Rajala as Finns fly in Riga
by Tim Whittington |
Riga’s amazing Bikernieku Trase is 50-years-old in 2016, last weekend Finn Joni-Pekka Rajala became the first driver to win on the sensational new rallycross track established within the road course. Ahead of October’s World RX event on the new track, an NEZ event was run to bed-in the track and organising team. Driving Vaaranmaa Racing’s Mitsubishi Mirage, Rajala was fastest throughout the event which formed round two of the NEZ series. Reinis Nitiss led the final at the wheel of Munnich Motorsport’s Skoda Fabia Supercar, but the writing was on the wall from the off and the Latvian national hero was unable to fend off Rajala’s slick-shod Mitsubishi. Teemu Patsi completed the top three in his Fiesta 7, fellow Finn Ville Mikkola fifth in his Mk 6 version.
Seven days earlier Estonian Andri Oun had won the opening NEZ race, also run in Latvia at 333 Sports Complex, but here he was held to fourth place while Reinsalu Sport team mate Janis Baumanis was a non-starter in the final at the end of a troubled day in his Fiesta.
Kalle Markanen qualified on pole for the Super1600 final but jumped the start and, under the NEZ’s zero-tolerance regs, was sent back to the paddock immediately. Jano Ligur crashed in Q1 but made it to the final and should have won but for another incident which left the way clear for home racer Eliss Dukalskiss (Opel Astra) to take the win. When Mikael Persson (VW Golf) and Raimo Kauttio (Volvo S40) tangled in turn one, Ola Froshaug was able to stroke it to victory in the Open category. Finnish newcomer Christian Loslein (BMW E36) held of local Edmunds Erglis (E30) for second. Christian Sandmo (Mazda RX8) won the 2000 category ahead of the duelling Renault Clios of Dennis Christensen and Arturs Pumpurs. Finland won the national team section of the event. Ronalds Baldins won the Lada category, hounded every inch of the final’s six lap by Ivo Traubergs. Fourth place in the final was taken by Rudolfs Smits who was the winner of the very first race of the event (and on the track). The event was concluded with a Superfinal that should have brought together Derek Tohill, Ugis Traubergs, Vasilly Gryazin (who had run in their own qualifying races separate from the NEZ field) and the top three Supercar finishers. Tohill was a non-starter and, try as he might, Traubergs could not get on even terms with Rajala who won again. Gryazin – in SRT’s RX Lites car – finished second after Traubergs’ Citroen C4 slowed in the last lap.
The previous weekend’s NEZ opener at 333 had seen Oun challenged by Belarussian Vadzim Kishkurna whose Fiesta succumbed in practice at Bikernieki. Froshaug and Sandmo won the Open and 2000 classes while Andre Kurg (Skoda Fabia) was best of the Super1600 field.
The Estonian Rallycross Championship ran the fifth of its seven events at the Auto24 Ring on Saturday. Having run the NEZ opener and 333 and moving directly to Bikernieki the next day, Oun placed second in his Fiesta on home ground, the event win being taken by the Peugeot 206 of Kari Irri. Championship leader Oliver Oberg (Subaru Impreza) placed third ahead of Raini Roomets (Fabia) who also moved on to race in Riga on Sunday. Siim Sundema (BMW 318) won the TouringCar final while Ligur (another to do double duty over the weekend) topped the Super1600 order, leading home Siim Saluri (Citroen C2) and Georg Orr (Peugeot 206).
The Czech Rallycross Championship held its fourth round at Sedlcany where Max Pucher (Fiesta) took victory ahead of Tomasz Kuchar (Impreza) and Miroslav Neumann (Lancer E8). David Gerencser (Suzuki Swift) won Super1600 ahead of Martina Koutna while Roman Castoral (Astra OPC) was best of the up to two-litre SuperTouringcar field and Filip Kaspirek (Opel Kadett) won the over two-litre section.
The fourth round of the revived Polish Rallycross Cup also took place at Sedlcany Tomasz Kuchar (Impreza) the winner of the Supercar category. The Supernational section was topped by Alan Wisniewski, ahead of Pawel Melon and Lukasz Zoll.
Albatec racing will take part in the new Ignition Festival in Glasgow on August 5-7. Team principal Andy Scott and 2015 European Rallycross Champion Tommy Rustad will drive the Scottish team’s cars on a course around Glasgow’s SECC and SSE Hydro Arena.
This weekend’s French Championshiop event at Kerlabo has attracted a 23-car field in the Supercar category, including one for French allrounder Jean-Philippe Dayraut who will drive a Citroen DS3 from the “Knapick” stable.
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