Hell. That's where they've put the third round of the first World Rallycross Championship. It will be hot, flaming and maybe even painful. However there isn't any religion involved, just a Norwegian racetrack and a huge pack of rallycross devils!
Located in the middle part of Norway, Hell is just outside the small city Trondheim. Now you might remember that I'm from Norway, and might ask why I'm sitting here and not going. Well. There's an eight hour drive, and I have exams this week. I am planning to go to Sweden though. The track in Hell might be one of the tracks in this championship with the most elevation changes. Even though it still is a short rallycross track at 1019 meters, it is wider with 15 metres. As we've seen before the joker lap is right after the start, enabling the field to split up before the first corner. There is 63 % tarmac and 37 % gravel.
Since rallycross has a huge following and immense popularity in Norway, there will be a lot of wildcard drivers and of course a huge crowd following championship leader Andreas Bakkerud, the Solberg brothers and all the other Norwegians. And guess what: Ken Block enters as well. Lets take a look at the entry list:
- 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
- 7: Emil Öhman (SWE) - Citroën DS3
- 8: Peter Hedström (SWE) - Skoda Fabia
- 10: Mattias Ekström (SWE), EKS - Audi S1
- 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
- 30: Morten Bermingrud (NOR) - Citroën C4
- 31: Tore Kristoffersen (NOR) - Ford Fiesta
- 32: Ole-Kristian Nøttveit (NOR) - Volvo C30
- 33: Liam Doran (GBR), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 35: Ole Håbjørg (NOR) - Renault Clio
- 36: Stein Egil Jenssen (NOR) - Ford Focus
- 37: Pavel Koutny (CZE) - Ford Fiesta
- 39: Åke Holtet (NOR) - Ford Fiesta
- 43: Ken Block (USA), Hoonigan Racing Division - Ford Fiesta ST
- 44: Krzysztof Skorupski (POL), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 47: Ramona Karlsson (SWE), Per Eklund Motorsport - Saab 9-3
- 48: Lukas Walfridson (SWE), Helmia Motorsport - Renault Clio
- 54: Jos Jansen (BEL) - Ford Focus
- 57: Toomas Heikkinen (FIN), Marklund Motorsport - VW Polo
- 66: Derek Tohill (IRL), LD Motorsports - Citroën DS3
- 73: Daniel Holten (NOR), OlsbergsMSE - Ford Fiesta ST
- 74: Jérôme Grosset-Janin (FRA) - Renault Clio
- 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
Most of them are already described in the mega guide and in other previews, but some are new:
Morten Bermingrud: Those of you that have followed rallycross for a few years will recognize this name. He is one of the veterans of the sport, and having won several rounds in the old European championship he might be one to watch out for this weekend in his Citroën C4
Tore Kristoffersen: Another Norwegian veteran driver that is going to drive three rounds this year in a Ford Fiesta, Norway, Finland and Sweden. He is a local, so he probably knows this track better than most of the fleet. His goal is to get to the semifinal, but says it will be hard with so many competitors.
Ole-Kristian Nøttveit: Another Norwegian with experience from European rallycross. Not as good as the two above, but could cause some hawok in the heats with his Volvo C30.
Ole Håbjørg: We're never going to run out of Norwegian wildcard drivers. Håbjørg will drive the old Renault Clio of Mats Lysen, a car that has proved winning pace before. Håbjørg might not be a better driver, but it will be interesting to see the veteran this weekend.
Stein Egil Jenssen: We've seen Jenssen in European rallycross several times before, but he hasn't been as fast as a lot of his compatriots. Will drive in Hell with a Ford Focus.
Åke Holtet: This Norwegian isn't related to Frode Holte, but has a long career in national motorsports, as well as some European rounds. He will drive a Ford Fiesta in Hell.
Ken Block: Finally someone that's not Norwegian! Block might be the best known rally/rallycross/gymkhana driver in the USA, and now he's taking a break from GRC to make a wildcard appearance in WorldRX. It will be interesting to see his pace compared to the best European drivers, and he might get into the fight for a semifinal spot here.
Daniel Holten: Appearing in the RX Lites support cathegory in the first two rounds this year, Holten steps up to supercars for his home round. He's not new to the more powerful cars though, and might be a competitior for a semifinal here.
In other news Jacques Villeneuve is back after not winning the Indy500 last time, and DTM Champion Mattias Ekström makes his debut this year along with Pontus Tidemand. Robin Larsson surprised everyone at Lydden Hill in his Audi A1, so it will be interesting to see how the EKS team will do. A lot of the EuroRX drivers had some misfortune at Lydden, so I'll watch out for some of those as well this time around. Have a bad heat here, and you're out of the semis.. Andreas Bakkerud is working on his mustache right now (since he's leading the championship), and that might be one of the most interesting things to see this weekend. Petter Solberg is second in the championship so far, and would want to take back the lead after the round in Hell.
You can watch the action on Livestream and British Eurosport on Sunday from 13:00 GMT, starting with a summary of the heats and semifinals and final going live. I will edit in links as soon as I get them.
Last year Liam Doran won, with Timur Timerzyanov in second and Davy Janney in third. Janney doesn't enter this year, and both Timerzyanov and Doran have struggled this season. Will Hell be the round where they could turn their season around? Doran looked fast in X-Games recently, but this is another level of competition..
As you don't get to see much of the track in that video, please take a look at the final from 2012, when Tanner Foust won ahead of Liam Doran and Timur Timerzyanov.