in France, seemingly curious about this championship and hinting towards more outings if things go well here. The closest he’s been to rallycross before is some rallying, but without scoring any points in the WRC. Joining him is EuroRX contender Jerome Grosset-Janin, who could also fight for a semifinal spot here.
Back for more WorldRX is JRM Racing as well, bringing Guy Wilks and debutant Guerlain Chicherit. Guy Wilks has the best result from a Mini so far this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can find the same pace as he had at Lydden Hill. Chicherit has mostly been doing desert rallying, and was also the first person to do an unassisted backflip in a car. I have no idea how he will do with other cars around him, but no better place to make a debut than your home event?
The familiar names of Jonathan and Fabien Pailler also returns for their home round, and joining them is former WRC-driver François Duval. Duval did really well in EuroRX at his home round in Belgium, but faces stronger competition here. I think any of the Pailler drivers will be extremely happy if they score points here.
Returning for his second event in a row is Henning Solberg, once again in an OlsbergsMSE Fiesta. The semifinal spot in Hell was promising from Henning, and in this kind of machinery he might pull it off again. Among the independents we find British Rallycross regular Kevin Procter, where he’s currently fifth in the standings so far this season. Gaëtan Serazin is a regular in the French championship, and actually got to a semifinal here last year in his Peugeot 208. Lebanese rallydriver Nabil Karam also returns, but I doubt that the veteran will do any better this time around. Steven Bossard is a former winner of the French S1600 championship, but has done more crosscart recently. His facebook page states that the supercar drive didn’t go through as planned, but the message was posted before the entry list came out so it might have changed. Former French champion Marc Laboulle is also on the entry list for the first time since Lydden Hill, and we also find EuroRX regulars JB Dubourg and Tamas Karai on the entry list. French Championship regulars also includes Laurent Bouliou, Gilles Franco, Fabien Chanoine, “Knapick”. Perhaps the most interesting entry is David Olivier in a Renault Logan without a turbo! It has a 3.5 V6 sourced from Renault (Espace/Vel Satis engine I guess) with 455 hp, and a similar kind of sequential gearbox as the other rallycross supercars. I have no idea how or if that will keep up with the rest of the supercars, but it’s a creative take on rallycross! Apparently it has been decent in the French championship..
A usual the event is broadcasted on livestream, on Sunday 14:00 CET. 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’m yet to find anything, but I’ll let you know when I do! 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: 23.80 - Last year: 29
#33 Liam Doran (GBR) - Avg. last 10: 4.50 - Last year: N/A
VOLKSWAGEN TEAM SWEDEN - VOLKSWAGEN POLO
#3 Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 16.80 - Last year: N/A
#99 Tord Linnerud (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 4.90 - Last year: N/A
WORLDRX TEAM AUSTRIA - FORD FIESTA
#7 Manfred Stohl (AUT) - Avg. last 10: 7.22 - Last year: N/A
#31 Max Pucher (AUT) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
EKSRX - AUDI S1
#10 Mattias Ekström (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 17.30 - Last year: N/A
#92 Anton Marklund (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 7.60 - Last year: 12
OLSBERGSMSE - FORD FIESTA ST
#13 Andreas Bakkerud (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 18.60 - Last year: 12
#15 Reinis Nitiss (LVA) - Avg. last 10: 16.80 - Last year: 23
#42 Timur Timerzyanov (RUS) - Avg. last 10: 7.80 - Last year: 17
#88 Henning Solberg (NOR) - Avg. last 10: 5.20 - Last year: 0
TEAM PEUGEOT-HANSEN - PEUGEOT 208
#17 Davy Jeanney (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 14.10 - Last year: 4
#21 Timmy Hansen (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 19.70 - Last year: 25
PAILLER MOTORSPORT - PEUGEOT 208
#18 Jonathan Pailler (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#20 Fabien Pailler (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 2.50 - Last year: 0
#67 François Duval (BEL) - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
JRM RACING - MINI COUNTRYMAN RX
#37 Guy Wilks (GBR) - Avg. last 10: 14.00 - Last year: N/A
#65 Guerlain Chicherit (FRA) - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
MARKLUND MOTORSPORT - VOLKSWAGEN POLO
#45 PG Andersson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 7.89 - Last year: N/A
#57 Topi Heikkinen (FIN) - Avg. last 10: 14.00 - Last year: 11
ALL-INKL.COM MÜNNICH MOTORSPORT - AUDI S3
#55 Alx Danielsson (SWE) - Avg. last 10: 2.14 - Last year: N/A
#77 Rene Münnich (DEU) - Avg. last 10: 0.60 - Last year: N/A
ALBATEC RACING - PEUGEOT 208
#74 Jerome Grosset-Janin (FRA) - Avg. last 10: 4.50 - Last year: 12
#168 Yvan Muller (FRA) - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
SINGLE CAR TEAMS AND INDEPENDENTS:
#4 Robin Larsson (SWE), Audi A1 - Avg. last 10: 9.60 - Last year: N/A
#50 Kevin Procter (GBR), Ford Fiesta - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
#56 Gilles Franco (FRA), Peugeot 208 - Avg last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#62 Gaëtan Serazin (FRA), Peugeot 208 - Avg. last 10: 7.00 - Last year: 7
#64 Nabil Karam (LBN), Citroën DS3 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#69 Steven Bossard (FRA), Citroën DS3 - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#71 Marc Laboulle (FRA), Citroën C4 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#78 Laurent Bouliou (FRA), Peugeot 207 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#84 Herve “Knapick” Lemonnier (FRA), Citroën DS3 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year:
#85 David Olivier (FRA), Renault Logan - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#87 Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (FRA), Citroën C4 - Avg. last 10: 2.00 - Last year: 2
#89 Fabien Chanoine (FRA), Renault Clio - Avg. last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#102 Tamas Karai (HUN), Audi A1 - Avg. last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A