Monday 17 June 2019

Grönholm wins in Hell after Marklund is disqualified

Niclas Grönholm claimed his maiden World Rallycross win in Norway after Anton Marklund was disqualified due a technical infringement. 

Despite Anton Marklund crossing the line first, he would be disqualified after scrutineers found that the front bumper mountings (cross member) were too thick, contravening the technical (safety) regulations.

The Swede's win in Norway would have been his first World RX win and a first for GC Kompetition. 

Kevin Hansen crossed the line in second place, but after the race, the Swede was handed a one-second penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour. While Grönholm received a reprimand for "continuously pushing" Hansen in the final.

Niclas Grönholm, who missed the Belgian and British rounds due to appendicitis surgery was promoted to victory ahead of Kevin Hansen and Janis Baumanis.

A torrential downpour prior to the start of the semi-finals made track conditions treacherous and teams were forced to switch to full wet weather tyres. Grip levels were a guessing game, particularly off the start line. By the time the final arrived, the rain had eased slightly but conditions remained challenging for the drivers.

The Finn was disadvantaged by starting on the front row in the final where the track surface carries more rubber – meaning less grip in the wet conditions.

“It feels nice to have a win but this is not really how we expected it to happen,” he said.

“We had a really poor launch from the front row in the semi and the finalI tried to push Kevin (Hansen) all the way in the final. I think his rear bumper is quite bruised.

“The car felt good, we definitely had the pace to win but the wheel spin off the line hurt us,” he concludes.

Team Hansen MJP's Kevin Hansen finished third in semi-final two and would start the final on the back row of the grid.

“This is the most crazy rallycross racing I’ve ever experienced,” Hansen said. “Racing in these conditions with a flood of water on the circuit is really difficult."

“Overall we did a great job in the wet. We made good changes to the car and I had an amazing spotter in the final to coach me all the way through because it was difficult to see at times," he added. "I feel like I can speak about this final forever as so many things happened."

“We grabbed some good team points and we are still one-two in the championship which is what we wanted when we came here.”

There was a bit of déjà vu in the paddock after the final when the Swede was handed the time penalty for the incident with Gronholm in what was reminiscent of the season opener in Abu Dhabi where Kevin Hansen claimed his maiden win and Grönholm was on the wrong end of a stewards’ decision having taken the chequered flag first.

“It could have been a lot worse, so I think they (the stewards) did a fair job and I just have to accept it,” said Kevin Hansen.
PHOTO CREDIT - Milan Dujava portfolio

Team STARD's Janis Baumanis recovered from damaged rear suspension in Q1 to advance to the final where he inherited third – his first World RX podium.

Dutchman Kevin Abbring claimed fourth place on his World RX debut at the wheel of the ESmotorsport – Labas GAS Skodia Fabia.

Liam Doran opted for an early joker lap in the final which proved to be key, and he was the fastest driver in the tricky conditions. However, his chances of claiming a maiden World RX win was dashed when he slowed on the penultimate lap with a mechanical issue. He would finish in fifth place.

A number of headline drivers failed to advance beyond the semi-finals after the torrential downpour.

Championship leader Timmy Hansen missed out on a place in the final after bogging off the line in pole position in semi-final two and missed out on a place in the final by 0.752s. 

Home town favourite Andreas Bakkerud failed to reach the final after finishing sixth in semi-final two. 

While disappointed for himself, the home supporters and the Norwegian also felt for his team-mate. “While I am sorry for my fans and the whole of Norway, I am also very sorry for Liam. I honestly thought, as most people did, that Liam would give the RX Cartel our first win today but it wasn’t to be,” he said.

GRX Taneco's Timur Timerzyanov had put his Hyundai i20 in third place after Q3 but could only manage fourth in his semi-final.

ALL-INKL Motorsport’s Timo Scheider was second quickest overall after day one. However, his race weekend ended early when he was caught out in a start incident with Baumanis in semi-final 1 and he was forced to retire with rear suspension damage.

Guerlain Chicherit made a lightning start from P6 in the semi-finals to head the pack in to turn one but was ultimately the victim of some barging, he finished fifth and could go no further.

GC Kompetition will not appeal the disqualification: "we accept the decision, the rules are the rules and we will come back stronger."
TEXT - Junaid Samodien

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