Tanner Foust won the fourth round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Finland, the American only topped the leader board once all weekend, saving it until it counted in the final. Championship leader Timer Timerzyanov’s only blot on his copybook all weekend was a poor time in heat four, but this was solely down to the rain that thundered down for the final race in heat four, ironically penalising the fastest drivers. The Russian won his semi-final, again, and drove a strong race in the final to earn more important points.
Round three winner Timmy Hansen had a tough day stuck in traffic on Saturday, but a blinding race in heat four that included a new lap record meant he finished the Intermediate Classification to top. Second in his semi-final and third in the final were strong results from the Swede who still has little gravel experience compared to his rivals. A report of the Supercar final can be found here.
Petter Solberg could so easily have won, again, having been fast all weekend, rest assured when his first win does come, Hollywood will let his emotions do the talking. Aside from the steering failure in the final, Solberg’s only other problem during the weekend was a puncture in heat three. Liam Doran was fastest in heat one, great reward for his team who had worked hard to repair the Citroen DS3 after a big shunt in Hungary, the only time Doran was out of the top four all weekend was went the rain came in heat four. Andreas Bakkerud had his best Supercar weekend to date, the highlight of which leaving his highly illustrious compatriots in his heat four race in his wake, running away with the race win in the wet. He was ruled out a fighting for a good result in the final with a puncture. Toomass Heikkinen returned to the European championship for the first time since 2011. He was fast all weekend in his OMSE Ford Fiesta and looked like a dead-cert for the final, only to pick up a puncture in his semi-final. Davy Jeanney was another to be slowed by the rain in heat four, but would have again been in the final had a first corner squeeze in his semi-final not pitched the Frenchman into a spin. Anton Marklund again finished fourth in his semi-final, and just missing out on a final position. His time will come, although you could forgive the Swede for being frustrated on just missing out on a chance in the final. Knut Ove Borseth by his own admission had another frustrating weekend that ended with mechanical failure in the semi-final, having carried a series of small problems during the heats.
Ari Perkiomaki was the top Finnish driver aside from Heikkinen. The Ford Fiesta driver was clearly in the mood having won the first round of the Finnish Championship, and was consistently fast in the heats. When running with faster cars in his races he was by no means embarrassed, and could well have been higher up in his semi-final had the car not picked up a problem on the start line. Alexander Hvaal was unlucky in Finland. Badly held up in heat one by a local Finnish driver, putting him in a slow race for heat two, where he again got held up. His weekend looked to be turning around with fifth fastest in heat three, only to run in the rain in heat four, wrecking his chances. The Norwegian retired from the semi-final with mechanical troubles. Brain Deegan made his first visit to the European Championship in Finland, and found it to be a pleasurable experience. A puncture in heat one wasn’t a great start to his debut. Twelfth and eight fastest in heats two and three could have been a lot more but for slight inexperience on racing on a full blown rallycross track. A masterful performance in the penultimate race in heat four showed what the American can do, taking the win, but with the rain starting to fall the race time was slow and he missed the semi’s by just one place. Mats Lysen had a “terrible weekend”, getting drawn to run in the first group in heat one on a green track was compounded when his rear differential failed on the start line of heat two. Being slowed by first corner contact in heat three was enough to end any chance of a good result.
Toni Lukander made his European debut in a Per Eklund run Saab and drove the car with enthusiasm, although Stig-Olov Walfridson may have seen things differently following the pairs collision that ended with Walfridson hitting the barrier hard for the second event a row. Like team mate Lysen, the Swede had a torrid weekend, never seeming to be in his usual flowing groove. Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme didn’t have the event he had hoped for, some unusual mechanical problems for his Ford Focus were compounded by driveline failure in the fourth heat. Peter Hedstrom was his normal flamboyant self in his Skoda Fabia, the committed Swede highly entertaining to watch. His fourth heat ended when a stone damaged the auxiliary belt on his Skoda’s oil pump. Jos Jansen is another who tries hard and never fails to entertain, sideways at every opportunity in his Ford Focus throughout the event. Former Finnish event organiser Pekka Mustakallio drove his Mitsubishi Lancer to 21st position, of which he should be proud given the quality of the competition.
Andy Scott finished at the tail end of the field. The Scotsman was spun out of heat two, and although he did get going again set a poor time. Worse was to come, his Albatec Racing engineers inspecting his Peugeot overnight and discovering the signs of an engine problem. With his spare engine used up in Hungary the team had no choice but to withdraw from the event. Silvo Viitanan has visited a number of European events over the last few seasons, but had no luck at his home event, ripping a wheel off in heat two. His team fixed the Ford Fiesta overnight, only for a different problem to cause the wheel to again part company with the car in Sunday warm-up, ending his event.
For the second event in succession Latvian driver Reinis Nitiis won both the semi-final and final in his Set Promotion Renault Clio. He was joined on the front row of the grid for the final by team mate Ildar Rakhmatullin who was driving far more like his old self in Finland than in the previous events this season, and thoroughly deserved second place in the final. If he drives more frequently like his semi-final two form, an event victory will be just around the corner. Eric Faren continues to be one of the hardest trying drivers in the whole RallycrossRX field, and topped the Intermediate classification on Saturday night. Second in semi-final two and third in the final were good reward for a driver who has his eyes on the title, and currently sits third in the points after four events. Like Twingo partner Rakhmatullin, Timur Shigaboutdinov looked far more at ease in his newer Renault in Finland, and although didn’t have the pace to fight for the win was right in the mix in the final. Unusually for Ulrik Linnemann, the Dane didn’t set one fastest heat time in Finland, and was slowed on the last lap of heat four with a puncture on his Peugeot 207. He came off worse in the scrum for the first corner in the final, his challenge fading altogether in the latter stages with another puncture. Vadim Makarov topped the Intermediate Classification at the end of the qualifying heats, as ever the Russian driver plugging away somehow off the radar. Like Jeanney in Supercar, Makarov is rarely fastest, but is also rarely out of the top four times in the heats. He was denied a chance of a better result than last in the final when his Skoda refused to leave the start grid.
Joni Wiman made his first start of the year, piloting the Renault Clio that has so far been used by Kevin Eriksson to good effect this season. Fastest time in the fourth heat was the highlight of his weekend, the young Finn unable to consistently produce the blindingly fast speed he showed on his events in the class last season. Rasul Minnikhanov was more outpaced than usual by his more experienced rivals in Finland, the Renault Twingo driver around the bottom of the top ten in the heats and finishing fourth in semi-final two. Sergej Zagumennov had an eventful weekend that started with loosing out in the first corner of heat one, ending in the gravel trap. The Russian was again bashed in the first corner of heat three, before having a massive moment and spin out of the last corner in heat four. He was again dispatched into the gravel trap on the outside of the first corner in his semi-final, and although he continued, finished last. Ernestas Staponkus actually raced in Finland, having left the Hungarian event before it had even started. He didn’t give the impression of a man that was at ease however. He has more than proven his ability in the past, and the car is more than capable of a good job, once both click together he will be running far higher up than he is a present.
Siim Saluri normally competes in the NEZ, and showed well at his first ever Euro event, always hanging onto the coattails of experienced guys in the heats he set some competitive times, finishing fifth in semi-final one behind Wiman. Reinis Safonovs occasionally shows up at Euro rounds this side of the continent in his home built Polo, a technical problem in heat three causing him to pull off on the outside of the hairpin was the only blot on his copybook. Janno Ligur travelled from Estonia for the event but didn’t bring any good fortune with him. A DNF in heat one was followed by an engine fire in heat three that caused too much damage to repair on his Skoda Fabia.
TouringCar produced some intense racing throughout the weekend, with 2010 champion Derek Tohill fastest in all four qualifying heats. The Irish driver led the final from pole position at the first corner, followed by round three winner Daniel Lundh, having another good run in Finland. Skoda Fabia driver Robin Larsson, who suffered from a puncture in heat four, started third on the grid and passed Lundh halfway round the first lap, before making a move passed Tohill for the lead in the final corners of lap one. Czech driver Roman Castoral also passed Lundh on the third lap, while Larsson took his jokerlap and returned to the lead. Larsson looked to be home and dry, but started to slow on lap five with a sick sounding Skoda. Tohill made his move for the lead on the loose section of the Kouvola circuit, but the gap on the inside of Larsson closed, contact between the pair putting Larsson out all together and causing damage to the front of Tohill’s Fiesta. While that was going on, Castoral snuck through to take the lead and take his first victory of the season, Tohill bringing his car home second ahead of Lundh. Swedish Ford Fiesta driver Roger Enlund made the first of his annual appearances in the European Scandinavian events and finished fourth, ahead of local man Ville Rautianien who also raced a Ford Fiesta here.
David Nordgaard is yet to have any good luck in 2013, accident damage and punctures causing non-finishes in heats one and three, putting him out of a chance to fight in the final. Belgian racer Koen Pauwels blew the engine up in his Ford Fiesta in heat two on Saturday afternoon and elected not to change the unit to avoid the 15 point penalty for doing so. He will return next weekend in Norway.
William Nilsson took the spoils in JRX for the second event in a row, the young Swede continuing his 100% success record in his short rallycross career. Magda Andersson finished second with Kevin Hansen on the third step of the podium.
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