Montalegre in Portugal hosts the first round in a World Rallycross Championship ever. This coming weekend the long awaited action starts with a bang on one of the more open tracks of the season. With a length of 1520 meters and a width of 10 meters things can still get quite tight here.
The first round of the year is usually a bit early for some of the non-professional drivers, and since this round doesn't count in EuroRX the startlists are shorter that usual:
1: Timur Timerzyanov (RUS), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
3: Timmy Hansen (SWE), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
6: Alexandre Theuil (FRA) - Citroën DS3
11: Petter Solberg (NOR), Petter Solberg World RX Team - Citroën DS3
12: Alexander Hvaal (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
22: Koen Pauwels (BEL) - Ford Focus
25: Jacques Villeneuve (CDN), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
26: Andy Scott (GBR), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
33: Liam Doran (GBR), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
41: Joaquim Santos (PRT) - Ford Focus
44: Krzysztof Skorupski (POL), LD Motorsports, Citroën DS3
47: Ramona Karlsson (SWE), Per Eklund Motorsport - Saab 9-3
54: Jos Jansen (BEL) - Ford Focus
57: Toomas Heikkinen (FIN), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
66: Derek Tohill (IRL), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
92: Anton Marklund (SWE), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
Most of these drivers are already described in the mega guide, but some are new:
Alexandre Theuil: Alex Theuil is a former French champion, and with that in mind he should be a decent competitor in WorldRX with his Citroen DS3. He will drive in four of the EuroRX events, as well as Portugal and France.
Bohdan Ludwiczak: The experienced Pole will enter a full WorldRX in a Ford Fiesta. He's won the Polish rallycross championship twice, but that is over ten years ago.
Krzysztof Skorupski: Another Pole, but not as experienced as this is his debut year in the highest class in rallycross. Will drive a Citroen DS3 with LD Motorsports.
Koen Pauwels: This driver is also coming from a support class, with a few years in the touring car division where he is a Belgian champion. He drives a Ford Focus in WorldRX this year.
Joaquim Santos: The local driver of this event is former rally driver Joaquim Santos, known for the fatal accident in the 1986 Rallye de Portugal. As he's only a local driver for Portugal, he won't enter any more rounds.
This event gets live coverage on Sunday afternoon, with a summary of the heat sessions and then finals shown live. The broadcast starts at 14:00 GMT. British Eurosport or livestream is probably your best choice, a selection of streams will be availible here. Be sure to check out the RallycrossRX Youtube channel for updates after day 1, as well as their website.
So, what happened last year? Petter Solberg was still adapting to rallycross, but with impressive speed he got to the final despite losing a wheel in the semifinal. A jump start made a win impossible though, even if he was lightning quick. If you have a jump start, you have to do two laps in the joker instead of just one. Mats Lysen, the Norwegian talent that doesn't enter this season came second after a steady drive, and Liam Doran took his first win of the season. The rough driving style of Doran might fit this quick track, so look out for him this weekend.
You could also check out this clip from 2009 to get a better impression of how the track looks.