Petter Solberg finally broke his string of 2013 rallycross misfortune by winning the first ever round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre in Portugal yesterday. The Norwegian driver dominated the second day of the event, fastest in both heats three and four before winning semi final two and the final, fighting back after a none finish in heat two.
Ford pairing Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nittis joined Solberg on the podium, the pair taking their jokers on the first lap and leap-frogging Marklund Motorsport duo Toomas Heikkinen and Anton Marklund when they too took their jokers on lap five. Belgian Koen Pauwels finished sixth, arguably the surprise result of the weekend. Team Peugeot-Hansen launched their new Peugeot 208 in Portugal and reigning champion Timur Timerzyanov set the pace on day one. Still top at the Intermediate Classification, Timerzyanov finished fourth in semi final one, just missing out on a place in the final, while team mate Timmy Hansen held the same position in semi final two.
Solberg’s new team mate Alexander Hvaal was slowed by a technical troubles in his semi final, while Swedish rallycross newcomer Ramona Karlsson achieved her goal of making it to the semi final stages but crashed out with broken steering. Irish driver Derek Tohill also achieved his goal of making in to the semi finals in his first Supercar event, he finished fifth in semi final one, the same position as that held by Jos Jansen in semi-final two.
It was a weekend of frustration for the two British-based teams. Albatec Racing qualified for the semi finals with Andy Scott in 12th, but a smokey exit from heat four following a broken exhaust ended his chances of making the grid for the semi final, despite his crews valiant efforts to get him to the line. Rallycross newboy Jacques Villeneuve went off at the first corner of his first ever heat, before picking up a puncture in heat two. He missed the third heats after his Peugeot developed a water leak in the paddock and despite running well in heat four he got stuck in traffic and failed to make the finals. The Monster Energy World RX team had a torrid day one, Liam Doran missed both of his heats while Kryzsztof Skorupski only managed a single lap in heat two. Day two was better, both drivers ran in both heats and were quick, but it was not enough to make the semi finals.
Sebastien Eriksson led the RX Lites final from lights to flag, finishing ahead of namesake Kevin Eriksson and Richard Gorannsson while in Super1600 Sergej Zagumennov claimed his first ever victory in the division. Volland Racing stablemate Nikita Misyulya finished second with fellow newcomer Janis Baumanis in third. Ulrik Linnemann had arguably been fastest all weekend, but missed the joker lap in heat one and retired from heat four after contact with Vaclav Veverka Jnr. He ran second in the final behind Zaumennov but dropped to fourth after running wide in the joker lap. Torleif Lona won in TouringCar ahead of Kjetil Larsen and Anders Braten.
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