Seven days in rallycross, June 12

by Tim Whittington |

Close to the western and eastern extremes of the rallycross world, events in Texas and Finland have been the focus of attention in the last week.

In America, on the Circuit of the Americas, the second GRC event of the year took place within X Games which swelled the field to 19 cars. Scott Speed topped the order, winning his second event in succession in an Andretti Autosports VW Polo. Speed stayed out of trouble throughout the race, which included a red flag stoppage. Challenged by Liam Doran in the restart until the Englishman was forced out by driveshaft failure late in the race, Speed eventually led home Bucky Lasek who worked hard for second place, his best rallycross performance to date, in his Subaru. Lasek was able to take second place from Nelson Piquet Jnr. when the latter took the joker lap twice by mistake.

In Finland things were rather more straight forward and returned to the form of last year with Joni-Pekka Rajala winning both Supercar and Supernational categories as the Finnish Rallycross Championship moved to Kouvola for its second round. Joining the series for his home event, Toni Lukander placed second in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Fiesta driver Ari Perkiomaki third. Rajala’s Supernational success came over Christian Jensen and Vesa Hirvonen (both Volvo S40). The event brought the first autocross class victory for Niclas Gronholm who, driving a Toyota MR2, beat Toni Niemi (Starlet). The pair now share the championship points lead. There was a second Crosskart victory for Jami Kalliomaki.

Preparations for the third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship were mixed for Peugeot drivers. Official entries for Team Peugeot-Hansen clocked up some valuable testing miles at Holjes, two days at the track leaving team boss Kenneth Hansen satisfied with progress. “It was good to have the first real test with the car, where we have been able to get through a lot of things,” said Hansen. “The team knows Holjes very well, so it is a good place for us to come to, and we have got some good answers and solutions. In the first two races, we didn’t know if the changes we were making were correct, but we have learnt a lot today. Timur is usually very quick in Hell, so I think we can make it to the final. We have done a huge amount of work and analysis together with Oreca and Peugeot. We found what was causing the engine problems at Lydden Hill and solved them, and we have also solved the electric troubles we had too. ”

Albatec Racing also went to Holjes with its Peugeot 208s, but suffered a blow when Jacques Villeneuve, returning to the team after missing round two to drive in the Indianapolis 500 where he finished 14th, rolled one of the team’s cars.

The French championship moves onto Faleyras for round four where JB Dubourg leads with two wins, but has round three winner Fabien Pailler hot on his heels. Francois Duval is scheduled to appear in the event this weekend.

In Britain, Andy Grant made his first start of the year in the second and third rounds of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship at Pembrey, in his rebuild ex-Will Gollop / Andrew Jordan Ford Focus. Grant dominated the first day, but was blighted by misfire issues in the third heat on Sunday, problems that reappeared at the start of the final. Irishman Tommy Graham raced his rebuilt Ford Escort following a big crash at Lydden last August and won the SuperModifed and Superfinal on Sunday. Fellow Irishman Kieran Curren (Vauxhall Corsa) finished second in both races having beaten Graham in Saturday’s final. Jack Thorne (Citroen C2) finished as top Brit on both days in third. Simon Horton (Subaru Impreza) should have started on pole for the Superfinal, but didn’t make it to the start line. Horton won the Supercar final on Sunday, having retired from the final on Saturday with broken steering. Derek Jobb (Ford Escort) finished second on Saturday and led on Sunday before retiring, while fellow Irish commuters Andrew Morris (Subaru Impreza) and Steve Pascoe (Subaru Impreza) both experienced problems and failed to complete either day. Declan Nolan (Peugeot 106) dominated the Production category on day one, finishing ahead of Eugene Ward (Peugeot 106) and Chris Harper (Citroen Saxo). Martin Peters only managed one heat on Saturday while replacement parts were sourced locally for his water cooling system, but he fought back on Sunday with a win in the final ahead of Nolan and John Ward (Peugeot 106).





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