Kristoffersson wins in South Africa; Hope-Davies & Dowel Champions; first electric win

Seven days in rallycross, November 18

by Hal Ridge |

Johan Kristoffersson concluded his World Rallycross Championship winning season in style by claiming victory at the first World RX event held in South Africa, on the outskirts of Cape Town. Kristoffersson took maximum points from the event by topping the Intermediate Classification, winning semi-final one and the final. Having set a pair of fastest times in the qualifying stages, Timmy Hansen beat Ken Block to win semi-final two, but was forced wide at turn one of the final and lost ground. He took an early joker and fought back to challenge Kristoffersson when the Champion took his joker on the final tour, but the lost time at turn one was enough to rule him out of victory contention. Outgoing champion Mattias Ekstrom finished third, his result in the Intermediate Classification, semi-final and final enough to pass Petter Solberg for second in the Drivers’ Championship points. The former Champions came together in semi-final one, when Ekstrom was bunched up behind a slowing Kristoffersson at the joker lap exit, but the trio all made it into the final. In the last race of the year, Solberg was fourth, Timo Scheider was fifth and Kevin Hansen retired meters after he left the starting line with driveline problems. Cyril Raymond won the RX2 final, as Dan Rooke rolled out of the final. Results here.

Manfred Stohl claimed a maiden victory for the world’s first electric rallycross car in the Race of Austrian Champions at Greinbach, a year after the former WRC podium finisher debuted the car in the same event. Stohl drove the STARD machine to beat Mitsubishi Evo VI driver Gerwald Grossing.”I didn’t get the best start and had to switch to a different programme setting, but from there the car went really well and I qualified for the final,” said Stohl. “In the final I had two pretty good runs, the car went as well as I expected. Not only did we win, but with our time (1m03.31s) we set a new course record.”

Production category racer Jeff Hope-Davies finished second in class at the final round of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship at Croft Circuit, but as overall title-rival Brian Hardman (Ford Escort) ran into problems with a Q3 accident in the Historic category and finished down the order, Hope-Davies claimed the overall crown. The Welsh driver finished second to Eddie Gibbs (Renault Clio) in the last Production final of the year, but that mattered little. Local driver Guy Corner (Peugeot 206) won the SuperModified final ahead of Michael Boak (Citroen C2), who had qualified on pole position and then had to fight his way back up the order in the A final, while Belgian racer Jos Sterkens (Ford Escort) was third. It was an end of season celebration for the Grant family, Andy Grant (Ford Focus) winning the Clubman 4×4 (Supercar) final while Michael Grant (Ford Fiesta) dominated the Historic final. Tom Constantine (Suzuki Swift) won the Junior final and Steve Bell (Peugeot 205) won the DDMC’s autocross final. Results here.

Justin Dowel (Hyundai i20) secured the RXAus Australian Rallycross Championship title at the final round of the 2017 series, as Will Orders (Mitsubishi Evo) claimed victory in the finale held at the Carnell Raceway in Queensland. Victory for Orders meant he moved ahead of RX Academy driver Troy Dowel in the points for second, as Justin Dowel finished second in the season closer ahead of his son Troy in third. In the two-wheel drive category, Troy Dowel (Mazda 2) beat class champion Mike Conway (Ford Escort) to claim top honours. Excel Cup champion Ron Bustard concluded his season with victory. Results here.

British Rallycross Champion Nathan Heathcote was joined by British Touring Car Champion Ashley Sutton for a Lydden Hill end of season showdown, where Heathcote drove his title-winning LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 against Sutton’s Team BMR Subaru Levorg BTCC car in a shoot-out race between the pair. A feature and video on the head-to-head race will be released in due course. Sutton also tested a rallycross Supercar for the first time on the same day at the Kent circuit, first sampling Heathcote’s DS3 before experiencing the car that his BTCC team boss, Warren Scott has driven for Liam Doran’s team in British RX in 2017.

Fors Performance owner and engineer Stephane Orre and World Rallycross driver Guerlain Chicherit have collaborated to create a new team call G-FORS, which will build a pair of new Renault Clio RS RX Supercars to run in the European Rallycross Championship, French Rallycross Championship and selected World Rallycross Championship events in 2018 for young drivers. The new squad will be managed by Atte Varsta. “I’ve been working with Stephane and FORS PERFORMANCE for the past year and have seen how committed and dedicated they are to the sport of rallycross,” said Chicherit, who will drive one of two Prodrive-built Renault Megane Supercars in his GCK team in World RX next season. “Supporting Stephane and Atte in creating G-FORS is a mutually beneficial opportunity to create a way to nurture talent and prepare them for World RX. G-FORS presents an exciting opportunity for drivers as a stepping stone to the World Championship and allows me to keep an eye on up and coming talent”.

The calendar for the 2018 RX2 International Series, the single-make support category to the World Rallycross Championship, was revealed at the series’ awards Gala in South Africa. The class will join the same World RX events as it did in 2017, with the seven rounds taking place in Belgium, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Canada, France and South Africa, with Silverstone in the UK the new circuit on the bill as it replaces Lydden Hill at the British round in the World RX schedule.

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