The FIA World Rallycross Championship is in another busy period as we see two racing weekends in a row for the first time since July. Therefore we have to take a look at both what happened this last weekend in Germany and what we could expect at the new track in Italy.
And a lot happened in Germany. The first corner proved to be tricky this year as well, and with variable weather conditions this was a weekend where you'd have to be in top form all the time to get a good result. 41 supercars entered, which meant that getting to a semifinal would be harder than ever before. Anton Marklund and Reinis Nitiss both placed outside the top 12, a result that might decide championships.
Because several drivers also had a good weekend in Buxtehude. Ex-touringcar driver Tommy Rustad found a semifinal spot for the first time this weekend, and so did Frode Holte in Sverre Isachsens old car. With Mattias Ekström also placing second after the heats, and the sensation from the Belgium round Johan Kristofferson in sixth there was no place left in the semifinals.
The overall heat win was taken by current European champion Timur Timerzyanov, though without completely dominating the event. This showed in his semifinal, where a bad run through the first corner saw him drop to the last place behind Peter Hedström and Andreas Bakkerud. His teammate Timmy Hansen was a bit more lucky, and got third behind Pontus Tidemand and Petter Solberg. Solberg had a bad start, but the havoc in the first corner saw him sneak past all the others on the inside taking the pole position in the final.
A driver that had also been impressing this weekend was Robin Larsson. The Swede surprised everyone with his podium spot at Lydden Hill earlier this year, and took the semifinal win in front of Mattias Ekström who settled for second. Topi Heikkinen took third place and the last spot in the final. Tommy Rustad, Frode Holte and Johan Kristofferson were involved in several incidents and couldn't challenge for a spot in the final.
So. The final. It was completely bonkers. Well first of all the start of it went like most of the other races this weekend, with a close battle in the first corner. Robin Larsson once again had a great start and got followed through the first corner by Solberg. The EKS Audis both went a bit wide along with Timmy Hansen. So, a two car race between Larsson and Solberg as the track got more and more rutted during the race. Then suddenly Larsson runs a bit wide and Solberg finds the gap. After a bit of contact Larsson goes in the joker, leaving Solberg with clear track ahead of him.
Though his DS3 doesn't work properly, and it is evident that he is losing time to the chasing pack behind. At the last lap it's anyones guess who will win, as Solberg is the only driver that hasn't been in the joker yet. With the joker exit right before the finish line there are no time to make up for mistakes. The Audi and the Citroen comes from each lane towards the line. At the same time, it appears. The timing shows that Solberg is ahead though, but only just. Five thousands of a second is the smallest winning margin in the history of the sport!
- Petter Solberg - 03:52.115
- Mattias Ekström +0.005
- Robin Larsson +2.354
- Pontus Tidemand +3.669
- Toomas Heikkinen +4.150
- Timmy Hansen +5.423
A result that of course means that Petter Solberg extends his lead in the overall championship. A good result by Topi Heikkinen means that he is the main challenger now, so him and Reinis Nitiss still have a chance with good results. Solberg could still seal up the championship early after his three recent wins.
- Petter Solberg, 212
- Toomas Heikkinen, 160
- Reinis Nitiss, 158
- Andreas Bakkerud, 136
- Timur Timerzyanov, 128
- Anton Marklund, 124
- Timmy Hansen, 122
- Pontus Tidemand, 78
- Robin Larsson, 63
- Mattias Ekström, 55
Now, let's move on to Italy! The Franciacorta circuit has been modified for rallycross with the help of former WRC-driver Gigi Galli, which will also enter this round. This round marks the end of the European championship and the third last event of the World Championship, and maybe the last event with huge entries for this year.
The Franciacorta circuit lies in the Northern part of Italy, close to Brescia and right between Milano and Verona. It is an area known for wine production, but they also do motorsport here. The modifications to the circuit has turned it into a rallycross track with a length of 1390 metres with 60 % tarmac and 40 % dirt. The track is new to everyone, something that might bring different results.
- 1: Timur Timerzyanov (RUS), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
- 3: Timmy Hansen (SWE), Team Peugeot-Hansen - Peugeot 208
- 4: Robin Larsson (SWE), Bergs Fegen - Audi S1
- 5: Pontus Tidemand (SWE), EKS - Audi S1
- 6: Alexandre Theuil (FRA) - Citroën DS3
- 7: Emil Öhman (SWE) - Citroën DS3
- 8: Peter Hedström (SWE), Hedström Motorsport - Skoda Fabia
- 11: Petter Solberg (NOR), Petter Solberg World RX Team - Citroën DS3
- 13: Andreas Bakkerud (NOR), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 14: Frode Holte (NOR), Frode Holte Motorsport - Hyundai i20*
- 15: Reinis Nitiss (LVA), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 17: Mats Öhman (SWE) - Citroën DS3
- 21: Bohdan Ludwiczak (POL) - Ford Fiesta
- 24: Tommy Rustad (NOR), HTB Racing - Volvo C30
- 25: Jacques Villeneuve (CAN), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
- 26: Andy Scott (GBR), Albatec Racing - Peugeot 208
- 27: Davy Jeanney (FRA), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 30: Morten Bermingrud (NOR) - Citroën C4
- 31: Tore Kristoffersen (NOR) - Ford Fiesta
- 37: Pavel Koutny (CZE), Czech National Team - Ford Fiesta
- 46: Christian Giarolo (ITA) - Ford Focus
- 48: Lukas Walfridson (SWE), Helmia Motorsport - Renault Clio
- 49: Rene Münnich (DEU) - Audi S3
- 53: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Kristoffersson Motorsport - VW Polo
- 54: Jos Jansen (BEL) - Ford Focus
- 57: Toomas Heikkinen (FIN), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 63: Roman Stepanenko (RUS), TT Motorsport - Citroën C4
- 66: Derek Tohill (IRL), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 74: Jerome Grosset-Janin (FRA) - Renault Clio
- 79: Edward Sandström (SWE), EKS - Audi S1
- 88: Henning Solberg (NOR), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 92: Anton Marklund (SWE), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 95: Simone Romagna (ITA), Petter Solberg World RX Team - Citroën DS3
- 99: Tord Linnerud (NOR), Helmia Motorsport - Renault Clio
- 102: Tamas Karai (HUN), Racing-Com Kft. - Skoda Fabia
- 103: Erwin Untersalmberger (ITA) - Ford Fiesta
- 104: Attila Mozer (HUN), Nyirad Motorsport Kft. - Skoda Fabia
- 105: Linus Westman (SWE), Eklund Motorsport - Saab 9-3
- 111: Rickard Göransson (SWE), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 125: Gigi Galli (ITA), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
*Frode Holte drove the old Ford Focus of Sverre Isachsen in Germany, but it is unknown if he will return to the i20 or not.
**Mats Öhman drove a Volvo S40 in Germany, and might drive that in Italy as well
As mentioned, Gigi Galli will enter here in Italy with an OlsbergsMSE Fiesta. With a top car, track knowledge and fighting spirit he will be a true competitor this time around. Also joining OlsbergsMSE is Rickard Göransson. The Swede is triple Swedish Touringcar Champion, and has entered the WRC round of Sweden in the past with varying results. Jacques Villeneuve is back in the Albatec Peugeot after commentating F1, and Edward Sandström will drive the Audi S1 of Mattias Ekström. Pavel Koutny is also back after a break from WorldRX, as well as Roman Stepanenko.
The first new name on the list is Christian Giarolo. The Italian has experience from rallycross and autocross, and has entered the European Championship before. He might surprise in his Focus, but most likely outside the points this time. Tamas Karai is an experienced rallycross driver as well, but the Hungarian will also struggle in his aging Skoda Fabia here in Italy
Erwin Untersalmberger has a very long name, and also a decent career in local rally and rallycross. His Fiesta looks good, but I think it will be hard for him to get points here in Italy even as a home driver. Attila Mozer drives for a team with a well known name in European Rallycross. Niyrad, Hungary was home for one of the rounds last year, where Mozer also entered. There he actually got a spot in the semifinal, but it will be harder this time around. Finally, in Per Eklunds team, we have Linus Westman. The young Swede regularly drives for Hedström Motorsport in the Swedish championship, where he's got two silver medals. Young Swedes has impressed us earlier this season, and Linus might do so as well.
As always you can catch up on the action at Sunday 14:00 CET, with a recap of the heats and live finals. The livestream content evolves for each round, and the coverage gets better and better with no advertising or unnecessay delays.
If you have any questions regarding these past rounds or WorldRX in general, be sure to use the comments! Predictions are also allowed!