Seven days in rallycross, August 28

by Tim Whittington |

Volkswagen Dealer Team Sweden was victorious when RallyX Scandinavia returned to Knutstorp and featured alongside the STCC, Johan Kristoffersson and team-mate Ole-Christian Veiby collecting the first one-two finish for the team’s Polos. Norwegian Daniel Holten was best of the OMSE drivers in the event, taking third place ahead of Sebastien Eriksson who retained his lead in the series, but who is now only five points ahead of Kristoffersson as the series heads to its final at Solvalla.

The Swedish championship also featured RX Lites in which Kevin Hansen won again to extend his lead in the supporting series. Hansen had a relatively straight forward run to victory, and led home Kevin Eriksson and Richard Goransson in the final. “The result at Knutstorp was great, and it’s really good for the championship, but we need to focus on the last round now. I will be pushing as hard as always but also keeping an eye on what Kevin [Eriksson, championship rival] is doing in terms of championship points,” said Hansen.

The GRC moved to Daytona for its sixth event of the year where Rhys Millen gained his first win in the series in a relatively easy fashion after leading the final from start to finish. Austin Dyne battled Ken Block for second place until an incident between the pair out him out. By the time Block was free to focus on hunting the leader, Millen was too far away to be caught. Bucky Lasek came through third place, benefitting from steering clear of troubles. Nelson Piquet Jnr. was eighth, but retains the series lead.

The supporting Lites race was won by Mitchell DeJong who also had a fairly clear run after Geoff Sykes was penalised for a jump start and fell to fifth.

Volkswagen’s Beetle rallycross car was seen in europe for the first time as it was tested extensively at the Autodromo di Franciacorta in Italy. The new car car was run for two days in private tests and then joined an open test day in which various other cars used the circuit that will host the Italian round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the end of September. American drivers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed shared driving duties in the one car present. Volland Racing had all three of its Super1600 chargers in action, Nikita Misyulya, Sergey Zagumennov and Dennis Salikov all gaining track time while Italian Rally Champion Simone Romagna limbered up for his forthcoming World RX debut with PSRX by running some laps with his Lancia Delta Integrale to learn the track. Autocross front runners Tomi Karai and Christian Giarolo also took part.

While that was going on, Per Eklund chose to finally lift the lid on the VW Beetle that he built last year but which has remained under cover until now. The canny Swede released a short video of his car which is slated for action in 2015.

With Jacques Villeneuve otherwise engaged in his work as a TV commentator for F1, Albatec has added to its roster of drivers by fielding Ramona Karlsson for the German round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Karlsson drove an Eklund Motorsport Saab 93 in early events of the year, becoming the first woman to win a qualifying heat in a World Championship event, and will test the Albatec 208 in France before racing it. Karlsson is using the move to lay foundations for her 2015 season, “I was interested in opening up discussions for 2015. During that conversation, we talked about the commercial benefits of all parties for me to take part in some races this season, as I intend to contest the full World Rallycross Championship next year,” she said.

The weather stole the headlines at the fifth round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, torrential rain falling consistently throughout the day to make the event one of the wettest at the venue in recent memory. Ollie O’Donovan (Ford Focus) was fastest in all three heats to start on pole position for the final, but missed the start, apparently unable to see the lights. The Irish driver duly drove onto the racing line to force a re-start, and then led the re-started race from lights to flag to win. Ford Fiesta driver Julian Godfrey finished second to claim his fourth British crown in succession. The title came with ease for Godfrey in 2014 due to a lack of real competition, a shame when the engine builder has the pace to beat any driver who has also contested the series in recent years. Steve Hill (Mitsubishi Evo) finished third to compete the podium. Rallycross returnee Mark Flaherty (Citroen DS3) had a troubled first day back, the LD Motorsports team had to work hard in the morning of the event to change the gearbox and cylinder head following problems incurred at a demonstration run at the Cadwell Park British Superbike event in the hands of team owner Liam Doran the day before. After missing practice, Flaherty’s first taste of rallycross in two decades was on the start line from heat one. The Englishman admitted that despite the modern machinery being significantly different to drive, learning in the wet wasn’t a true comparison. Another former rallycross regular returned at Lydden, multiple champion Dave Bellerby ran a Lotus Exige in the SuperNational division and won, his outing also notable as he joined daughter Paige in the category, driving a similar Exige. Jack Thorne (Citroen C2) continued his impressive first season in Super1600 and finished second in the joint final, with Dutchman Louis de Haas (Opel Astra) in third. Chris Mullen started on pole position for the Suzuki Swift final but was eliminated by a start line accident that also slowed title rival Graham Rodemark. The third championship protagonist, Tristan Ovenden, avoided the carnage and went on to win. Marc Scott again won in the RX150 category to chalk off his second championship in a row, while David Bell finished third in the BMW Mini division to claim the crown. Craig Lomax’s (Citroen Saxo) win in Hot Hatch sealed the category spoils for 2014 and Charlie Bean won in the Junior version of the single make Suzuki Swift category to extended his lead at the head of the championship. Rob Gibson (Metro 6R4) won Retro Rallycross.

Joni-Pekka Rajala returned to the top step of the podium as the Finnish Rallycross Championship moved to Oulu for the fourth of its five events. Aki Karttunen had strong run and was fastest in the heats in his Skoda, but come the final it was Rajala who won with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Janne Kanerva completed the top three in his striking green Citroen C4. As usual Rajala was also in action in the Supernational section of the event. Fastest here, the champion was out of luck in the final in which Peter Helenius burst through the take the victory with his unique VW Scirocco. Sami Kiskola and Jukka-Pekka Peltokangas completed the top three finishers. The autocross class was won by Jukka Lassila (Toyota MR2) and the Crosskart win was taken by Sami-Matti Trogen.

In a move that indicates the continued presence of Super1600 and TouringCar in FIA rallycross championships, World RX promoter IMG announced that it will continue to feature the two-wheel drive categories in rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship that take place within europe, but that it will create a shorter championship calendar for each. Based on feedback from current competitors, the plan is to focus each category in countries where there is a good competitor base, or where entries have historically been strong. TouringCar is expected to have a five-event schedule, with Super1600 running as many as seven events. By selecting from TouringCar, Super1600 and RX Lites, IMG expects to have two supporting categories at each World event in europe next year.







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