Saturday 30 May 2020

Van Gisbergen returns for FIA World RX Esports Invitational Series.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool. 
2016 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen will return to the FIA Rallycross Championship Esports Invitational Series at the Yas Marina Circuit this Sunday. 

On his virtual rallycross debut in Portugal last time out, van Gisbergen claimed a podium finish despite multiple spins and incidents including a collision with Mattias Adielsson on the opening lap of the final. 

“It was definitely fun to do my first World RX Esports race in Portugal, I always watch World Rallycross on TV so it was pretty cool to be a part of it racing all those guys and I went a lot better than what I thought I would,” he said. “My goal was to make the semis but I didn’t think that would be possible given how fast everyone was, but I had some good luck in the races and had a couple of qualifying wins which really helped me.”
The New Zealander has previous experience of racing at the Abu Dhabi circuit when the Australian V8 Supercars last raced at Yas Marina in 2012. 

Whilst he might have experience around the Yas Marina circuit; the purpose-built 1.2-kilometer rallycross circuit poses its own unique challenges with long straights and tight turns that aren’t forgiving. 

Van Gisbergen has already begun testing for the opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship Esport Invitational Series.

“I did some laps at Abu Dhabi a couple of days ago actually, it’s a pretty long track, quite tough and technical,” Van Gisbergen said. “I actually raced there a couple of times a few years ago in V8 Supercars, so it’s quite cool to be racing on the rallycross version, so it should be a bit of fun. I had a really good response from the rallycross (Esports event in Portugal) so hopefully, everyone enjoyed watching it and this weekend hopefully we can do the same again.”

The driver line-up has been confirmed for the first event include FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen, World RX racers, and esports regulars Oliver Bennett, Timo Scheider and Kevin Hansen along with rising star Rokas Baciuska. Former Ferrari F1 driver Mika Salo and Supercars Star Shane Van Gisbergen returns for there second rallycross outing. 

A host of new entrants will make their virtual rallycross debut this Sunday, namely: drifting and stunt driver Tessa Whittock, RX2 racer Fraser McConnell, the 2019 GT Masters Champion Kelvin van der Linde, Australian Supercars driver Scott Pye, GT star Tom Blomqvist and WTCR racer Esteban Guerrieri. 

Wednesday 27 May 2020

EKS withdraws from Swedish Rally Championship.


Mattias Ekström’s, EKS team has announced that it will be withdrawing its three-car team from the Swedish Rally Championship with immediate effect. 

The explanation for the withdrawal has been cited as a result of the impact of the global pandemic. 

“Unfortunately, the world was struck by the global pandemic of Covid-19 virus, that since early March has halted most of the racing and left a lasting impact in the motorsport industry and everything that surrounds it,” the team statement said. 

“The world is changing and EKS will change with it. Therefore, EKS withdraws from the Swedish Rally Championship with an immediate effect.”

With firm roots in rallying where it all began in 1999, EKS announced a return to rallying last year focusing on the Swedish Rally Championship with two Skoda R5 cars in the top 4WD class and one Ford Fiesta R2 in the Junior class. 

“I really enjoy rallying and it always gives me thrills, to drive as fast as I can on a twisty forest road, but in this time and situation, we just cannot commit as a team to what we thought would be our main objective this year,” Ekström said. “EKS has been and always will be a trendsetter and we keep our eyes open for opportunities in this new world order.”

Whilst the team’s rally programme has come to an end, EKS has confirmed that it will continue to support its drivers with technical know-how, services, and logistics should they decide to continue individually or do wild-card races in Swedish or any other rally championships. 

Thursday 21 May 2020

French World Rallycross round cancelled

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
The French round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lohéac has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Lohéac was provisionally scheduled to host the second out of the 2020 World RX championship on 5-6 September. 

However, the French round has now been cancelled due to the restrictions imposed by the French government ban on mass events until 31 August due to the continuing health problems due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

“This decision was made after careful consideration and consultation with the FIA, the promoter of the championship IMG, the French ASN (FFSA), and the Sports Association of Rallycross de Lohéac,” the event organizers statement read. 

“The health and safety of all those involved remain the priority. A number of options have been explored in the hope of keeping the event, but unfortunately, it is not possible logistically to apply the social distancing measures required on this site, and no other date is available.”

“We would like to thank our volunteers, fans, public for their continued support and will address the economic challenges that this creates for racing teams, drivers, partners, and suppliers. We will come back even stronger in 2021.”

It remains unclear how the cancellation of the French round will affect the revised 2020 calendar set to begin on 20-23 August in Höljes, Sweden. 

The revised 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar:
Sweden, Holjes | 20 – 23 August
France, Loheac  | 04 – 06 September - NOW CANCELLED
Riga-Latvia, Riga | 18 -20 September
Benelux, Spa-Francorchamps | 2 – 4 October
Portugal, Montalgere | 9 – 11 October
Barcelona-Catalunya, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya |16 – 18 October
Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina | 29 – 31 October [Two Rounds at the same venue]
Germany, Nurburgring |11 – 13 December

Monday 11 May 2020

UPDATED: Cape Town postponed as the World Rallycross Championship trims 2020 calendar.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media. 
The South African round of the World Rallycross Championship has been postponed following the release of the provisional nine-round calendar for the 2020 season.

Killarney International Raceway joined the World RX roster in 2017, and was originally planned to host round eleven of the 2020 season on November 14-15. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the calendar required some revision which necessitated the need to push the event out by one year.

World RX promoters, IMG has emphasized that the postponement of the Cape Town RX is no reflection on the high quality of the World Rallycross events run at the Killarney International Raceway in the previous years.

The provisional 2020 calendar will see the season start in Sweden on August 20-23 before traversing Europe for seven rounds, with two taking place outside of Europe in the form of a double-header in Abu Dhabi.

With the provisional calendar being condensed into 21 weeks, the lengthy sea-freight logistics to and from South Africa has made it difficult to add the long-haul event into the condensed schedule.

“The 2020 World Rallycross of South Africa has not been canceled but instead postponed to the 2021 season; the two-year extension agreed in 2019 between IMG, local organizer Worldsport South Africa and the City of Cape Town will thus take place in 2021 and 2022,” Killarney International Raceway’s statement said.

Clerk of the Course Arlene Brown has also pointed out that this is probably for the best given that our health authorities are predicting that the COVID-19 pandemic will only peak in about September.

“We will just have to keep our excitement at bay until 2021,” Brown said.

World RX of South Africa promoters, WorldSport SA has expressed their support of the decision.

"We believe the postponement of the Cape Town race is in the best interests of the health of all stakeholders, participants, and spectators – their well-being remains our top priority," Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO of WorldSport South Africa said. "Though we’re disappointed that we won’t be able to enjoy the excitement up close this year we’ll soon announce new and exciting changes to ensure 2021 offers a better and more spectator-friendly race weekend.”

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday 4 May 2020

Faultless Quentin Dall'olmo claims World RX Esports victory.

Quentin Dall'olmo leading his younger brother Killian in the World RX Esports Invitational final.
CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross
DiRT Rally 2.0 Esports star Quentin Dall'olmo won the second edition of the World Rallycross Esports Invitational at Montalegre, as Jon Armstrong and Supercars star Shane Van Gisbergen completed the podium. 

The Montalegre grid featured several drivers who had competed at the inaugural Esports Invitational, while three new stars joined the line-up, Australian Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen, FMX motorcycle rider Blake 'Bilko" Williams and Former F1 driver Mika Salo. 

While the inaugural Esport Invitational saw Swedish rally driver Mattias Adielsson claiming top honors, the Montalegre round saw domination from brothers, and this time it was not the Hansen brothers, but another pair of siblings, the Dall'olmo brothers. 

The Dall'olmo brothers lead the charge in the qualifying heats both claiming two Qualifying session wins apiece, but with the fastest times in Qualifying in changeable conditions, Quentin Dall'olmo took the top qualifiers spot in the Intermediate Classification. Killian Dall'olmo and older brother Quentin went on to win their respective semi-finals punching their tickets into the final. 

The final was full of action seeing Killian Dall'olmo jumping the start and opting for an immediate joker lap. While Shane van Gisbergen and Mattias Adielsson made contact exiting the joker lap costing them valuable time to the leaders. But despite starting in pole position, Quentin crossed the line in second place behind his younger brother Killian, but due to the jump start, he was handed a 20-second time penalty dropping him to fourth overall. 

Quentin was declared the race winner with Jon Armstrong in second and Shane van Gisbergen in third. 

"I'm really happy with this victory, it was a perfect day for me. Top qualifier, a semi-final win, and the win in the final is awesome," Dall'olmo said. 

"I felt a little bit of pressure because I didn't want to make the same mistakes that I did at Barcelona-Catalunya (I was leading the overall standings and then I crashed in the semi-final)," he said. "But it was good I knew that I have the best pace alongside my brother, we had the same speed each time. So, I had to be careful with the start and contact with others, and then use my pace to win. I drove safely each time and I'm really happy with my management of the races it was better than the first round."

For the final, the Dall'olmo brothers opted for different strategies with their sights firmly set on a one-two finish, but that was not to be with Killian's jump-start.

"For the final, I was on a different strategy to my brother to make a Dall'olmo one-two so there was less pressure on because we won't crash into each other, but it was important to make a good start because all the drivers in the final were very fast," Quentin adds. "Sadly he jumped the start so I knew that he got 20 seconds of penalty so I drove safely to take the win it was useless to attack Killian, especially in the wet conditions when it's really hard to keep the grip."

"Playing against such great drivers in real life is awesome and different, so it's really cool! I am looking forward to the next event. It's awesome for us Esports drivers to play against theses famous professional drivers!"

Junior WRC driver and DiRT Rally 2.0 development driver Jon Armstrong delivered a strong performance to make the semi-finals with fourth in the Intermediate Classification. In the semi-finals, he survived a duel with Henrik Krogstad to book himself a place in the final and was classified second.

The stand-out performance came from Australian Supercars Champion Shane van Gisbergen who claimed two qualifying heat wins. In the thick of the action throughout qualifying, van Gisbergen shone on the gravel surfaces as well as the asphalt and made it into the final on his rallycross debut.
Shane Van Gisbergen crossing the finish line on two wheels.
CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross.

In the final, van Gisbergen and Mattias Adielsson (Catalunya race winner), had a race-long fight for position, but when penalties were applied, it was van Gisbergen who took the last place on the podium.

Reigning DiRT 2.0 Rallycross World Series Champion Killian Dall’olmo faced a few setbacks including a puncture in Q3. He won semi-final two and led the final from start to finish, but was classified fourth after a jump start (20-second penalty). Adielsson was handed a 10-second penalty for contact with van Gisbergen and he would finish at the tail end of the field in fifth-place. 

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen was denied a place in the final by van Gisbergen who pulled off a bold move on the inside of Hansen when he slid wide at Turn 1's right-hand hairpin in the semi-final 1.

Timmy slipped further back after being handed a five-second penalty and was eliminated along with Czech Esports star Lukas Mateja and GC Kompetition's Rokas Baciuska, who picked up a penalty for track limits. 

In the second semi-final, Henrik Krogstad and Kevin Hansen were eliminated. The latter received a five-second penalty. Adielsson progressed to the final as the fastest third-placed driver after the semi-finals. 

Among those eliminated in the qualifiers were World RX drivers Matvey Furzahkin, Oliver Bennett, Renis Nitiss, and Timo Scheider. Including current Formula E championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa, who loved his World RX Esport debut, saying: "This is carnage, but I love it!"

Former F1 driver Mika Salo was also eliminated along with World Endurance Championship driver Nicki Thiim, Fail Race, Conner Martell, and X Games star Blake "Bilko" Williams who was unable to compete due to connection issues.

The next World RX Esports Invitational will be announced in due course.

Written By - Junaid Samodien