MID-SEASON REVIEW: PART TWO
As the second half of the FIA World Rallycross Championship begins next week, with round seven taking place at Trois-Rivieres in Canada, we’re taking a took back at the opening half of the 2016 season.
The first bite size installment, rounds 1 – 3, was published earlier this week and today we take a brief look at rounds 4 – 6.
Round Four; Lydden Hill, UK
In 2015, Mattias Ekstrom and Petter Solberg raced head-to-head for victory at Lydden Hill and were split by fractions of a second come the finish, where Solberg claimed the win. This year it was Ekstrom’s turn to take the upper hand, the Swede winning the final to maintain his championship lead, while Solberg, who had led through the whole event until the last laps of the final, had to settle for second. Timmy Hansen scored his first podium of the season with third place, chased throughout the final by younger brother Kevin, who had won the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Belgium at the previous event. Timur Timerzyanov made the final but was slowed by steering problems, while Andreas Bakkerud started on the second row of the grid for the final but broke a driveshaft and finished sixth. Sebastien Loeb didn’t make it into the final after suffering a problem in his semi-final.
Round Five; Hell, Norway
Until the fifth round of World RX this season, no driver had ever scored a ‘perfect weekend’, by being fastest in each qualifying race, the semi-final and final. However, that was until Bakkerud dominated at Hell in Norway, to claim the first win for the Ford Focus RS RX. Timerzyanov was also fast; the Russian claimed the spoils in each practice session and chased Bakkerud throughout the weekend, winning the second semi-final to join the Norwegian on the front row of the final. But, the former European Champion suffered a puncture in the final and couldn’t challenge for victory. Timmy Hansen improved on his position from Lydden Hill to finish second, while points leader Ekstrom completed the podium. Solberg finished fourth to keep the gap to Ekstrom at five points at the head of the table, with Loeb fifth and Timerzyanov classified sixth. France’s Davy Jeanney almost made it three Peugeot-Hansen 208s in the final, he finished fourth in semi-final two.
Round Six; Holjes, Sweden
Home driver Johan Kristoffersson qualified top at the Intermediate Classification at Holjes, but it was Bakkerud and Timmy Hansen who won the two semi-finals to qualify for the front row of the final, from where Bakkerud took his joker on lap one and went to secure his second victory of the season and the third podium for the Focus RS RX. Hansen almost finished second, but experienced a problem with his Peugeot 208s handbrake in the final corner and handed the position to team mate Sebastien Loeb. Hansen finished third. Anton Marklund finished fourth ahead of team mate Kristoffersson and EKS driver Ekstrom, who retired early in the race with a throttle problem. Solberg finished fourth in his semi-final and failed to make the final, but the gap between the leading pair at the top of the championship remained at five points. Finland’s Niclas Gronholm had his best event of his World RX career and finished fifth in semi-final two.
Find full event results here, and championship standings here.
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