This new feature will provide a weekly round-up of the major news items and events taking place in rallycross. As a general rule we will publish mid-week and aim to offer an overview of the previous seven days as well as appropriate links for you to find more information if you want. To start with, we’ll go back just a little longer than seven days and pick up on some national championship action, as well as the death of one of the leading figures in rallycross in Belgium.
The most noise in the last couple of weeks has come from Foz do Iguacu in Brazil where the X Games began its 2013 season. The rallycross element of the event drew drivers from Global Rallycross and the FIA European Rallycross Championship, additional star performers announced in the lead up to the event included Scott Speed who is the first occupant of the newly introduced ‘Star Car’. Former F1 racer Speed who has now returned to the US where he raced in Craftsman Trucks and NASCAR Sprint Cup drove the Ford Fiesta Star Car that will be run in events by OMSE2, a newly formed satellite of the Ford-backed OMSE squad. Joining Speed in the entry was another ex-F1 racer Nelson Piquet Jnr while Swedish rally driver Patrick Sandell has found a berth at OMSE and former Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice drove a Marklund Motorsport VW Polo. They joined X Games regulars Ken Block and Travis Pastrana in the event for which an 800-metre track that was almost all dirt, had been created. Broadcast by ESPN the event had a dramatic conclusion. A crash at the start of the final left Block, Pastrana and Tanner Foust out of the running and in the re-run Speed made a last lap pass on Toomas Heikkinen to snatch the win. “It feels unbelievable to win here in Brazil,” said Speed, whose versatility behind the wheel has seen him compete in Formula 1 and NASCAR. “I can’t say how happy I am for my team and the OlsbergsMSE guys that put in all the effort. This was such a new thing for me, so I didn’t know what to expect. To come out here and win is just great. It was a hard race, I definitely got bumped around, and I really thought it would be much easier racing. To win by taking the joker lap on the last corner to pull ahead is really spectacular.”
(L toR) Sandell, Speed and Heikkinen on the X Games podium. © Qnigan/RallycrossWorld.com
But while Speed revelled in glory there was a very different story from Block who was clearly unhappy, and not only with the way in which his event ended. “I came to this event really excited about competing and running my new Fiesta for the first time in competition,” said Block. “But the event ended up being a real disappointment. Myself, Travis [Pastrana] and Tanner [Foust] all got taken out in Turn 1 of the final, which sucks. Combine that with the fact that the track here in Foz is the absolute worst track I’ve ever raced on and it’s just been a tough weekend here in Brazil. I’m passionate about racing, especially in the X Games, and unfortunately this track didn’t maintain the level of quality that previous X Games rally courses had. I’m hopeful that it gets corrected and improved upon for our next stop in Barcelona.”
Back in Europe the Rallycross Challenge Europe has its first event at Melk in Austria. The entry lacked any real star quality and when Kevin Procter was forced out of the event with an early engine problem, Austrian Jurgen Weiss and Peter Ramler were left to take the top two places, chased home by Hungarian Peter Kotan – who drove an elderly Escort in this event. The Super1600 category was won by Klaus Freudenthaler (Skoda Fabia) and Belgian veteran Jos Sterkens was best of the TouringCar field with is Volvo C30.
Ahead of the French championship starting next month, multiple champion Jean-Luc Pailler has unveilved Pailler-Competition’s first new Peugeot 208. Destined to be raced by Fabien Pailler in the national series, Pailler senior is to give the car its debut in the FIA European Rallycross Championship event in Portugal this weekend (April 27-28). Also heading for the RallycrossRX counter with a new car, Rudolf Schafer has replaced in Citroen Saxo with a new Super1600 DS3 built in conjunction with Da Luz Developpement.
New DS3 for Rudolf Schafer’s RallycrossRX debut. © Schafer/pics-motorsport.com/RallycrossWorld.com
Many national championships are now up and running, the Dutch series opening its 2013 season at the Eurocircuit on April 14. The event also counted as the third round of the Belgian championship and was won by Patrick Van Mechelen who is enjoying a great start to the year with the Ford Fiesta he bought from Jos Kuypers in the winter. Kuypers places second in the event with his new Focus III, Koen Pauwels placing third in his ex-Scott Focus II. Jos Sterkens takes the TouringCar honours with his Volvo C30 while Peter Van De Wege emerges as best of the Super1600 runners.
On the same day, the German ‘DRX‘ series has its first event of the year at the Gross Dolln Driving Centre near Berlin. All-Inkl.com/Munnich Motorsport recorded a one-two finish with team boss Rene Munnich leading home FIA GT1 world champion Marc Basseng. The team also celebrated success in the Super1600 category where Mandie August (Fabia II) takes victory.
Meanwhile the British championship moved to Mallory Park for its second event. The day was won by “Mad Mark” who passed round one winner Kevin Procter to take victory. Defending champion Julian Godfrey stopped when the bonnet on his Fiesta opened during the final (the result of a first lap collision with “Mad Mark”) and Andy Grant ended his day with technical problems. His Supercar shipped to Brazil for son Liam to drive in the X Games, Pat Doran got a seat in the Swift Sport Championship, which he promptly won! The Junior category of the British championship was won by Kevin Hansen.
Belgian rallycross has been in mourning after Andre Reul, president of the BRCV (Belgian Rallycross Association) died on April 12. Reul (79) had enjoyed a successful business career and had been the mayor of Maasmechelen in 1980-’82. His involvement in rallycross was strongest at the Duivelsbergcircuit near Maasmechelen where, together with Etienne Reuten, he had been the leading figure in the organisation and running of events for many years.
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