Sunday 10 November 2019

Timmy Hansen crowned World RX champion, while Gronholm claims race win in Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: Slipstream SA/Junaid Samodien
Timmy Hansen was crowned 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion after a dramatic season finale in South Africa, while Niclas Gronholm claimed his second win of the season. 

Hansen started on the front row for the title-decider having won semi-final two, with Andreas Bakkerud alongside. The Norwegian had the best start compared to Hansen and went around the outside and later shut the door on the Swede into turn one. With eight points available for victory in the final and five points for second place, Bakkerud could have been crowned champion, but it was not to be for the Norwegian. 

Drama soon followed when Bakkerud slid wide at turn six on lap one, and Timmy Hansen slid alongside the Norweigan. The two made contact and Bakkerud bounced off the concrete barrier and into Hansen, who spun around. The RX Cartel driver was also facing the wall on the outside, while Kevin Hansen spun at turn six and ended up on the inside of the track seeing him drop to the tail end of the field.  

While Bakkerud was facing the wrong way, Niclas Gronholm claimed the lead and Bakkerud rejoined in second. 

Timmy Hansen later recovered to fourth-place after Scheider had technical issues, and that was enough to see the Swede to go level on points with Andreas Bakkerud meaning a countback was required and after winning four events this season, Timmy was crowned FIA World Rallycross Champion.

Gronholm never looked back after claiming the lead and took his joker lap at ease on lap five and claimed his second event win of the season. 

"Its been quite good. No big issues with the car and I could enjoy my driving," Gronholm said. "It's been trouble-free and maybe I have been operating under the radar or maybe they have not focussed on beating me and maybe they just focused on scoring as many points as possible for the championship. It is nice to get a proper win after coming close on many occasions."

"Overall, I am really happy with how the car has been feeling this season and how big of a step our team has taken. There is a lot of effort going into this and they have been working their butts off to give us a good car, and they have really done a good job all season long."

Gronholm leads Bakkerud in the World RX final.
 "From the driving side of things, I have taken a step forward and I have been able to do better launches and being a bit more consistent," he adds. "So, it's a mix of many things that have improved our pace."

As the six cars arrived at the podium, Andreas Bakkerud stepped out of his car and went straight to an FIA delegate to point out damage on Timmy Hansen's Peugeot 208 Supercar. An investigation was launched, but after two long hours, the FIA decided that 'no further action' will be taken.

"I know Andreas [Bakkerud] is not happy about the overtake and I wouldn't be happy either if I make a mistake like that from the lead and I went on the inside and in the end, it was me that came out worse," Timmy Hansen said. "My father [Spotter] came onto the radio and told me that I need to make up one place to be champion and I pushed harder than I have ever before. There was a huge gap to Timo [Scheider] obviously he had some problem and I crossed the line in fourth."

"It is not the dream way to end the championship. This season has been the best in my entire career despite two races not going according to plan for me. We have taken four race wins and coming from nowhere at the start of the year, and making it to the grid was a huge achievement. This is what we dreamt of coming into the year. It feels amazing." 

An unhappy Bakkerud was quick to point out that he won the battle this weekend having had the best start in the final.

"I just want to say a huge thank you to Monster Energy RX Cartel for being a great team supporting me throughout the whole year and at the end of the day, I am proud of myself for finding the best in me," he said. "I feel that I won the battle this weekend after having the fastest reaction by far in the final." 

"Having everything in my pocket and unfortunately...  I won't go any further. It was a strong event."

1. Niclas GRÖNHOLM
2. Andreas BAKKERUD
4. Timmy HANSEN
5. Kevin HANSEN

Written By: Junaid Samodien

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