Wednesday 30 June 2021

17-strong grid confirmed for Catalunya curtain-raiser

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
The entry lists for the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser in Catalunya next month (23/24 July) have today been revealed, with a 17-car grid for World RX setting the scene for a sensational weekend’s racing in Spain.

The World RX line-up is headlined by defending champion Johan Kristoffersson, who is chasing a fourth World Championship crown this year after switching to Audi machinery for the first time with KYB EKS JC.

Kristoffersson will face a stiff challenge, as 2019 champion Timmy Hansen and younger brother Kevin return armed with their updated Peugeot 208 and Niclas Grönholm hungrier than ever in his Hyundai. 

Kevin Abbring should also not be discounted in the UNKORRUPTED Renault Mégane, particularly after his scene-stealing World RX debut in Norway two years ago.

A number of interesting ‘wild cards’, have the potential to spring a surprise, including two-time Euro RX Supercar Champion Timur Timerzyanov – an 11th-hour addition to the field with GRX-SET – Juha Rytkönen, who made such an impression on home soil at Kouvola last year returns behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, whilst double DTM champion Timo Scheider, will spearhead a three-strong ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport assault.

The release of today's entry list marks the beginning of a new era under the stewardship of Rallycross Promoter GmbH, and also the end of the era, as Andreas Bakkerud will not return as a permanent entrant in 2021. The Norweigan has been a permanent entrant since the championship's inception back in 2014. 

Tuesday 29 June 2021

Timerzyanov to make World RX return at Barcelona curtain-raiser.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
Timur Timerzyanov will race in next month’s FIA World Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser in Catalunya on 23/24 July, in a third GRX-SET World RX Team entry.

The Russian is one of the most experienced drivers of the current rallycross generation - and, one of only three to have contested every World Championship event to date since the series' inception back in 2014. 

For the past three seasons, Timerzyanov has competed under the Grönholm RX banner alongside Niclas Grönholm, and he will once again line up for the Finnish outfit – now rebranded GRX-SET – in Catalunya in just under four weeks’ time, in what is currently labeled as a one-off appearance due to budgetary issues. If he does have only one chance to shine, the 34-year-old has every intention of grabbing it with both hands.

"Rallycross has always been such a big part of my life," he said "But the world has obviously changed a lot over the past year, and that in turn has led to sponsors re-evaluating their priorities and adopting different philosophies."

“It didn’t look like I would make the grid at all in 2021, and I need to thank my loyal partners and Jussi [Pinomäki – GRX-SET Team Principal] for working with me to make it possible for me to continue doing what I love doing – racing rallycross cars – for at least one more event."

"We only have an agreement for Barcelona at the moment, but if the opportunity presents itself to enter more rounds, I will of course take it because I really don’t want this wonderful story to end yet," he adds."Saying that, nothing is ever guaranteed and I will go out there and drive every race as if it’s my last, just in case it is – and I plan to enjoy every moment...” - Analysis: this is how Red Bull turned the World Championship upside down.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
May 9, 2021: Spanish GP was the last Mercedes win with Lewis Hamilton. From then on, four consecutive victories for Red Bull: Monaco, Baku, Paul Ricard, and Austria 1.

The latter is “the most dominant of the year”, according to Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner. Verstappen's advantage in the drivers' championship does not say everything because it is true but up to a certain point: in fact, it could have been higher. The Dutchman could have won in Bahrain and very calmly finished ahead in Baku.

Lewis apparently seems to be extracting maximum performance from what he has. A little. And while it is a merit, at the same time it is worrying because it doesn't seem enough. 

The Red Bull Ring is always an important benchmark. On a track like this, with three DRS zones, if you can keep your competitor out of these, it means you have more. And the RB16B actually had more all weekend. When Hamilton came into the pits for his second stop, which is useful to take the fastest lap and the extra point, his delay was nearly 18 seconds, a gap/space of two and a half tenths per lap. Real.

In just over a month, Red Bull overturned the world championships, with what is to be considered in all respects a decisive 'world' acceleration.

How? Thanks to some aerodynamic updates brought to the track in the last GPs, which also made it possible to fully exploit the potential of the Portimao package, and to the recovery in terms of power, thanks to the PU number 2 introduced in the French GP by Honda.  

But let's take a step back, analyzing how Spielberg's domination came about for a world championship that is to be divided so far into two parts. The first, of continuous growth for the Mercedes team coupled with too many difficulties for Red Bull. The second, after the Spanish GP, with the decisive increase in performance (especially in the race) of the RB16B associated with a W12 instead of more 'development'.

We started in Bahrain with the belief that Red Bull could finally oust Mercedes from the role of the undisputed queen of F1, dictated by dominated pre-season tests. At least partially, so it was, even if the victory of the Grand Prix went to Lewis Hamilton.

However, in Sahkir some critical issues had emerged with the Honda power unit, which we had already talked about. Vibration problems had in fact resulted in the replacement of some electronic components (battery and control unit) on the cars of Perez, Gasly, and Tsunoda as well as requiring a less aggressive use of the hybrid part of the Japanese unit, which caused the RB16B to lose performance.

This, coupled with the small leap forward made by Mercedes with its power unit at Imola, had opened a slight gap in engine performance between the German power unit and Honda. Well compensated in qualifying by better use of the tyres by the Anglo-Austrian car, unlike the W12.

Thanks to a more efficient diffuser, Red Bull are able to use the spoon wing already brought to the track in Baku (V2) at the Paul Ricard.

In Portimao, Red Bull arrives with an important package of updates, which sees the implementation of new flow diverters and adjustments to the bottom and to the diffuser; the desired results are not seen. The same goes for the following weekend, in Barcelona.

The performance of the W12, on the other hand,  continues to grow so much that in the Spanish GP we witness what was to be considered as a real performance overtaking.

The steps of the world champion team went through an intrinsic improvement of the car. An attempt was made to better understand the car and to find that correct balance between the front and rear axles, undermined by the 2021 regulatory innovations and, not least, by the abolition of the DAS which allowed the W11 to quickly have the front wheels up to temperature.

While Red Bull, more in place right from the start, was trying to get performance through updates that were not giving the expected performance improvements on the track.

In Spain, Red Bull Racing enters with a high-downforce rear wing to protect the rear tyres. However, the lack of horsepower of the Honda power unit does not allow him to keep it for qualifying and race. Too much time lost on the forehand against the W12s due to an underperforming PU compared to the Mercedes one and a high-rake set-up that intrinsically increases the aerodynamic resistance of the car.

From the FP3s, the engineers, therefore, decided to use a lighter, spoon-shaped wing on both RB16Bs, however, causing a crisis in the management of temperatures on the rear axle. Mercedes dominates.

Between Monte Carlo and Baku, Red Bull has worked hard on updating its front wing. In the illustration, the specification at the beginning of the year (Old Spec) was compared with the one brought to the track in Azerbaijan (New Spec).

However, in the following GPs, the turning point arrives: two updates to the front wings, brought between Monaco and Baku, coupled with a novelty to the diffuser (only partial in Monaco, complete only in Styria), allow Red Bull to find a lot of 'efficient' downforce at the rear, opening that window of operation and setup that was the real weakness of the RB16B compared to the W12.

The novelties to the diffuser brought to the track by Red Bull between Monte Carlo and the Styrian GP concern the outter profile. First only partially, then along the entire length, having a sawtooth profile, according to the engineers of the Anglo-Austrian team, allows increasing the efficiency of use of the rake set-up.
News used immediately by Max Verstappen while Checo Perez is granted only in subsequent GPs if evaluated positively in terms of costs/benefits since the budget cap issue is anything but simple to manage.

Thus, while Mercedes is forced to use the rears more, adding drag to the W12, Red Bull manages to enter the French GP weekend with a rather minimal spoon wing, finding an optimal 'balance' for minimizing tyre problems on a very complicated track, especially on race day.

Over the weekend were Honda, thanks to the introduction of its second power unit, solved those annoying problems that had limited its performance for 5 Grand Prix.

From the GPS data, the engine performance of the RB16B returned to that of Bahrain, slightly ahead of Mercedes. Ferrari followed, with Renault closing the engine performance ranking to date. All grouped in 25 horsepower, no more, according to what was collected.

The (small) advantage of PU alone does not justify the important advantage in the straights of the RB16B. In between there is also the greater aerodynamic efficiency, which allows Red Bull to be able to use much less 'draggy' rear wings.

Returning to the horsepower increase of Honda power unit 2, according to Red Bull the step forward is to be found in the new oil specification that ExxonMobil has brought to the track: “We have new oil, so I think Exxon should take all the credit for the steps forward Lewis indicated. From the point of view of the engines, they are homologated, and the second unit is the same specification as the first ”.

We remind you that engineers are allowed to make changes to their power units to solve reliability problems.

All this while Mercedes is reaching its 'maximum' understanding of the W12, a car that has now been praised in terms of performance.

Lewis Hamilton understood this too. Hence his important outburst in the post-Styrian Grand Prix: "Red Bull continues to make improvements and it is clear that it has made many in recent races. It is currently impossible for us to keep up with them. Even in the long runs, they are better. They continue to make fast laps one after the other and on the straight, we lose a lot." claimed the seven-time world champion.

The Low Rake set-up used by Mercedes and Aston Martin was penalized the most by the 2021 regulatory changes.
He then continued, getting to the point: "We need updates of some kind, I don't know where, rear wing, engine or any other component, but we certainly have to make up for the ground we have lost".

An appeal to the 'wind' as Mercedes are already fully oriented towards 2022 and no major update is expected in the next Grand Prix, but only minor aerodynamic updates and in terms of exploitation of the power unit.

We await a few more GPs, but the road seems to be drawn. Tyres permitting.

Author: Piergiuseppe Donadoni

Co-author: Giuliano Duchessa

Illustrations: Rosario Giuliana

Original Story Link:

Oli Bennett "XITEd" to make World RX return in Barcelona

PHOTO CREDIT: Oliver Bennett.
Oliver Bennett will return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the upcoming Catalunya curtain-raiser on 23/24 July, as the XITE Racing squad aims to showcase the improvements brought to their MINI Cooper Supercar since they last took to the track.

The 28-year-old's first full World Championship campaign came in 2019, reaching the semi-final stage at Silverstone and in South Africa, while he repeated the feat in his lone appearance last year in Barcelona.

Now, Bennett is looking forward to returning to the cockpit at the same circuit in just under a month’s time, as he prepares to put his upgraded MINI through its paces.

"I’m really excited to be back in Barcelona," Bennett said. "Because of coronavirus, Spain was the only World RX round I competed in last year. Even though I hadn’t been in the car much and it was my first time in the Mini, I still made it to the semi-finals."

Since the last outing for XITE Racing in October last year, his team has updated its Mini SX1. 

"The car’s had some updates and we should be getting more speed from the Mini, so I want to be looking to the semi-finals and beyond. I’ve had more seat time, done more testing, and have a really good feeling with the car," he explains.

Bennett is well aware of the challenges that he faces in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, having competed in 22 events across four seasons with his best result coming in Barcelona last year - 11th place overall. 

"Obviously, this is a world championship, so we know there’s going to be a lot of quality drivers out there. Let’s see who’s coming and what they’ve got. A top-10 would be a decent result, but I’m secretly chasing the top six," he said.

"Oh, yeah. Well, a top-six would be a mega result. The main thing for me is to get back in the car. I can’t wait to be back in the Mini – it feels like I haven’t raced it for a long time now. And I like Barcelona, it’s a cool place. It’s the place I first watched a WRX race. The fans are great, the atmosphere’s really nice and it’s a pretty sick track too."

XITE Racing has confirmed that they are considering an entry in World RX of Germany at the Nürburging on July 31-August 1.

Later this season, the British team will focus their attention on the all-American Nitro Rallycross series, starting with a September season-opener in Salt Lake City. The all-American series is a five-round, coast-to-coast tour that includes action as far west as Glen Helen Raceway in California and The FIRM, Florida in the other direction.

"Nitro Rallycross is really exciting for us," Bennett says. "We’re working very hard with XITE Energy in North America right now and the chance to go out there and take the brand and the car on a tour through some of the coolest tracks in America is something I’m very excited about."

This year’s Nitro campaign is just a precursor to the real deal, as XITE Racing confirms that they are the first team to sign up for next year’s all-electric NRX series.

"The main focus of our NRX effort is looking forward to the FC1-X. The Extreme E Odyssey 21 all-electric racer is a cool thing, but this RX car is just insane," he says. "When the lights go green at NRX next year, we’ll be fired into the future by the electrical equivalent of 1000bhp." 

Monday 28 June 2021

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport to field three SEATs in Barcelona.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media.
ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport is set to field a three-car strong entry for next month's curtain-raiser in Catalunya, with two-time DTM champion Timo Scheider returning for a third full season with the German squad. 

Scheider is one of the most versatile drivers in the World RX field, having won the Spa 24 Hours and Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance classics and placed third in class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

The 42-year-old made his World RX debut with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport in Barcelona in 2015. His maiden podium came in the same event two years later with the MJP Racing Team Austria.

His first full season in the championship in 2019 saw him progress through to the final on three occasions en route to ninth in the drivers' standings. A year later, he improved to eighth overall, adding another podium finish to his tally in the opening round at Höljes.

The German returns to happy hunting ground, as he kicks-starts a third full-season with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport. 

"It’s so nice to start the season in Barcelona because this event has been a special one for me since 2017 when I achieved my first World RX podium there," Scheider said. "The wait has already been too long – more than half-a-year away from World RX is far too much – but now it’s almost time to go racing again!"

Scheider will be partnered in Münnich’s three-strong stable of SEAT Ibizas for the Catalunya curtain-raiser by team owner Rene Münnich and Mandie August.

Mandie August is the most active female racer in the discipline. Twice a top-three championship finisher at Super1600 level in domestic competition, the German participated in the same class in Euro RX from 2008 to 2015. Behind the wheel of first a Volkswagen Polo and subsequently a Škoda Fabia, she reached the semi-final stage on several occasions and scored points in more than half of the events she entered in her final season.

After clinching the Rallycross Challenge Europe crown in 2016 in an Audi S3, she returned to Euro RX but in the headlining Supercar category under the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport banner. A full season in 2019 saw her secure a brace of semi-final berths and 12th spot in the points.

The 47-year-old improved upon that to claim 11th in the classification in 2020, progressing through to the semi-final in both rounds of the truncated campaign. She then made her World Championship bow in the double-header season finale in Barcelona, in so doing becoming only the second woman ever to start a World RX event – and she is now set to do battle again at the same circuit next month.

Rytkönen makes World RX return with Betomik Racing.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
Juha Rytkönen has announced his return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship with the Betomik Racing team. 

Rytkönen's rallycross journey began in 2018, where he immediately marked himself out as one to watch. He contested the autocross class of the Finnish Championship, where he made history by taking maximum points from the season, winning every single race he started to lift the title at the first time of asking.

With all the boxes ticked, the Finn stepped up to the Supercar category a year later behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta RX. 

Taking into account the adaption period with switching cars, he was quickly on the leader's pace and claimed victory in the final round at Honkajoki was enough to secure his second title in as many seasons.

Last year, Juha continued his progression up the rankings, making the switch to World RX at the Kouvola double-header with GRX-SET behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 Supercar. 

He impressed from the offset, claiming fourth in the intermediate standings, then going on to win his semi-final, and finish second behind multiple World Champion Johan Kristoffersson – outpacing the likes of Timmy Hansen and Niclas Grönholm in the process. 

Rytkönen was on the pace again the following day, only for a track limits penalty to rule him out - but his results over the course of the weekend were enough to place him 12th in the classification. 

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media
He returned to top-flight rallycross earlier this month when he entered the RallyX Nordic double-header at OuluZone and claimed a double podium finish behind the wheel of the Betomik Racing prepared Ford Fiesta fighting the likes of Niclas Grönholm. 
The 29-year-old will be one to watch closely this season, as he prepares for a World RX return with Mikko Ikonen's led squad, having confirmed his return for the Catalunya curtain-raiser and Nürburgring rounds, with further outings to follow later in the campaign.  

"It was a big relief to get everything sorted out, and it is fantastic to be back in the FIA World Rallycross Championship after such a great start last year. The tracks will be new for me so it will be a steep learning curve, but I’m ready to do my job," Rytkönen said.

"I don’t have any major targets, but of course it would be great to make it into as many finals as possible. The most important thing is to get all the kilometres and data out of the races. The results will come if we can drive solid races without big problems."

"We will definitely enter four events in World RX this season," he adds. "The first two in Barcelona and at the Nürburgring are certain, and we will decide the remaining two later on. The aim is to drive even more rounds if we can make it happen..." - Ferrari, the race pace did not disappear.

PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
There is more and more margin between the Verstappen-Hamilton duo and the rest of the world. As always, when there is a very strong fight for the championship, the two title protagonists receive maximum support and tend to distance themselves from their teammates as well.

A gap that could expand further in the championship, also thanks to the total freezing of the others in view of 2022. It will not be surprising, as long as the championship is alive we will have other races with many dubbed.

Yesterday only the top four completed all the laps, but the fact that we ran on the shortest track of the year in terms of time should not be underestimated.

Max won effortlessly, Hamilton's difficulties were already quite evident on Saturday with the rear tending to slide. Little protection on the rear, with a more qualifying-oriented set-up, where Mercedes had to recover against Red Bull.  But in the race he didn't give the expected results, Toto Wolff admitted it too. The very hot conditions certainly didn't help. Only the rain would have narrowed the gap a little, reducing the importance of the rear to the advantage of the front axle.

The optimization and understanding of the W12 is no longer enough, which now looks like a car at its 'maximum'. To date clearly inferior to that of the RB16B, which has grown in recent events thanks to the understanding of the many updates brought to the track, including two versions of front wings (Monaco and Baku), more tweaks to the diffuser, and the leap forward in terms of use of the power unit from the French GP.

This was not lost on the competitors, Mercedes, and Ferrari, who clearly noticed it. According to Red Bull, a new oil specification has increased the horsepower of Honda's #2 unit, which is the same spec from the start of the season given the freeze in terms of updates.

As for the oil, an update between the end of the 2020 and 2021 seasons was granted.

Verstappen has won an important race and goes 18 points up on the defending champion while RedBull has stretched away in the constructors: the fourth win in a row is a very big sign.

In the meantime, it should also be remembered that with the introduction of the technical directive on Flexi Wings, RedBull showed no signs of weakness on the straight that some were afraid to see. But that may have been well 'absorbed' by the performance boost of the Honda PU. However, it could have reliability as its weak point.

Mercedes is very confident in this. It is not for nothing that they put pressure on the 'flexi wings' in order to also affect Honda. Forcing them to push even further was their goal.

Ferrari has shown itself in good shape and does not eat the tyres as some believe or would have us believe.

What is certain is that Ferrari has lost many, too many points since the start of the season.  Also this weekend at the Styrian GP.

Despite the clearly duller qualifying than usual, the SF21 was certainly able to finish further up the standings (P5 and P7), certainly in full battle with Norris. The Lando himself confirmed this: "Without the problem Leclerc had, he would have been in front of us, or at least it would have been a great threat".

Leclerc's contact with Gasly, avoidable by the Monegasque, is just an episode between bad luck and negligence that is added to others.

Unlike Paul Ricard, Ferrari chose a very loaded (higher downforce) setup at Spielberg: a configuration similar in some ways to the one used with the SF90.  However, two years ago the Maranello car could amply afford a lot more drag on the straights.

The SF21 is much better than the SF1000 in almost everything, so even in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, but it still pays HP from rivals and its own 2019 power unit. Which is saying something. Nonetheless, the average race pace was very convincing since Friday when there was still little grip.

With increasing grip, things have also improved, with no signs of overheating, obviously maintaining the problem of straight-line speed under the same conditions. That is, in qualifying, when all the cars can open the DRS at the same time but in the race it is different.  With no trains with open DRSs for many, the SF21 passed pretty smoothly just about every car except Red Bull and Mercedes.

It would have been difficult to pass Lando's McLaren but Leclerc, with the race without significant traffic, would have finished 49 seconds behind Verstappen according to what we collected. Carlos Sainz, more penalized by the starting position, gained a lot: 5 positions over Gasly.

Unlike Portimão, Paul Ricard, or certain stages in Baku, the SF21 activated the tyres correctly in all conditions.

It is quite evident that the problems (not easy to solve because they depend on a front which is that of the SF1000) arise when the characteristics of the track favor the protection of the front tyres combined with low grip.

We have now entered the week of the Austrian GP, ​​which will be raced on softer compounds (the compound for qualifying will be the C5) and with a goal at Ferrari: try to make some steps forward on Saturday...  Which will then be the work that drivers and engineers will carry out in the next few hours to understand if it will be worthwhile on Friday to make a set-up comparison, bringing the spoon wing seen at Paul Ricard back to the track or whether to confirm the macro setup used in this positive weekend...

We have a very interesting week ahead of us for other reasons as well.

Pirelli will propose sets of new updated rear tyres that the teams will test in free practice. It is clear that such a change can only produce effects, starting with Silverstone, the GP in which the Federation would like to introduce them.

Pirelli received a request for willingness to introduce safer tyres directly from the FIA. For this, no vote will be needed but only FIA and Pirelli, obviously hearing the opinions of the teams, will decide whether to introduce them. The odds to date are still very high, given what has been collected.

What are the effects? It is difficult to predict. But to put it to Wolff, "this year we take everything that can be a 'bet' as we have to make up ground".

It should be considered that the traction phase heavily penalized by aerodynamic limitations seemed to be a fundamental key to finding performance. This despite the fact that even in this appointment the loss of performance compared to 2020 should be highlighted. With the same compounds, we always find ourselves with cars far from the pace of a year ago. Red Bull gained seven-tenths of an average pace over Mercedes, taking the lead by 0.2 seconds.

Ferrari does not mind - on paper - an even stiffer rear tyre, which may also have to force the opponents to implement the relative load to manage the setup and activate the rear tyres. In this sense, the Ferrari would seem to lack that middle configuration that others: McLaren and AlphaTauri in addition to Red Bull, have genetically available.

 If this were true, the margin on the obverse could become thinner in certain contexts.

 In a few days, there will be a sort of replay that promises to be very interesting for everyone.

Article Written By: Giuliano Duchessa and Piergiuseppe Donadoni from

Original Link In Italian:

Tuesday 22 June 2021 - The Scuderia Ferrari SF21 is not a car for all track conditions.

PHOTO CREDIT: Scuderia Ferrari
Fingers seem to be pointing at the operating window of the tyres (especially the fronts) but it does not explain everything. 

The SF21 from testing showed its strengths and its weaknesses, we could not hope to totally overturn what we saw in 2020 but the signs were mostly encouraging.

The Italian car is not fantastic, but not as bad, as seen with pole position in Monaco and Baku, but neither is the car seen in France.

"I don't think the French GP reflects the true pace of the car or the performance itself, but it's something we have to learn and tackle, not in the immediate future but in the medium and long term," Binotto said a few hours after the GP.

Paul Ricard recalled that there is still a lot of work to be done, even on management errors and strategies that remain alive, although they have taken steps forward in a few areas compared to previous years.

An example is Leclerc's second stop, to put him back in the midst of Hamilton and Verstappen: it was no longer useful to leave him out also to check the return of performance that Charles was signaling even with a bit of amazement?

For what seemed like a real return to life of the front tyres that were finally clearing the massive graining. The Monegasque after a horrible pace also on 1m41s (lap times), after 20 laps, had dropped to 1m39s.

It could have been interesting to get further feedback on the car's behavior, why - like in Baku but to a much worse extent - the tyres started to work decently after too long and when the tread is fewer millimeters thick.

The explanations must be sought as in Portimão on the slipperiness of the track. With the difference that in Portugal it depended purely on the asphalt while in France on Sunday the conditions with rain in the previous hours made the track 'green' and slippery.

For the SF21, having sufficient grip on track is crucial. Which is the important difference between Paul Ricard and Barcelona, where Ferrari was the third force in the lot rather calmly.

Then it is clear that the SF21 needs low speed to pull and behave better than the opponents, at least the direct ones. Agility is one of its great characteristics which however goes out in the wide radius turns.

Furthermore, it cannot be a coincidence that both in the Algarve and in France, Sainz expressed himself better than Leclerc in qualifying.

Unlike Leclerc, we noted from Bahrain - and then better at Imola - how Carlos always prefers to enter the corners strongly and pay more at the exit.

A matter of style, confidence, and consistency. The prolonged corners favor this attitude because the car is in a 'continuous insertion'. The more the corner is shorter or even in the 'variants', the more Leclerc seems to make a difference with his 'V' shaped cornering style.

It is a positive difference because there is compensation between the two which can improve their respective skills.

The new front wing brought by Ferrari to France with new features on the footplate and an adjustment to ​​the last flap.
Formu1a.Uno/Rosario Giuliana

Nevertheless, in qualifying, the performance always shows something positive, why?

First of all, why it is better to have speed than to be covered and stable. Certain aspects, such as the rims Binotto talked about at the end of the weekend, can not be improved, but it must be considered that with a more rubberized track we would have seen a more close battle with McLaren. What Ferrari expected. Certainly not the ease (4 tenths) with which we were ahead of the MCL35M in qualifying.

"We know that in terms of race pace we are not yet where we would like to be: we will prepare as best we can and we will continue to do so in the coming weeks to give our drivers an increasingly competitive package." Laurent Mekies had stated in the post qualification.

The rear wing endplate as we used to see it before the French GP.
PHOTO CREDIT: Formu1a.Uno/Rosario Giuliana

The grip reset has revealed that the SF21 is not a car for all conditions. 

On several occasions so far we have seen a car immediately ready to extract times, except in Portimão and Paul Ricard.

In Maranello, in preparation for the French weekend, we worked almost exclusively to improve what had not worked in Azerbaijan, namely the 'race pace'.

The evolution of the rear wing brought to France by Ferrari. The lower part of the endplate has been revised and shortened.
 Formu1a.Uno/Rosario Giuliana

We arrived on the track with too much race-oriented set-up. The two free practices on Friday made it clear that it was difficult to extract the right performance on a flying lap. It took several laps to find the performance, which then came. Not a problem on Fridays, certainly on Saturdays.

Hence the choice, for FP3s, to go with a more aggressive setting (more exhaust), which would make the SF21 slip more, turning on the tyres faster and consequently extracting greater performance.

It was actually like this, even if Leclerc immediately noticed those annoying understeer problems that did not promise anything good for Sunday's race (and that did not disappear even by continuing to 'click' on the front wing). In qualifying, in fact, a more oversteer-oriented set-up is usually chosen in order to have it more neutral in the race.

The understeer was then exasperated on Sunday by asphalt with very little grip and very minor lateral forces in the race that do not help to warm the tyres, especially the fronts which are obviously not stressed by traction efforts like the rears.

“The race pace was not a problem in Barcelona. However, it is clear that we have a very narrow working window on our front tyres, so we tend to fight a lot more than our competitors when there are conditions where graining can form or when front wear is greater,” Carlos Sainz said in the post GP interviews.

In hindsight, a heavier downforce set-up would have been more useful to push the tyres and not slip too much. Alpine and McLaren are proof of this.

But it must also be said that Ferrari did not expect so much rain before the GP. A thermal lowering yes, which would also have helped (the rear), a reset so important in the grip of the track but no.

Even making an aerodynamic match on Friday could have provided some more data, even though the track worsened significantly between Saturday and Sunday.

On the most positive occasions in the race, the SF21 was in better shape than McLaren but it did not materialize as correctly as it could. The difference in points must be sought there more than in Sunday's disaster.

Due to the characteristics of the car, other negative events should not be surprising.

In Austria, weather uncertainties permitting, it will again count more to have good traction from low and medium-low speeds such as the exit from Turns 3 and 4 above all. It is not a track in itself tiring on tyres, at least in the first round where Pirelli will bring the C2, C3, and C4 compounds. In the second, however, it will move to C3, C4, and C5, therefore a softer degree as a selection.

"Spielberg is a different circuit, a track where the differences in qualifying are very small. I think it's a better track for us than Paul Ricard," Mattia Binotto, Team Principal of the Italian team said in the post-weekend briefing.

"We will not be as competitive as in Monaco or Baku, but we think that a better performance than the one in France is feasible," he added.

According to what has learned, Binotto will be absent in Styria while he will return to the second round of the Red Bull Ring the following week.

Article Written By: Giuliano Duchessa and Piergiuseppe Donadoni from

Story Translation: Junaid Samodien

Illustrations By: Rosario Giuliana

Original Story Link:

Kristoffersson joins forces with EKS JC in pursuit of fourth crown.

Three-time World RX Johan Kristoffersson has confirmed his return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship this season, trading the Volkswagen Polo for the EKS JC prepared Audi S1 Quattro.

Kristoffersson has enjoyed a lot of success in the world championship with 36 World RX podium finishes to his record, with 24 of those winning. He has not only claimed three World Rallycross Championships, but also three titles in the Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia, two Scandinavian Tour Car Championship titles, and one Superstars International Series title. 

Having both made their World RX debut in 2014, Johan has had his fair share of on-track duels with Mattias Ekström. With the latter coming out second best in the 2017, 2018, and 2020 World RX seasons. 

In 2021, the reigning champion returns with a new set of wheels and he has full confidence in his new team, especially given their own impressive results last season.

"If you can’t beat him, join him – it’s as simple as that," said EKS JC Team Owner Mattias Ekström. "I have had many great battles with Johan and I think everyone can agree that he has a unique skillset, so, for me, he is a perfect fit for EKS JC’s 2021 campaign to once again challenge the rest of the field for the both – Team’s and Driver’s – titles."

The 32-year-old Swede has enjoyed a lot of success behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo in recent years, but things are set to be a lot different this season, with the Swede is looking forward to the new challenge ahead. 

"First of all, I’m very pleased that I can do a full FIA World RX season. And to do it with a new team is like a new challenge for me," Kristofferson said. 

After two days of testing behind the wheel of the Audi S1 Quattro Supercar, he admits that there is a lot that he and the team can learn from each other as they target the drivers' and teams' titles in 2021. 

"EKS JC knows how to win races and championships and after the first two test days, we see that we can learn and gain from each other. Joel Christoffersson and the whole team are very passionate and motivated to achieve the goal of me defending the Driver’s title and, together with Enzo, also the Team’s title," the Swede said. 

"The target when you enter a championship as the reigning champion is always to win it again, but that’s certainly no easy task. It’s a position I’ve been in twice already, and we will do whatever it takes to fight for the crown this year."

Johan will partner Enzo Ide in the KYB EKS JC team behind the wheel of the newest generation Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro Supercars.

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik.
Joel Christoffersson is under no illusion that having Kristoffersson in the team alongside Ide will help the team develop at a faster rate.

"Johan is the most successful World RX driver to date and I am very happy, that with a support from Red Bull, Ravenol, KYB, and Blåkläder we can have him in our team next to Enzo. His experience and knowledge will help us to develop further and also for Enzo this will be a great opportunity to learn from the very best," EKS JC Team Manager, Joel Christoffersson said. "We will continue testing before the season and I am sure we will give a hard time to our competitors."

Friday 18 June 2021

‘JB’ and Andréa Dubourg to contest World RX Nürburgring double-header.

DA Racing will enter the full FIA European Rallycross Championship and selected FIA World Rallycross Championship rounds in 2021 with two Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars for brothers Jean-Baptiste and Andréa Dubourg, as the team ramps up its preparations for the sport’s new electric era.

Jean-Baptiste ‘JB’ Dubourg joined Euro RX’s headlining Supercar (now RX1) category in 2015 in a Citroën C4, with a rostrum finish in the Italian season finale propelling the Frenchman to fifth in the points table at the end of his maiden campaign in the series. He dovetailed that with sporadic starts in World RX, notably taking the chequered flag third in France.

After focussing his efforts on the World Championship in 2017 – scoring points in half of the events he contested – Dubourg returned to Euro RX in 2018, piloting a G-FORS Renault Clio to the podium in Barcelona and fifth place in the championship again.

Another switch – to Peugeot machinery this time – yielded five rostrum results from six rounds in 2019, including his breakthrough victory in Latvia, as well as another podium finish in 2020 as the five-time Andros Trophy ice-racing champion, scooped the runner-up spoils in the Euro RX standings in both seasons.

Dubourg has unfinished business in the European Rallycross Championship after coming out second best for the past two years. The Frenchman will return in 2021 with hopes to finally become the European Champion. 

“We are excited to be able to contest another full season in Euro RX1, as we aim to complete the job that we have begun in recent years with the clear objective of becoming European Champions. We have made good use of the long off-season caused by the global pandemic to take a big step forward with the 208 WRX, introducing a number of technical updates to ensure we are 100 per cent ready to tackle the different types of terrain we will encounter in Euro RX," Dubourg said. “DA Racing will also participate in the World Championship rounds at the Nürburgring."

The 33-year-old’s younger brother, Andréa, first appeared in Euro RX in 2014, ascending the podium on his debut on home soil at Lohéac in the Super1600 (now RX3) category. A full campaign the following year yielded four further rostrum visits – amongst which was a maiden triumph in Barcelona – and fifth in the overall rankings.

In 2017, the Frenchman stepped up to Supercar level in a DA Racing Citroën DS3, scoring points in three of his five starts. Moving to his current Peugeot 208 in 2018 vaulted him from 22nd up to 12th in the Drivers’ classification, before he improved again to finish fourth in 2019, advancing to the final on four occasions and reaching the rostrum in Latvia. Another podium finish in 2020 secured a fifth in the championship.

“I’ve always enjoyed competing in the FIA European Rallycross Championship. The circuits on the calendar and the high calibre of competition mean drivers need to be absolutely on top of their game and teams must fine-tune their cars to the nth degree. In 2020, we were able to race consistently at the sharp end, and it was great to finish on the podium at Höljes," Andréa Dubourg said.

“We are simultaneously planning to join the grid for the World RX rounds at the Nürburgring, which will allow us to settle back into the groove before the Euro RX1 season begins and work through a range of race and start strategies. All of the drivers will be learning this track for the first time, which makes it the ideal place to try out the various evolutions we have brought to the 208 WRX over the winter. My goal is to become European Champion this year, and our appearances in World RX will enable us to prepare for that challenge in the best way possible."

This year, the two drivers – whose father is 1992 European Autocross Champion Dominique Dubourg – returns with a dual focus and high expectations, targeting the Euro RX1 crown while doing their homework ahead of a planned World Championship assault in the new RX1e category in 2022.

"Being a new event [In Germany], will allow us to gauge the relative performance of our 208 WRX while continuing to prepare for the future as we work seriously on a World Championship entry for 2022. The team already has experience of electric technology having won the Andros E-Trophy with the support of Renault last winter, and we strongly believe this is the future for the sport,” Jean-Baptiste Dubourg said

Friday 11 June 2021

Timmy Hansen determined to 'write a new story' in World RX

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Former World Champion Timmy Hansen has confirmed his return to World RX in 2021 with the family-run Hansen World RX Team and is determined to 'write a new story this year.'  

The 29-year-old has had a successful career having competed in World RX since its inception in 2014, and he is one of only three drivers' to have entered every round, achieving ten wins and 32 podium finishes at the wheel of a Peugeot 208. 

His 2019 campaign was his most accomplished to-date having claimed four wins from ten starts on course to secure both the drivers' and teams' titles for Team Hansen MJP alongside younger brother and team-mate Kevin Hansen, in a dramatic finale in South Africa, which saw Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud end the season on level points.  

A year later, it was a bit more challenging for Team Hansen, but after some thorough testing, they were able to find some improvements which resulted in a win and three podium finishes.

After Kevin's [Hansen] return was announced earlier this week, it was just a matter of time before we'd find out about Timmy's future, and his return to the World Championship is truly great news.

The Swede acknowledges all the challenges that his family-run team has had making it to the grid each season, and is very grateful to once have the opportunity to compete in 2021. 

"In the last few years since we've become a fully independent family team, being on the grid has never been a given each season. I'm very grateful I have the opportunity to come back and compete again this year," Timmy Hansen said.

"I love rallycross and it's always been part of my life, and it still is in a very big way. We run the family team every day and our involvement with rallycross goes back decades. It's in my blood since I was born so I'll always want to compete here."

Having recorded ten World Rallycross career victories, the Swede is more motivated to write another successful championship story in 2021. 

"Even though this will be my eighth consecutive season in World RX now, I'm as motivated as ever to write a new story this year: will we compete for the title, who will be fast this year, and how will we stack up?" Hansen adds. 

Could the Hansen's clinch the World RX title in the final season of the internal combustion engine? They certainly could, and Timmy believes that his team is better prepared this season than they were last year. 

"We've been working really hard ourselves and the car feels much better starting in 2021 than it did in 2020. All the great ideas and talented people working with us have made a big difference, even as a small team that's improving step-by-step," he said. "We might have a good shot at competing for the title this year, but let's see how it goes!"

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Grönholm and Szabó join forces to fight World RX title glory.

Niclas Grönholm and Krisztián Szabó will join forces for the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship, as the GRX-SET WORLD RX TEAM sets their sights on championship glory. 

Grönholm – the son of two-time FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm - has enjoyed a lengthy career in World RX since making his debut in 2015. He returned for the full 2016 campaign with Olsbergs MSE, before switching to his family-run GRX squad in 2017 behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 Supercar. 

The team took a significant step forward in 2018, as they progressed to the final on four occasions with a newly developed Hyundai i20, which paved the way for a full title fight the following season. They went on to clinch three wins and four podium finishes, on course to second in the teams' championship standings. 

It's also worth noting that had Niclas not missed two rounds due to appendicitis, he could have challenged for the championship having ended the season just 25 points shy of the drivers' title. He claimed another race win in Kouvola, Finland holding off a fast-charging Kristoffersson to cement a fourth overall spot in the standings. 

The GRX squad used the off-season to test the new developments of their Hyundai i20 entering RallyX Nordic in Höljes. An event that saw Niclas walk away with two wins, whilst newly announced team-mate Szabó claimed a third-place finish. 

The 25-year-old returned for his home round at Ouluzone (Finland) and went on to claim yet another win ahead of three-time World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson. 

Having had a successful test program in RallyX Nordic, GRX-SET World RX Team now has a thorough understanding of how to extract maximum performance from their Hyundai i20 Supercars.

Grönholm admits that he is ready to fight for the biggest prize in international rallycross - the World Rallycross Championship crown. 

"My hopes for this season are quite simple – to fight for the championship. Last year was difficult, but I think we learned a lot and we are going in the right direction at the moment. We have done a lot of experiments with the car and found some good things, as well as some areas to work on," Niclas Grönholm said.

"I expect the competition to be similar to the 2019 and 2020 seasons – nothing will be won easily. We will need to be ready to fight and put in the work required at every round to have a chance to win. The events I’m most looking forward to are Sweden and Portugal – the tracks there are so nice – but also the Nürburgring because it’s new for everybody and nobody knows what to expect, which always makes things interesting."

His team-mate in 2021, Krisztián Szabó has enjoyed a lot of success in his junior career. He clinched his first car racing title at the age of 16 in the Hungarian Autocross Championship in 2008. 

He had further success in the FIA Junior Buggy championship in 2009 and 2009, before stepping up to the Buggy1600 category, where he claimed third in the European Championship in 2013. 

2014 saw the Hungarian make the switch rallycross, making his debut in the FIA European Rallycross Championship's Super1600 class. A year later, he claimed a third-place finish in the championship, setting the scene for consecutive Euro RX Super1600 crowns in 2016 and 2017. 

The 29-year-old then entered two Euro RX rounds in 2018 with Mattias Esktröm’s EKS Audi Sport squad with a second-place finish in Lohéac before making the switch to World RX a year later with EKS Sport, and despite a challenging season, he went on to claim tenth overall in the championship. 

Left without a season for the 2020 season, he joined up with the GRX-SET team for the Swedish and Latvian rounds progressing to the semi-finals on both occasions, but in 2021, he will return for the full campaign. 

"I’m very happy that I can continue with this great team, especially under [Team Principal] Jussi Pinomäki, and I’m even more pumped that I can finally play a part in fighting for the Teams’ championship. The Hyundai is very good – I love it – and it’s really great to work with Niclas; I can learn a lot from him and everyone in the team," Krisztián Szabó said.

"It’s hard to know where we will be, but I’m pretty optimistic that we will be fast this year. My personal aim for the season is to have strong and stable results and to be in the final as much as possible. After the first few rounds, we will know better where we are compared to the others and what we can aim for overall, but I believe we can be very strong contenders this year."

There is no doubt that it has a challenging road trying to secure the necessary funding to compete at World Championship level, due to the current economic climate, but with hard work, the Finnish squad will return in 2021 with one aim in mind, and that is to challenge for the drivers' and teams' championship.

Jussi Pinomäki admits that returning to the championship with Niclas and Krisztián can help the team deliver on their potential. 

“We have worked hard to be able to return this year, and it’s brilliant to do that with Niclas and Krisztián. I think together they can help us to deliver our potential at every event," Jussi Pinomäki, Team Principal, GRX-SET WORLD RX TEAM, said. "As Niclas says, nothing comes easy, especially at this level, but I’m very proud of our hard-working team and we will be doing everything we can to achieve the best results possible."

Today's announcement means that after three years with Grönholm RX team, Timur Timerzyanov will not return in 2021. 

Tuesday 8 June 2021

"I feel faster than I've ever been" warns Kevin Abbring.

Dutch racer Kevin Abbring returns to contest the full FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2021 behind the wheel of the 'UNKORRUPTED' Renault Mégane R.S. RX, and he has warned his fellow rivals that he feels "faster than ever." 

The 32-year-old began his motorsport career in rallycross - winning the Dutch and Belgian titles three times by the age of 16, before switching to rallying in 2017, achieving success on the international stage in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship and making history becoming the youngest driver ever to win a JWRC round.

In 2019, he returned to rallycross, competing in two rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship with ES Motorsport, impressing many after claiming two fourth-place finishes, and even leading the final on his debut in Hell, Norway in tricky weather conditions. 

A year later, the Dutchman joined GCK Motorsport as the development driver for their rallycross and cross-country programmes, and make his World RX return for the Finnish double-header in Kouvola to assist the "UNKORRUPTED" team after a rather challenging season.

Guerlain Chicherit driving the Renault Mégane R.S. RX.
With GCK not returning to the World Championship until its switch electric in 2022, Kevin has chosen to partner with French engineering company FORS Technologies to race for a Championship win in 2021. Having raced under team name UNKORRUPTED last season, he decided to take to the start line under the same team name this year.

While Kevin’s work on green motorsport development programmes will continue throughout 2021, he’s committed to using this season to push for the world title in rallycross as preparations continue for the switch to electric.

"I’ve been working on some incredible projects, and I’m really excited about the future of motorsport. To get the chance to contest an entire championship at world level in parallel this season is something I’ve been working on for such a long time now," Kevin Abbring said.

"Thanks to the latest projects and test activities I have been involved in, I feel faster than I’ve ever been. I’ve worked with every team member closely before and I’m starting to understand the Mégane better and better. I can’t wait to push for victories together!"

Monday 7 June 2021

Kristoffersson has firm grip on RallyX Nordic title.

PHOTO CREDIT: Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS
Johan Kristoffersson has a firm grip on the RallyX Nordic title having picked up a win and a second place in Ouluzone, Finland this weekend. 

The three-time World RX champion emerged victorious on Saturday after a thrilling battle with Niclas Grönholm, which ended with the Finn picking up a puncture. 

On Sunday, Grönholm got his revenge, with a perfect launch in the final, leaving Johan to try alternative lines to carry more speed, but that was not enough to beat the Niclas, as he led the way to the checkered flag. 

"Good points. I did what I could this weekend. I can't go any faster," Kristoffersson said."I would have needed pole position to be able to beat Niclas."

With one round remaining, at the Westombanan in Arvika in August, Kristoffersson leads the championship by 27 points over Niclas Grönholm who confirmed on Sunday, that he is not likely to return for the final, whilst Sondre Evjen is a further 29 points behind the top 2. 

"[It will be] fun to hopefully decide the title on a home track," he concludes. 

Johan's father and team manager of Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS admits that despite being in control of the championship "it is not over until it is over."

“It's my time to shine!” - Kevin Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
Nitro Rallycross and European Rallycross champion Kevin Hansen has confirmed that he will participate in the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship, with the Hansen World RX Team in the final internal combustion-engined season, which kicks off next month in Barcelona. 

The 23-year-old Swede is already an established force in World Rallycross and has won in almost every series that he has entered to date. 

This season, he will enter his sixth consecutive season with the 2019 World RX Teams' Champions, Hansen World RX Team.

Yes, a new team name, but the same old fire to succeed in top-level rallycross!

Kevin challenged for the world championship up until the last race in 2019 coming out in third place behind his older brother Timmy (2019 champion) and Andreas Bakkerud. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
The shortened 2020 season, was a challenging one for the Swedish outfit, but despite all of that Kevin went on to claim two podiums, and he is now ready to compete for the ultimate prize in rallycross once more. 

"I’ve been looking at all areas of my development in order to put myself in a better position ahead of the season," Kevin Hansen said. "I know where I’ve been weak, and where I’ve been strong, and it’s time to put it all together in the final year of the petrol era."

"I’m capable of winning championships – I think my junior career showed that! This is no different and I hope the changes around me will showcase the progress we've made together."

Whilst last season provided to be a Kristoffersson vs. Ekstrom show. The Hansen's weren't too far away, and as the season progressed, the team slowly began to find some improvements with their Peugeot 208 WRX supercars to an extent that they claimed five podiums and one victory. 

Car development is key to finding improvements, hence why, testing is always a useful tool. This season (2021), Kevin feels that his family team has taken a step in the right direction.

"Our car development has moved towards a direction I feel more comfortable with, and the car did fit me much better last season than in 2019," the Swede says. "I believe since then we've progressed even more in that direction and I can’t wait to extract all of it on track."

The 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship will mark the end of internal combustion-engined Supercars, an era that Kevin hopes to end on top. 

"To close World RX's petrol chapter with the Hansen name on top would be a beautiful story, given the team's rich history and the upcoming shift to full electric rallycross," he said.

“It's my time to shine!”

Hansen World RX Team has indicated that the second driver will be announced at a later date.