Mattias Ekstrom went clear at the top of the FIA World Rallycross Championship with his second win of the year at Mettet in Belgium. The Swedish Audi pilot also helped to keep his EKS squad at the top of the Teams Championship, although a troubled run in the event for second driver Toomas Heikkinen, allowed Volkswagen RX Sweden to chip a few points from the gap between the top two teams. The VW team had a good weekend, getting both cars to the final with Anton Marklund back in top form and running second before slipping to fourth at the finish. Johan Kristoffersson was again unable to deliver on his promise, this time an engine problem halting his Polo in the first lap of the final. Sebastien Loeb was the only Peugeot driver to make the final and emerged with second place, his best result to date, ahead of Petter Solberg – the two joining Ekstrom in an all-star podium.
World RX Team Austria drivers Timur Timerzyanov and Janis Baumanis both showed well, Baumanis missing the final only after being black flagged for an incident with Francois Duval who thus made it to the final and went on to place fifth. A series of technical issues struck down Hoonigan Racing Division in Belgium, although Andreas Bakkerud’s third place in Q4 again underlined the latent speed of the Ford Focus RS RX.
The FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars began in Belgium where Kevin Hansen fought off Jerome Grosset-Janin to take his maiden FIA victory and write his name in the record books alongside that of his older brother and father. Norwegian Tord Linnerud completed the top three in his VW Polo while Hungarian newcomer “CSUCSU” did a great job to place fourth ahead of defending champion Tommy Rustad and Joni-Pekka Rajala.
Mettet also hosted round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCars in which Magda Andersson had a dramatic ride through qualifying, including getting her Fiesta heavily damaged in a Q3 crash. Seventh in the intermediate classification, Andersson was second in her semi before winning the final ahead of Fredrik Magnussen and Ben-Philip Gundersen.
The RX Lites Cup had its second round in Belgium where Thomas Bryntesson recovered from a Q3 roll to take the win. Cyril Raymond was second to the finish line but was later excluded for an incident with Sondre Evjen, which gave second to Simon Olofsson with Joachim Hvaal completing the top three.
Making the most of a holiday weekend and having the rallycross track available, the third round of the Belgian Rallycross Championship took place at Mettet on Monday where a slender field of national Supercars was propped up by World and Euro racers who stayed on for extra mileage.
National title favourite Jochen Coox was out of the running after the engine in his Polo failed in practice for the Euro RX event. That just left Jos Jansen and Johnny Verkuringen ranged against World RX drivers Kristoffersson and Marklund, the former appearing on course for the win until problems again intervened. Marklund moved through the take the honours whith Euro RX runner Martin Kaczmarski second ahead of Jansen. Timerzyanov and Baumanis also used the event for testing, as did Ekstrom whose car failed him in practice. Denis Remans claimed the Super1600 victory ahead of newboy Steve Otzer who placed second after a close race with Davy Van Den Branden. Bert Bosmans claimed the over two-litre Supernational win after favourite Steve Volders made a mistake while leading. In the up to two-litre class Danny De Beuckelaer took the win in his Volvo C30 ahead of the BMWs of Martijn Vanhove and Kurt Lambers.
While those driving on Monday in Belgium merely had to stay put, Hungarian racers Tamas Karai and Tamas Pal Kiss moved cars and teams 1600km across Europe overnight to drive in the third round of the Hungarian championship at Mariapocs. Despite missing Sunday’s first qualifier, both made it to the final, Kiss then working through from fourth on the grid to win the final in which Karai climbed from sixth to third. The pair were split by Zoltan Harsanyi’s Mitsubishi while pole starter Janko Wieszt finished fourth in his Skoda.
The Norwegian Rallycross Championship opened its 2016 season at Grenland where Hans-Joran Ostreng won the day with his ‘Class Four’ Supernational BMW E30. Jonas Dalseth Jacobsen won through from the B final to place second ahead of Henrik Paulsen on a day when Supernational favourites Stian Haugan, Ole Froshaug, Rune Engesvoll all missed the podium. There were class wins for Robin Slattekjaer, Daniel Holten (TouringCar), Asgeir Taraldsen (Super1600) and Marius Bermingrud (Junior).
The French championship moves on to Chateauroux for its second event of the year this weekend. Fabien Chanoine leads after winning round one with his Renault Clio. Among the busiest teams in Europe, DA Racing will field it’s Citroen DS3 for the fourth weekend in succession with Andrea Duborg back behind the wheel and looking for his first French victory.
The GRC season starts with a double-header in Arizona. With Subaru sitting-out the first events, it’s all eyes on the pace-setting VW Beetles and the new OMSE Hondas.
British Rallycross Championship points leader Dan Rooke will race in the third round of the RX Lites Cup alongside round four of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden next weekend. The 18-year-old has a little experience of a Lites car having driven in the Talent Search event at Lydden last year.
An old favourite is also set to return to the wheel at the end of the month, Matti Alamaki set to drive a 400bhp rear-wheel drive Escort in the Finnish Championship’s SRC (Supernational) category. The drive has been given to Alamaki as a 60th birthday present by 14-year-old Finnish racer Sami-Matti Trogen – Alamaki now assisting the youngster in his career. The Finnish season continues at Kouvola on May 28, Aki Karttunen leading the series after round one at Hyvinkaa.
The FIA European Rallycross Championship has a new dedicated TV show. Available free of charge via the championship’s YouTube channel, the 48-minute highlights show is at the forefront of a new OTT strategy that focuses on the burgeoning European championship.
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