Dawn rose on a new era for the FIA European Rallycross Championship on Easter weekend at Lydden Hill in England, for round one of RallycrossRX.
The event was won by American driver Tanner Foust, repeating his performance of 12 months previous at the same event. Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme finished second in an amazing debut in the Supercar category for the former Super1600 competitor. Davy Jeanney had finished the first final of the year in third, but was later dropped to sixth due to a technical irregularity, moving rallycross newcomer Timmy Hansen into third. The Swede was the surprise of the event, topping the order at the end of day one, and the Intermediate Classification. Clutch problems caused a jump-start in the final, without which he may well have been fighting for victory in his first full-time rallycross start. British champion Julian Godfrey was classified fourth, an impressive result in itself, more so that he finished the final on tyres that were only fit for the bin. Reigning champion Timur Timerzyanov missed out on a chance of fighting for a podium position when his Citroen DS3 picked up a puncture in the final.
Petter Solberg started the season as he meant to go on, driving his newly finished Citroen in flamboyant style. The car still needed refining, but he drove it hard, eventually retiring from the semi-final with steering problems. The same could be said for local man Liam Doran, who also had a new DS3 finished just hours before the event. He had an up and down event but with obvious speed. A broken engine mount prevented him taking his place in the semi-finals. Doran’s new team-mate Andreas Bakkerud also had to retire after four heats with technical issues, as did Alexander Hvaal, who had suffered his second engine failure of the weekend. Anton Marklund led his semi-final in his first proper Supercar start, but retired at the end of the first lap when his steering wheel came loose, while Andy Scott was slowed with a puncture.
Liam Doran’s event at round two in Portugal started much like Lydden Hill, clutch problems in free practice caused him to miss heat one all together. Consistent times in the remaining heats got him on the grid for the semi-final, where he made a blistering start, which he repeated in the final to win the event. Mats Lysen made his first start of the season and finished second, driving his old Renault Clio ahead of Petter Solberg, who like Doran had a much better weekend in Portugal. A jump start in the final ruined his chances of taking victory. Fourth was Alexander Hvaal, only just loosing out to countryman Solberg for the last podium position. Davy Jeanney finished fifth, while Timur Timerzyanov again suffered a puncture in the final, his second in two events. Andreas Bakkerud put Lydden Hill behind him with fastest times in heats three and four, but mechanical troubles put him out of semi-final one. Stig-Olov Walfridsson finished fifth at the Intermediate Classification in his new five-cylinder Clio but would just miss out on progressing through the semi-final stages, as would fellow Swede Anton Marklund. Knut Ove Borseth made the semi-finals but engine failure in heat four gave his place to team-mate Peter Hedstrom. Timmy Hansen had a troubled weekend, learning the circuit in changing conditions on Saturday before being hit by an electrical problem on Sunday. Michael De Keersmacker made his first start of the season in his Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 and treated the event at as test session, while Andy Scott hired a Peugeot 207 for Portugal and struggled to get to grips with the French championship machine.
Timur Timerzyanov had a much better event in Hungary, lasting until the end with all four tyres inflated on his Citroen DS3. The Russian led almost the entire final but finished second by a matter of feet, team-mate Timmy Hansen passing the reigning champion as he took his joker on the final tour to claim his first victory in only his third full-time rallycross event, although it would be Timerzyanov who would leave leading the championship. French driver Davy Jeanney finished top at the Intermediate classification and third in the final. However, Jeanney had experienced engine failure on Saturday morning, the resulting points penalty for changing the unit would haunt him all season long. Knut Ove Borseth scored a personal best result in Supercar, bringing his Skoda home fourth ahead of team-mate Peter Hedstrom, a huge improvement for the team. Alexander Hvaal again ran into bad luck in Hungary, picking up a puncture in the final when it could so easily have been a one-two-three for Hansen Motorsport. Mats Lysen continued to impress in his old car but missed out on a place in the final with a puncture, the same fate that befell Petter Solberg in semi-final two. Anton Marklund hassled Borseth hard in the semi-final but could find no way passed, still looking for his first Supercar final. Hungarian driver Zoltan Harsanyi drove his Mitsubishi Evo faster than it ever wanted to go throughout the event, in a brilliant display. In a car that is a long way from the quality of his rivals or his own ability, the highlight of his weekend was beating Stig-Olov Walfridson in a straight fight in heat one. Liam Doran was fastest in the first heat but went out of the event in heat three following a big crash at the top of the hill. That corner was the scene of action over the weekend, Stig-Olov Walfridsson and Micheal De Keersmacher’s events also ending there with big crashes. Andreas Bakkerud had a touch event, constantly bugged my mechanical gremlins and accident damage. Andy Scott was also involved in accidents that hurt his times, he wound up sixteenth. Ronny Scheveneels crashed out of the first heat and wouldn’t be seen again all season.
Tanner Foust returned for round four of RallycrossRX in Finland. The American driver only headed the order once all weekend, but saved it until it counted most, winning the final when dominant race leader Petter Solberg broke the steering on his Citroen in the closing stages leaving Foust to pick up the pieces. Timur Timerzyanov had a strong weekend, coming home second and collecting more valuable championship points. Timmy Hansen was again on the podium. Liam Doran finished fourth, great reward for his team who had worked hard to fix his Citroen following his shunt in Hungary. Doran was consistently in the top four all weekend, and had a close race with team-mate Andreas Bakkerud in the final before the latter picked up a puncture. Bakkerud had his best weekend to date, the highlight of which being a dominate performance in the rain in heat four where he left far more experienced rivals standing. Tomas 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 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 yet again finished a credible fourth in his semi-final in only his first year of Supercar competition. Knut Ove Borseth a 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 after Heikkinen and could well have been higher up had he not picked up a problem on the startline of his semi-final. Alexander Hvaal retired from the semi-finals with mechanical troubles. Brain Deegan made his first visit to the European Championship and found it to be a pleasurable, yet tough experience. His weekend was full of little issues and missed out on a place in the semis by just one place. Mats Lysen had a weekend blighted by technical troubled, ending in rear-differential failure. Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme didn’t have the event he had hoped for, mechanical problems throughout were compounded by driveline failure in the fourth heat. Peter Hedstrom was out with a stone in his timing belt, while engine problems also halted Andy Scott’s weekend at the end of day one.
Just one week later RallycrossRX headed to Hell in Norway for round five, where Liam Doran did his best to replicate his Portuguese win by having a poor first heat. This time Doran won the race, but had forgotten to take his joker lap. Tenth at the Intermediate Classification, Doran won his semi-final and the final to become the second double winner of the season. Timur Timerzyanov finished second for the third event in succession and further extended his championship lead, joined on the podium by Davy Jeanney. Alexander Hvaal had good run to finish fourth in his home event, one place ahead of Andreas Bakkerud who started on the front row for the final and could easily have won but for a puncture. Peter Hedstrom made it to the final for the second time, only to drop out with engine failure. For the fourth time so far in the season, Anton Marklund was the highest placed driver who didn’t make the final, his VW Polo picking up a gearbox problem in the semi-final, hampering his chances of finishing higher than fourth in his semi-final. Tommy Rustad returned to Supercar after a break of a few years but was immediately on the pace. A front row start in semi-final two was as far as the former circuit racer would get, his race ending after a visit to the wall on the outside of turn one. Timmy Hansen had a frustrating event, clutch problems to causing a jumpstart in his semi-final ruined his chances of making the final. Tord Linnerud was one of the star’s of Norway, driving Mat’s Lysen’s four-cylinder Clio the Norwegian Supercar debutant looked at ease with the car all weekend and easily outdrove many of his more experienced rivals. Daniel Holten was another to make his first start, driving Frode Holte’s Volvo C30, as he was last year for this event, and had a goal of making the semi-final’s, which he achieved. Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme was never at one with the track in Norway, and was unable to repeat his blinding performance at Lydden Hill at the start of the year. Petter Solberg was the first man not to make the semi-finals, despite being top of day one. Broken steering in heats three and four put him out of the running. Knut Ove Borseth drove his own Ford Focus in Norway following a split with Hedstroms Motorsport, but he was unable to make the semi finals. Mats Lysen only just made it to Hell with his new five-cylinder Clio but was forced out with oil pressure issues.
At just over the halfway stage of RallycrossRX 2013, Timerzyanov led the title chase, but with 28 points up for grabs at each event and nothing to chose from between half the field, the second half of the season had everything to play for, and would include the two biggest rallycross events ever staged.
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