The big Seven Days catch up

A review of what happened while we've been busy with other stuff…

by Rallycross World |

21 February Andros Trophy champion JB Dubourg signs with G-Fors to race in the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars. The Frenchman will race one of the team’s new Renault Clios in the five-event championship and will be partnered in the team by Finn Jere Kalliokoski.

01 March GRC and MJP Racing announce plans for the ‘GRC Platinum Class’ which will use a single-make spaceframe four-wheel drive car and commence in 2019. At the same time plans for ‘GRC Europe’ to launch in 2019 are announced. 

03 March Oliver Eriksson wins the final round of the Rally X on Ice season at Gol in Norway to clinch the series title. Eriksson dominated the event and put the title beyond the reach of his rivals with victory in his semi-final. Winning the event was the icing on the cake for the Sweden who was joined on the podium by Conner Martell and Jimmie Walfridsson.

Sami-Matti Trogen won the RX Academy final while sixth place was sufficient for Jesse Kallio to take the RX Academy on Ice title.

05 March Team Peugeot Total is launched. Peugeot’s full works entry into the FIA World Rallycross Championship encompasses a two-car team entry with Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen and an individual entry for Kevin Hansen. While Loeb and Hansen major get all new Peugeot 208s for their season, Hansen minor has an updated 2017 car for his solo tilt at the drivers’ title. Peugeot Sport Director Bruno Famin said: “This marks the start of an exciting year for us, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship will be Peugeot’s key motorsport engagement in a factory capacity …  We decided to participate in world rallycross because we firmly believe in the future of this sport: the sporting format, which is short and intense, is exciting, the audience, younger than in other categories, is still growing, and furthermore we also believe in the electric future of the championship.” 

06 March GRX confirms its participation in the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship by announcing that Timur Timerzyanov will join Niclas Gronholm as it expands to two cars and introduces new Hyundai i20s to World RX. 

06 March World RX newcomers GC Kompetition confirms that its driver lineup will be completed by Jerome Grosset-Janin who joins team founder Guerlain Chicherit in an all-French pairing for the new Renault Meganes. Testing duties for the team are to be carried out by Timo Scheider.

07 March The first official test for the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at Loheac. PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, Team Peugeot Total, EKS Audi Sport, Olsbergs MSE and Stard are present in two days of running at the French World RX venue. Alongside it’s development Fiesta, OMSE also ran one of its Honda Civic Coupes. Chinese racer Ma Qinghua shared the driving of the Stard Fiesta with Janis Baumanis.

14 March FIA World Rallycross Championship promoter IMG launches the Americas Rallycross Championship (ARX). The new series will run over four events in 2018 and will be supported by ARX2 for the proven Supercar Lites category. ARX has immediate support from Volkswagen of America and Subaru of America both of which will take part with Supercar teams. “We are very excited about the future of rallycross in North America and look forward to finalizing all details with IMG and working closely with them to help make ARX a success,” said Greg Lucia, Director, Experiential Marketing, Volkswagen. Subaru Motorsports Marketing Manager Rob Weir said: “IMG has done a fantastic job with the World RX platform, so we’re keen to integrate the Subaru Rally Team USA program in the upcoming ARX series under its guidance.” The series is to start at Speedmachine at Silverstone on May 26-27 where it will join the World RX bill. 

17 March The first round of the British Rallycross Championship takes place at Silverstone, the first rallycross event to take place at the iconic British venue. Run in arctic conditions with lows of -18c recorded, the event provided a challenge to venue and competitors. World RX visitors Team Peugeot Total and EKS Audi Sport dominated the day, Audi driver Andreas Bakkerud qualifying on pole before Peugeot star Sebastien Loeb moved through to claim the victory. Timmy Hansen and Bakkerud completed the podium. Best of the British championship regulars was Julian Godfrey in Spencer Sport’s Mitsubishi Mirage. The MSA Supernational category was won by Jack Thorne who fought back from a first lap incident to take victory in his Super1600 Renault Twingo. Norwegian teen Marius Solberg Hansen (no relation to either clan) won the MSA Junior Rallycross season opener.

26 March The second official World RX test take place at Silverstone where the pre-season media launch for the FIA World Rallycross Championship is also held. Among the guests to experience rallycross on the day were British F1 testers George Russell, Jack Aitken and Callum Ilott.

02 April Lydden Hill hosts the second round of the British Rallycross Championship on its traditional Easter Monday date. Liam Doran returns to the series at the wheel of a Citroen C4 and challenged for the lead in the first lap of the final. Contact with race leader Mark Higgins broke the steering of Doran’s car and ended his run, after which the pressure was off Higgins who gained his first rallycross win in convincing style. Julian Godfrey maintained his points lead with second place ahead of Ollie O’Donovan. The MSA Supernational final was won by Tristan Ovenden while Tom Constantine collected the MSA Junior Rallycross victory.

04 April The newest track in the World RX schedule is revealed in a media launch at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) at Austin in Texas. The new 812-metre track is situated in the ‘arena’ section between turns 12 and 15 of COTA’s road course. ARX2 and ARX cars are used to trial the new track – Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross pairing Scott Speed and Tanner Foust both on duty. Bobby Epstein, chairman of Circuit of the Americas, added: “World Rallycross is exciting and fan-friendly. The new course that has been designed is sure to challenge the drivers and wow the spectators. I look forward to their action-packed partnership for years to come.”

9 April Aspiring World RX team ES Motorsport releases the first images of its new Skoda Fabia Supercar. The team, owned by former Super1600 regular Ernestas Staponkus, has been preparing for the step up to World RX for more than a year and had hoped to complete a full season before component supply issues forced it to delay its debut. The new car is being built by Blue Engineering, Vaison Sport and Autotek and is expected to start testing in May. Staponkus says he has no immediate plans to race the car and is promising a high profile driver new to rallycross. The Lithunanian team hopes to expand to a two-car effort in future.

10 April Having missed both official pre-season tests and with its new Hyundai i20 yet to be seen in public, GRX Taneco Team confirms that both cars are ready to start the World RX season opener in Barcelona. Drivers Timur Timerzyanov and Niclas Gronholm profess themselves happy with the cars and aim for semi-final finishes in round one.

10 April JC Raceteknik undertakes a pre-season test at Loheac. The Swedish has redeveloped its pair of Ford Fiesta Supercars over the winter and will take part in a full FIA European Rallycross Championship campaign with Thomas Bryntesson and Ola Froshaug returning to drive. In his first Supercar season, Bryntesson won the French round of Euro RX and claimed the Rally X Nordic title in 2017.

11 April Rally X Nordic announces a new five-year TV deal with C More. All events will receive live coverage in Sweden via specialist sports channel Sportkanalen.

11 April STARD withdraws its World RX of Catalunya Barcelona for Ma Qinghua. The Austrian team has also placed an entry for the Chinese driver – who tested with it during the World RX test at Loheac in March – to race in Portugal.

15 April The opening round of the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place over two days of mixed weather at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – Saturday’s qualifiers taking place in heavy rain while Sunday was graced with more appropriate Ibrian weather. The event ended in the Stewards’ room where Mattias Ekstrom lost victory; disqualified for a first lap incident in which Petter Solberg’s VW Polo hit tyre markers in the first corner. The event was run on a revised version of the circuit in which the start line was moved. The new location (necessary to accommodate a start line of the regulatory minimum width of 14.5m) meant the first turn became a light left on the exit of what had previously been the first unsealed section in the lap. 

Ekstrom’s disqualification handed victory to defending title holder and Solberg’s team mate Johan Kristoffersson. Sebastien Loeb and Andreas Bakkerud moved up the second and third respectively. Loeb’s performance in the final phase of the event was extraordinary. He qualified 13th but was gifted last place on the grid in semi-final two when Peugeot withdrew 12th qualifier Kevin Hansen. From there Loeb placed second to make his way into the final and then to the podium in a brace of stirring drives.

FIA European Rallycross Championship Supercar and Super1600 were also on the card in Barcelona. Reinis Nitiss (Set Promotion Fiesta) opened his account in the championship with a dominant win and maximum points score as he led home 2017 champ Anton Marklund (Marklund Motorsport VW Polo) and JB Dubourg (G-Fors Renault Clio).

Artis Baumanis (Volland Racing Skoda Fabia) was similarly dominant in Super1600 where he led home Frenchman Jimmy Terpereau (Citroen C2) and Volland team mate Gergely Marton.

16 April In the build up to the opening round of the RX2 season the series announces that 2017 front runners Vasily Gryazin, William Nilsson and Simon Syversen will return in 2018. Meanwhile new drivers joining the seven-round championship include British champion Nathan Heathcote (Team Faren) and Norwegian Henrik Krogstad (JC Raceteknik) are both set for maiden campaigns.

16 April Hoonigan Racing Division and Loenbro Motorsport announce a link up to contest ARX events in a pair of Ford Focus RX RXs. Under the arrangement the cars will be prepared and run by Loenbro which is owned by Paul and Jon Leach and managed on a daily basis by Steve Arpin who will drive the second Focus alongside Ken Block.

17 April DA Racing announces a four-event programme of FIA European Rallycross Championship Supercar events for Swede Magda Andersson. The French team has a Peugeot 208 in Euro RX for Andrea Dubourg and will now field its second car for Anderssonin Belgium, Sweden, France and Latvia. Former Euro RX TouringCar event winner Andersson had a full Euro Supercar season with Marklund Motorsport in 2017.

18 April MJP Racing Team Austria announces a programme of three World RX events form Andrew Jordan and Toomas Heikkinen aboard a pair of new ‘Lion RX3’ Ford Fiesta Supercars. British Touring Car Racer and rallycross favourite Jordan will team up with Finn Heikkinen for events in Great Britain, France and Germany. Jordan, who is a regular expert commentator for World RX TV programmes said “There’s something truly special about Silverstone and although I’ve not raced consistently in the discipline for more than a decade, rallycross will always be my first love and every opportunity I get to rekindle that flame is a total no-brainer for me.”

23 April French F1 commentator and accompolished rallycross irregular Julien Febreau announces a six-round programme of events in the French Rallycross Championship with DA Racing. Febreau, who hails from the birthplace of French rallycross, Loheac, and former event winner in France will drive one of DA’s Peugeot 208s at Abbeville, Essay, Chateauroux, Faleyras, Pont-de-Ruan and Mayenne.

29 April The second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place in Portugal with the weather once again playing a spectacular hand as the event concludes with the final run in a blizzard. Situated 1030m above sea level the spectacular track at Montalegre was bathed in spring sun on the first day of the event before low cloud, rain and snow blew in on Sunday. Andreas Bakkerud topped the Intermediate Classification after a brace of fastest times on Sunday but lost out to Johan Kristoffersson in semif-final one. Q2 winner Timmy Hansen won the second semi ahead of team mate Sebastien Loeb who won Q1. Kristoffersson led the final from the start, Hansen dropping from contention with a spin while Loeb rose to second place ahead of Petter Solberg. Bakkerud slipped to fourth, ahead of Guerlain Chicherit who had a starring role in the event, fending off Mattias Ekstrom for his place in the final.

European Championship Super1600 joined World RX in Portugal. Round one winner Artis Baumanis proved that it ain’t over ’till it’s over; 12th at the intermediate the Latvian placed third in semi two and then climbed the order to win the final. The event has been dominated by Rokas Baciuska, but the young Lithuanian slipped to fifth in the final, Espen Isaksaetre and Ondrej Smetana joining Baumanis on the podium.

06 May Ollie O’Donovan takes a narrow victory in the third round of the British Rallycross Championship at Croft. The final was restarted after Julian Godfrey crashed out of the first start; his Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage striking Steve Hill’s Mitsubishi Lancer as the latter tried to pull off the circuit following engine problems. Godfrey walked away unhurt from his car which was launched into a series of rolls during which it caught fire. O’Donovan led the restart from lights to flag, surviving last lap contact from Mark Higgins. Alongside Higgins’ car, Albatec Racing entered a second Peugeot 208 for team boss Andy Scott who qualified on pole for the final, before being forced to start from the back of the grid after a jump start. Scott made his way to third in the final to join Higgins on the podium. Tristan Ovenden took the MSA Supernational victory in his Renault Clio V6 while the MSA Junior Rallycross win was taken by Tom Constantine. MSA Junior had a record entry of ten cars including debutant racers Patrick O’Donovan and Norwegian Kristiana Hvaal Engh.

06 May The opening round of the French Rallycross Championship took place at the new Abbeville track where Guerlain Chicherit topped the podium in one of the G-Fors Renault Clios. Chicherit was joined on the podium by Antoine Masse and Julien Febreau (both Peugeot 208). Returning to racing and just missing the podium, Fabien Chanoine placed fourth in his Renault. Fresh from Euro RX exploits, Jimmy Terpereau claimed the Super1600 victory while Emmanuel Danveau took Twingo Cup honours. Xavier Briffaud (Mini) and Florian Zavattin (Renault Clio) won D3 and D4 respectively.

06 May The Rally X Nordic season begins at Holjes with defending champion Thomas Bryntesson taking victory in his JC Raceteknik Fiesta. The Norwegian is joined on the podium by local racer Lukas Walfridson (Clio) and Mats Ohman (Fiesta). Oliver Solberg had run third but dropped his Citroen into a gravel trap while challenging Walfridson. Belgian Guillaume De Ridder conquered Nordic allcomers to take the Lites victory and was joined on the podium by local crosskart graduate Linus Ostlund and Norwegian Glenn Haug. The event also included the first RX Academy event of the year, victory taken by Finn Jimi Kalliomaki ahead of compatriot Sami-Matti Trogen and New Zealand’s Sloan Cox.

07 May American drivers Cole Keatts and Conner Martell confirm their participation in the RX2 International Series. Martell previously dipped his toe in the water in Latvia in 2016 where a string performance netted second place. The season will be the first on the International stage for Keatts (below). 

13 May The third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship brought a new winner as Sebastien Loeb gave Peugeot it’s first victory since his maiden World RX win in Latvia 2016. Mattias Ekstrom was top qualifier with wins in Q2 and Q4. Timmy Hansen topped Q3 and would start semi two from pole. Johan Kristoffersson won semi one from team mate Petter Solberg who’d won Q1 the previous day. Ekstrom placed third after a poor start. Loeb aced semi two, leading home Andreas Bakkerud and Hansen. Kristoffersson survived a two-wheeled moment in turn one of the final, and when the race settled Loeb was left chasing down Ekstrom and had mentally settled for second place when the latter jokered on the last lap and race fell perfectly into place for Peugeot.

In one of the busiest events of the year the programme also contained FIA European Championship Supercar and TouringCar as well as the season opener for RX2. Cyril Raymond joined Euro Supercar in what amounts to a satelite factory entry and was top qualifier after winning three qualifiers. Reinis Nitiss won Q4. The pair won a semi-final each but in the final defending champ Anton Marklund cut through to win. Nitiss was last in lap one because of a driveshaft problem, but when that cured itself he fought back to second ahead of Raymond. 

Beginning its final season as an FIA Championship, TouringCar mustered 16 starters and produced a fine final in which 2015 champion Fredrik Salsten (Citroen DS3) came from last in the first lap to beat local favourite Steve Volders (Fiesta). The podium was completed by 2014 champion Daniel Lundh (Volvo C30).

Another former TouringCar champion to visit the podium was Ben Philip Gundersen who emerged as the winner of RX2. Vasily Gryazin was top qualifier and won semi one but was knocked out of the final in turn one, Jami Kalliomaki disqualified for his part in the incident. Gundersen was joined on the podium by fellow Norwegians Sondre Evjen and Henrik Krogstad, Swede William Nilsson placing fourth and completing a notable lockout of the top four places by JC Raceteknik.

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