Wins for Ekstrom, Eriksson, Pucher, Tohill & Chicherit in busy fortnight

Fourteen days in rallycross, May 5

by Hal Ridge |

French driver Guerlain Chicherit (Renault Clio) scored his first rallycross victory by winning the opening round of the French Rallycross Championship at Essay, and as a result leads the competitive championship. Brothers Fabian Pailler (Peugeot 208) and Jonathan Pailler (Peugeot 208) finished second and third, with the similar car of Florent Beduneau fourth and Guy Moreton (Volkswagen Scirocco) fifth. The final, held in wet conditions, was initially red flagged after a serious crash, with heavy damaged sustained to the cars of Chistophe Jouet (Citroen DS3) and Phillippe Maloigne (Peugeot 208). Jouet was taken to hospital, and suffered broken ribs. Lauren Chartrain (Citroen C2) won the Super1600 final ahead of Samuel Peu (Citroen Saxo) and Jean-Sebastien Vigion (Renault Clio), while Mathieu Trevian (Volkswagen Scirocco) capitalised when category stalwart Christophe Saunois (Toyota Corolla) ran into problems in the Division Three final and stopped. Trevian won from Benoit Morel (Ford Fiesta) and Clement Dupont (Citroen DS3). Aurelien Crochard (Renault Clio) headed Xavier Goubill (Peugeot 306) and Kevin Jacquinet (Peugeot 207) in the Division four final and Nicolas Flon took the points lead in the Twingo R1 Cup with victory.

Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1) claimed back-to-back World Rallycross Championship wins in 2017 by winning the second round of the series at Montalegre in Portugal. Ekstrom started on the front row for the final and immediately took his joker. He gained when race leader Petter Solberg (Volkswagen Polo) picked up a puncture and delayed his team mate, Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo) who had been the stand-out performer of the weekend. Kristoffersson took the lead once he cleared Solberg but dropped to third after his final-lap joker. Ekstrom moved into the lead, but had to work hard to fend off the attentions of Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot 208) in the final corners. Kristoffersson secured PSRX Volkswagen RX Sweden’s first podium, as Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) finished fourth, Reinis Nitiss (Audi S1) was fifth and Solberg was classified sixth. In the Super1600 category, Ulrik Linnemann (Peugeot 208) claimed victory, having started from the front row of the final. Timur Shigaboutdinov (Renault Twingo) was initially second but was given a five second penalty for a robust move on Krisztian Szabo (Skoda Fabia) in the final and dropped to fourth. Szabo and Volland Racing team mate Artis Baumanis (Skoda Fabia).

The first round of the RallyX Nordic Championship took place at Grenland in Norway, where youth starred. Making his first ever rallycross start, Oliver Solberg, son of triple FIA World Champion Petter, raced his father’s Citroen DS3 and impressed, setting top times in the qualifying races to be to top the Intermediate Classification. In the final it was Oliver Eriksson (Ford Fiesta) who claimed victory, ahead of Thomas Bryntesson (Ford Fiesta) and Solberg. Alexander Hvaal (Volkswagen Polo) was fourth, Joachim Hvaal (Ford Fiesta) fifth and Mats Ohman (Ford Fiesta) sixth. In the Supercar Lites category, Simon Oloffsson began his year with victory, chased by Norwegian Sondre Evjen and William Nilsson in the final.

Scott Speed (Volkswagen Beetle) won the opening round of the American-based Global Rallycross Championship at Memphis International Raceway. Both Speed and Andretti Volkswagen team mate Tanner Foust (Volkswagen Beetle) won their semi-finals to start on the front row of the final, which had to be restarted after an accident involving Patrick Sandell (Subaru Impreza). Speed led throughout to claim victory, followed by Foust in second while Steve Arpin (Ford Fiesta) came out on top of a three-way battle for third with Mitchell DeJong (Honda Civic) and Oliver Eriksson (Honda Civic). Cabot Bigham (Ford Fiesta) was classified sixth. Conner Martell won the GRC Lites final from Frenchman Cyril Raymond and Christian Brooks.

Former European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill (Ford Fiesta) continued his unbeaten run in the Irish Rallycross Championship by scoring victory at Tynagh in both the Supercar final and Super Final ahead of Noel Greene (Mitsubishi Mirage). Lloyd Spendlove (Lotus Exige) finished second in the Modified final and third in the Super Final, while Willie Coyne (Opel Corsa) claimed the Modified win and Brian Grealish (Honda Civic) completed the podium. Keith Kerrshaawe (Peugeot 106) won the Production final from Adrian Farrell (Peugeot 205) and Derek Lenehan (Citroen Saxo). Alastair Kellett won Ford Fiesta final and Jyles Harding headed a Nissan Micra one-two-three in the Junior final.

MJP Racing Team Austria owner and driver Max Pucher (Ford Fiesta) won in the Austrian Rallycross Championship event at former European Championship venue, Melk. Pucher claimed victory by over a second from Alois Holler (Ford Focus), who rolled his car in the qualifying stages. Gerald Eder (Skoda Fabia) completed the podium. Josef Korinek (Skoda Citygo) won the Super1600 final from Dominik Rath (Peugeot 207) and Markus Hausberger (Skoda Fabia), while Karl Schadenhofer (Volkswagen Golf) won SuperTouringCars+ and Roman Castoral (Opel Astra) won SuperTouringCars-.

Former Rally Australia and European Rallycross event winner Francois Duval will race an Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 Supercar in the fourth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Belgium next week. Duval claimed his only WRC victory in a Citroen Xsara, and is the only Belgian to have won at the highest level in rallycross, driving a Ford Focus at Maasmechelen in 2010. Last season, Duval raced an OMSE Ford Fiesta Supercar at his home event and finished fifth in the final. “I am very happy to drive for Albatec Racing at my home event,” he said. “Albatec is a serious team; the infrastructure is very good and they are also very sympathetic, which I appreciate a lot. They have shown that they have the motivation. We will race effectively the same car as Sebastien Loeb, this is great!  I have seen the Albatec car in competition and I am very confident that the work they have undertaken over the winter will put us in a strong position to challenge for a good result.”

Reigning British Rallycross Champion Dan Rooke will race in at least five rounds of the RX2 International Series this year, driving for former race Eric Faren’s Team Faren squad. Rooke has signed up for the European-based events in the series and is seeking the budget to race in the two flyaway events in Canada and South Africa. “A lot of hard work has gone into putting this deal together, and I’m relieved to have finally got it over the line. It was touch-and-go for a while as to whether I’d be racing at all this year, so to be on the grid in my number one choice of series is fantastic and I really can’t wait for the season to begin now,” he said.

British Rallycross Championship contender Oliver Bennett will race in his home round of the World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill later this month, driving his Quick Motorsport-run OlsbergsMSE built Ford Fiesta Supercar. Bennett is also competing in the second and third rounds of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship this weekend at Pembrey to get more seat time.

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