|PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.|
The 1.37km high-speed circuit throws up all manner of challenges. And, as is customary with street layouts flanked by concrete walls, errors are heavily punished.
Six points is the difference between team-mates Kevin Hansen and his older brother Timmy Hansen, while Andreas Bakkerud is a further 22 points behind Kevin.
After round six in Sweden at the start of July, Kevin said he was set for a battle to the wire. “To lead the championship by just six points is nothing and with Timmy as my team-mate we will continue pushing and at the end of the season we will see who had the most luck and who didn’t,” he said.
Meanwhile, Timmy is relishing the challenge of Trois-Rivieres. “Canada is one of my favourite circuits of the year, because it's a really complete rallycross track. You have asphalt, you have gravel, you have a bit of everything. The asphalt and gravel are in two distinct sections and there's a jump between each section so you really have to switch from one mode to the next," said Timmy Hansen.
"The asphalt section has the highest top speed of the year, and it's somewhere that you have to use all the road, getting as close to the walls as you dare, and that's where you can really make up time," he adds. "So you need to be quite brave!”
Having claimed victory in Canada in 2016 and finished second last year, Timmy enters the weekend as favourite. He proved in Sweden, when he rebounded from as low as 16th in qualifying to reach the final, that he can put things right when it matters.
Kevin competes in the same machinery as his brother for the first time in his career and takes the momentum from Sweden having finished second in the final to regain the championship lead.
As for Bakkerud, he has been a bumper-length away from victory most notably at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps where he was pipped by Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov respectively.
Bakkerud was second to Timmy Hansen in Canada in 2016 and a finalist in 2015 where he finished fifth. The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver was disadvantaged by the changeable weather in Sweden and his Audi S1 was brought to a halt by a broken driveshaft in his semi-final. “I’m hoping to put the bad luck of Sweden behind me,” he said. “Canada is always a challenge so I’m looking forward to it.”
Niclas Gronholm, the winner in Hell, Norway, is currently fourth in the chase on 96 points despite missing the rounds in Belgium and Great Britain through illness.
The GRX Taneco driver believes his Hyundai i20 will be up for the job in Trois-Rivieres. “I’m really looking forward to the race in Canada – I think we have a good car for the track,” the Finn said.
“I like racing at Trois-Rivieres even though it is very tricky in some places and since this is a street circuit, there is no room for errors. It’s been a long break from racing now, my ‘batteries’ are fully charged and motivation is high.”
Timur Timerzyanov, the winner of round three in Belgium, is also looking forward to spreading the World RX gospel. “Rallycross for North America is still a relatively new thing and I am glad that we can show Canadians how exciting it is,” the Russian said.
“There is always plenty of action and great racing at Trois-Rivieres, with sudden weather changes possibly mixing up the field even more.”
The consistency of Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis has brought rewards with the Latvian holding down fifth place overall (89 points) after appearing in four of the six finals to date. The highlight was third place in Norway.
Bakkerud’s Monster RX Cartel team-mate Liam Doran has rued missed opportunities this year. He has made the podium once (in Abu Dhabi) from four finals. The Briton lies seventh with 76 points, two behind Timerzyanov, and is seeking redemption this time out.
“I’ve struggled a bit at the more traditional rallycross tracks – Norway and Sweden – and I’m looking forward to Canada which is a different style of track. Hopefully it will bring a change of fortune,” said Doran.
Timo Scheider, a semi-finalist in Canada two years’ ago, believes Trois-Rivieres will mostly be all about horsepower. “Canada is an engine track. It has the longest and quickest straight on the calendar,” he said.
“But you also need good aero and mechanical grip for the dirt section which is quite rough. I think the Seat will be suited to the track and we have a small upgrade for Canada so I’m optimistic.”
The five-car GC Kompetition squad are also likely to feature strongly, according to team boss Guerlain Chicherit. “In Holjes we showed competitive pace and found some consistency. Canada is an exciting track for both the Meganes and the Clios and a really fun event to be at,” he said.
EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo and Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett are also looking to overcome the disappointment of finishing down the order in Holjes due to mishaps and mechanical failures.