In front of last weekend, I said that out of all the iconic events, Lydden Hill was the one I looked the most forward to. And it didn’t disappoint at all, this is by far the best racing we’ve seen in WorldRX so far this season.
With 30 drivers competing for the top 12 spots, we all knew it would be a scramble to get to the semifinals. In fact, things got so tight that all of the Marklund Motorsport drivers were out of the race before the semifinals! That hasn’t happened in a long, long time. Also quite off the pace this weekend was Timur Timerzyanov and Liam Doran, both scoring zero points. Alx Danielsson surprised everyone with great pace on saturday, but got surprised himself when rolling in open practice Sunday morning. What looked like a safe spot in the semifinal, turned into work for the mechanics.
More lucky was Peugeot-Hansen, who managed to get three out of four drivers in the semifinals. The best one was wildcard driver Andrew Jordan, who had set a stunning heatwinning pace in H3. Guy Wilks and JRM Mini also surprised with good racing from the former rally man, qualifying in eight position. Give this man money so he can enter more rounds! Qualifying in top position was Petter Solberg, of course. He was followed by his main rivals, Mattias Ekström and Johan Kristoffersson.
The most exciting part of the semifinals was Guy Wilks battling with Davy Jeanney over the last spot in the final. Both Wilks and Jeanney had proven their passing skills earlier in the weekend, and at one point they passed each other in the same corner! Wilks’ more sideways, rally inspired driving style seemed to suit the Mini well, and made passing harder for Jeanney. That means a spot in the final for Wilks!
Lydden Hill is one of the tracks where the joker lap is right after the start straight, meaning that your starting position pretty much decides if you should joker or not. Starting on the left means normal lap, right means joker lap. There was no surprises then, as Solberg, Kristoffersson and Nitiss went to the standard lap and Ekström, Bakkerud and Wilks went to the joker lap. Sadly, most of the fun was over for Wilks after just two laps, as he got a puncture on his left front tire.
Soon it was clear that this was going to be a battle between the two legends in this field, Solberg and Ekström. Waiting until the last lap with the joker, Solberg was building up the tension. The joker exit was drenched in the mud you normally see in Wales Rally GB, and it was unclear what was the fastest line. Out of the joker Solberg and Ekström were side by side, but somehow Petter found the grip to accellerate past, and into the lead. With just a few corners left, he was able to defend his lead, take his second win of the year, as well as a having second perfect score!
1. Petter Solberg, 04:25.064
2. Mattias Ekström, 04:25.405
3. Johan Kristoffersson, 04:27.692
4. Andreas Bakkerud, 04:27.940
5. Reinis Nitiss, 04:29.298
6. Guy Wilks, DNF
30 points means Solberg extends his lead in the championship, while Kristoffersson remains in second. With his fourth final this year, Andreas Bakkerud jumps up to third overall.
TOP 10 WORLDRX:
1. Petter Solberg, 112
2. Johan Kristoffersson, 83
3. Andreas Bakkerud, 77
4. Timmy Hansen, 63
5. Reinis Nitiss, 61
6. Mattias Ekström, 59
= Toomas Heikkinen, 59
8. Per-Gunnar Andersson, 47
= Davy Jeanney, 47
10. Robin Larsson, 34
Most of us picked both Mattias, Petter and Johan this time (what kind of idiot wouldn’t??), but also a lot were surprised by the lacking performance by Foust and Heikkinen. Still, all picked drivers scored points, so that’s a good thing. Who won? Well we have three winners this time, all on 115 points. GiuRX, Sliding-Sideways and Dusty all chose the same drivers, and have to share the win. Overall standings are shown to the left, with details availible here.
The next round of the WorldRX is June 19-21, with rounds of both Global Rallycross and WRC inbetween! See you then!