Rallycross returns to UK free-to-air TV for first time in 29 years
by Hal Ridge |
The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be shown live on UK free-to-air television channel Quest on Sunday afternoon (November 29) from 1700. The last live televised rallycross event on free-to-air television in the UK was on Saturday 20th September 1986, the last of the live events to be shown on BBC televisions Grandstand programme. Other countries that currently show the World Rallycross Championship on free-to-air television include France, Sweden, Italy and Spain.
World RX championship leader Petter Solberg won the skills challenge at the annual Race of Champions in London, held at the former Olympic Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Park. Solberg won the autotest style event ahead of the other ROC competitors, including four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel, who beat multiple Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen in the ROC Champion of Champions final on Saturday afternoon. Solberg was knocked out after two runs in the best-of-three knockout competition in the last 16 by Vettel. On the previous day, while partnering Kristensen to defend the Nations Cup title they claimed together in Barbados in 2014, Solberg spun driving a Euro Nascar in the first run but the team still progressed to the next stage, where they were knocked out by Team Germany – Solberg loosing out to Le Mans winner and F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg by two tenths of a second in their heat. Team England, formed of Jason Plato and Andy Priaulx, won the Nations Cup final.
Also in action at the Race of Champions were the MSA British Rallycross Championship RX Racing RX150 buggies. All of the ROC drivers sampled the single-seater machines which were used during testing for the event, including British stars Jenson Button and David Coulthard, who had experienced rallycross earlier in the year at Lydden Hill for a BBC F1 feature.
The final round of the Irish Rallycross Championship took place at Mondello Park, where former double European Rallycross TouringCar Champion Derek Tohill (Ford Fiesta) dominated in Supercar and won the A final, only to stall on the start line of the Superfinal. He climbed back to second by the finish, just loosing out on the top step of the podium to Noel Greene (Mitsubishi Evo). Willie Coyne (Vauxhall Corsa) followed in his brother Michael’s footsteps by finishing the Superfinal and in doing so wrapping up the Irish Rallycross Championship title in a two-wheel drive car, the last none four-wheel drive to win the title since Michael’s 2008-2009 victory. Padrig Leeson (Vauxhall Corsa) won the Modified final before claiming a podium in the Superfinal, while Patrick Ryan (Vauxhall Nova) and Willie Coyne completed the Modified podium. Eoin Murray (Peugeot 106) won the Stockhatch 16v A final and Ciaran Murphy (Peugeot 205) was victorious in the 8v Stockhatch category. Peter Campbell won the single-make Ford Fiesta category while Jake Dooley (Nissan Micra) won the Junior final.
Ole Christian Veiby will race for the VW Team Sweden World RX squad this weekend, replacing regular driver Tord Linnerud, who has been forced to withdraw due to a back injury. Veiby has mixed a Euro RX programme with a JWRC and WRC3 championship campaign this year and finished third in the Euro RX standings.
The calendar for the winter-based RallyX On Ice series has been release. The four round schedule will begin at Pitea on January 31, before events at Trysil on Feburary 19, Salen on Feburary 26 and Are on March 4. In the events held at Holjes and Karlstad in early 2015, a range of drivers took part in the RX Lites events, including Reinis Nitiss, Andreas Bakkerud, Joni Wiman, Per Eklund, Sebastien Eriksson, Marcus Gronholm and Thomas Radstrom.
The RallyX Nordic dates have also been announced by the series, which will include an event in Norway at a yet to be confirmed venue. The Swedish based championship will begin in Skovde (May 1) followed by Arvika (June 4), Strangnas (July 28), Solvalla (September 3), Knutstorp (September 24) and the Norwegian finale on October 8. Kevin Eriksson (Ford Fiesta) won the 2015 championship while Tobias Brink won the Supercar Lites category title.
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