|PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media|
Following a successful inaugural rallycross event on the African continent last year, all 18 entrants are eager to head into the winter ‘off season’ with momentum on their side by claiming victory in South Africa.
The key talking point is the fight for the medal places in the World Championship standings, with four drivers disputing second and third overall. Mattias Ekstrom currently holds second place, closely pursued by his teammate Andreas Bakkerud, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden's Petter Solberg and Team Peugeot Total’s Sebastien Loeb. Solberg will take a 15-point penalty for an engine change this weekend, while Loeb is 16 points behind the EKS Audi Sport drivers.
Ekstrom and Bakkerud travel to South Africa with confidence having claimed a double podium last time out at the Estering and five top three finishes between them from the most recent four rounds.
Two-time World Champion Petter Solberg is desperate to avoid what would be the first winless season of his World RX career; after recovering from a lung disease, the Norwegian has looked increasingly strong, and nearly claimed victory in America.
Loeb has nothing to lose and can effectively go for broke..
In order to reach the top step of the podium in Cape Town, they all need to get the better of World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson who has claimed ten wins this season, and he is determined to replicate his 2017 Cape Town triumph.
The Swede might return to the ‘Mother City’ as the man with the target on his back, but in World RX, nothing can ever be taken for granted. One of Kristoffersson’s rivals this weekend is likely to be Team Peugeot Total’s Timmy Hansen, his closest competitor at Killarney last season, topping two of the four qualifying rounds and ultimately claiming second in the final, a whisker shy of victory.
Hansen currently in sixth in the points table and after a brace of engine change penalties in Latvia and America, the Swede will be fired-up to finish the season in style.
"I’m obviously really hungry to get a win with the 208 WRX Evo; we’ve been in the final and very close on so many occasions, but just missing that small final ingredient, or bit of luck, to get there," said Timmy Hansen. "It's always important to end the season with a strong result.”
GRX Taneco’s Niclas Gronholm has enjoyed an excellent campaign behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20, as has Kevin Hansen in his Team Peugeot Total 208. Both men have progressed through to the final in two of the last three events.
Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis has been a consistent contender in 2018 and set the pace in Q2 in Cape Town last year. Twelve months on, the Latvian is sure to be fighting for a semi-final place with the second Hyundai of Timur Timerzyanov, Olsbergs MSE duo Kevin Eriksson and Robin Larsson and GC Kompetition’s Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund.
Seeking to continue his upturn in form over the second half of the year, Gregoire Demoustier returns to Killarney in his Sebastien Loeb Racing Peugeot 208.
The entry list is completed by Timo Scheider and Rene Muennich for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport and Oliver Bennett in his BMW MINI SX1.
“I can think of nowhere better to conclude another fantastic campaign of first-class rallycross competition than Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities," said World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy. "Last year, the organisers really rolled out the red carpet for rallycross’ debut on the African continent and the thousands of fans who attended made us feel extremely welcome.”
2018 Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa - ENTRY LIST