The World Rallycross Championship continued this last weekend with the festival event of the year in Höljes, and while this series has been entertaining to watch so far, Höljes has to be the highlight. 35000 spectators, sunshine and a record entry set a perfect stage for a party I'll never forget!
Because Höljes is as much a party as a motorsport event. Most people got there on Wednesday or Thursday, and when me and my friends got there on Friday we had to settle with whatever spot we could find. The track was surrounded with Swedes and Norwegians with tents, caravans, buses and Volvo's filled with huge soundsystems. You could even find representants from the Raggar-culture. Some caravans didn't survive though, as you might tell by the picture below.
Even the drivers took the opportunity to join the party. Like when Henning Solberg joined Norwegian country singer Rune Rudberg on the stage to sing, while Tommy Rustad and Tord Linnerud was a part of the crowd. The paddock was filled with people even in late night, with crowds visiting each tent. There's absolutely no problem to get in touch with the drivers, and everyone was in a good mood despite variable results.
And it seemed like most of the drivers found another gear this weekend. The track in Höljes is challenging with two jumps, lots of switching between gravel and asphalt, a banked corner and a sixth gear straight. After the heats it seemed like two drivers were to fight for the win here: Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg. It was clear from a spectators view that these two had more speed than everyone else. Earning pole position in each semifinal meant that they had the opportunity to both get on front row.
But as we've seen earlier, wildcards are a huge part of the WorldRX. Sebastian Eriksson has been racing in GRC Lites and the Swedish Junior Rallycross, but stepped up to the highest class this weekend. In fact he stepped up so much that he got into the semifinal together with Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Topi Heikkinen, Timmy Hansen and Tord Linnerud. I have to say that it's impressive stuff by Linnerud to get into the semifinal here, but an engine failure meant a DNF from the Norwegian metal recycler. Timmy Hansen was also unable to finish with what seemed like a broken turbo. Surprisingly Eriksson took the start in the semifinal, and even more surprising was the fact that Solberg followed him around the track without taking the joker. Bakkerud took the joker in the first lap, which meant an open track ahead of him. Since he was a lot faster, Bakkerud won the heat in front of Eriksson and Solberg.
The other semifinal was pretty much Ekström staying out of trouble while being fast, and a huge scramble by the other drivers Timur Timerzyanov, Pontus Tidemand, Daniel Holten, Liam Doran and Reinis Nitiss. Several mistakes by most of the drivers made the race behind Ekström very exciting, with Nitiss and Doran following to the final.
The final might be one of the most intense in rallycross history. Sebastian Eriksson took an early lead, with Ekström following. Bakkerud and Doran both went into the joker, and Solberg had to change his mind in the last second. The following laps Solberg caught up with Ekström and Eriksson, before Ekström jokered. Eriksson then broke his front suspension and went into the joker. Solberg tried to change his mind again, but it was too late and he could only follow Eriksson. Desperately trying to pass Eriksson he touched him and got a puncture. Bakkerud, who also got a puncture still managed to pass Solberg after Eriksson had spun in the first corner. Meanwhile, Ekström was far out in front, taking the win! Bakkerud finished second, with Solberg on third.
- Mattias Ekström 04:29.881
- Andreas Bakkerud +10.442
- Petter Solberg +11.126
- Reinis Nitiss +11.193
- Liam Doran +15.312
- Sebastian Eriksson +28.165
Which doesn't affect the overall championship rankings too much, but due to a better intermediate result Petter Solberg got back past Andreas Bakkerud, with Reinis Nitiss still leading. Almost halfway through the championship it looks like it will be between these three guys. Let's just say it's good to be Norwegian!
- Reinis Nitiss, 112
- Petter Solberg, 103
- Andreas Bakkerud, 99
- Toomas Heikkinen, 88
- Anton Marklund, 64
- Timur Timerzyanov, 64
- Timmy Hansen, 59
- Tanner Foust, 42
- Mattias Ekström, 30
- Liam Doran, 26
The next event is already next weekend, and marks the halfway point of the season. Belgium is the last event for almost a month, before a trip to Canada restarts the season. It will be held on Circuit Jules Tacheny, a track that is new to everyone. Named after the Belgian motorcyclist Jules Tacheny, the track is usually used for normal racing. Therefore it will be interesting to see how they sort out the gravel parts needed for rallycross, as well as the joker lap.
Entry list Supercars:
- 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 A1
- 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
- 9: Michaël De Keersmaecker (BEL), De Bokkenrijders - VW Scirocco
- 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
- 14: Frode Holte (NOR) - Hyundai i20
- 15: Reinis Nitiss (LVA), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 17: Mats Öhman (SWE) - Citroën DS3
- 21: Bohdan Ludwiczak (POL) - Ford Fiesta
- 22: Koen Pauwels (BEL) - Ford Focus
- 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
- 33: Liam Doran (GBR), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 37: Pavel Koutny (CZE) - Ford Fiesta
- 47: Ramona Karlsson (SWE), Per Eklund Motorsport - Saab 9-3
- 48: Lukas Walfridsson (SWE), Helmia Motorsport - Renault Clio
- 52: Ole Christian Veiby (NOR), Kristofferson Motorsport - VW Polo
- 53: Johan Kristofferson (SWE), Kristofferson 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
- 67: Francois Duval (BEL), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 68: Ronny Scheveneels (BEL) - Skoda Fabia
- 70: Patrick Van Mechelen (BEL), OTRT - Ford Fiesta
- 74: Jérôme Grosset-Janin (FRA) - Renault Clio
- 79: Edward Sandström (SWE), EKS - Audi S1
- 88: Henning Solberg (NOR), Per Eklund Motorsport - Saab 9-3
- 92: Anton Marklund (SWE), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 99: Tord Linnerud (NOR), Helmia Motorsport - Renault Clio
*Alexander Hvaal raced his old car at Höljes, and I'm not sure if he will rejoin PSRX in Belgium or not.
**Andy Scott might still give his car to Jacques Villeneuve, following Villeneuves test crash earlier this year.
Most of these drivers are already described in the mega guide, but some of them are new. Michaël De Keersmaecker has raced in European rallycross for a long time, but after a big crash in Hungary last year he focused on getting a ride this year. De Keersmaecker will race in the VW Scirocco of Jochen Coox in Mettet. Francois Duval might be the best known wildcard this weekend, with his outings in WRC for Ford and Citroën. Here he will join Marklund Motorsport, and get a car that is capable of winning events. It will be interesting to see how the former rally driver will tackle rallycross, and it would be fun to get him as a permanent driver.
Ronny Scheveenels is also a driver you should look out for. The former division 2 European Champion will drive a Skoda Fabia here, and it will be interesting to see how he will do this weekend. Patrick Van Mechelen is current champion of both the European Rallycross Challenge, the Dutch and the Belgian Championship. All of those uses the old rallycross format, and he looks upon this as a huge challenge since only 12 drivers go on to the semifinals. The last driver is Edward Sandström filling in for Mattias Ekström in the EKS team. Sandström is usually driving an Audi R8 in endurance racing, but has won the Scandinavian Porsche Carrera Cup and events in STCC before. Moving on to rallycross will be a challenge for sure, but he will drive the car that won the last event.
As usual, the event is broadcasted on livestream, with a summary of the heats and live finals. It will probably air around 14:30 CET as usual, but I can't say for sure yet. If you have any questions or predictions, be sure to comment below!