International rallycross season in full swing as Solberg leads World RX

by Hal Ridge |

The opening week of the World Rallycross Championship featured two events, one old and one new. The scenic venue of Montalegre in Portugal hosted round one, where in unusually wet weather conditions it was Johan Kristoffersson (VW Polo) who emerged on top, beating Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3) and Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) in the final to lead the championship, tied on points with Solberg. Newcomer Krisztian Szabo (Skoda Fabia) claimed his maiden Super1600 victory, while Kevin Eriksson took maximum points in the RX Lites cup, winning every heat, semi-final and final.

Just four days after the final in Portugal, practice got underway at round two, Hockenheim, where World RX joined the DTM’s season opener at the historic venue. British driver Liam Doran (Citroen DS3) headed the order after the opening pair of heats but come the end of heat four it was Doran’s SDRX team mate Solberg who took the maximum Intermediate points, before winning both his semi-final and final to take a max score in front of 75,000 spectators. Reinis Nitiss (Ford Fiesta) scored OlsbergMSE’s first podium of the season while Hansen completed the podium after a storming drive.

JRM Racing made their World RX debut at Hockenheim with its Mini RX, driven by Dave Mirra and Danny Way. Both progressed during the heats, Way in particular improved significantly from his early practice runs to lead champion Solberg away from the start line in a later heat race, impressive for a man whose only previous rallycross experience was a single-make Suzuki Swift outing in the UK last year.

Several World RX drivers were busier than usual at Hockenheim, as Anton Marklund, Toomas Heikkinen and Tanner Foust competed in the new DTM supporting Audi TT Cup. Foust was best of the rallycross trio, finishing fifth and sixth in the weekends two races and twice claiming the ‘guest drivers’ win. Mattias Ekstrom skipped the second round of World RX to focus on the first round of the DTM and duly won the second of the series’ two opening races in the rain. Ekstrom will return to World RX in his EKS Audi S1 at the next round in Belgium.

In France, as 2014 front-runners Fabien Pailler and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg move on to European competition, it was former champion Gaetan Serazin (Peugeot 208) who won the opening round of the championship at Essay, joined on the podium by Chistophe Wilt (Citroen DS3) and Christophe Jouet (Citroen DS3). Fabien Grosset-Janin (Renault Twingo), younger brother of EuroRX racer Jerome won in Super1600, while Marc Morize (Peugeot 208) won Division Thee and Emmanuel Anne (Renault Clio) won in Division Four. Baptiste Menez claimed victory in the ultra comptiive Twingo R1 Cup.

The opening round of the Sweden-based RallyX Scandinavia series takes place this weekend in Skovde. Kevin and Sebastien Eriksson will compete in a pair of OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiestas, while Eric Faren will make his first Supercar start of the year in a Hansen Talent Development Peugeot 208. Linus Leise will return to the series in a Hedstroms Motorsport Skoda Fabia and Niclas Gronholm, son of double WRC champion Marcus will begin his Supercar career in an ex-OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta. Eklund Motorsport will run a Saab 93 for Linus Westman while Lukas Walfridson will warm up for his Euro RX campaign in one of Helmia Motorsport’s Renault Clios.

Pembrey in South Wales is the venue for round three of the British Rallycross Championship, where Euro RX racer James Grint will make his debut for the Albatec Racing team, replacing Mark Flaherty who contested round two at Lydden with the squad. Ollie O’Donovan will continue to race his Ford Focus in the British series, saving his new Tony Bardy built Ford Fiesta for the opening round of the Euro RX a week later in Belgium, and the British round of World RX a week after that, at Lydden Hill. Multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby will race in both RX150 and SuperNational in a busy weekend for Yorkshire based driver.

OlsbergsMSE have announced Sebastien Eriksson as team-mate to Joni Wiman in the squad’s GRC campaign this year. “When Joni and I raced together [in Lites] I was on the podium with him in almost every race. I had the speed to catch him, but I made too many mistakes,” said Eriksson. “This year I’m ready.”

The entry lists of the Belgian and British rounds of World RX have been announced. The Belgian event at Mettet next week will also include the first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship, where twenty additional drivers will join the World RX field, including former WRC and European Rallycross event winner, Francios Duval. For the first time, World and European competitors will race together in the heat stages before being split into separate semi-finals and finals. Twenty TouringCar drivers will also race at the Belgian event, the strongest entry outside Scandinavia for some time, thanks to a shorter five-round schedule for the rear-drive machines.

The Motorsport News World RX of Great Britian takes place a week after the Belgian round, where a number of British drivers will compete. Double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks will race a JRM Racing Mini in his first rallycross start, while experienced rallycross racer David Binks will join Albatec Racing owner and driver, Andy Scott. Andrew Jordan will return to World RX for his home round, driving a Peugeot 208, while multiple British champion Julian Godfrey and European Championship event winner Kevin Procter will also compete.




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