The OlsbergsMSE World Rallycross team ended speculation as to who would drive for the outfit this season by announcing Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Gronholm as the 2016 driver line-up. The pair will also be joined by Niclas’ double World Rally Champion father, Marcus, who will work in the team in the capacity of general manager. Gronholm senior has good knowledge of the OMSE outfit having raced for the Swedish squad in European Rallycross (and won on his debut at Holjes in 2008), in British Rallycross (winning at Lydden Hill in 2011) and in America, where he won GRC events before a bad crash at X Games 2012 effectively ended his driving career. “We will focus our work to build the next generation of champions and to do what we need to do to have a lot of seat time, experience and actual races for our drivers,” said Gronholm. “So they will drive in the 12 races in the World Championship as well as a handful of national races. That’s important for their growth. I also think it’s important that you need to race at your home ground, to create awareness of the driver and their sport, to be a real champion one day.” The team will also run a pair of Lites cars in the RX Lites Cup support category for Kenyan Tejas Hirani and Frenchman Cyril Raymond.
World Rallycross event winner Robin Larsson will contest the full FIA World Rallycross Championship in his privately-run Audi A1 Supercar. Larsson won the European Championship in his maiden season at the sport’s top level in 2014, and was victorious at the final round of World RX in Argentina last year. “All the teams are stepping up this year – the sport is getting bigger so it’s going to be really tough. We’re a small team compared to some of the bigger guys,” said Larsson. “So, this year I really need to be on my toes for every single race. I’m really motivated to kick off the season in Portugal.”
Reigning European Rallycross Champion Tommy Rustad has signed for British team Albatec Racing for the defence of his title. The Norwegian won three from five rounds last season, and claimed the title ahead of Albatec Racing’s Jerome Grosset-Janin. “I’m really looking forward to working with Albatec, which I know is very professional and the right team to give me what I need to win the championship again,” said Rustad. “It’s always exciting to work with a new team, we have the same target and I’m sure we can succeed if we are doing our best together. When my sponsor and I couldn’t join Marklund Motorsport this year it was obvious, as our main opposition last year, who we should go with.”
Former European Championship event winner Alexander Hvaal has signed for the Eklund Motorsport team for the Euro RX series this season, where he will drive a brand new Volkswagen Beetle. Headed by Per Eklund, the Swedish team debuted its 2015 Beetle last season with Daniel Holten at Holjes, and will continue to run the older of the two cars this season for a yet-to-be-announced driver. Hvaal’s car will feature a range of upgrades to both drivetrain and chassis. “We spoke to a lot of teams about this season, but the deal we have with Per (Eklund) is very fair and I will race a brand new car. It will have the latest updates with engine and suspension. I felt really comfortable in the 2015 Beetle when I tested it and with the changes in the new car it should be another step forward; I have full confidence in the team,” said Hvaal.
The first round of the Central European Zone Rallycross Championship took place at the Slovakia Ring, an event that also qualified for the Austrian and Hungarian national championships. Supercar victory was taken by Tamas Pal Kiss (Peugeot 208) in his ex-Peugeot Hansen machine Max Pucher (Ford Fiesta) finished second with Janko Wiestz (Skoda Fabia) third. In the Super600 category it was another Hungarian, Marcell Kovacs (Suzuki Swift) who won the final, with Gergely Marton (Skoda Fabia) second and David Gerencser (Suzuki Swift) rounding out the podium. Hugely experienced rallycross competitor Roman Castoral (Open Astra) won the SuperTouingCar -2000 final, while Oliver Gruber (Ford Sierra) won the SuperTouringCar +2000 class.
Blyton Park in Lincolnshire hosted the opening round the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship, where Irish driver Tommy Graham won the Super Modified category in his Ford Escort Mkll. Podium contenders Guy Corner (Peugeot 206) and Phil Chicken (Citroen C2) retired in the opening laps with mechanical problems, leaving Kenny Hall (Renault Clio) and David Attiwell (Peugeot 106) to complete the podium. James Orton (Peugeot 106) won the Production A final ahead of Richard Todd (Peugeot 106) and Paul Davis (Citroen SaxO), while Mark Richardson (Ford Sierra) recovered from a roll in the heats to win on his debut in the Historic final.
The British round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill in May will feature a guest appearance from a number of Group B rallycross cars as part of demonstration races at the event. A number of Ford R200s and MG Metro 6R4s and expected to take part, with more to follow. Adam Keeler ‘debuted’ the freshly restored ex-Will Gollop car at the event last year and could return on track, joined by Rob Gibson, Ian Rowlance and John Rowlance in similar machines. RS200s will be driven by Pat Doran and Nigel Mummery.
The second round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in just over a week, where former Supernational champion Stuart Emery is set to return having missed the opening round of the season through delays in fitting a sequential transmission to his Peugeot 206. In the Super1600 category, Finnish team Set Promotion have announced that they will run a pair of European Championship specification Renault Twingos for Artis Baumanis and Timur Shigaboutdinov at the event.
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