This weekend the World Rallycross Championship returns from summer break. The first event in the last half of the season is in fact in North America! It's in Canada though, at Trois Rivieres right between Montreal and Quebec. This is the first time a FIA rallycross event is held outside Europe, so this track hasn't been used for rallycross before.
Just like Mettet, in other words. That track proved to be tough, tight and well thought out. I'm sure Trois Rivieres will be much of the same, but also with new challenges. The track has hosted NASCAR, ALMS, Canadian Touring cars and various Formula series races. Of course, the gravel sections have to be brand new. The track will be one of the longer tracks this season, with 1315 metres and 41 % gravel.
Since we've moved over an entire ocean, the entry list is a bit shorter than usual. Mostly because the EuroRX crowd don't travel over here, and partly because there aren't a lot of rallycross supercars in America. There are some wildcard drivers though, in the entry list below:
- 1: Timur Timerzyanov (RUS), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
- 3: Timmy Hansen (SWE), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
- 11: Petter Solberg (NOR), Petter Solberg World RX Team - Citroën DS3
- 13: Andreas Bakkerud (NOR), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 15: Reinis Nitiss (LVA), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 21: Bohdan Ludwiczak (POL) - Ford Fiesta
- 25: Jacques Villeneuve (CAN), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
- 26: Andy Scott (GBR), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
- 27: Davy Jeanney (FRA), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 34: Tanner Foust (USA), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 54: Jos Jansen (BEL) - Ford Focus
- 57: Toomas Heikkinen (FIN), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 66: Derek Tohill (IRL), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 82: Patrick Carpentier (CAN), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 88: Henning Solberg (NOR), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 92: Anton Marklund (SWE), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 94: Joni Wiman (FIN), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 96: Sverre Isachsen (NOR), Subaru Rally Team USA - Subaru Impreza
- 97: Sten Oja (EST), Petter Solberg World RX Team - Citroën DS3
19 entries! Not bad when moving to a completely different continent, and more than the regular entry in GRC. As we've seen in Höljes and Mettet, Alexander Hvaal has pulled out of Petter Solbergs team. In his place is Sten Oja, a young Estonian who has already won his national championship and a regional championship in Europe. He will then drive the same car as Hvaal drove, and Petter drove last year. Oja has followed Petter as a mechanic this year, so I'm sure he knows the car as good as anyone else.
The older brother of Petter, Henning Solberg is also in Canada. You might see that he isn't in Per Eklunds team this time around, but in the LD Motorsports team and the car of Liam Doran. Hennings ability to adapt to new cars and rest on the sofa at home and then sit in the car and be fast makes him a real challenger here as well. Another challenger, and in fact a good friend of Henning Solberg is Sverre Isachsen. After winning three European championships in a row, the Norwegian turned his attention to the USA-based Global Rallycross Championship (GRC). Driving in the Subaru-team, Sverre has won a medal in X-games, as well as a few podium spots and clashes with Nelson Piquet Jr. There's no doubt that adapting to a new format and a new car combined with competing against unexperienced drivers has halted Isachsens performance, but things look better now. He's in my mind the wildcard to watch out for this weekend.
If you don't look at Tanner Foust as a wildcard, that is. Because the American has already won an event this season (in Finland), and is the driver with the best average score in WorldRX history. He returns with the Polo run by Marklund Motorsport, and will most certainly be in a semifinal here. Marklund Motorsport also enters the former NASCAR driver Patrick Carpentier. The Canadian usually comments WorldRX and NASCAR on Canadian television, but will give rallycross a go here in Canada. I still think Jacques Villeneuve will be the best Canadian here.
Joni Wiman will also enter in the third OlsbergsMSE car. The Finnish driver is gaining experience driving in GRC right now, and is coached by motorsport legend Marcus Grönholm. He might be a surprise here, although his GRC results aren't all that good.
Of course, since this is on another continent the times we're looking at is completely different than what we're used to. The American viewers don't have to get up early, but we Europeans have to stay up late. That might be why they've also moved the event from the weekend to Thursday and Friday, with the broadcast starting 01:30 CET on Saturday morning. That's right, stay up one and a half hour after midnight on Friday to watch rallycross. Perfectly normal, right? Well, as always you can watch it on livestream, and you can also watch it as a replay if you don't want to stay up late.
As always I'll be happy to answer any questions, and feel free to make your predictions in the comments.