Tuesday 27 August 2019

The F1 hybrid Internal Combustion Engine explained.

PHOTO CREDIT: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
FEATURE BY - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

The current generation of Formula One cars are powered by high-performance downsized, turbocharged and electrified hybrid Power Units. This week, we're looking at the mechanical heart of the PU, the Internal Combustion Engine and its development journey since 2014 

What elements make up a Formula One Power Unit? 
The FIA distinguishes between six elements in a modern F1 Power Unit (PU). At the very heart of the PU sits the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). It's a structural member of the car, connecting the chassis to the gearbox. The current F1 engines are six-cylinder engines, constructed in a V-configuration at 90 degrees, with a 1.6 litre displacement. The second element is the turbocharger (TC), which increases the density of the air that is consumed by the engine, thus giving the engine more power. A modern F1 engine is a hybrid engine, with two electric machines recovering and delivering energy. There's the Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K), which harnesses kinetic energy when the car is braking, and the Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H), which is connected to the turbocharger and harnesses excess energy from the exhaust. Both motor generator units convert their respective energy sources into electrical energy which can then be used to propel the car. The electric energy is stored in the fifth element of the Power Unit - a big battery pack known as the Energy Store (ES). This intricate system of different components is controlled by the sixth and final element, the Control Electronics (CE). Drivers are permitted three ICE, MGU-H and TC and two ES, CE and MGU-K during the course of a season, but any combination of parts can be fitted to the car. If a driver exceeds this limit, they are given a grid penalty. 

How does the combustion process work in an F1 ICE? 
At the heart of the ICE is the combustion process where fuel and air are mixed and ignited to liberate energy. This process works in the same way it does on your road car; however, the systems are a bit more intricate. Looking at it in more detail, the combustion air is fed to the engine through an air duct that sits behind the roll hoop. The air pressure is increased by a compressor which is part of the turbocharger. This process also increases the air temperature, so the air needs to be cooled again in a charge cooler before it's fed into the plenums at the top of the engine. From there, it passes down the six inlet ports and past two inlet valves into the cylinders. That's where the fuel comes into effect. F1 engines are direct injection, like most modern road cars, so the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber. The fuel is injected at a maximum of 500 bar, which is limited by the regulations. While that is more than you would find on a direct-injection petrol engine in a road car, which usually sees pressures of up to 350 bar, it is actually quite a bit less than you might find in a modern diesel, where fuel pressures can reach up to 2,500 bar. The air and fuel mixture is compressed by the piston before a spark plug ignites it. The force of the combustion pushes down the piston, which is connected to the crankshaft through a connecting rod and is therefore able to drive the crankshaft. When the piston comes back up, the exhaust valves open to release the exhaust gases from the engine, so that the whole process can start all over again - up to a maximum of 15,000 times every minute (or up to 250 times a second). The exhaust gases are used to drive the turbine wheel of the turbocharger which in turn drives the compressor. What's left then exits through the tailpipe at the rear of the car, with a wastegate system being used to control the pressure during this phase. 

What other systems are part of the ICE? 
Very intricate and complex oil and water systems are also featured in the engine, weaving between the different elements. These keep the engine running smoothly and regulate temperature, which is incredibly important when you consider that the gas temperatures in the combustion chamber can reach up to 2,600°C. The water system's main job is to manage temperatures of the many different elements and materials that make up the F1 Power Unit. From the crank case, to the top of the cylinder head, it's all about making sure the engine doesn't overheat. A great deal of engineering goes into that, from managing the flow of water, to the pump efficiency. 

What kind of gains has the team found since 2014? 
The Power Unit regulations have remained fairly stable since they were introduced for the start of the 2014 season, so the general philosophy of the PU hasn't deviated significantly from the original version that debuted five years ago. However, thanks to numerous changes in many areas, the team at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth has been able to improve every element of the Power Unit, producing more power and improving thermal efficiency. In 2014, the PU produced just over 900hp and had a thermal efficiency of 44%. That means that 44% of the energy in the fuel was converted into useful work to propel the car. Over the next years, the thermal efficiency was steadily improved, eventually breaking the 50% thermal efficiency barrier on the dyno in 2017. 

Where did the team find more performance in the last years? 
In the past five years, the team has looked at every single bit of the engine to find more performance and better efficiency. One area that the team did a lot of work on was the flow of gases in the engine - both in the form of the combustion air being fed into the engine and the exhaust gases coming out of it. In terms of the inlet system, one crucial area of development has been the plenums. They sit on top of the engine between the charge cooler and the inlet valves. The two plenums, one for each cylinder bank, hold pressurised air that is coming in from the compressor, providing a stable source of compressed air despite varying supply (owing to varying compressor speeds) and demand (an idling engine needs less air than one running at full throttle). From the plenums, the combustion air is fed through various inlet systems into the cylinders. The rules in 2014 demanded a fixed geometry system for the plenums, leaving little room for any performance gains. This rule changed for the following season, giving the engineers a new avenue to pursue. As a result, the plenums have not only increased in size, but also house a much more complex trumpet system. These trumpet-shaped ducts vary in length and thus match the tuned length to the engine speed and help to maximise the amount of air that is fed into the engine. In 2015, the trumpets turned into something that's more like a trombone, where the inlet trumpet is sliding up and down on a port system, changing the length of the intake system with every move. This means the trumpet system and therefore the airflow can be adapted to the engine speed, providing the best length for different RPMs to produce the most power. Part of this evolution is even visible from the outside: since 2015, the plenums have increased in size every year, with carbon fibre extending the full length of the engine now and even pushing out the bodywork around the engine cover. This is why you can see small bumps on each side of the engine cover. 

Did the team do any other work on the gas flow in the engine? 
Another major area for improvement has been the exhaust system. Its shape, length and diameter have a massive impact on the performance of the engine, because the quicker the exhaust gases from the combustion process can be pushed out of the combustion chamber, the faster the new firing cycle can start. In 2014, the team used a lightweight exhaust system that was running the shortest possible route from the cylinder head to the turbine of the turbocharger. This system had two advantages - it didn't add a lot of weight and the short pipes meant that there was not a lot of heat loss on the way to the turbine of the turbocharger and the MGU-H. However, the team introduced a more complex system in 2015 which helped to increase the power output of the engine. In this tuned exhaust, the primary pipes - the six pipes leading straight from the cylinder head - were the same length, but the secondary pipe was longer, thus altering the power curve and the power output of the engine. Since then, the team has introduced a new exhaust system every year, extracting more from the engine each time. 

What other areas of the engine did the team focus on? 
One other area where the team has made improvements is the materials we use. Large parts of the engine are metallic (for example, the cylinder head is made from aluminium) but the rules don't always specific what metals must be used. Choosing the right alloys for the right components can impact both the reliability and the performance of the engine. Another area that the team is constantly working on is friction reduction. Friction takes power away - while the energy goes into heat rejection. This is where PETRONAS lubricants play an important role as the oil film between loaded components reduces friction and therefore increases power, but also reduces the wear and increases reliability. Getting the oil to and from the location in the engine where it is needed is also a development area. The engine is subjected to enormous G forces, it can experience up to four or five time the force of gravity when the car is braking, accelerating or thrown into a corner. Making sure the oil reaches every component that needs it but also getting it out of the engine again requires a very complex scavenging system. There are about ten oil pumps at the bottom of the engine, drawing oil from the cylinder head, the crankshaft, but also some of the ancillaries to make sure that the oil tank never runs dry. 

What role does the fuel play in the hunt for performance? 
The fuel is at the very heart of the combustion process and has a significant influence on the performance of the engine. The regulations state that the fuel needs to be unleaded, so it's like the kind of fuel you would use in a road car. Does that mean you could potentially run an F1 Power Unit with regular road car petrol from your local filling station? You could - but it would require some changes to the calibration, for example to the ignition. You would also experience a very noticeable drop in performance. Why? Because the PETRONAS Primax fuel that the team uses has been developed over the last eight years and is minutely calibrated to work perfectly with the Mercedes Power Unit. A group of PETRONAS engineers is constantly working on the chemical composition of the fuel to make sure its characteristics match those required by the engine. This development work is done in close cooperation with the thermodynamic engineers at HPP. 

How long does it take to build an F1 Power Unit and what is the process? 
Power Units are complex machines and the more powerful they've become, the more complex they've grown. Back in 2014, it took a team of two people about two weeks to build an Power Unit. Fast forward to 2019 and the same task would take about three weeks with the same number of people. Therefore, the team at Brixworth had to try and condense that time so that it wouldn't lose precious development time to the build process, and to do so, they added more people to the build process. So, two weeks has been maintained but with an additional person involved. 

Thursday 22 August 2019

Do you understand car insurance excess and how it works?

When choosing a new car insurance, one of the most important factors to consider is the insurance excess cost. Low insurance premiums could sometimes mean a high insurance excess cost – and if you don’t make an informed decision at the start of your contract, you might be in for a nasty surprise if you’re ever in a car accident.

Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management plans and
insurance, unpacks insurance excess and how it works:

What is car insurance excess?

A car insurance excess is the first amount payable by you the client if you’re in an accident. It is the uninsured portion of your loss which is payable by you when you make a claim on a loss. Normally the excess is paid to the garage fixing the automobile once the repairs are completed.

“This excess is payable by the insured regardless of who is responsible (to blame) for the accident. This serves as a shield for the insurance company against minor claims and fraudulent claims. It also works to keep the premiums down,” explains Smit.

Compulsory vs voluntary excess
As suggested by the name, compulsory insurance excess is applied to your policy by the insurance provider. Normally, compulsory insurance varies across different age groups and type of vehicle.

The insurance providers usually set higher compulsory excess amounts for young and
inexperienced drivers than for older drivers with more experience on the road. The reason behind this is that younger drivers are categorised as higher-risk individuals and thus attract an additional compulsory excess. The same logic is applied to owners of high value cars like luxury cars and high-performance cars, says Smit. These super expensive vehicles attract a very significant amount of compulsory excess.

When it comes to voluntary excess, things are quite different. Here you set your own amount (above the compulsory excess) that you are willing to pay. This is an effective way through which many people have been able to lower their overall insurance costs. By increasing your voluntary excess, you attract lower premiums from the insurance provider.

“Increasing your excess shifts some risk from the insurance provider back to you. It saves the insurance company from paying out numerous minor claims,” Smit explains. However, he goes on to caution against choosing smaller premiums in exchange for a higher excess. “If anything happens resulting in a loss, you will have to fork out a larger chunk of money (both the compulsory and voluntary excesses).”

Various types of excesses

The excess for which you are liable is usually listed on your insurance certificate. Different policies have different types of excesses which are applicable in different situations. To find out about the excess applicable to you, kindly refer to your insurance certificate. Below are some of the main excesses applicable to comprehensive (car) insurance.

1. Standard Excess
It is an amount agreed upon by both the insured and insurer to be contributed towards making of claims. It can be applicable on its own or with another excess.

This excess is applicable in addition to the standard excess for drivers under 25 years when they make a claim. Different types of excesses can be applied by insurers for drivers under 25.
a. Inexperienced Driver Excess
This is an excess applicable to drivers over 25 years of age but with less than 2 years of driving experience (from the time of license issuance).

b. Unlisted Driver Excess 
This excess applies to drivers under 25 years who are not listed in the policy.

3. Special Excess
Sometimes it is possible to have arrangements for special circumstances for which an additional excess is payable above the standard excess upon the actualisation of the circumstances agreed upon.

Understanding how car insurance excess works

To better understand how excess works, Smit outlines this hypothetical example: “Let's say your insurance policy has an excess of R25,000 and you happen to be in an accident that leads you to make a claim of R100,000. Your insurer will retain the first R25,000 and give you the remaining balance of R75,000.

Take another scenario in which you are involved in an accident with damages worth R6,000. If you have an insurance excess of R500, your insurer will pay R5500 with you having paid the excess to the garage fixing your car.”

When you can reclaim your excess
Going back to our very first question, is it possible to get a refund of your excess? The simple answer is yes! However certain conditions have to be met. There are two ways to go about this:
1. Having the excess waived
2. Insuring against paying your excess

Having the excess waived

Most insurers can and will waive the excess upon application by their client. The client will have to prove that they were not at fault and provide the insurance company with the name and address of the party at fault.

However, for damage incurred on a parked car as a result of a flood or fire, one is still liable to pay a basic excess. Some insurers will allow for addition of extra coverage to the policy so that one won't have to pay any excess for these kind of claims.

For more information, please visit https://www.motorhappy.co.za

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Matvey Furazhkin to make World RX debut with ESmotorsport in Loheac.

PHOTO CREDIT: ESmotorsport-Labas GAS
Matvey Furazhkin will make his World Rallycross Championship debut with ESmotorsport-Labas GAS at Loheac.

The 19-year-old Russian competes in the European Autocross Championship this season and leads the ‘Touring’ category standings having won the first six rounds with three rounds remaining in the championship.

Furazhkin will test Skoda Fabia Supercar before his debut in France next week. "I believe that autocross is the best school for rallycross and when I realized that, I moved from the buggy category to Touring," he said. "This year I’m participating in Touring Autocross class in order to get used to this kind of car, to the weight and driving features in order to make it easier for me to transition into rallycross."

"We chose ESmotorsport because it is a very promising team that is developing and wants to achieve high results, which coincides with our goals and desires," the Russian adds.

ESmotorsport’s best results of the 2019 World RX season thus far were achieved by Kevin Abbring, who finished fourth in Norway and Sweden. 

"It was a communication mistake when the entry list was announced for Loheac that Kevin Abbring was our entry," said ESmotorsport-LabasGAS Team Manager, Robertas Maneiki. "We would have gladly had Kevin behind the wheel, but unfortunately it is not possible for him to do this race."

Abbring will return to the team for the final round of the season in Cape Town.

"We look forward to Kevin racing our Skoda Fabia WRX in the last round of the Championship," Maneiki said. 

ESmotorsport-LabasGAS Team Manager is excited to work with the 19-year-old Russian in France.

"Now the full focus is for Loheac, we are very glad that for France the car will be driven by a very motivated driver. From the initial meeting we found common goals," he said. "It’s very exciting that Matvey‘s vision is much the same as ours is the same. We look forward for his transition into rallycross."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Kevin Hansen wins Nitro Rallycross in first attempt.

PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
Kevin Hansen etched his name into Nitro World Games history when he claimed victory at the second-ever Nitro Rallycross event in Utah.

The Swede took the checkered flag first in the six-car final following in the footsteps of his older brother Timmy Hansen, who won last year's event and finished third in 2019. Subaru Motorsports USA's Patrik Sandell finished in a close second after starting on pole position in the final.

"Wow! Just, wow! I almost can’t find the words to say what I’m feeling now. It was the best six laps of my life," he said. "I expected an amazing weekend on my first outing as a driver at the Nitro World Games, but nothing like this."

"I didn't drive a lap before the start [of the final]. Just had a mega start and then the six best laps of my life. This is the best win of my career." 

Kevin and Timmy used the same specification Supercar in Utah that they use in World Rallycross, although the Nitro competition adopted slightly different regulations, and (unlike the World RX championship) the track was mainly gravel.

"From the beginning, I had a really good feeling with the car and the circuit, after some good practice sessions, and then we just took it from there," Hansen said.

An exhausted Kevin Hansen after winning the Nitro Rallycross event.
PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
"The final was a great fight, but I made a great start, pushed to the absolute maximum, and managed to bring it home. And it was an amazing team result, with Timmy on the podium too."

Hansen leads the World Rallycross and Titans RX championship standings, and his win at the Nitro Rallycross event has given him confidence for the remainder of the year.

"I loved every bit of it, and I’m feeling very confident now for the rest of the year going forward!" he said.

The 2018 Nitro Rallycross winner Timmy Hansen survived a poor start and early contact with Tanner Foust and Ken Block to power through the field an claim a third-place finish. 

"I’m happy with our own weekend as well, as it’s always good to stand on the podium," he said. "It wasn’t quite a perfect race for me in the end and it was always going to be tricky starting off the front row, but we did our best and ended up with a great team result."

"I couldn’t be happier for Kevin (younger brother). I know what it feels like to conquer this astonishing circuit, and he put in a brilliant and commanding performance right from the start. From a family and team point of view, it makes me feel very proud."

PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Saturday 17 August 2019

Scott Speed breaks back while competing in a Nitro Rallycross heat race.

PHOTO CREDIT: Subaru Motorsport USA.
Former Formula 1 driver Scott Speed will miss the remainder of the Nitro World Games in Utah after fracturing his back during the first round of heat races yesterday. 

The Americas Rallycross championship leader carried too much speed on the approach to the final jump of the track and landed quite hard after the jump.

Speed was able to cross the chequered flag but immediately complained of back pain.

Subaru Motorsports USA team issued a statement confirming that Speed had been taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

The American took to his Instagram account earlier today confirming the extent of his injuries. 

"After landing hard in Q1 I broke my back," Speed said. "Was rushed to the local hospital for checks. CT scan confirmed a destroyed t6, then I was taken to a spine specialist at University of Utah."

"Finally got an MRI done around 3am. We found I have 3 fractured vertebrae. Waiting now for the surgeons to give us the game plan."

*Further updates will follow once made available

Friday 16 August 2019

The Hansen brothers head Stateside for Nitro Rallycross.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool. 
Team Hansen MJP returns to Utah Motorsports Campus in the United States for the 2019 Nitro World Games with a two-car line-up. 

In 2018, Timmy Hansen claimed victory in the inaugural Nitro Rallycross event, and if the opening event was anything to go by, the 2019 Nitro Rallycross should be a nail-biting thriller.

Nitro World Games sees the best athletes in the world from a variety of extreme sports going head to head in events designed to test skill and raise the bar when it comes to entertainment.

The aim and intention of Nitro Rallycross is to ‘turn the sport of rallycross on its head’ by creating a track that gives drivers control of the race, has multiple racing lines, and some of the biggest jumps and the big banked turns saw on a rallycross track.

Kevin Hansen will join his older brother Timmy in their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars to take on the best that American rallycross has to offer, on a track that features the biggest man-made jump in rallycross history.

The Hansen brothers will be lining up alongside freestyle motocross legend and event founder, Travis Pastrana, Scott Speed, Ken Block, Patrick Sandell, Chris Atkinson, Steve Arpin and Tanner Foust.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
“Last year we proved that race cars could fly, and this year we have redesigned the track to be even crazier,” Travis Pastrana said.

The 2019 version of the Nitro Rallycross track retains the key characteristics of 2018, offering multiple racing lines to promote creative overtaking and strategy on a unique figure of eight layout.

It’s simultaneously the most thrilling and scariest rallycross track in the world. With huge banked turns, drivers will carry more speed into corners and have more overtaking options available to them than ever before.

"This track is simply out of this world! It’s changed a lot since last year and it’s nearly all gravel, with some big jumps," said Timmy Hansen. "But honestly, words can’t really describe what the circuit is like: it’s just something that you have to see and experience for yourself."

"The whole atmosphere around Nitro is incredible: there’s a real buzz to it, typical of American motorsport."

Timmy Hansen is not too focused on the minor details that come with Nitro Rallycross, he has one aim in mind and that is to drive as fast as possible.

"You can’t really plan for this event and we’re racing to a slightly different format, so I’m not going to worry about the details – instead I’m just going to be driving as fast as possible!" he concludes.

Younger brother Kevin Hansen watched his brother race to victory in 2018 and is looking forward to competing in 2019. 

"I’ve been here to look before but not to drive, so I’m really looking forward to it," he said. "I think it’s going to be incredible: we start the weekend with jump practice – as we have to work out how best to tackle all the jumps, which you don’t see anywhere else in the world. Of course they call it ‘practice’ but you really don’t want to get it wrong, so you need to push hard from the very start!"

Kevin sees a benefit in having a two-car team at the Nitro Rallycross event: "The fact that we have two cars this year is also going to help, as we should be able to learn from each other."

The Nitro Rallycross action gets underway tomorrow [Saturday] with the qualifying heats at 9pm CET and the final at 1am CET [Saturday/Sunday evening]. Coverage will be streaming LIVE on the Nitro World Games Youtube and Facebook channels.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Bakkerud predicts that title fight will be decided in Cape Town.

Andreas Bakkerud believes that the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship will be decided at the season finale in Cape Town.

Bakkerud claimed his first win of the season in Canada and is now within 5 points of the championship leader Kevin Hansen. 

Since the withdrawal of EKS Audi Sport, Peugeot Sport, and Volkswagen Motorsport - the championship has been wide open and very unpredictable. 

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship has seen six different winners in the seven rounds to date, with Timmy Hansen [Team Hansen MJP] being the only repeat winner of the season. 

"It's crazy this year - there have been so many ups and downs for everyone, it's not only for me or not only Kevin or Timmy [Hansen]," Bakkerud said. "It's very unpredictable - and I think it will be a race to the checkered flag in Cape Town."

With one win under his belt, the RX Cartel driver aims to push hard to the checkered flag in Cape Town. 

"We are for sure going to push everything that we can and focus on the tasks - do good starts, keep the car in one piece and try not to do too many crazy things like in Q4 for example," he said. "And, at the end of the day, we need to count the points after the checkered flag in Cape Town."

"I don't think it's going to be easy to win this year. I think it's going to be rather hard - you need some luck and you need some good results first of all."

There are many unknowns heading to the final three rounds of the championship, but Bakkerud is realistic and admits that anything can happen. 

"Looking at the next couple of races - I am not really sure of how it's going to be."

"I was wrong on this event, but you never know what's going to happen to go to France, Riga and to Cape Town. A couple of races in France have been good to me. Riga - ups and downs. Cape Town - never been my favorite track. So, it's going to be tricky, but you never know."

A new FIA World Rallycross Champion will be crowned this season. Who do you think will be crowned the '2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion': Kevin Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud or Timmy Hansen? 

TICKETS for the World RX of South Africa are available here: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/70540-fia-world-rallycross-of-south-africa/#/

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 13 August 2019

'Canada RX best team result for GCK' - Chicherit

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
GC Kompetition claimed their best team results of the season at Trois-Rivieres.

Four of five team cars [GC Kompetition and GCK Academy] progressed to the semi-finals, and two would progress to the finals.  

GCK Academy driver Rokas Baciuska was on the back foot from Q1 after being handed a five-second time penalty for hitting track markers on two occasions, dropping him to ninth place after Q2. 

The Lithuanian recovered to reach semi-final one where he finished fifth after clipping the tyre wall. Fellow GCK Academy member Cyril Raymond was thwarted by a mechanical failure in the same semi-final.

Guillaume De Ridder’s [GCK Academy] run of bad luck continued with the Belgian finishing the event in 14th place overall.

GC Kompetition's Anton Marklund progressed to the finals, but his race ended in the barrier after he made contact with Kevin Hansen at the joker lap merge. Hansen was handed a penalty promoting Guerlain Chicherit to fourth place.

"What a weekend. Canada RX has been the best team result so far with 4 GCK cars in the semi-final and 2 in the final as well as a personal best in a 4th place for me," said Chicherit. 

"It was a crazy weekend full of contact and aggressive racing, which was great for the fans - we put down some really good lap and sector times and we absolutely had the pace for a spot on the podium."

The Frenchman was on form in Canada but was let down by a broken gearbox which would see him finish fourth in the final.

"I felt strong and confident in the Megane and loved the track, so the broken gearbox was hugely disappointing for me, as I was pushing for an even better result and just didn’t have a chance to fight for the podium in the final," he said.

"On to Loheac now and I’m stoked to be racing in front of my home crowd next!"

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Friday 9 August 2019

Luckless Guillaume De Ridder's streak continues in Canada.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
The leap into the FIA World Rallycross Championship has not been the easiest for GCK Academy's Guillaume De Ridder. 

De Ridder took the step-up from the RX2 series after finishing as runner-up in the 2018 season and joined Guerlain Chicherit's newly formed GCK Academy for the 2019 season. 

L.U.C.K - A four-letter word that eludes the Belgian this season. To date, his best result came at the World RX of Catalunya where he finished in 11th place. De Ridder finds himself at the tail end of the championship in 18th place having amassed only 16 points. 

The 26-year old was involved in a number of incidents this season that was not entirely his fault, as well as a few mechanical issues.

The Canadian round at Trois-Rivières was no different for De Ridder finishing in 14th place continuing to struggle with his Clio R.S. RX Supercar set-up.

"It was a tough weekend for us here in Canada," he said. "After encouraging free practice sessions where we showed good pace and had a p10, we struggled to adapt to the track and continued to test the set-ups every race but couldn’t get it right."

With three rounds remaining in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship, De Ridder has the opportunity to turn his luck around, but in order to improve the Belgian aims to analyze what went wrong in Canada and improve for the next round in Loheac, France. 

"We need to now analyze what went wrong exactly and ensure we manage to sort it out for our next race back in Europe," he concludes.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Canada RX struggles 'an important learning weekend' - Kenneth Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Team Hansen MJP, as the lead in both championships were reduced and only one of two cars made the Finals in Canada.

The race weekend at Trois-Rivières did not go according to plan for the Swedish outfit with both drivers on the cusp of qualifying for a semi-final spot on day one.

Timmy Hansen restored some hope with a fourth-place finish in Q3, but he was the biggest loser in the championship squabble after crashing in Q2 and a chaotic race four of Q4, which saw him crawl across the finish line with a badly damaged car.

The championship leader Kevin progressed to the semi-finals but was later disqualified for contact with Anton Marklund in the finals.

Team Hansen MJP will have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks to understand why they lacked the pace in Canada.  

“We learned a lot as a team this weekend," said Kenneth Hansen, team boss. "We didn't put everything together."

The 1.37km Trois-Rivières track is very tight and technical with a long straight, which means that there is a trade-off between set-up, race starts and straight-line speed. 

"When we came here we thought we would be very strong but we struggled a little with the speed," he said. "It wasn't really bad per se, but we also pushed a little over the limit a couple of times."

"We need to pick up the small details as to why that was the case. We didn't make brilliant starts, so that's something we can look at."

"It was an important learning weekend for the team and for the future, to make sure we put everything together for the end of the season."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Thursday 8 August 2019

Topi Heikkinen to make World RX return with GRX Set at Loheac.

Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen will make a return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for round eight at Loheac.

The regular World RX driver line-up will be joined by four wildcard entries. Topi Heikkinen, famous of winning the World RX of Belgium in 2014 and 2015 – and finishing second in the Drivers’ Standings in 2014 – will race a third Hyundai i20 alongside Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov in a GRX SET entry.

To date Heikkinen has claimed two event wins, eight podiums in fifty one event starts.

In a second appearance of the summer, after racing at Holjes, the Pailler brothers Fabien and Jonathan will race Peugeot 208 Supercars for the Pailler Competition team, and French legend Herve Knapick will drive his Citroen DS3. 

Kevin Abbring will return after missing the Canadian leg of World RX championship with the ESmotorsport – Labas GAS team’s Skoda Fabia.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

A weekend of ups and downs for GRX despite Timerzyanov's podium finish.

Timur Timerzyanov taking the lead with a very faster launch.
GRX Taneco departs Canada with highs and lows. Timur Timerzyanov secured a third-place finish for the Finnish squad, while team-mate Niclas Gronhölm missed out on a spot in the final.

Niclas Gronhölm claimed the top qualifiers position after winning Q2 and Q4. His teammate Timur Timerzyanov was the third-fastest after the four qualifying rounds. 

Despite the unfortunate events in Q2 and Q4 that impacted Timerzyanov’s point score, both drivers secured the front row start for Semi-final 1, which the Russian would eventually win and his teammate would not progress any further. 

“This weekend has been with its highs and lows," he said. "Especially the Final, where I was in a position to fight for a win but made a crucial mistake that put me way back in the standings. But then it all turned around when other drivers also fell under the pressure and I was able to regain positions and finish on the podium."

Gronhölm, who had set the early race weekend pace, looked set to challenge for overall victory Canada. However, he paid the price for a costly joker strategy in semi-final one where he finished fourth and failed to progress to the final.

“After finishing the Qualifying sessions as the leader of the pack, the expectations were high, but all it took was one non-perfect start in the Semi-final to have a relatively disappointing ending of the weekend," he said. 

"We had the pace and the car felt really good, but… that’s how it goes sometimes. We need to analyze this race, draw our conclusions and move forward."

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the final in Canada, the Finn targets strong results in the three remaining rounds of the championship. "There are three more races to do and three more possibilities to clinch the top step of the podium," he adds.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 6 August 2019

REPORT: Bakkerud slides into title contention after victory in Trois-Rivieres

Andreas Bakkerud has clinched his first victory in 981 days at the World RX of Canada in Trois-Rivieres and is now firmly in contention for the World Rallycross Championship title with three rounds remaining. 

The Norweigan has come close to victory on two occasions this year – second in Belgium and Great Britain – but it finally came good at the challenging street circuit in Quebec.

Bakkerud acknowledged the efforts of his RX Cartel team after finally securing a win that he thought might never come. “We have worked hard as a team and I was hoping and praying that this day would come even though with all the bad luck and near misses we have had this season, I thought it might never happen,” he said.

“We have had some challenging months in getting the team together for the first round in Abu Dhabi. We were so close in Belgium and Silverstone and we were strong until the semi-final in Sweden."

The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver admitted that he did not expect his Audi S1 Quattro to suit the Trois-Rivieres track layout. 

"Tracks benefit different cars and I thought coming here that this track would not benefit us," he said.

Bakkerud claimed the Q1 race win and was ranked second overall after day one. On Sunday, the Norwegian finished third in Q3 and nearly failed to progress any further, but luck was on his side when Timmy Hansen, Liam Doran, and Timur Timerzyanov collided.

"Winning Q1 was amazing - staying up there and fighting," he said. "We were a bit lucky - especially when Timmy, Liam and Timur crashed together in Q4 - and I came through from out of nowhere."

"In the final, I burnt the clutch at the start and broke the sub-guard on the rear. It was awful to drive on the dirt because of that. I was everywhere, but I still tried to push. It was really tricky to brake into every corner," he adds. "I think Janis [Baumanis] said: 'you were so slow on the dirt'. Yeah, I have a reason."
Bakkerud passing Hansen, Doran, and Timerzyanov to progress to the semi-finals.

"I am just happy that the car stayed in one piece, and I am super proud of the team - the first win for RX Cartel and the first win for EKS Audi Sport, I think since the start of 2017"

The win in Canada has enabled Bakkerud to usurp Timmy Hansen who was second in the drivers’ standings heading to Canada and close to within five points of championship leader Kevin Hansen.

Championship leader Kevin Hansen was disqualified from the final after the stewards decided he was at fault in an incident with Anton Marklund at the exit of the joker lap.

Kevin now leads the overall standings on 143 points with Bakkerud second on 138 and Timmy third with 129.

Bakkerud thinks that the championship fight could go down to the wire in Cape Town. “It’s so close, the races are very unpredictable," said Bakkerud. "I think it will be a race to the chequered flag in Cape Town (the final round of the 2019 championship in November)."

“It’s not going to be easy to win the championship. You need some results and some luck. It’s going to be tricky but you never know.”

It was a weekend to forget for the Hansen brothers. But despite the challenges, Kevin progressed to the finals. His older brother Timmy was the biggest loser in Canada after a crash in Q2 and a chaotic race four of Q4

Timmy's Peugeot 208 was severely damaged and he eventually crawled sideways across the line where it was retrieved by a recovery vehicle.

The incidents meant he missed the semi-finals and emerged from the World RX of Canada with only four points.

Second to Bakkerud in the final was Janis Baumanis who went one better than his third place in round five in Hell, Norway.

"Last year, I got the first trophy from World RX for Monster Energy Supercharge Award, and now standing on the podium in P2 between these two guys," he said. "I'm really pleased to be here." 

"We have worked hard to be on the podium and even make it through to the finals. I think that this is the fifth final of the season or fourth, but it doesn't matter. I am really pleased with the teamwork - especially what we do with analysis during the day - during the night also. We just need to keep on working like this and a podium is then real."

Third was Timur Timerzyanov, who had pipped Bakkerud for the spoils at Spa-Francorchamps in May. The Russian had earlier wrestled his Hyundai i20 to a semi-final victory despite bent suspension. 

"I think it was better to drive with the bent suspension then crash into the tyres. It was actually nice to drive," the Russian jokered. "The suspension was bent on the right direction. All the right corners were easier to drive then the left corners with the gravel corners, just sliding in."

“In the final, third place was a present for me. I think I think that I was fifth after stopped before Kevin (Hansen) and Anton (Marklund) crashed into each other after the joker lap. I was lucky today.”

Guerlain Chicherit finished fourth to round out an impressive weekend for GC Kompetition. Marklund was classified fifth following the clash with Kevin Hansen which caused extensive suspension damage to his Renault Megane R.S. RX.

Niclas Gronholm, who had set the early race weekend pace, and finished as top qualifier, looked set to challenge strongly for overall victory.

However, he paid the price for a costly joker strategy in semi-final one where he finished fourth +0.686s behind Kevin Hansen and thus failed to make the final.

Timo Scheider in the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport Seat Ibiza reached semi-final two but a clash with Liam Doran resulted in bodywork damage and sixth place. The incident dropped Doran to fourth in the semi-final when it had seemed a place in the final beckoned for the Briton.

EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo, sporting a ‘just married’ sticker on the rear bumper of his Audi S1, celebrated with a race win in Q2 en route to fifth place in his semi-final. 

Rokas Baciuska, the GC Kompetition Academy driver was on the back foot from Q1 after being handed a five-second time penalty for twice hitting track markers. The misdemeanors dropped him to ninth place after Q2. 

The Lithuanian recovered to reach semi-final one where he finished fifth after clipping the tyre wall. Fellow GCK squad member Cyril Raymond was thwarted by a mechanical failure in the same semi-final.

Guillaume De Ridder’s run of bad fortune continued finishing in 14th place overall.

After a strong run to ninth in Q3, Oliver Bennett’s weekend ended in race 3 of Q4 when he was sandwiched off the line and suffered broken front right suspension.

It was an eventful outing for Jani Paasonen for Team Stard. Paasonen's issues began in free practice with contact with one of Trois-Rivieres’ famed concrete walls.

His Ford Fiesta then crabbed its way over the line in race three of Q2 after further contact with a tyre barrier resulting in damage to the right rear suspension. He would eventually finish in last place. 

ESmotorsport - LABAS Gas were fined €50,000 for failure to participate in Canada - "A permanent individual competitor has a responsibility vis-à-vis the FIA to ensure that the car entered takes to the grid for each competition of the championship."

The Lithuanian outfit issued a statement prior to the event in Canada citing a scheduling conflict for not participating - "Due to scheduling conflict Kevin Abbring was not able to attend Canada event, as agreed from the start he would be able only to manage Norway, Sweden and South Africa."

"From now our team will take a short pause from the races. We will continue our car testing and development based on feedback that we have received from the drivers this season."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien