Monday, 21 September 2020

Bakkerud appreciates safety equipment in Mégane after 120km/h crash.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
Andreas Bakkerud was given the all-clear on Sunday evening following a heavy crash in the semi-finals of round six of the World Rallycross Championship in Riga-Latvia.

The 2019 World RX runner-up came wheel-to-wheel with Timo Scheider as the German emerged from the joker lap at the end of lap five, and while Scheider was able to keep the Norweigian behind. On the last lap, Andreas saw a gap and went for the overtake on the inside of the German but in the short run to turn five, Scheider defended and squeezed him into the grass bank with significant impact, that tore the front-left corner off the GCK Mégane R.S. RX. He was immediately helped from the car by marshals and taken to the hospital for further evaluation, and was released on Sunday evening. 

Scheider finished the semi-final in third-place, but was later disqualified by the FIA Stewards for "unsportsmanlike" behavior. 

Bakkerud has not had the smoothest of seasons with GC Kompetition, but put his Renault Mégane in sixth-place overall after the three qualifiers, and progressed to the semi-finals where his weekend abruptly ended. He finished round 6 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in seventh overall. 

"Today was really a day about consistency for us in Riga and the target was the podium for sure," Bakkerud said. "I felt we were strong in Q1 and Q2 especially, then we struggled a bit in Q3, got safely to the semi-finals, and saw a lot of action there."

The Norwegian talks us through what happened in the semi-final, including the heavy 120km/h shunt.  

"First following the start which had us pushed out but then I caught up to Scheider twice and knew I had the opportunity to overtake him. I saw him break a little late to defend and I took a wider line, cut back to then take the inside line," he explained. "Then I just felt one big punch into the front side of my car that changed its direction entirely and hit the barrier on the left doing 120km/h at the time. There were parts everywhere and I literally just closed my eyes hoping that Marklund and Doran would avoid me."

"At that speed, you never know what can happen. The track medical team did a great job and the Riga hospital did a lot of tests on me, which I really appreciate."

"It’s moments like this that you appreciate the work we’ve done on our safety equipment in the Megane, the seatbelts, our hybrid device, the helmet, and so on - you sometimes take it for granted but now I’m just happy that we use safety equipment that is well proven and of great quality."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson pleased despite not extending championship lead in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX
It wasn't a race victory on Sunday, but Johan Kristoffersson is pleased with his overall weekend in Riga-Latvia, as he maintains a seventeen point lead in the World Rallycross Championship. 

The double world champion took this third win of the season in round 5 of the championship on Saturday, and did not get off to a good start on Sunday. Championship rival Mattias Ekström dominated the qualifying sessions to earn the top qualifiers spot, but Johan is happy with his weekend in Latvia. 

"Two more races are done and not so many points left to fight for," Kristoffersson said. 

The double-header at the Bikernieki National Sports Base became a tyre strategy mind game. And, while Kristoffersson gambled in the qualifying sessions on Saturday, battling his way through on mostly used tyres, he finished second in the Intermediate Classification (after qualifying) and picked up fifteen points.

In the semi-final, he had fresh tyres and showed his great pace, winning in style.

"[The win] was the reward for the fight in Q2 and Q3," he said.

He went on to take a convincing victory on Saturday to claim his third win of the season.

Round six (on Sunday) saw, Kristoffersson fighting to earn the top spot. However, he came out second-best behind Mattias Ekström.

"The fight was all the way to the end, but really the biggest chance for victory today was in Q1. When I didn’t manage to take the start there, in Q2 I didn’t manage to beat Mattias again, and then I knew he already had a good tyre strategy then for Q3. I was on the back foot from thereon," the Kristoffersson Motorsport driver said.

In semi-final two, he started from pole position and won fairly easily, and for the final, he lined up alongside Ekström who was on pole position with new tyres on both cars.

"We were very aggressive on the tyres in the semi-final so I had four new tyres for the final the same as Mattias, I had a good launch, but so did Mattias. Then there was not much more to do," he said. 

"I was on the outside for turn one, and thereafter I just had to follow him, saving as many tyres as I could for five laps before the joker, but there was a little too much argy-bargy with Grönholm at the joker merge and during the lap, so I couldn’t really challenge Mattias at the last corner. But, I picked up as many points as I could, without winning, so I can't be disappointed."

Kristoffersson took 29 points from round five on Saturday and 26 more points from round six (on Sunday) with a total of 55 from the weekend, the same as Ekström, which sees the two split by seventeen points in the championship standings with four rounds remaining.

"I have only lost 14 points from six races," Johan adds.

The duel between Kristoffersson and Ekström is set to continue in Spain in four weeks' time, at another double-header.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Kristoffersson extends championship lead with dominant win in Latvia.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX. 
Johan Kristoffersson took his 23rd career victory of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Riga-Latvia, after a well-executed tyre strategy. 

Despite posting the fastest time in Q1, Kristoffersson used an alternate tyre strategy, which put in on the back foot against his rivals in Q3 (on new tyres). But the Swede would have the upperhand in the semi-final and final with five new tyres. He finished the three qualifying heats in second-place overall behind Niclas Gronholm (in the immediate classification) and rubber stamped a place in the semi-finals. 

Semi-final one saw Mattias Ekstrom start on used tyres, but that was no disadvantage for the Swede, as he immediately sweeped around the outside and into the lead after a good start, and he would control the race all the way to the checkered flag. 

While Johan Kristoffersson unleashed three new tyres (two on the front and one on the left rear). He had a superb launch off the line and led from start to finish. And, that was not all... he also produced the fastest lap of the day, a 48.391 second lap. 

Starting on pole position for the final, Kristoffersson was the only driver with new tyres (front tyres) and had a good launch off the line, only to be challenged by KYB Team JC's Robin Larsson who clipped the rear of Johan's Polo supercar, then was spun around the front of Mattias Ekstrom. While Kevin Hansen sweeped around the outside of Ekstrom to claimed P2 after the 2016 champion backed off due to the turn two melee. Facing the wrong way at turn two, Larsson was hit by Gronholm who was intern hit by Timmy Hansen. 

Clear from all the bumping and grinding behind, Kristoffersson pulled a two-second gap to pursuing Kevin [Hansen] who tried to make an impact, but with an early joker lap strategy. The Team Hansen driver would fall behind Mattias Ekstrom, and would ultimately finish behind his older brother Timmy Hansen. 

The untouchable Kristoffersson crossed line 3.468 seconds ahead of Mattias Ekstrom and Timmy Hansen, to claim his third win of the 2020 World RX season and also extend his Championship lead to 21 points.

"This feels very good. We were really pushing hard in Q2 and Q3, I was not really able to pull off the best times, but instead we had some good tyres for the semi-final and final so I think we had a big jump on our competitors or terms of tyres, then we had two good starts, and everything is much easier when you have fresh tyres," Kristoffersson said. "Big thanks to the team, we made some changes between Q3 and the semi-final and it actually made the car better so that feels good to gamble and go in the right direction."

Ekstrom’s second-place finish in Riga-Lativia is his 25th podium finish of his career and he admits that in order to beat Johan Kristoffersson, he needs to be spot on with everything he does. 

"The first corner of the final was a little bit too exciting, I don’t know exactly what happened to Robin, we’ll have to watch the television, but it was a bit messy and after I drove as fast as I could behind Kevin. After he jokered I had a clear track and ended up P2. For sure that was not our wish when we came here, we wanted to win but during qualifying we were not good enough so we couldn’t do good enough starts so we couldn’t be at the front in Q1 and Q2," Ekstrom said.

"When you’re on the back foot then you have to try and recover and I think P2 is a good recovery, but you need to be spot on to win these races especially when the other guys are in top shape as well."

Timmy Hansen's third-place finish meant it was an all-Swedish top three and also ensured that the podium was filled by World RX Drivers’ Champions (Kristoffersson 2017-18, Ekstrom 2016, Hansen 2019).

The Team Hansen driver is rather pleased with a podium finish after a hard-fought day in Riga. "We had a tough day. We see glimpses of really good performance, some good launches and I’ve been fastest on lap time many times today, but you know when you’re not upfront then it’s not easy," he said. "We need to improve those launches so we can be at the front of the races from the beginning. I must say coming in third is really good and I’m super happy about that. The team has worked so hard and it is paying off, but at this level, it’s a slow process to gain speed, but I’m quite confident tomorrow will be even better."

Kevin Hansen brought his Peugeot 208 across the line in fourth-place after avoiding the turn two melee but was unable to make inroads on Kristoffersson or Ekstrom, while top qualifier Niclas Gronholm finished in fifth followed by Robin Larsson in sixth-place.

While Johan [Kristoffersson] has a 100% record of converting front row starts to victories on Saturday's, he is yet to win an event on Sunday [double-header], and thus could be called a Saturday man. However, if he is able to put it all together on a Sunday, he will climb onto the top step of the podium. 

Despite winning this afternoon in Riga-Lativa, the Swede will already have a plan for the sixth round six the FIA World Rallycross Championship tomorrow at the Bikernieki track in Latvia.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Grönholm edges Kristoffersson to take TQ.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX
Niclas Grönholm has edged Johan Kristoffersson to take the TQ (top qualifier) position in round five of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the Neste World RX of Riga-Latvia. 

Kristoffersson was quickest in Q1, and despite being on pole position in Q2, he was beaten off the line by Grönholm who topped Q2. 

On the high grip Bikernieki track, tactics came into play in Q3 with master tactician Mattias Ekström bolting on four new tyres, and with a marginally stronger start squeezed into the lead and from there he was untouchable. The Swede went on to post the fastest lap of the day - 48.443s.

With the fastest drivers (after Q2) lining-up in the final Q3 race, Robin Larsson followed his KYB Team JC teammate and bolted on four new tyres along with Niclas Grönholm who took two new front tyres

Larsson starting in fourth (outside line) slotted into the lead in turn one ahead of Grönholm, while Kristoffersson was left on the line. The double world champion recovered to third but had to get his elbows and muscled his way past Krisztian Szabo on lap one. 

And, with clean air and fresher tyres, Larsson won Q3 Race 4 ahead of Grönholm and Kristoffersson, which in the end meant. The GRX Taneco driver would edge Kristoffersson to the top qualifiers spot by two intermediate points. 

Can Johan Kristoffersson fight back after just missing out on the TQ? He certainly has a chance, as he will start on pole position for semi-final two, and with four new tyres available he stands a good chance. 

For the first time in 2020, both Monster Energy RX Cartel drivers will progress to the semi-finals despite some issues in Q2. Liam Doran finds himself in eighth ahead of Andreas Bakkerud in ninth. 

Whilst the battle for top honors is rather close at the front, bowing out after three qualifying sessions are: Timo Scheider, Anton Marklund, and the UNKORRUPTED pair of Guerlain Chicherit and Rokas Baciuska along with Ferratum Team's Jani Paasonen who suffered with engine failure in Q2.  
Written By - Junaid Samodien

Friday, 18 September 2020

PREVIEW: The forests of Bikernieki will come alive to the sound of World RX.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media. 
After four thrilling rounds, the FIA World Rallycross Championship is back! This time around the action-packed championship heads to the Latvian capital, Riga for rounds five and six.  

And, guess what? For the first time this season, spectators will be allowed to attend a World RX event, but in limited numbers though (a maximum 3000) with strict coronavirus control measures in place. 

The Neste World Rallycross of Riga features two separate FIA World Rallycross Championship events, one full event – comprising three rounds of qualifying races, semi-finals, and the final – taking place each day. 

WORLD RX CHAMPIONSHIP: 

The start to the season was initially delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but thus far four championships rounds have been completed across two venues; Holjes (Sweden) and Kouvola (Finland). 

Returning double world champion Johan Kristoffersson has led from the front, and has established a healthy 17-point lead at the top of the championship standings, his closest rival being Mattias Ekstrom. 

Ekstrom (the 2016 World Champion) has returned to the championship this year with KYB Team JC after Jānis Baumanis was hit by financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Swede claimed victory at round two of the championship on home soil and has firmly cemented himself in championship contention (second-place overall). 

Earlier this week, KYB Team JC announced that Ekstrom will return for the Latvian double-header alongside Robin Larsson who is currently sixth in the championship. 

Finn Niclas Gronholm heads to Latvia with a good boost after winning his home round in Kouvola and currently holds third place in the drivers' standings. His teammate, Timur Timerzyanov who is currently in tenth-place, is hoping for better pace this weekend. 

While reigning world champion Timmy Hansen has not had the start to the season that he had expected but hopes to take steps forward this weekend after three days of testing in Sweden. Timmy and younger brother Kevin Hansen are currently in fourth and fifth place in the standings. 

Timo Scheider (ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport) claimed a third-place finish in Sweden (round 1) and is placed seventh after being in the final at three of the first four rounds. His teammate Rene Muennich has had a more difficult start to the year and is 16th after four rounds.

Andreas Bakkerud has also had a tough start to the season, but has made it to the final in rounds two and four and is eight in the standings, while his Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel teammate Liam Doran will be hoping for better fortunes in Latvia after suffering from a series of technical issues, which sees the Brit bringing up the rear in 21st place. 

GCK Bilstein's Anton Marklund had a strong start to the season in Sweden, but faded away in Kouvola, claiming an 11th and 12th place finish, which sees him currently placed ninth, while the UNKORRUPTED pairing of Rokas Baciuska and Guerlain Chicherit will be aiming for stronger results in their newly developed Renault Clio R.S. RX supercars. 

Jani Paasonen is back for more in his Ferratum Team’s Ford Fiesta as is Krisztian Szabo who raced in Sweden and holds 12th place in the standings with GRX SET.

Latvia star Reinis Nitiss will make his World RX return with ESmotorsport Eigesta WRX Team this weekend driving Skoda Fabia EVO WRX. 

ROUND FIVE - Q1 DRAW (GRID)

THE TRACK

The World RX track is constructed within the historic race circuit that threads its way through the forest at Bikernieki. Created for the 2016 World RX in Riga – the first time the championship visited Latvia – the rallycross track is 1295m in length and consists of 60% unsealed and 40% asphalt surfaces, with a track record time of 48.485s. The track includes three jumps, two of them on the joker lap. Meanwhile, the joker and standard lap runs parallel to each other.

Turn Three: This fast, wide-radius left-hander requires pure commitment but also a bit of patience. A quick exit is crucial to avoid being overtaken on the long run to a hard braking zone at turn four but the wall on the exit has caught out several drivers in the last four years.

Turn Five: It's hard to make up time here, but it's very easy to lose it. This seemingly never-ending right-hander is one of the few gravel turns on the track and anyone who gets greedy with the throttle is likely to slide wide and leave the door open for anyone lurking behind them.

The Joker Merge: It's often elbows-out at Latvia's joker exit, which is located at the final corner of the lap. Drivers on a joker lap have the inside line for the corner, but those on the standard lap can take more speed out of the turn. That often leads to side-by-side jostling to the finish line in close races!

BROADCAST TIMES and SCHEDULE for Rounds 5 & 6 of the Neste World RX of Riga-Latvia (CET):

The livestreams for the events will be carried on the official World RX Facebook page and YouTube channel:

facebook.com/fiaworldrallycross

youtube.com/RallycrossRXTV

Schedule:

Round Five (19 September 2020)

Free Practice: Saturday 7:30 am

Q1: 9:20 am

Q2: 10:45 am

Q3: 12:10 pm

Semi-Finals and Final: 15:00 pm

Round Six (20 September 2020)

Warm-Up: 8:00 am

Q1: 8:40 am

Q2: 10:10 am

Q3: 12:10 pm

Semi-Finals and Final: 15:00 pm

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Team Hansen hope "to take a step forward" in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Team Hansen has not had the start to the season that they had hoped for after being crowned champions in 2019. However, after a 3-day test in Sweden, the team aims to take a step forward in Latvia. 

The Hansen brothers have claimed two podium finishes thus far in 2020, with Kevin picking up a second-place finish in Sweden (currently fifth place in the drivers' championship), and reigning World RX champion Timmy scoring third place in finish Finland (ranked fourth in the championship). Their combined efforts have put Team Hansen only 19 points off the top of the teams’ championship with more than half the 2020 season to go.

Latvia will mark the half-way point of this year’s World RX season, as it hosts the third double-header event of the year. 

During the three-week gap since the previous round at Kouvola (Finland), the Hansen's have been hard at work making refinements to their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars, conducting a three-day test at Lidköpings Motorstadion with their two drivers.

"The start to this season has been a little bit difficult at times but overall it's still been a positive beginning," Timmy Hansen said. "We did a three-day test near the workshop to evaluate the areas we'd been struggling with so far this year, as well as developing some new things. Hopefully, that'll pay off this weekend."

"We've definitely done everything we can to take a step forward for now and although this season is tricky, with there not being much time between the races, the test went well, so I'm excited to see what happens this weekend."

Timmy Hansen returns to Riga, a venue with fond memories after claiming a third-place finish in 2016, and a victory in 2019, which was key to his championship fight. 

"I won here last year which was a key point in taking the world championship, so I'm excited to be coming back to Riga and see how we fare," he said. "With this being another double-header round, we need to be sharp and on the pace from the beginning, as there's no time to make any significant changes between the rounds."

With a return to a track expected to suit the team's Peugeot 208 better than the opening four rounds, the team is hoping for a first win of the year.

"Riga is a very nice track. It has suited us very well in the past; it's more of a high-grip circuit like Loheac, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona, which is the type of circuits we're best at," Kevin Hansen said. "Johan has won here twice in the past of course but I feel that we've got a good car for this track and it should suit us more compared to the tracks we've raced on so far this year."

“We've been testing recently to make improvements in specific areas and we feel like we're arriving in Riga with fewer question marks, which should hopefully bring us a little bit more performance from the first race of the weekend. It looks like it'll be a dry, warm weekend, and it's great to have fans safely back at the track for this event.

“Riga feels a bit like a street circuit; its corners are tight and twisty, with some fast stretches in between, but more than anything you need to watch out for the walls and barriers everywhere," the Swede adds. "There are plenty of run-off areas in Höljes and Kouvola but here, it's a bit like we're competing at the Monaco of rallycross."

The purpose-built Biķernieki circuit in Latvia features the longest lap of the year in both distance and time, with a lap length of 1.295km and a track record time of 48.485s.

"Riga is a bit more like circuit racing compared to what we had in the first two rounds," says  Kenneth Hansen, Team Boss. "It's a challenging track because of how different it is, with it being the longest lap of the season and also the hard jump early in the lap, which requires a delicate set-up balance between softness to cope with the landing but stiffness for grip elsewhere in the lap."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Rytkönen to make World RX return with the Ferratum Team.

PHOTO CREDIT: ferratum Team. 
Reigning Finnish rallycross champion Juha Rytkönen will make his World RX return with the Ferratum Team at the World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya on 17-18 October. 

Rytkönen, well known for his success in the Finnish rallycross championship made his World RX debut in Kouvola two weeks ago, and impressed right off the bat having won a heat race and a semi-final, before claiming a second-place finish behind Kristoffersson in round three of the championship. 

Following on from his debut in round three, Juka won two more heat races in the Finland double-header and only failed to make the final as a result of a track limits penalty in the semi-final. 

Having driven the GRX SET team's Hyundai i20 at the World RX of Finland, Juha will return to the championship with the Ferratum Team in Barcelona behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta that Jani Paasonen has used for the first two race weekends of the 2020 season, and again this weekend in Latvia. 

Rytkönen has already tested the car in Finland last week and will return to action at the World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya.

"Rallycross requires a lot of resources, both money and partners, for a layman. I really appreciate the cooperation opportunity with Ferratum. For me, it indicates that we did the right things with our team and our hard work paid off," Rytkönen said. 

"I want to show my support to Ferratum by driving the best I can. I have always thought that this is what I want to do, and I want to be at the top. I did not expect the start to be this good, though."

"In the future, I want to establish my position in rallycross, and especially in the world championship level."

Whilst the team remains mum on further plans with the Finn, Motorsport.com has learnt that Juha is likely to complete the season with the Ferratum Team. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kouvola wins gives GRX Taneco 'good boost' ahead of Latvian double-header.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.
The condensed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has seen the first four rounds hosted at two venues, a truly grueling start to the season for all involved, and this is no different for GRX Taneco. 

Whilst the Finnish squad ended the 2019 season on a high note in South Africa. They expected to have a much stronger start to the 2020 season. And despite, the victory in Kouvola two weeks ago for Niclas Grönhom, the team and drivers have had their fair share of bad luck in the first four rounds of the championship, which they hope to turnaround this weekend in Riga.  

The quick turnaround times required for double-headers in 2020, has been a taxing affair for all involved including the drivers. 

"It’s been quite tough these first 4 races of the season," Niclas Grönhom said. "We have had some bad luck and struggled with the car sometimes."

Grönhom clinched his first win of the season on home soil in Kouvola by the slimmest of margins (0.3s) and admits that the race victory will give GRX Taneco a good boost ahead of the third double-header in Latvia.

"The podiums in Finland, of course, gives a good boost that our team needed, and I feel that we are well prepared for Latvia," he said. "The track in Riga is very nice and I enjoy going back there again this year!"

Timur Timerzyanov has had his fair share of misfortunes this season but managed to claim a podium finish at round four in Finland.

"The team has worked very hard over the last few weeks and we have made big steps forward and I feel that we have gotten our mojo back," Timerzyanov said.

Despite competing in World RX since it's inception in 2014, the Russian has found the Bikernieki race track in Latvia to be very challenging and was only able to claim a fifth-place finish last year. 

"Riga has always been a very challenging track for me personally, but I aim to turn my luck around and hopefully we can see another double podium," he said.

Krisztián Szabó will drive the third Hyundai i20 run by Set Promotion this weekend. And, while he did not make either of the finals in Höljes, Sweden. His form throughout the Swedish double-header was first-class. 

The Hungarian claimed a tenth-place finish in Latvia last year, in his EKS Audi S1, but will hope for stronger results this weekend.

"I really can’t wait to race again in Riga," he said "It’s a very long, fast and technical track with big jumps and a beautiful environment. I can say that this is my favorite venue of the season and it will be great to race in front of rallycross fans." 

"I had a chance to test here in the very beginning of the year with the Hyundai i20 Supercar, so I feel confident and I'm hoping for a good result."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

20 cars set for eRX2's inaugural season in 2021.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA eRX2 Championship.
The inaugural season of the FIA eRX2 Championship – the first-ever FIA electric rallycross championship – will see up to 20 drivers racing wheel-to-wheel for the honor of being crowned the first electric rallycross champion.

Preparations are well underway ahead of eRX2’s eagerly-anticipated debut next year, with the championship primed to electrify the international rallycross scene. Testing is well underway, and a full grid of 20 cars is scheduled to be built between now and the first race – setting the scene for an electrifying maiden campaign of competition.

eRX2 will join the FIA World Rallycross Championship for six events in 2021 – with the calendar to be released in due course – the cars will mark a significant step forward in both power (+24%) and torque (+14%) compared to the existing Supercar Lites car, further bridging the gap to the headlining Supercar class.

"We are delighted to be able to reveal more details about the new FIA eRX2 Championship, which has already attracted a high degree of interest. Our testing programme is yielding very positive results, and the car is showing its potential to be even quicker and more exhilarating both to drive and to watch than the existing internal combustion vehicle," Pere Gonzalez, Project Manager for the FIA eRX2 Championship, said. 

"We understand that there are some misgivings – and misapprehensions – about electric rallycross, but our extensive experience and success in electro-mobility leaves us very confident that this is absolutely the way forward for the sport and that the final product will be the most dynamic, advanced and future-thinking car ever to grace a rallycross track.

"Not only that, but with drivers able to play a greater role than before in setting up and calibrating the car, even a few seconds before starting the races, the action is sure to be fast, exciting and thrillingly unpredictable – a true level playing field in which the cream will inevitably rise to the top," he adds.

In a first for rallycross – drivers will have three key parameters to play with before and between races, injecting an extra element of skill into the equation. 

From inside the cockpit, competitors will be able to manually adjust the amount of torque produced by the front and rear motors, the total torque deployed by all four wheels during the launch, and the degree of regenerative braking on the front and rear axles.

On the outside, the noise will be generated by the drivetrain running at more than 12,000rpm as well as the gravel spray and tyre squeals so synonymous with rallycross..

The total cost to enter a full season of eRX2 in 2021 is between €150,000 and €160,000, which includes the provision of one mechanic per car – trained in electro-mobility by sector specialist QEV Technologies – and a comprehensive engineering service, composed of one chassis engineer and one electric engineer for every four cars.

Charging, tyres, and other consumables such as brake pads are included in the full-season cost. Hospitality will also form part of the package, as will regular educational workshops on electric technology. The cost to enter a single event is €30.000.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Henrik Krogstad will be one of the first drivers to race in the new FIA eRX2 Championship in 2021 as prize for winning the 2020 RX2 International Series.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Ekström to continue championship charge with KYB Team JC

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
2016 World Champion Mattias Ekström will continue with KYB Team JC this weekend, at the Latvian double-header in Riga. 

Ekström was drafted into the team just before the first rounds of the season in Höljes after Jānis Baumanis was hit by financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Ekström was announced as the first driver for the new Cupra-backed Abt Extreme E team for 2021, and he will continue to race with KYB Team JC after being given permission by Cupra to race in the Latvian double-header this weekend.

"It’s been a pretty cool week for me, with the launch of the Extreme E programme with CUPRA for 2021," Ekström said. "That’s really exciting, and big thanks to ABT and CUPRA for allowing me to go to Riga for the next World RX races."

The Swede's return after a one-year hiatus has been first-class having won the second round of the championship in Höljes, and lies second in the Drivers' Championship only 17 points behind Johan Kristofferssson.   

"The first four races turned out pretty fine with three podiums, so being second in the championship and to be leading the Teams’ Championship, I’m in a situation I didn’t expect," the double world champion said. "I felt a bit obliged to do my very best to go to Riga, I want to continue supporting the JC team as much as I can."

In his three previous starts in Riga, Ekström finished second in the final every time (2016,17,18) and will aim to climb onto the top step of the podium this weekend.  

"We are very happy to have Mattias back in the team," said Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal. "I didn’t know if it would be possible for him to come to Latvia, but I’m thankful to CUPRA for letting us have him in the team for the event. It’s great that we can continue with the same team setup that we have had so far this year because we were very successful in the first two weekends of the season."

Whilst Joel Christoffersson has one eye on World RX Teams' Championship, he admits that KYB Team JC are aiming to close the gap to Kristoffersson in an aim to claim both World RX titles this season.

"I’m looking forward to continuing the fight for the Teams’ Championship but obviously, we are second in the Drivers’ Championship too and we are not giving up that fight in trying to do our best to close the gap up to Johan [Kristoffersson]," he said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson aims to extend championship lead in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Johan Kristoffersson heads to Riga with a seventeen point advantage in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship over Mattias Ekström, with one aim in mind - to extend the championship lead. 

The two-time World Champion has been nothing short of spectacular this season having claimed the converted top qualifiers spot in all four rounds thus far, and was only able to convert two pole position starts to victories. 

With a win in Höljes and one in Kouvola, he has amassed 111 points, compared to Mattias Ekström on 94 points and Niclas Grönholm's on 76 points. 

"Many points are up for grabs this weekend but I hope to keep the distance", Kristoffersson said.

With two doubleheaders, the first in Sweden followed by Finland two weeks ago, it has been a very demanding start to the season for all involved due to the compressed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

"I was really exhausted coming home from Finland, but during a bike ride a couple of days later I found my way back to normal," he said. 

The Swede has not had it all his own way thus far despite a dominant performance in qualifying. In Kouvola (Finland), his Volkswagen Polo suffered from a mechanical issue, which the team was able to solve ahead of the semi-finals and final. 

To get ahead of the double world champion, Ekström and Grönholm had to capitalize on joker lap tactics and mistakes from the Swede to get ahead and ultimately win. 

While Kristoffersson rues these missed opportunities in Sweden and Finland, he is eager to get ahead of the game with a full analysis programme ahead of the Latvian doubleheader this weekend. 

"I always do a lot of analysis and this track gives you a great output if you do your job right," he said. "Lately, my office has looked like a surveillance center, with all the screens, servers, and hard drives."

"There are a lot of details in this track, with a racing character, but more technical than for example Lohéac. I look at my own performances, but also analyze my competitors. We all have different backgrounds, from rally and racing to rallycross, and every driver makes their own considerations. You have to pick the best options."

Johan has great memories from the Bikernieki circuit, where he secured his first championship title in 2017 and returned for another win in 2018. 

"17th September 2017, a day to be remembered, and coming back in 2018 was a special feeling as well," he adds.

Tommy Kristoffersson, the team boss of Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS is well aware of the importance of the weekend in Latvia and has bolstered the team with more personnel from Volkswagen Motorsport in a pursuit for the much desired third crown. A good result in Riga can put Johan in a great position for the rest of the season.

"We have boosted our team with even more knowledge from Volkswagen Motorsport, the best there is, which of course also includes our own guys, who have worked tirelessly so far," Timmy Kristoffersson said. "We are ready to fight!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Portugal World Rallycross round cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.


The Portuguese round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has been cancelled.

Montalegre was set to host the eighth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship on 10-11 October (2020) after a one-year hiatus but the event has now been cancelled due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

"In light of continued global health concerns regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the current evolution of the pandemic in Portugal, the new State of Contingency enforced by the Portuguese authorities starting September 15 th, which brings new freedom of travel limitations and stricter public gathering rules, the World Rallycross of Portugal 2020, scheduled to be hosted at Montalegre International Circuit on 10-11 October, will unfortunately not take place this year," the event organizers statement said.

"The health and safety of everyone involved remain the priority as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances."

Due to the ever-changing situation surrounding the Coronavirus, the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has undergone a number of changes, and Portugal is one of them. However, despite the cancellation of the event this year. Montalegre will return to the calendar in 2020, according to the event organizers. 

"We very much look forward to welcoming the drivers, teams, and fans to the Montalegre International Circuit for this world-class event in 2021," the statement concluded.

The revised calendar will see Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona hosting the fourth doubleheader (rounds seven and eight) followed by the World RX of Benelux at Spa-Francorchamps, which was moved to November in order to allow more fans to attend followed by the season finale at the Nurburgring (Germany) in mid-December. 

Written By Junaid Samodien

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Will Mattias Ekström return for Riga doubleheader?

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik
Mattias Ekström made an unexpected return to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship after Jānis Baumanis ran into COVID-19 related funding problems and is therefore unable to complete the full season with KYB Team JC. 

Ekström has achieved a lot of success in his career having won two DTM titles and a World Rallycross title in 2016. The Swede competed in a number of motorsport disciplines from Swedish Touring Cars to DTM, WRC, NASCAR, and even V8 Supercars. 

In 2013, he branched out into rallycross where he competed in the Swedish round of the European Rallycross Championship in Höljes, finishing second. He subsequently announced that he was establishing his own EKS RX team to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The team made their debut at the Norwegian round of the 2014 European Rallycross Championship where Ekström claimed an 11th-place finish. He returned for the German round of the championship where he claimed victory. 

He also claimed a victory at the Swedish round of the World RX championship that same year followed up with a second-place finish in Germany. 

2015 saw the Swede return for all but two World RX events, and won his home round in Sweden for the second year in a row. 

In his first full World RX season in 2016, Ekström claimed four event wins on his way to the 2016 Drivers' Championship title. The 2017 and 18 seasons would see him finish second in the championship behind Johan Kristoffersson. 

In 2018, Ekström retired from DTM to focus on his rallycross team, and with factory support from Audi Sport, all seemed rosy. Until Audi Sport announced that they will withdraw from the sport at the end of the 2018 season, which subsequently lead to the Swede announcing that he will call time on his full-time World RX career. 

After catching a glimpse of World RX on his couch in 2019, the Swedish champion returned for an outing at the World RX of Benelux at Spa-Francorchamps with JC Raceteknik in the Audi S1 that carried him to the 2016 title. 

Ekström jumps Kristoffersson to win in Sweden.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
JC Raceteknik later acquired a further five Audi S1 Quattro Supercars from EKS RX to launch a new team named, KYB Team JC. And, whilst plans were to have reigning European Rallycross Champion Robin Larsson and Jānis Baumanis in the pair of Audi S1 Supercars. Baumanis was unable to provide the necessary funding to compete in the full World RX campaign due to COVID-19 related problems, and therefore the Swedish outfit required a driver at short notice to step into his place. 

The team principal of KYB Team JC, Joel Christoffersson called upon the services of Mattias Ekström, who he knows comes with a lot of experience, tips, and tricks, and he also knows the Audi S1 Supercars quite well.

In the Höljes doubleheader, he claimed a second-place finish in round one followed by a victory in round 2. Mattias returned for the second World RX doubleheader in Finland where he claimed a seventh-place finish in round three and a second-place finish in round four. With these strong results, the Swede is currently placed second in the drivers' standings.

The question on everyone's lips after the first four rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is: Should Mattias Ekström return for the Latvian round of the championship or the full 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship? 

It’s a rather difficult question to answer, purely because Mattias once owned a team (EKS RX) where he could make those sorts of decisions. This time around it’s slightly different because he’d be required to bring along the necessary funding in order to race for the team. 

Whilst Ekström comes with a wealth of experience and is a master tactician, unfortunately, it counts for nothing. The Audi S1 supercars now owned by KYB Team JC were also built and developed around Mattias in 2018, which gives him an upper hand over teammates.  

Mattias Ekström did not expect to race in Sweden this year and has other commitments that will clash with the 2020 World RX season. Could we see him return for the Latvian rounds of the season?

"There’s no plan for what happens next," Ekström said. "I know that there are other people that want to drive this car in Riga, so that could also be an option. I think it will be a little while before we decide."

KYB Team JC's Joel Christoffersson would like Mattias to continue but is aware that budget and other commitments could get in way of the 2016 Champion. 

"The question I keep getting asked is about the future of Mattias in the team. It would be brilliant if he continued with KYB Team JC, but it also looks tough for him, both with budget and other commitments, so we will have to see," Joel Christoffersson said. "We have a week or so to find a solution for Riga, otherwise we need to find an alternative."

While we have no solid answer to this question. There is no doubt that many fans would really like to see Mattias Ekström complete the full season with KYB Team JC. 

Should he return for the remaining rounds of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, we are likely to see a close title fight to the checkered flag in Germany (season finale). 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

"No point to cry over spilt milk" as Ekström claims second-place finish in challenging Kouvola double header.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX. 
2016 World Champion Mattias Ekström finished second in round four of the World Rallycross Championship at Kouvola in Finland, while KYB Team JC maintained their lead in the Teams’ championship standings.

With four races in nine days for the start of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, the third and fourth rounds were held in Finland.

On day one, Ekström was again straight on the pace and qualified second in the Intermediate Classification, then was second in the semi-finals, but a rare electrical problem on the second lap saw him retire from the race. Robin Larsson had initially struggled on the Tykkimäki Circuit but made a great start in Q3 to set the second-fastest time. And, despite making the semi-finals, he retired with a puncture.

The heavens opened for round four of the championship (on Sunday), and in wet and tricky conditions, Ekström qualified third and was second in his semi-final to make it into the final. In the final, he pushed hard throughout the race and in a battle for the podium positions in the final corner, finished second behind Niclas Gronhölm. 

"Finishing second feels pretty okay. It's no secret that I compete to win, and to come second is very close. On Saturday things looked good in the semi-finals, but then the day came to an abrupt end, which was not fun for any of us," Ekström said. "Today I thought we made good laps, but didn’t have perfect starts. That makes things difficult. But, we had good speed this weekend and that’s always positive."

"Of course we want to be at the top of the championship, and to see Johan [Kristoffersson] pull away is not what we want, but there is no point to cry over spilt milk."

Reigning EuroRX champion Robin Larsson had a more difficult time. He was ninth in the Intermediate Classification after the four qualifiers but finished fifth in his semi-final when the windscreen wipers stopped working in the muddy conditions.

"It hasn’t been an easy weekend for me, things just haven’t been going my way. When you have double-header events there are not many opportunities to make changes because the days are quite intense," Larsson said. 

"On Saturday we had good pace in Q3, but I had a puncture in the semi-final. Then on Sunday I was unlucky with the start positions and didn’t really find the pace we wanted."

"I had a place for the final in the bag on Sunday but the windscreen wipers broke, and that was it. Now I’m focused on Riga and I’m fully motivated. There are still many points to race for."

Larsson believes that the only way he can improve is to compare himself to teammate Mattias Ekström.

"It’s been good to have someone like Mattias to compare myself with. Because of that, I’ve been able to see what I’m doing wrong and work on it. Without him there, it would be easy to get grumpy and more frustrated."

KYB Team JC continues to lead the Teams’ Championship, by 19 points, whilst Ekström is also still second in the Drivers’ Championship. Larsson is now sixth.

"We have a good lead in the Teams’ championship, even if we gave away a few points there. We will continue to work hard before Riga, we seem to have a car that will suit us there," Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal, said. "But, unfortunately in the Drivers’ championship, we lost a lot of points to Johan. But after the problems we had on Saturday, we have to live with that and use it to motivate us to work even harder."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

"We’ve made many, many steps in the right direction" - Andreas Bakkerud.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel has made steps in the right direction after a difficult start to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship

The doubleheader in Sweden saw Andreas Bakkerud qualify for the final, and finish in the position he started - 6th, while his teammate Liam Doran had a weekend to forget after his Megane R.S. RX suffered from a number mechanical failures. 

Round 3 in Kouvola-Finland saw Doran claim an eight-place finish after Q1, but that is where his luck ended. The British Bomb retired from Q2 with prop shaft failure, while Q3 saw him retire from the session with a broken rim and broken rear upright due to contact at turn one. 

Andreas Bakkerud on the other hand had a much smoother Saturday with consistent top-ten finishes in the three qualifying heats and ranked seventh in the intermediate classification meaning he was through to the semi-finals, while his teammate was done for the day. 

Sunday (round 4) got off to a costly start after the FIA Stewards fined the team €5,000 for a breach of the COVID-19 supplementary regulations. 

However, in a statement issued to DirtFish.com, GCK explained the reason for the breach of COVID-19 regulations: "Some of our team members missed this morning’s temperature check at the entrance gate by mistake, having used a different gate that was open to enter the circuit."

"Having arrived from a different direction today, the team members entered through the first open gate leading to their team structure to start their working day.

"However, this gate was not manned and the guys therefore missed their morning temperature check. Upon realizing, they were asked to go and retake their tests, which of course everyone did promptly and successfully."

Round 4 of the championship got off to a wet start in Kouvola. A wet day that brought tons of action and an epic comeback from Liam Doran who fought his way from 17th to 14th overall. 

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX. 
In a bold call on a moist track, Doran bolted on a set of slicks and immediately went backwards off the line to finish the session 13th overall. The Brit drove a fantastic Q2, and while leading, his hopes went rolling away after a broken wheel bearing sent him sliding off the track. 

Speaking to Niel Cole, World RX paddock reporter directly after the race, Doran said: "I might as well stay at home and let someone else drive. I don't know how much longer I can do this."

Doran came out swinging in Q3 posting the fifth fastest time, but it wasn't enough to see the him progress to the semi-finals. He missed out on a spot in the semi-finals by 5 points. 

"Happy with that clean last run today," Doran said. "I think it showed that the car and I have the pace to perform, we just haven’t been able to put it fully together yet and perform as a pair. We changed the car’s set up throughout the day and you could definitely feel the difference in the last qualifier."

Meanwhile, Andreas Bakkerud claimed a ninth-place finish in round 3, and mounted a fightback on Sunday in the wet conditions.

Bakkerud claimed a second-place finish behind Mattias Ekstrom in Q1, which slotted him into fifth-place overall. Despite some challenges with traction at the start, Q2 saw Bakkerud put down a great run boldly overtaking Hansen on the last lap to finish in 3rd.

Q3 saw, Andreas finish in second just ahead of Timmy Hansen, which saw the Norweigan claiming a spot in the semi-final with a fifth-place finish overall. 

The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel driver would line-up in the fastest semi-final with the likes of Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson, etc. And despite crossing the line in fourth-place, Juha Rytkonen was handed a five-second penalty, which promoted the Norwegian to the final. 

The final didn't quite go the way Bakkerud expected despite sneaking up the inside of Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen at turn one. Timur fought back into turn two pushing Andreas wide, with Timmy getting through. From there, he was unable to make any progress after his windscreen was filled with mud meaning he would race all the way to the checkered flag blind and would finish the final in sixth-place. 

"Overall, we’ve made many, many steps in the right direction - we didn’t have any big technical issues but the super tricky conditions impacted our overall performance," Bakkerud said. "We’re proud to have put the car into the final to fight against 5 top drivers and this is where I think we should play all the time."

"Considering the quickly changing conditions, I think we tactically played our cards right but had some small issues in the semi-finals and finals, which we need to analyse further and work on ahead of Riga. I have full confidence that we will be spraying champagne at the end of the day there."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

UNKORRUPTED make strides in right direction.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
UNKORRUPTED has made strides in the right direction after a difficult start to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

For the first time since 2014, the tight and technical Kouvola track (Finland) returned to the championship, bringing along with it a driver change at UNKORRUPTED. 

Despite Rokas Baciuska's 11th-place finish in Sweden, he took a step back and made way for Dutchman Kevin Abbring who would return to World RX in the second Renault Clio in a bid to help the team find much-needed performance. 

On Saturday (round 1), Guerlain Chicherit missed out on a place in the semi-finals by two points after finishing Q4 in fourteenth overall. Whilst his teammate Kevin Abbring also showed glimpses of pace, until his prop shaft broke dropping him to 17th overall.

Tricky conditions greeted the French squad on Sunday, creating extremely slippery and quick-changing conditions throughout the day. It was another opportunity for the team to test the Clio R.S. RX in a bid to improve the cars' traction in wet conditions. Kevin Abbring tested a different setup to Chicherit for the team to gather data and feedback quicker. The Dutchman struggled with his car's grip finishing Q1 in 15th overall. 

Abbring fought back in Q2 sending it around the outside of Timur Timerzyanov to take the lead before a battle with Liam Doran saw Abbring drop to third behind Doran and Timerzyanov, but soon after Liam's front right driveshaft snapped. And in the end, Kevin would finish in third with teammate Guerlain in fourth. 

Q3 posed a unique challenge, as the UNKORRUPTED pair would race on a devolving track. Chicherit would finish his quali heat in 4th, while Abbring finished behind his fellow GCK stable mate Anton Marklund in fifth-place, which meant both of them would not qualify for the semi-finals. 

"We saw some progress today in lap times, both on dry and wet and while this is promising, we still have a long way to go," Chicherit said.

"The last few weekends have been an uphill climb for us and we’re just trying to find out as much as possible in the short time that we have to make changes. It’s been hard for the team, the mechanics, engineers, and us drivers, especially as the car has not been reacting consistently and very differently to what we achieved in tests throughout the winter."

"We now have a few weeks ahead of the next round and we’ll definitely make use of those!”

Kevin Abbring believes that the set-up changes they've done in Kouvola have brought the team a step close to understanding where the car is lacking.

"We’ve done so many things since Sweden and sometimes it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t but I think in the end, we’re a step closer to what it is that the car is lacking," Abbring said. "If you look at Q2, the car gave me a lot of confidence, a really good start and a nice send into turn 1, so that’s positive. In Q3 in the rain, we didn’t quite hit the right pace on the tarmac but on the gravel, I was one of the strongest in the sector."

"The overall results may not seem like that yet but we’re getting there."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Consistency key to maximizing results in condensed season for Timmy Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen believes that consistency is key to maximizing results in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Hansen is currently fourth in the drivers' standings (41 points) behind championship leader Johan Kristoffersson, with younger brother Kevin in fifth overall.  

Whilst the season did not get off to the way Team Hansen expected, Kenneth Hansen (team boss) was able to figure out the reasons behind the team's pace in Sweden, which saw Timmy showing a stronger pace in Kouvola, after confirming that he did not feel as comfortable in the Peugeot 208 WRX as he was in 2019.

With some work done between Sweden and Finland, the Peugeot's were slightly stronger, but still off the ultimate pace of Johan Kristoffersson (the benchmark). 

On Saturday, Timmy returned to the podium with a third-place finish, while Kevin finished in sixth-place. With overnight rain saw track conditions became tricky seeing Timmy Hansen missing out on a podium finish by 0.7s.

Kevin definitely had the pace to progress to the finals on Sunday, but the slimmest of margins saw him miss out (0.060s). 

"It was a wet race so we had to set-up the car completely for those conditions, and we made some progress in that area," Kevin Hansen said. "I had the best feeling during the semi-final; I was very fast and had never felt so confident in the wet, so I was very happy in that respect."

Although only one of two cars made it to the final, Timmy Hansen had a good start from the second row of the grid, he ran a touch wide at the first corner seeing Ekstrom, Bakkerud, and Timerzyanov sneak up the inside, and while Bakkerud ran into technical issues at turn two, Timmy moved into P5. And, despite a fight in the final corner between Gronholm, Ekstrom, Timerzyanov, Kristoffersson - Timmy was not close enough and finished in fifth-place.

"The key was consistency and being able to maximize our pace when the opportunity arose," Timmy Hansen said.

The condensed 2020 World RX calendar has posed unique challenges to the teams this season, with three doubleheaders - two events per weekend opposed to the normal two day single event weekends, which will return in the second half of the season. Any mechanical or technical issues would punish drivers due to the quick turnaround times. And, Timmy credits Team Hansen for a clean start to the season thus far. 

"The team is really strong together; we're very motivated and everyone is working very hard. The car's still very strong and it got to the finish line every time with no technical issues," the 2019 World Champion said. "They've had the most difficult World RX events ever, doing two weekends with two full championship rounds each back-to-back, so the team has done an incredible job of keeping the car in one piece. So I need to thank them for all their work, for being able to figure out the problem that slowed me down in Sweden, and we'll continue to work on finding more pace between now and Riga."

Double World RX Champion Johan Kristoffersson returned to the championship this season, and whilst he has dominated qualifying, he hasn't had it all his own way only converting two of four finals into wins. Timmy Hansen believes that despite Johan's strong start to the season, he aims to get onto the top step of the podium this season. 

"I want to win a couple of races this year. Johan is incredibly strong and has been dominant so far this year but he is beatable, as others have shown twice now," he said. "I also want to get onto the top step of the podium this year and we'll keep fighting towards that."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Spa World RX of Benelux rescheduled to allow larger fan numbers to attend.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX.
The Spa World Rallycross of Benelux scheduled to take place on 3-4 October, will be rescheduled to 21-22 November 2020.

The Spa-Francorchamps World RX track was an instant hit since it's introduction last year, incorporating the world-famous Eau Rouge, as well as a dirt banked section which made for exciting racing, in addition to that a new World RX race winner was crowned, Timur Timerzyanov.

"The move to November is being made in anticipation of being able to welcome a larger number of fans to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. As current restrictions on the size of public gatherings in Belgium mean that only 400 spectators would be admitted to the event in October," the FIA World RX statement said.

"This decision has been made after careful consideration and consultation with the FIA, the Belgian ASN, and the local event organizer."

The rescheduled Belgian round will open up the October month for the teams, as they'll have enough time to re-prep their cars, as the calendar will switch from three rounds to two in October. Whilst the move to November will see a month break between the Barcelona and Belgian rounds, followed by an 18-day gap before the season finale in Germany. 

Monday, 31 August 2020

Marklund surprised by lack of pace at Kouvola.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
Anton Marklund says he is surprised by the lack of pace at the very technical Tykkimäki Circuit in Kouvola, Finland. 

Having shown the quick pace of his Renault Megane R.S. RX at round 1 and 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Sweden last week, the GCK Bilstein driver put down competitive laps but struggled with engine issues throughout the day, which ended up seeing him finish round 3 earlier than expected in the semi-finals.

Marklund's engine was changed overnight, and he was able to return to action for the fourth round of the championship. 

It was a weekend of two halves due to weather and track conditions which was quite similar to that of Holjes, one round wet and the other dry. But the tricky conditions did not affect Anton Marklund's pace in the morning warm-up, as he comfortably posted the fastest time of the morning. However, things soon changed in racing conditions, as his Megane lost traction off the start line seeing him drop to the rear of the field in his quali races, but with a fightback the Swede progressed to the semi-finals to finish the race day (and round) in twelfth place. 

"The speed we showed throughout the warm-up today was really promising for the rest of the day - the car was working really well and we were the quickest on the track," Marklund said. "Unfortunately, we lost some pace and definitely lost capacity off the start line due to lack of grip."

"We need to do a thorough analysis now to understand why the speed differed so much to Free Practice, so a lot of work ahead. We bring the great pace we’ve shown with us and just have to learn from the challenges to come back better in Riga."

"It’s disappointing for me to not be able to bring the best results back to the team as the mechanics have worked super hard over the last couple of weeks to get us out on the track every time no matter the challenges and tight turnaround time."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson extends championship lead despite fourth-place finish in Kouvola.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX. 
Double World Champion Johan Kristoffersson extended his lead in the FIA World Rallycross Championship despite a fourth-place finish in Kouvola, Finland on Sunday. 

The Kristoffersson Motorsport driver has dominated the sport since his return taking the TQ (top qualifier) spot at all four rounds, winning his respective semi-final, but only converted two pole position starts to wins. 

"I have lost only nine points from four races. That's really satisfying!" Kristoffersson said.

"We feel more into it now than in Höljes. The speed is better and the overall feeling as well."

Despite a dominant run on Sunday, the Swede survived a brief scare in Q2 after his Volkswagen Polo was sluggish off the line and suffered from what sounded like a misfire. He ended the session in 14th overall. However, he returned for Q3 and despite being wary of the issue he had in Q2. The Swede won the session to take the overall TQ. 

"They solved the problem quickly. It feels safe to have such a good staff," the double World Champion said.

The Swede cruised through to the semi-final after yet another good launch winning the session by 2.4 seconds from Mattias Ekström, which meant he would start from pole position for the final.

Johan had another good start with Niclas Grönholm right on his bumper, but he ran a touch wide allowing Grönholm to sneak up the inside to take the lead and hang on to win the final. 

"I didn't get through the first corner as I would have hoped for," he said. 

With a last lap joker for Niclas Grönholm and Mattias Ekström in the final. Ekström emerged alongside Kristoffersson, while Niclas shut the door on the apex of the final corner. Johan attempted to leapfrog Mattias, but opened the door for Timur Timerzyanov to claim the final spot on the podium. He would finish the final in fourth-place. 

"It's 55 points from 60 this weekend and I'm still expanding my lead in the championship," Kristoffersson said. 

Johan Kristoffersson will take a 17-point lead in the drivers' standings to Riga (the next doubleheader), where he without a doubt go in search of the perfect weekend. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien