Thursday 25 April 2019

PREVIEW: World RX takes on Circuit de Catalunya.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to Barcelona this weekend for the World RX of Catalunya, the second round of the series.

After a heated affair in Abu Dhabi three weeks’ ago the action at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona is set to be another thriller.

Kevin Hansen claimed his maiden World RX victory in Abu Dhabi after the stewards' handed initial victor Niclas Gronholm a three-second time penalty after pushing and passing. 

Two of the leading protagonists – Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud – had a high-speed collision at the joker merge in Q3. Timmy’s Peugeot suffered chassis damage while Bakkerud was disqualified for his part in the incident.

Timmy’s mechanics have worked tirelessly in the time since Abu Dhabi to have the No.21 Peugeot re-built, including repairs to the chassis and reconstructing sections of the roll cage in readiness for Barcelona.

There is some tenseness between Bakkerud and the Hansens, as witnessed in the pre-event press conference in Abu Dhabi. That carried over to the race track and is likely to continue this weekend.

Kevin leads the way in the drivers' standings at the top of the pile with 30 points, Niclas Gronholm second on 26 points. The Finn drove strongly all weekend in his GRX Taneco Hyundai i20 including a semi-final win en route to the final.

Team STARD's Janis Baumanis and Timo Scheider in the ALL-INKL.COM are locked together on 20 points and likely to be among the challengers this time out.

Scheider was the top qualifier in 2017 eventually finishing second to Mattias Ekstrom in the final. Barcelona was also the scene of Scheider’s World RX debut in 2015.

Krisztian Szabo, made an impressive World RX debut in Abu Dhabi, in his EKS Sport Audi, with fourth place. He lies fifth in the championship.  

Liam Doran took his first World RX podium in Abu Dhabi, and is likely to be a contender again. The Briton prepared for the second round of World RX with victory in a Group B Retro Rallycross Championship race at Lydden Hill on Easter Monday.

The 19-car field will also feature cycling royalty in the shape of Sir Chris Hoy. The six-time Olympic gold medallist will pilot the Xite Racing-prepared Ford Fiesta.

Following a recent test at Pembrey in Wales, Hoy, who has competed in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, and European Le Mans and British GT racing, is relishing the latest motorsport challenge.

Oliver Bennett will combine mentoring duties for Hoy with racing the Xite Racing Mini Cooper, repaired after a roll in Abu Dhabi.

Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund narrowly missed the final at Yas Marina Circuit and will look to go make amends while the GCK Academy duo Cyril Raymond of France and Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder will take learnings from their maiden World RX outings in the Renault Clios.

ESmotorsport - Labas GAS's Rokas Baciuska, will look to build on the semi-final placing of his World RX debut in Abu Dhabi. 

Timur Timerzyanov, partnering Gronholm in the GRX Taneco squad in the Hyundai i20, has a Barcelona podium on his CV from 2016 and is expected to run at the sharp end.

Hungary’s Tamas Karai will be at the wheel of the Karai Motorsport Audi A1 while Frenchman Herve Knapick competes in a Citroen DS3.

Also joining the line-up in a second Team STARD Ford Fiesta is the former works WRC driver and European Championship competitor Jani Paasonen.

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