Friday 24 May 2019

World RX shifts into high gear for SpeedMachine Festival.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media. 
All roads lead to Silverstone this weekend for the fourth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the World RX of Great Britain.

The opening three events of 2019, have served up fiercely-competitive racing and plenty of incidents. Silverstone promises to be a thriller.

GRX Taneco's Timerzyanov heads to the British event fresh from his maiden World RX victory at Spa-Francorchamps. The Russian will look to progress beyond the semi-final place he secured in 2018.

“It is great to visit such a famous track as Silverstone which has seen a lot of champions and a lot of great drivers over the years,” he said.

“The track is technical and it is often hard to find the right grip but that’s part of the challenge I guess."

“I waited for 64 starts for my first World RX win in Spa-Francorchamps, I am really looking forward to getting another one as soon as possible," he adds.

The Hansen brothers in a pair of Team Hansen MJP Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars lead the drivers' standings in first and second respectively with Timmy 11 points behind his younger brother. 

At Spa-Francorchamps, the Hansen brothers found themselves down the pecking order after day one after a tyre strategy gamble in the wet conditions but Timmy mounted a spirited recovery to reach the final where he finished fourth.

“Spa-Francorchamps wasn't ideal but we're still recovering well from our setback at Abu Dhabi. I'm looking forward to Silverstone because I know we have the pace to succeed here; I have the track record for fastest lap as it stands, after all," said Timmy Hansen.

"A problem with the car last year stopped me from making the Final but generally speaking our Peugeot 208 WRX is tough as nails. It took a beating in the rough gravel at the final turn at Spa, plus we brushed the wall, but it was still quick regardless. Of course, I'll be keeping an eye on the big jump and the sometimes heavy landings it can generate but I've got the speed to win, so I'll be pushing as hard as ever.”

Younger brother Kevin, meanwhile, narrowly missed the final at Spa-Francorchamps, the first time he has been absent this season.

“I'm really looking forward to Silverstone because it's a track that I know really well. It's quite technical and I think it suits my driving style. I went well there last year," he said.

"Spa-Francorchamps wasn't so easy for us, so I'm looking forward to getting to Silverstone and seeing what we can do. We're leading the championship but that doesn't mean we're thinking about the championship situation and the points."

"I really want to push hard at Silverstone and squeeze a little extra out of myself to see what I can do. Obviously, that comes with a little more risk, but it's a risk that's worth the reward. I've got some confidence, so let's see what happens,” he adds.

Monster Energy RX Cartel’s Liam Doran had set the pace after Q2 in Belgium, advanced to the final, but ran into the back of Baumanis and his teammate at the Raidillon hairpin in the final and finished sixth.

“I had built some momentum in qualifying at Spa a track I really loved, so to miss out in the final was tough to take,” he said. 

At Silverstone, the British Bomb is well aware of British expectations. “It will be intense in front of my home crowd but I’m aiming to put on a show,” he added.

Fellow Briton Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett claimed his first qualifying win of 2019 in Spa-Francorchamps and is finding improvement in the Mini Cooper.

British Rallycross Champion Mark Higgins will be behind the wheel of a Peugeot 208 in his second successive home appearance as a wild card.

Niclas Gronholm, who sat out the Belgian round after an appendicitis operation will again miss the British round. He will be replaced, pending stewards approval, by Joni Wiman alongside Timerzyanov. Wiman, who stood in for his fellow Finn at Spa-Francorchamps, finished third in the final after a great recovery drive in only his second World RX outing. 

Andreas Bakkerud was second to Timerzyanov in round three in Spa-Francorchamps. He was also second to title-winner Johan Kristoffersson in the Silverstone final last year and has a British victory from 2014 on his CV.

Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis is the only man to feature in all three finals in 2019 and currently lies fourth in the overall standings on 52 points. The Latvian will be joined by Finland’s Jani Paasonen in the second STARD Ford Fiesta. The Austrian outfit faces a 10,000 euro fine if they fail to field two cars of the same make and model in Silverstone. 

Christian Szabo had a DNF in Q4 at Spa-Francorchamps though he did manage to make it to the semi-finals – a feat he has achieved at all three events to date capped by a final appearance in the opening event in Abu Dhabi.

Sweden’s Anton Marklund was an early pacesetter in Belgium for GC Kompetition but finished out of the placings in his semi-final along with GC Academy’s Cyril Raymond. Fellow Frenchman and team boss Guerlain Chicherit and Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder will go in search of a change of fortune.

It promises to be a busy weekend for the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport team. Timo Scheider in World RX, team boss Rene Muennich and Mandie August will also race Seat Ibizas in the European Supercar event.

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