|PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX Media.|
Pailler, the Euro RX driver, joined the World RX Esports event, for the first time in the Swedish round and delivered a fast pace throughout qualifying.
He qualified for the final by finishing P3 in semi-final one, then stayed out of trouble in a rain-hit, action-packed final with a lap one joker lap to claim victory in a Peugeot 208 WRX.
Three different drivers took the fastest time in qualifying; Sivert Svardal, Timmy Hansen, and Tom Blomqvist, round two winner Blomqvist fastest in Q3 and Q4 to take the TQ (top qualifier) position for the semi-finals. By taking the TQ, Blomqvist also moved into the series points lead, and he won semi-final one from pole position to take pole for the final.
Tom made a great start from pole position in the final, but he clipped the infamous turn one kerb, which forced him into the path of brothers Timmy and Kevin Hansen, and Svardal, all four cars going off the circuit. Pailler, starting from P5 on the grid, was able to dive into the joker while Timmy Hansen took the lead.
Pailler climbed to P2 when Svardal took his joker on lap three, then into the lead when Timmy Hansen took his joker on lap four. Hansen dropped back into the chasing pack, battling with Svardal, Kevin Hansen, and Blomqvist for the final two laps, with positions changing at every corner. Blomqvist finished P2 with Timmy Hansen P3, Kevin Hansen P4, and Svardal P5.
"This first World RX Esports race was a big learning curve for me to learn about the car characteristics, compared to what Fabien and I usually race online. I started driving on Thursday evening with the Dall'olmo brothers and it really wasn't easy but lap after lap I managed to get closer to their times," Pailler said. "When I saw the Hansen brothers' and Blomqvist's lap times I really wasn't confident, but the two first qualifiers went really well with a clean track. In Q4 I managed to stay with Timmy and get into his rhythm."
"With nothing to lose in the final, I managed an undercut, in turn, one to take the joker and come out third. I then realised that in the wet I could keep up with them and go faster. I focused on driving clean and making no mistakes and it paid off. I really didn’t expect to win but it’s a great surprise, especially given the level."
There were also semi-finals and a final for the Sim category at Sweden, with Killian Dall’olmo delivering a strong fight-back performance in the wet final to climb through the field after a slow start and claim his second victory in a row, ahead of older brother Quentin Dall’olmo and John Harris.
The final round of the World RX Esports series will be at Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday 12 July.
World RX Esports Series Championship Standings:
1. Timmy Hansen (SWE) 73
2. Tom Blomqvist (GBR) 67
3. Kevin Hanssen (SWE) 61
4. Shane van Gisbergen (NZL) 55
5. Henrik Krogstad (NOR) 52
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