Button and Coulthard sample rallycross as Hansen wins in Hell
by Hal Ridge |
Rallycross’ exposure was given a boost this week as Formula One stars Jensen Button and David Coulthard visited Lydden Hill to drive a pair of FIA World Rallycross Championship Supercars for a BBC F1 television feature. Button drove a JRM Racing Mini for the piece, while Coulthard drove Liam Doran’s Citroen DS3, with guidance from the car’s usual driver. Prior to driving the present day machines, Button drove James Harrold’s Retro Rallycross Volkswagen Beetle, to experience what competition would have been like for his late father John. Button Snr competed in rallycross in the 1970s and 80s. “Today has been a mega experience and completely different to what I am used to,” said Button, who drives for McLaren-Honda in 2015. “You need a huge amount of skill to drive these cars – on your own it’s scary enough, never mind going up against another four or five other drivers! World RX is an exciting championship and it’s great to see the sport growing again like it was in the eighties both in the British and on the world scene. Everybody racing in single-seaters or in circuit racing regards rallycross as very professional and a lot of fun.”
Coulthard said driving a Supercar, for the second time (he drove a Marklund Motorsport VW Polo in Race of Championship last November) made him appreciate the ability of rallycross drivers. “Rallycross is highly skilled – the drivers have to deal with an ever-evolving mix of asphalt and gravel that changes from lap to lap,” said the Scott. “I have tremendous respect for rallycross drivers, because there are just so many more variables.”
In Hell, Norway, Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) was both delighted and relived to put his name on a winners trophy, having been among the pace setters at each of the last three events. Hansen won with relative ease in the final, ahead of team-mate Davy Jeanney (Peugeot 208) and Robin Larsson (Audi A1), who scored a popular podium after a run of poor luck this season. Alx Danielsson (Audi S3) had big shoes to fill after Tommy Rustad took his Audi S3 to fourth place at the previous round in Canada, but the Swede delivered and equalled the position, in part thanks to a dramatic semi-final two, where Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3), Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Fiesta) and Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1) all retired with accident damage. PG Andersson was classified fifth after retiring from the final with a puncture, but the Swede had driven the perfect race in semi-final two to make it to the front row of the final despite qualifying 13th and only making the semis after Johan Kristofferson (VW Polo) failed to arrive at the pre-grid on time. Timur Timerzyanov rolled his Ford Fiesta in the semi-final but still made it into the final, only to retire with an exhaust problem.
Tommy Rustad (VW Polo) claimed Euro RX victory in Norway to take the championship lead, he was joined on the podium by Joni-Pekka Rajala (Saab 93) and Janis Baumanis (Peugeot 208). Thomas Bryntesson won the RX Lites Cup category ahead of championship protagonists Kevin Hansen and Kevin Eriksson. Christian Sandmo (Mazda RX8) won the final round of the TouringCar ahead of newly crowned champion Fredrik Salsten (Citroen DS3) and Kjetil Larsen (Skoda Fabia).
In the SuperNational support category, Hans-Joran Osteng (BMW) won ahead of Herbjorn Haug (Mercedes) and Terje Morstad (BMW). Arild Sandnes debuted a brand new Porsche 911, which gives us the opportunity for a gratuitous Porsche photo.
The Irish Rallycross Championship held it’s second ever event at Tynagh in Galway, giving drivers a welcome change from Mondello Park for the championship’s sixth round. Geoffrey Dolan (Opel Astra) won the Supercar final and the Superfinal, with Thomas O’Rafferty (Ford Fiesta) second in the amalgamated race and Derek Tohill third in his Fiesta TouringCar. Padrig Leeson (Vauxhall Corsa) finished fourth in the Superfinal having earlier beaten Tohill in the Modified final, with Noel Greene (Mitsubishi Evo) fifth and Pearse Browne (BMW 318) sixth. StockHatch 16v winner Niall Murray (Peugeot 106) was seventh while Pat Ryan (Vauxhall Nova) didn’t finish.
Rallycross convert Tamas Pal Kiss is aiming to get his transition to rallycross back on track by using the World RX Team Austria Ford Fiesta Supercar that Chris Brugger raced in Canada and Norway in the next round of the Hungarian Rallycross Championship at Greinbach, Austria. Pal Kiss has scored one victory and one podium in the Hungarian Championship so far this year, but with two DNF’s has decided to switch teams. “I raced against them [Team Austria] two times this year and I followed their performance from trackside at the Estering. I know they have a proper car and they work in a really professional way. They are also proved their competitiveness in the highest level in this sport so I’m sure I can gain a lot of experience with them,” said Pal Kiss.
The seventh round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place this weekend, where notable entries for the traditional August Bank Holiday Monday event include Latvian World RX star Reinis Nitiss, who will race an RX150. “I’m really looking forward to racing at Lydden Hill, but also it won’t be so easy because I have never driven a buggy and there will be no time for me to test before the event. I’m sure the British guys are really fast, but I hope I can get up to speed quickly. I’m really pleased to have been invited to race,” said Nitiss. MSA General Secretary, Simon Blunt will race the Swift Sport category, which boasts and entry of 17 cars. “While rallycross is new to me, I have seen earlier this year at Croft the superb family culture that exists within the sport and the friendliness that emanates from everyone involved,” said Blunt. “It is going to be a fantastic experience.”
Just days after winning the FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCar, Swede Fredrik Salsten announced that he will race a Hansen Talent Development Peugeot 208 in the Spanish round of Euro RX. “I’m excited to be making my Supercar debut with Hansen Talent Development,” said Salsten, who tested the Peugeot 208 last week. “In the first few laps we ran the car without the response and ALS, and just like that it felt like you had so much more power than you could need. But with all the systems on, we started to push and found that my driving style suits the Peugeot very well – it’s a really great car.”
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