Wins for Solberg, Maatta, Pucher & Vuorisalo. Silverstone rallycross circuit launched

Seven days in rallycross, June 3

by Hal Ridge |

Triple FIA World Champion Petter Solberg (Volkswagen Polo) dominated the fifth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, setting the fastest time in three of the four qualifying races, winning semi-final one and the final to claim his first victory in over a year. As he had in the semi-final, Solberg took his joker on the second lap of the final to cover off those who had already taken their joker on lap one and retook the lead when the rest of the field ahead took their joker laps. Solberg’s PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team mate Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo) joined Solberg on the front row of the final and took his joker on lap one. Second place at the finish was enough for the Swede to take the championship lead from Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1) who made the final and was fifth, the reigning champion suffering a puncture on the final lap.

Andreas Bakkerud was ‘best of the rest’ behind the Volkswagen duo in third and Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot 208) passed Ekstrom using the joker lap for fourth. Ekstrom’s puncture dropped him away from the podium fight but didn’t lose him a position, Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) crossing the line in sixth after also sustaining a puncture on lap three, on the abrasive surface. British Touring Car Championship driver Andrew Jordan (Ford Fiesta) returned to the sport in which he started his career and finished fifth in his semi-final.

As Solberg had in Supercar, Frenchman Cyril Raymond dominated in the RX2 category to claim victory, despite breaking the rear suspension on his car in the final. Home driver Dan Rooke finished second to Raymond for the second event in a row while Thomas Holmen completed the podium. In the FIA European Rallycross TouringCar category, former Champion Lars Oivind Enerberg (Ford Fiesta) won the final to take the Championship lead. Steve Volders (Ford Fiesta) scored his best result to date in second, with Kjetil Larsen (Ford Fiesta) third, driving a borrowed car.

The Lydden Hill event also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first ever rallycross event, which ran at the venue on February 4 1967. Cars from across the sport’s history were present for on-track demonstrations and static displays at the final World RX event to be held at the venue before the British round of the Championship moves to Silverstone from 2018.

On Tuesday, Silverstone hosted a launch of its new rallycross circuit. Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud and Johan Kristoffersson attended as part of the ‘SpeedMachine’ festival launch in the pit garages, before a number of cars took to the circuit, currently constructed of largely unsealed surfaces, aside from the first corner. Former WRC star Mikko Hirvonen drove a JRM Mini RX, Guerlain Chicherit gave passenger rides in the Renault Clio Supercar he is campaigning this year and James Grint ran the Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage he will race in British RX this year on unsealed surfaces for the first time. Other drivers, including Oliver Bennett and RX2 cars also took part.

The first ever round of the RX Academy took place at Hyvinkaa in Finland, alongside the opening round of the Finnish Rallycross Championship. Having dominated the qualifying stages, Jesse Kallio spun off in the opening corners of the final, meaning Samuli Vuorisalo claimed victory, deputising for the absent Sami-Matti Trogren, busy with F4 duties elsewhere. Martins Lapins was second with former JRX driver Marat Knyazev third. Kristian Kiviniemi was classified fourth, Kallio fifth and Kalle Markkanen sixth.

In the Finnish Championship, experienced racer Atro Maata (Ford Fiesta) claimed victory in the Supercar category ahead of Euro RX racer Riku Tahko (BMW Mini). Jukka Lautamaki (Skoda Fabia) was third, with Ari Perkiomaki (Skoda Fabia) fourth and Jere Kalliokski (Skoda Fabia) fifth. Ari-Pekka Niemi (Ford Fiesta) was sixth. In the Supernational division, Henri Haapamaki (BMW E46) won ahead of Jussi Klemola (Ford Escort) and Joni-Pekka Rajala (Ford Escort).

MJP Racing Team Austria owner and driver Max Pucher (Ford Fiesta) won the joint Italian Rallycross Championship and FIA Central European Zone Championship event at Maggiora. Ivan Carmellino (Mitsubushi Evo) finished second with Mandie August (Audi S3) third. Alois Holler (Ford Focus) was fourth. Stafano Cerri (Citroen Saxo) won the Super1600 final, and Karl Schandenhofer (Volkswagen Golf) claimed top honours in the SuperTouringCar+ category.

« »