Driver

OFFICIAL EVENT PREVIEW: ARGENTINA RX

The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy – World RX of Argentina – will see the 2016 World RX Teams’ Champion crowned in South America this weekend (26-27 November).  Only 17 points separate EKS [Mattias Ekstrom and Topi Heikkinen] and Team Peugeot-Hansen [Timmy Hansen and Sebastien Loeb] so it will be all to play for during the event’s four qualifying sessions, semi-final and final where 56 points are still available.

In the Drivers’ Championship, Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom has already been crowned the 2016 World RX Champion after accruing enough points to secure the title at the penultimate round in Germany last month.  However, the fight for second and third place will go down to the wire with Norwegians Petter Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud plus Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson covered by only 11 points [a total of 30 points are available over the weekend].

“We still have a chance of winning the teams’ title,” explained Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Sebastien Loeb who took his debut World RX victory in Latvia last month. “It won’t be easy but I’ve seen for myself several times already that anything can happen in rallycross. We will keep fighting until the very end!”

Loeb’s team-mate Hansen hinted that this year’s car could be crucial in helping the team retain its title. He explained: “The 2016-spec PEUGEOT 208 RX is faster than the 2015 car so I’m hoping for a top result to help the team win the teams’ title for the second year running.”

There have been a couple of changes to the regular World Championship driver line-up for the RX season-closer. Double DTM Champion Timo Scheider will make his third appearance of the season for the Muennich Motorsport team, at the wheel of a Seat Ibiza RX alongside Rene Muennich, while the team’s former driver, Latvia’s Reinis Nitiss will make his third appearance of the year in an Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta. Nitiss will step-in for regular driver Niclas Gronholm at the event alongside Sweden’s Kevin Eriksson, who won the previous round in Germany.

In addition to the regular permanent teams, former European Championship Group N event winner Nick Jones will make his World RX debut in a JRM Racing World Rallycross Mini RX, having worked as a lead mechanic for the team throughout 2016.

“Now it’s getting a bit closer I’m feeling a bit nervous, but that’s a good thing I think,” admitted Englishman Jones. “This is an amazing opportunity that JRM has given me. Guy [Wilks] showed what the car is capable of in Latvia. Everybody at JRM has bent over backwards to improve this year. In the last three rounds we’ve made a lot of progress and it’s exciting to be part of it. To get to drive the car now too is even more special.  As soon as it was announced, my phone went mental. It’s just bonkers – I want to do what JRM want me to do, because you never know who is watching or what could happen in the future."

Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “With the drivers’ title already decided, all eyes will now be on the closely-fought teams’ championship and whether EKS can finish the year on a high by wrapping up both the drivers’ and teams’ championships. The winning team’s car will then be flown direct to Vienna for the 2016 FIA prize-giving the following weekend where we will also watch Mattias crowned our new World RX Champion. As well as the teams’ championship, we have a close battle on our hands between Solberg, Bakkerud and Kristoffersson as they fight for the runner-up spot. Last year we saw Sweden’s Robin Larsson secure his maiden World RX victory in Rosario and with this season providing seven different winners so far, it’s possible we could witness our eighth different victor next weekend.”  

From a Cooper Tire point of view.

Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe, commented: “We have reached the final event of the year in Argentina, and at 7,000 miles from our manufacturing facility in Melksham, England, the tyres for this event have had a long journey over the last month to reach what is likely to be a spectacular event. Autodromo Rosario was a new track for 2015 but we are expecting changes to the unpaved sections in 2016 to better manage dust and visibility. Any impact that this has on wear rate or running temperatures will be monitored and managed by the Cooper Motorsport engineers who will work with the teams to establish appropriate car set-ups.”

Public Timetable

Friday 25 November

1500: Drivers’ draw for Q1 grid and pre-event press conference

Saturday 26 November

0830 Photographers’ briefing

0900 World RX practice

1130 World RX Q1

1330 World RX Q2

Sunday 27 November

0900 Photographers’ briefing

0945 World RX warm-up

1100 World RX Q3

1230 World RX Q4

1445 World RX semi-final pre-grid VIP access

1500 World RX semi-finals and final

1600 Podium

1610 World RX top three press conference

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