Saturday, 19 October 2019

Abbring makes World RX return while Baciuska to miss season finale.

The official entry list for the tenth round of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship at Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town has been revealed by the FIA.

Kevin Abbring will return to World RX for the third time this season with ES Motorsport, driving the Skoda Fabia. The Dutchman will be joined on the grid by Jere Kalliokoski who will make his second appearance in the premier class with STARD.

Abbring's World RX debut in Hell, Norway earlier this season was nothing short of exceptional when he nearly won his debut race in dreadful conditions. He claimed a fourth-place finish in Norway and Sweden. 

Kalliokoski who will drive alongside Janis Baumanis at STARD nearly made the semi-finals in Holjes, Sweden on his first attempt. He came close to a spot in the final but was hampered by a puncture, and finished in tenth place.  

Rokas Baciuška will miss the season finale in Cape Town. The Lithuanian has really impressed the paddock after returning to the championship with GCK Academy having being dropped by ES Motorsport due to contractual issues. 

Baciuška claimed a top qualifiers spot in Latvia earlier this year. 

The final round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship gets underway on the 9/10 November at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town, with eight points separating the top three. Fans are guaranteed to see a brand new World Champion come to the checkered flag in Cape Town. 

Written By: Junaid Samodien

RX2 Champion to be crowned at World RX of South Africa.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship is not the only international series set for a title showdown on the 9-10 November at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town. 

RX2 — the official World Rallycross support series sees all drivers racing identical 200kW all-wheel-drive cars on the same track as the main series. 

The RX2 Championship leader Oliver Eriksson will go head-to-head with Finnish driver Jesse Kallio for the 2019 RX2 crown. Along with the coveted title - Eriksson or Kallio could walk away with a World Rallycross Supercar drive for 2020. 

“The title race has been my main focus, but it’s not done yet,” said championship leader Oliver Eriksson. “The fight goes on to the season finale, where I am sure we are going to thrill the South African fans in Cape Town like never before – I cannot wait, it’s going to be an absolute blast both on and off the track!”

If you thought the title fight would be the main attraction think again. There is a three-way fight for third in the RX2 championship between Ben-Philip Gundersen, ARX2 champion Fraser McConnell and Sami-Matti Trogen. 

“I managed to beat Oliver head-to-head at the last race and my plan has to be to do that to take the title away from him,” Ben-Philip Gundersen said. “Things are coming good for us as we move on to South Africa after a tough start to our season and we are looking forward to a super-thrilling final installment of this season’s title fight — bring it on!”

Behind the battle for the third, Vasiliy Gryazin sits a lonely sixth ahead of William Nilsson, Simon Olofsson, and Anders Michalak, all in another close fight with Steve Volders. 

Written By: Junaid Samodien

Thursday, 17 October 2019

World RX to remain in South Africa until 2021.

FIA World RX promoters IMG has today announced that the FIA World Rallycross Championship will visit South Africa for the next three years.

The World RX of South Africa has staged a round of the championship since 2017, the first FIA World Championship to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa in over 20 years.

In 2019, the event will take place on November 9-10 at Killarney International Raceway on the outskirts of Cape Town where the three-way title battle will be settled between the Hansen brothers Timmy and Kevin and Andreas Bakkerud. 
“I am delighted to confirm that through our partnership with the City of Cape Town, we are extending our presence in South Africa for a further two years,” Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports at IMG, the promoter of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, said.

“Since its entry on the World RX calendar in 2017, Cape Town has become a mainstay of the championship and a must-visit destination for local and international rallycross fans.

“World RX has also become one of the biggest dates on the South African sporting calendar and it holds a special place in the hearts of rallycross fans the world over. We look forward to working with the City of Cape Town and their partners to make the event an even bigger success in the coming years.”

Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Ald. Dan Plato said: “Cape Town has long been an event hub for exciting, adrenalin sports like motor racing. The City of Cape Town is proud to once again host the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Killarney. The drivers and their lightning fast cars will experience not only fierce competition, but everything Cape Town and its people have to offer – from the backdrop of Table Mountain, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, our beaches, mountain, vineyards, culture and entertainment.

“Exciting events such as this one not only showcase our city, but are a significant contributor to the local economy, jobs for Capetonians and international marketing of our destination. We welcome the World RX racers and all the visitors from abroad and elsewhere in South Africa.”

IMG have also contracted WorldSport, one of South Africa’s leading destination events agencies, as the official delivery partner for the event.

Bruce Parker-Forsyth, CEO of WorldSport, said: “Motorsport is a fundamental part of Cape Town culture. Our aim is to make it a weekend of racing the whole family can enjoy – a bigger and better Fan Zone awaits with a dedicated kids area and live entertainment.”

Tickets are available through

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Six Reasons Why You Should Attend The 2019 Cape Town RX.

The last round of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship promises to be not just one of the best events the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town has ever seen, but perhaps also one of the best ever title-deciding finale since 2014. 

Here are 6 reasons why the 2019 Cape Town RX on 9 and 10 November should not be missed. 

1. Title Decider
All eyes will be focussed on the battle for the FIA World Rallycross Championship title in Cape Town, where Team Hansen MJP's Timmy Hansen leads Monster Energy RX Cartel's Andreas Bakkerud by one point, while Timmy's teammate and younger brother Kevin Hansen is still in play for the championship eight points behind his brother with 30 points still available in Cape Town. 

2. Fast Supercars 
The FIA World Rallycross Championship makes use of hot hatch cars turned up to eleven with a turbocharged, two-litre, 600bhp engine, and four-wheel drive. 

A World RX Supercar can accelerate from 0-60mph in less than two seconds – faster than an F1 car.

There is nothing more pulsating than six Supercars lined up alongside each other before the start of the race with Anti-lag engaged. Just, imagine five or six 600bhp cars storming off the line on the run to turn one where carnage is pretty much inevitable. 

3. South Africa's only FIA Championship event
The African continent has hosted some of the world's most illustrious motorsport events in history, including Formula 1, the Dakar Rally, the World Rally Championship and Formula E, but the FIA World Rallycross Championship in South Africa is the first FIA-sanctioned World Championship since the 1993 South African Grand Prix. 

4. A closer field 
For the past two years, Cape Town has seen the dominance of one team and one driver, namely Johan Kristoffersson (PSRX Volkswagen Sweden). The Swede did not just win both the 2017 and 2018 rounds but also won an amazing 7 out of 12 rounds in 2017. In 2018, Kristoffersson was only beaten to the flag once, with Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot) reigning superior at Mettet, Belgium. 

Volkswagen, Peugeot and Audi might not be competing in the 2019 FIA World RX championship as factory teams, but the lap times have certainly not dropped. While anything can happen in any given rallycross race, lap times can differ immensely. Even with this, taken into account, the cars this year are just as fast (if not quicker at times) than the 2018 field. 

The 2019 season has also seen six different winners, with only Timmy Hansen (Team Hansen MJP) taking more than one win. 

Whereas previous 2017 and 2018 races could be predicted, the same can not be said for 2019. 

5. More affordable ticket prices 
Yes, that is correct. Tickets can be found at and a general access ticket for the weekend will cost you R450. Compared to other live shows around the world, this is a very good deal. 

More so, grandstand tickets can now be purchased at a very reasonable price of R350 (Saturday) and R400 (Sunday). A family (4 people) group ticket can also be purchased for R900 and will include parking. 

6. A guaranteed new FIA World Rallycross Champion 
While Kristoffersson is not racing in 2019, Killarney will not only see a completely new race winner, but also the crowning of a new World Champion. 

While Mattias Ekström, Petter Solberg and Kristoffersson all raced within the last three weeks, none of the previous World Champions are in contention for the 2019 crown. 

Both Hansen brothers and Bakkerud have been close to a title before but never grabbed hold of it. Whoever wins the title, will therefore do so in absolute determination. 

Whereas Kristoffersson was crowned as champion in Latvia and USA previously, a new champion will emerge on Cape Town soil. 

While the WRX field came to Killarney in 2017 and 2018 with refreshed eagerness to win the last race of the championship, the field will approach 2019 with an absolute “all-out” mentality. This will not only be the last race of the season, but also the last chance to grab hold of the championship! 

Written By - Junaid Samodien & Franco Theron (PedalFest SA)

Sunday, 13 October 2019

2019 Japanese GP: FIA Post-Race Press Conference.

1 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
2 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
3 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Congratulations Valtteri. Qualifying P3 in Suzuka you don’t expect to lead into Turn 1 but Sebastian made a mistake, you pounced on it and you absolutely dominated that race in classic style. You must be delighted with that?

Valtteri BOTTAS: I’m very happy. Obviously it was a pretty close qualifying and yeah starting third here is never, but there’s not point ever to give up on anything and I knew anything was possible today and opportunities were there today and the first one was at the start. I had a really nice start and obviously Sebastian had an issue, so managed to get in the lead and then the pace was super good. I could really control the race. I really enjoyed it and had fun, so yeah, very, very happy.

Q: Were you a little bit worried when they pulled you into the pits and said you were on a two-stop strategy or was that always the plan? Or did you think you were going to have to overtake Lewis?

VB: Yeah, we knew that one or two stops were both possible and that there was not a massive difference between the two of them. We knew if could be a scenario. That really went smooth. I could really control it when I could and push when I wanted. Nice.

Q: And to top off the day, Mercedes just won their sixth Constructors’ title in a row. You must be delighted with that?

VB: Yeah, really proud to be part of the team. A sixth title in a row is so impressive, so very proud of every single team member, here at the race team and also at the factory. Well done guys and girls.

Q: Well done Valtteri. Enjoy the evening. Sebastian, congratulations, I know after qualifying you put it on pole position, but I have to talk about the start – what happened? You moved and had to stop. Was that a mistake on your behalf?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean the lights were on a long time, but it was my mistake, so I lost the momentum them. So I ended up worse than just having a poor start, it was a really poor start. Then it was difficult because Mercedes was quite quick in the race, especially at the back of the stint, they had more pace than us. Yeah, Valtteri was flying, literally, at the end of the first stint. Obviously Lewis tried to do one stop and I guess it didn’t work and in the end I knew that he would come out behind and I just paced myself around all the bits in the track where I could and just tried to get good exits in the places where he could be a threat. So that worked but, yeah, it was obviously a tough afternoon to then maintain second.

Q: Do you think if you hadn’t made that mistake at the start the win was possible?

SV: I don’t know, because then they can obviously play a lot more the tactics, so obviously that way they had one car comfortably in the lead and Valtteri was out… we weren’t a threat to him. But yeah I think with the lack of pace today, probably second was probably the maximum, but surely I’m not happy with the very first start of the race but after that it was fine, but as I said we just lacked a little bit of pace. But overall it’s been a positive day, everything packed in one day and to get pole and second today is reasonable. It’s a bit of a shame. I don’t know what happened to Charles, otherwise we could have maybe had both cars to challenge them a bit more.

Q: Lewis, I know everything you did today you never really got let loose, you were always kind of in the mix, but when you were free you had the pace and a challenge all the way to the end.

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well firstly it’s congratulations to the team, so well deserved. To win it six years in a row, the Constructors’ Championship, is the main point. I really just wanted to get the best points for my team today.

Q: Looking ahead: now that it’s down to the Drivers’, do you suspect that you and Valtteri will be battling all the way a bit more freely now that the Constructors’ is over and over and done?

LH: It makes no difference because we’ve been racing freely all year.

Q: Yeah, but it will be a hard fight all the way to the end?

LH: For sure.


Q: Valtteri, great race by you today. Can we start by talking about the start? How good was it, almost as good as Austria 2017?

VB: Not quite. I think nothing compares to that. Sebastian nearly had as good as that one I think. But I did have a very, very good start. But for sure it looks better if there are cars around that don’t have a good start and very much needed, because we knew we had a good race car here with a good pace but if you are behind other cars you can’t really use it that much. I was very happy to get to the lead and obviously it’s quite different being in the lead and being able to control and on this track [being] in the free air makes a difference so I really enjoyed it.

Q: Once in the lead did you have any other concerns during the race?

VB: Everything was going pretty smooth. Just the second stint was full of traffic, so I was overtaking backmarkers all the time, so I couldn’t really have good rhythm and very good pace in that stint.

SV: You could have slowed down.

VB: Yeah… I didn’t want to. Yeah, when Lewis didn’t stop for his second stop I was slightly concerned that maybe his tyres would last to the end and he could actually make it, because he had a decent gap to me. But obviously he was on the medium and I think that tyres would have struggled massively at the end. So, from my side, obviously a very good race and on top of that very, very happy for every single team member, getting the sixth Constructors’ title. Really well deserved. It’s not just the result today but all through the season so very, very proud.

Q: Very well done. Sebastian can we start at the start? What happened from your point of view?

SV: Well obviously I had a poor start so I lost quite a lot of momentum when the lights go off. A mistake on my side. I had it in my hands, literally, to perform a good start – normally starts are really strong – but obviously today we didn’t get it right. I don’t know what happened to Charles but we both missed out on the start maybe for different reasons. After that we knew it was going to be a difficult race. Overtaking isn’t straightforward here and obviously in terms of pace it was very difficult. We could see in the first stint that Valtteri was just quicker, especially towards the end, and then Lewis was catching. He was basically very close to me when we pitted, so I think overall we got the strategy right to stay ahead. I don’t know if… maybe they didn’t get it entirely right. But not the day we wanted if you start first and second. I don’t know where Charles finished. Sixth? Did he? So second and sixth.

Q: Were you concerned about getting a penalty for the start?

SV: I don’t know. Not really. Obviously, I had a very poor start in general…

[Valtteri and Lewis laughter]

LH: You’re lying! Come on!

SV: No I didn’t. If you jump the start then obviously you get caught, so I think it was just fine.

Q: And Sebastian, we saw a thrilling battle between you and Lewis at the end of the race. How much did you enjoy that?

SV: I was surprised when they pitted to be honest. I expected him to stay out and try the one stop. Once I knew that.. also before, Valtteri was so far away and we were not fast and it was not possible to catch him, so when he came out I was not rushing to open the gap, I was just trying to keep my tyres somehow fresh to make sure that if he arrives then everything is still in good shape and I have the chance to have good corner exits and play the advantage we have down the straights, which worked. It got a bit close once with traffic but other than that I think it was quite good. I was quite quite happy when I saw the chequered flag. I didn’t want to do another five laps like that. But I knew obviously in the places where you can’t pass I can take it easy to try to maintain the tyres a little bit.

Q: Lewis, coming on to you, Sebastian was surprised that you came in for your second stop. How surprised were you to be called in?

LH: I wasn’t surprised. The team put me on a two-stop, so I knew already when they put the medium on, that was going to be the case.

Q: Do you think, as the race played out, you could have got to the end on that one-stop?

LH: With better guidance I think I probably could have. They said, when they put the tyre on, that we are going a two stop because the degradation is high. So then, just the direction I was given in terms of having to try and close the gap to Seb. So every time I was having to close this gap, so used the tyres quite a lot. So, in how I was using them, there was no way I was going to make it to the end on that. If I had, from the beginning, said we’re just going to eke it out and just see if we could manage it, then I could have just driven differently and, potentially, held it to the end – but all in hindsight.

Q: Lewis, you’ve been with the team for all six Constructors’ titles. How does this one rate against the others?

LH: It definitely feels a little bit different. Obviously… I wouldn’t say as happy as previously because naturally we lost Niki this year and it doesn’t feel the same without him. So, naturally I’m very, very proud of the team. Very proud of everyone back at the factory, and I know Niki would be taking off his hat for today’s result. Yeah, I think we owe him a huge amount and this win is really for him. I think the whole team and the whole of Mercedes will probably dedicate this to Niki. I definitely do. Very, very proud to be a part of it, and a part of the journey – but it has been a difficult, a tough year for us, y’know? And every time I walk into the garage I see Niki’s headphones and his cap. I sat and I looked at it today before I got in the car. As I said, I know he’ll be proud, I know his family will be as well. The team should be proud too.


Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Question for the Mercedes drivers. Valtteri, you asked your engineer if he was sure that Lewis was going to stop a second time. He told you yes, you kept to that pace – but then two laps later you had your best lap until that point, that coincided when Lewis came in. Were you starting to have doubts that he was coming in and you wanted to catch, just in case? And for Lewis, if the plan was to go to second stops, why do you think they kept you out for so long at the end of the first stint when you were two to three seconds slower than Valtteri and Sebastian?

VB: Yes, for sure I was wanting to make sure what’s the race situation and what’s going to happen. At that point actually I had some margin to save the engine a little bit for the future races. So that’s why I was asking if I really needed to go full gas, or if there’s a bit of margin for safety. I think the timing for the good lap times, I was getting through some backmarkers then getting into the rhythm again, getting into good lap times. All my stints, they were not massively long so I could really push hard when I wanted. And like I said earlier, the car felt really good today, so I was very comfortable to push when needed.


LH: Was I surprised. No, that was the target, that was what we were supposed to be going for. The surprise is that, every time you come out, by going long you end up frikkin’ twice as far behind as you were before, which is twice as frustrating. Because I can’t see that, so I’m not aware of that, and I come out and a I realise that I’ve just lost another ten seconds and I’m like: ‘Why – you could have told me. If you’d said I was going to come out a further ten seconds behind – I was pretty much 22 seconds behind Valtteri – I would said no and would have come in earlier.” So, there’ll be some discussion I’m sure when we get back.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, you have many times said that this is your favourite circuit. Does it feel any different after finally winning here compared to those five before?

VB: For sure. It keeps it my favourite circuit, for sure. It’s not been one of the strengths of mine – ever – this track, but even though it’s always been kind of the favourite that I’ve looked forward to the most in terms of the driving side. So, yeah, for sure now it makes it a more special track for me, and it’s one of the very iconic grands prix in the calendar to win, so very pleased to do that, for sure.

Q: (Luke Smith – Valtteri, Lewis. A sixth successive double set of titles – confirmed today, one of you two will win the Drivers’ Championship. Toto has spoken before about the pride of wearing the shirt, the staff and Mercedes, can you talk a little bit about how proud you are to be part of this record-breaking team, and what you’ve built here.

VB: I think I said earlier, I’m very proud obviously. We’re making history and, it’s funny with anything you do, if you are getting success, and so on, sometimes it’s quite tricky to realise that success. Sometimes you have to step outside, a step or two to realise it really. I’m sure we will look back at this afterwards at some point, that wow, we made six and obviously hopefully more – but this moment, yeah, I hope we all can really appreciate it and take the time to enjoy it as well, even though we need to keep pushing. It just feels like life goes pretty quickly onwards and it’s very important to enjoy those moments and, at least personally for me, I’m really, really proud, really happy for every single team-member. I know the amount of work that has gone into achieving it. So very, very happy for everyone and I just hope everyone realises that and enjoys it because it’s well-deserved.

LH: I think I kind of said stuff earlier on. I’ve been with the team for seven years. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13 so very proud to be racing the silver star and be part of this incredible journey that Mercedes is on. Joining them in 2013, with just the utter belief that we will do something special, it’s kind of crazy to see it coming to fruition, all the hard work. Naturally, when I met everyone in 2013, just seeing how dedicated they were there, and it still remains the same. Even though we have the success each year, they’re hungry, they’re driven, they’re excited that they have Valtteri and I in the car and they give absolutely everything. And I love that, and it really inspires me to go out there and drive the way that I do, the way that we do throughout the weekend.

Q: (Jens Nagler – Bild) Two questions for Seb: how did you enjoy the battle against Lewis and secondly, if I’m correct, there’s not chance whatsoever now to clinch the title for you so is Mexico the first step of the next attempt?

SV: Well, obviously not happy with the fact that we didn’t have the year that we were looking for but it’s not today that made the difference, not yesterday, not last week or… Obviously it’s been a long year and it’s still going so… I don’t think we’re lacking anything. I think we just need to work better. I think we are very committed, working very hard but it’s not yet on the level that can be achieved. Obviously Mercedes have shown that in the last years that you can do better and they’ve been able to maintain that. I think we are not in that position, but I’ve loved to be honest and I’m sure that we would be more enthusiastic by nature but that’s not the case so we need to work better. As I said, I think we don’t need to work harder but I think we need to work better. The first one: yeah, I enjoyed it but obviously I knew that I was a bit of a sitting duck because I was quite slow in the corners and very fast on the straights, so I just tried to play my advantage and that worked. I’m sure that Lewis didn’t enjoy that as much but in the end it was key to… or we tried as hard as we could to stay ahead despite being slower at the end so that’s good but overall we had a great chance today, starting first and second. Obviously after the first couple of meters that advantage was gone but after that we knew that it would be difficult from where we were to turn it around and we saw in the first stint that we just couldn’t go with them, especially at the end they were a lot stronger. So as I said, there’s still room for improvement. It doesn’t start in Mexico - next year;  next year starts next year so whatever we can learn this year, I think we’ve learned a lot about our car, the weaknesses, we’ve improved it but we’re still not there so… We’ve had a strong couple of races but overall I think we’re still a little bit behind.

Q: Sebastian, you say you’ve learned a lot about yourselves; what have you learned about Mercedes this year?

SV: It’s very difficult, obviously you can’t see what they are doing but I think from the outside they are very close to perfection every time they go out on track so very consistent, very little mistakes. That’s certainly also part of what makes them  so strong but yeah, if you clinch the Constructors title with four races to go there’s a lot of things you do better than all the others. If you go into detail then you can argue what their car is maybe doing better than ours but I don’t think that’s the point overall, it’s a team effort and as I said, I think we do have the ingredients, we do have the commitment, we do have the intelligence but we just need to do it better. It’s a lot of small things; it’s not one thing that we need to improve, it’s a lot of small things that we need to do better, every single one of us and that’s the only way that we can try and step up. Hopefully they get a bit bored, we will see what happens.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, just throwing it forward, you can now obviously win the championship in Mexico so how important is it for you to get that over the line as soon as you can? And Valtteri does this result give you renewed hope that you might be able to do the unthinkable and beat Lewis to the title?

LH: I think for me it’s never  been a case of always wanting to rush things. Valtteri’s driven well all year long, he’s done a great job today and he will most likely do a very very solid job these next races, so we still have a battle, the fight continues. I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us. The last few have been pretty shocking, even though we’ve won the title there. I’m hoping for a better weekend but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights. We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure but even if you look at the others, the McLarens are picking up some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls so I think it will be a tricky one. I don’t anticipate it will be Mexico. I think we will be battling for a good few races.

VB: Yeah, I don’t really give up on anything as long as there’s a theoretical chance so there’s no point in that. Today was a good example on the track where it’s difficult to overtake. You start third, OK, two Ferraris ahead, it’s a difficult case to win but it’s possible. Yeah, everything’s possible although I’m realistic as well that I will need to be very lucky, that’s a fact, to win all the rest of the races but yeah, I don’t really think about that much at this point. It is my bad, mostly, that I’ve been behind this much in the points compared to Lewis, it’s my fault which I try to fix for the future but it is where we are now and just take it now race by race and see how it goes.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, are you kicking yourself now that you did make that stop or are you thinking maybe I could have got to the end of the race on those tyres? Question to the other two drivers: if you were in that same situation, you’re leading the race, you’ve got 22 laps to go, would you have risked it and stayed out? Final question: Sebastian, who’s going to win the title out of these two guys here?

LH: Honestly, I’m thinking of what I’m going to eat tonight. I’m thinking about I can’t wait to get back to the UK to see my niece and nephew. What’s done is done. Naturally we’ll go and sit and talk to the engineers and strategists. I think today could have been done better. There’s multiple scenarios during the year when that’s been the case but nonetheless, Valtteri did the job. I’d have had to have driven differently in that second stint, stretch out as far as you can… naturally when I was in the lead I thought about staying out but by the time I’d already pushed so much to close the gap to Seb… we should have at least got a one-two today but I think the strategy wasn’t optimum for me. It was naturally optimum for Valtteri but yeah, there were a lot scenarios. Valtteri had a very good gap to the first stint. He didn’t have to stop early because he clearly had a good enough gap. They should have stopped me before Seb to undercut him but it’s always an afterthought. Often the first car gets priority which is always how we’ve always had it but we can do better as a team, to make sure we score more one-twos, so we’ll just work hard on that and there’s no love lost or anything like that. We’ll be pushing hard.

VB: Yeah, obviously, I don’t know. I wasn’t in his car and I can’t know how the tyres were feeling and how much he was pushing before and so the only thing I know is that at this point for him probably the computer would have said no, it’s not possible with the numbers we had for the tyre life so that’s the only thing I know.

SV: Yeah, I think Valtteri has said pretty much it. It depends a lot on how you feel with the tyres so I don’t know whether Lewis was talking with the team and asking to stay out or what were the options, but if you get the call out then you trust the team and you come in. And the second one is that Lewis will win it. Doesn’t matter which race. I don’t think it matters for him, does it? It wouldn’t matter to me. 

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Lewis, in the last few laps you had softer tyres than Sebastian, newer tyres than Sebastian, you had DRS but still you couldn’t make the move. How worrying is that, that this gap is too big in terms of straightline speed, for Mercedes to catch for next year?

LH: We’ve got time for next year. I think it’s not been a great year for us in terms of the great issue, in terms of our engine development. I think it’s been a really hard time for the guys, they’ve been working as hard as ever but it’s just not been as successful in that department, as I say, plus it’s quite draggy but we’ve had great reliability and hopefully that remains the same and that’s still something to be really proud of of course. We have, obviously, still won the Constructors championship but we’ll push to try and maybe reduce the drag a little bit but also increasing power for next  so they’re fully onto it and I have all the confidence in the world that we’ll be able to make some sort of step into the next season. Of course I got in the tow of Seb, the tow with DRS and maximum power and everything… it’s incredible how quick they are. It makes it very very difficult, even if you’ve got the advantage of the tyre but I think it’s cool anyway, it provides interesting racing. I wish we could have had a closer race today but it’s a difficult track to do so.

Friday, 11 October 2019

2019 Japanese GP: FIA Team Principals' Press Conference.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Guenther STEINER (Haas), Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari), Toyoharu TANABE (Honda), Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault), Frédéric VASSEUR (Alfa Romeo)

Q: Tomorrow’s programme has been called due to the typhoon. Can we get your thoughts on that decision and could you explains how it has affected your programme today. Perhaps we can start with Fred?

Frédéric VASSEUR: I think that it’s safety first and probably it makes no sense to ask the spectators to come on track and then to be in a big mess. In terms of schedule and programme for the team. We already thought about this yesterday evening honestly. OK, it will change the programme but I think we can afford the weekend with two free practices. Perhaps it will be a good exercise for the future.

Q: Thank you. Cyril?

Cyril ABITEBOUL: Well, nothing really to add. It has happened before and it will happen in the future. There is enough time on Sunday to conduct both qualifying and the race. I think maybe it will give us an impression of Formula E, maybe a little bit, so not a bad thing. That’s for my neighbor on the left, and on the right.

Q: Tanabe-san?

Toyoharu TANABE: First, I’m sorry to the fans willing to be here Saturday, but in terms of our programme we will just prepare for the qualifying and the race this afternoon and then maybe analyse the data and then ready for the qualifying on Sunday and the race.

Q: Mattia?

Mattia BINOTTO: I would join certainly his comment, as first I think it’s a shame for the fans but it’s a fully respectable decision, safety is first. In terms of programmes, certainly it’s a lot more intense now. We are certainly skipping one session, which is FP3. Qualifying may be occurring on Sunday morning. But it means that today it will be a lot more intense. We’ve got, eventually, more tyres to be used – the ones from FP3. We need to set up the car for the Quali on Sunday morning. There’s just a session less. Things are more complicated but certainly a great challenge but I’m pretty sure it should be a good show and spectacle on Sunday.

Q: Guenther?

Guenther STEINER: Nothing to add from a sporting side. I think it was the right decision from the organisers, safety is first, and the rest is set.

Q: Thank you gentlemen. Tanabe-san, if I could come back to you, please? It’s always special to race here at Suzuka and Honda has a good chance of getting a good result this weekend. How exciting is it to be in that situation?

TT: Yes, it is a very special race. The Japanese Grand Prix is our home race, and then the Suzuka circuit is owned by Honda. All Japanese fans are willing it to have a good result from Honda-powered cars. On the other hand, it’s kind of pressure for us, but fans give us more power. In terms of the weekend preparation, the setting is the same as the other races. So, we just set up the PU accordingly and do our best.

Q: Can we get a word too on the performance of Naoki Yamamoto this morning in the Toro Rosso. He was only one tenth slower than Dany Kvyat. How would you assess his performance today?

TT: Considering it’s his first run on a grand prix weekend I think he did a good job. Comparing the lap time against Dany is a bit difficult because they are doing different strategy in the practice. But he did a decent job for the team to set up the car in the first session of the weekend and then his run today will definitely encourage Japanese young drivers. So, thank you Toro Rosso and Red Bull and it’s good for the Japanese fans as well.

Q: Thank you. Fred, coming back to you: there are five races left this year, so when you look back at this season, has it been a success?

FV: It was a really up and down season. We had the first four or five races where we scored a lot of points and then we had a bad momentum around Monaco and Barcelona and then we went back. The last four races were very difficult. It’s up and down. But let’s see in the last five if it’s up and hopefully the last five will be OK.

Q: What can you do to level out the performances?

FV: It’s small things and small details honestly. If you compare with Sochi that we were, with Antonio, we were P13 in Quali but we were two tenths off compared to P7 in Q2 and it’s very, very tight and for small details sometimes you can be completely out of the classification but we have to take care when you are doing the analysis. But it’s true also that we made too many mistakes over the last three or four weekends – teams, drivers, everyone in the same basket – but at the end of the day we have to wake up a little bit and to come back to the pace and top score points in the last four events.

Q: And how has the experience of Kimi Räikkönen helped the team?

FV: He’s staying calm. He’s not a big nervous. I think it’s good also for us to stay focused on the real issue and not to start to try to go in every single direction. We know what did wrong on the last two or three events and I hope that we will be able to correct it for Suzuka and the next ones, and that’s it.

Q: Guenther, if we could come to you now please. In Russia, Kevin Magnussen scored his first points since the German Grand Prix. What aero was he running on his car that weekend and is that the direction going forward?

Guenther STEINER: I don’t know what aero he was running because we are mixing it up a little bit. There is no definitive spec what we could call it. It’s a hybrid, we call it and, going forward, in the moment we are on a very similar spec like we had in Russia. Going forward, we test a few things and I cannot tell you what we do in the next race because we just try to get better and get a better understanding so we are not in this position next year. But, I mean, it seemed to be working a little bit better in Russia. So, let’s hope we can find a few more points on our way to the end of the season.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently with the development of this year’s car?

GS: A lot. It’s like… I don’t want to go into the specifics of technical stuff but we should have listened a little bit more to the drivers when they gave their opinion about what the car is doing and whatnot. And sometimes listen more to drivers than look at numbers. That’s what we have to learn out of this. And now I think we need to get what drivers say correlated with what the numbers say and get an understanding so we can move forward. As I said, we would have done a lot different from Barcelona onwards.

Q: Cyril, tell us about the progress with your car, particularly this weekend, and what feedback you’ve had from your drivers about the new front wing?

Cyril ABITEBOUL: It’s as always when you bring this type of parts, in particular with these current regulations, it's a very sensitive part. I think everyone here would say the same thing. So, it always takes a little bit of time to understand properly, to measure, we’ve done a number of back-to-back tests. The guys are currently looking at the data at the factory – and also listening to drivers, Guenther, we are also doing that – and no, there is nothing really bad but I think there is more to come in pace and in balance in particular. But this is a very complex area of development of the car. It’s highly loaded so it creates some instability. It’s complex.

Q: Can you tell us any more about what the drivers were saying about the car this morning?

CA: I don’t want to go into specifics but I think the balance was not exactly where it was supposed to be, so we need to review that in particular, make sure that the data do back up what they were experiencing on track. And if that does, we’ll be making some set-up change in FP2 to see if we can indeed get it to work a bit better.

Q: OK, and looking a bit further ahead, it looks like you won’t be supplying any customer teams in 2021. How will that impact on your power unit development?

CA: In particular for next year there is no impact because the engine for next year is done, it’s on the dyno already, you know that it’s a long lead-time development, so nothing is going to impact what we are doing for 2020. It’s going to impact what we could be doing for 2021 on the basis that, when you have multiple customers, in particular the way that Renault is doing it, we always try to satisfy everyone to take on board all the comments in terms of installation, and so on and so forth, so that will be one less distraction. We will be able to focus on ourselves and just on ourselves. And that’s it. From an economic perspective, there is absolutely no impact and nothing in it, because we sell, more or less, at a cost. Due to the price cap limitation. So, frankly, it’s nothing, that it’s good news, because, you know, it’s always satisfying to see your product being used by multiple teams but in terms of what we need to achieve and deliver for Renault it has absolutely no impact.

Q: Mattia, we understood from Charles yesterday that you spoke to both drivers in Maranello last week. How confident are you that another situation like the one we saw in Russia won’t arise again?

Mattia BINOTTO: First, it’s not the first time we are speaking in Maranello. It’s true that I met both of them this week, they were in Maranello for some activities: simulator etc., I think we had positive, constructive, honest, fair, transparent discussions with both of them, individuals. I think what happened in Sochi, nothing really bad but certainly something that needs to be improved and addressed and I think it’s only an opportunity of lesson learned and trying to do better in the future. But how much I’m confident it will not happen, I’m not at all. I think these are both very good drivers. They are all going for a single objective which is winning themselves but I think what again is more important is that at least we between us we’ve got clarity and fairness and I think that’s key.

Q: You say they’re both very competitive drivers. What have you learnt about Sebastian and Charles over the last two grand prix weekends?

MB: I think that they are both performing very well and, as I’ve often said this season, it’s somehow a luxury for a team principal having this situation. I’m very pleased for the racing performance of Sebastian, as I am for the one of Charles since, let’s say, the start of the season and his progresses. What I’ve learned, that we’ve got a very competitive line-up. But I don’t think I learned it. It’s not a surprise, it’s something on which we’re simply happy.

Q: And what about this weekend. How’s your car performing and what do you make of the pace of the Mercedes this morning in FP1?

MB: It’s only FP1, very difficult normally to judge. We cannot neglect that we set the four poles in the last four grands prix but we’ve seen as well that our competitors have brought some upgrades here. The Red Bull and the Honda will be very competitive this weekend as well. The weekend will be shortened because of tomorrow. Sunday morning the conditions can be very difficult for everybody after, let me say, the bad weather of tomorrow. So, I think it will be a difficult and challenging weekend for everybody. More important that we are focused on ourselves. We’ve got some homework after FP1 certainly to do. A few balance issues to be addressed. Again, I think the benchmark are still the cars which are ahead in the Championship and we are still the challengers but I’m pretty sure we can be competitive and this is our objective.


Q: (Eric Bielderman – L’Equipe) To all managers: would you regard this afternoon’s FP2 as a potential qualification session due to the fact that Sunday morning, with the wind, it might not be possible… there is a slight chance it might not be possible to run the qualification process?

GS: I wouldn’t say a qualification but I think a lot of us will try to put in a fast time to prevent…  if qualifying is cancelled on Sunday morning, they are discussing it now, we need to look at the weather. But for sure, we have got more tyres available as well because we are not running tomorrow so it’s a judgement for everybody to do, to see if they can do a good lap but I think it will be quite interesting as Mattia said before, this afternoon, with not having FP3, there will be a lot of running out there this afternoon so hopefully we have got an interesting programme going.

MB: Not much more to add. I think the answer was completely clear. I don’t think the main objective of this afternoon will be to set the best lap time. The main activity, certainly, will be to address any set-up issues that we got in the morning, making sure that we are ready for Sunday because still, I think, the most likely will be to have qualifying on Sunday morning and then the race in the afternoon. But no doubt, if we can, we will try to do at least a good lap, just in case.

TT: In terms of a PU settings point of view, we just set up our PU for the qualifying and the race this afternoon and we will see. I hope the typhoon goes very quick after landing on the Japan island.

CA: Yeah, it’s going to be a bit of a balancing exercise because we still need to prepare the race and particularly, in our case, because of the development parts, we still need to understand (them) a bit better and look at that but in parallel, we will keep that in the back of our minds. As far as we are concerned, we have elected to stay with our Friday engine, which is down on power because it’s an engine which we were using initially at the start of the season, so it’s costing a little bit but on balance we still believe that Sunday will be decent enough so that qualifying can be run so we prefer to stay with that plan.

FV: Not much to add that I think at the end it will be a mix between FP2 and FP3 and in case of non-quali on Sunday, I hope that we won’t take the race number for Antonio!

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action, Speedsport) Fred, when will the team decide who Kimi’s team-mate will be next year?

FV: We will take the decision quite soon but honestly, if you have a look at the last event I think that Antonio is doing a very strong job, that he was matching Kimi in the last six or seven qualifyings in a row. He was in front in Sochi. OK, the first lap was not a good one for us but he’s doing the job and he’s improving step-by-step but this morning we had an issue on the car and he was not able to show the pace but he’s doing the job, he’s improving and I’m very confident with Antonio.

Q: (Kate Walker – Financial Times) I have a two-part question for Mattia: first off, I was wondering if you could talk us through the progress on the 2021 rules from the perspective of Ferrari and secondly, what is your current position on the use of the veto?

MB: 2021, there will be a meeting with the FIA and F1 next week on the 16th which I think will be very important because that’s the last one, all together, before the end of the month when there will be a new vote. I think there are still a lot of open points and discussions are still ongoing so how will be the conclusion of all these discussions, it is very difficult to say at the moment. There are various interests between teams, between the teams and the F1 and the teams and the FIA. But certainly, as Ferrari, we are intending to play our role, we believe as Ferrari because of what Ferrari represents for F1, we’ve got a voice, an important voice in the discussions but no doubt that there’s still a lot of points to be addressed. In terms of the veto - you mentioned the veto – as I said I think last time in Sochi that will really be a shame. I don’t think that should be the case at all. I think we’ve got a good and open discussion with the stakeholders at the moment and I’m as well somehow hopeful that we can find the right compromise at the end.

Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Gunther, you’ve been summoned to the FIA stewards for what you said over the radio in Sochi. Are you surprised, are you upset, do you believe you have a strong defence case?

GS: I don’t know what they’ve got to say. I’m going to see them in five minutes, I will be leaving here early actually, because the two dates clashed. I don’t know what they’re going to tell me. You read the same as I read so I don’t know any more information than that. I can tell you something a little bit later but I hope I don’t get a penalty for leaving the press conference early!

Q: (Martin Moravec – dpa) Mattia, when you look at this intense rivalry between Sebastian and Charles, do you fear that at some point you could lose control of your drivers?

MB: No, no I don’t think there is the risk of losing control because there is a difference between not managing drivers and at least having the intent to manage them. There is always a solution which is not manage them, maybe someone may do so, I think our intention is to try to manage the situation to the benefit of the team and secondly to the benefit, overall, as well, of the drivers. We may do a few things that can be addressed or improved and I think that is what we are building and trying to do for the future.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

FIA reveals supplier of World RX electric kits.

Austrian company Kreisel will supply electric kits to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for the phased introduction of electric-powered cars from 2021.

Following a successful tender process, Kreisel will supply electric kits that can be retrofitted to existing Supercars or built into new Supercars with the support of the supplier. 

The electric kits will develop 500 kW (680hp) for Supercars for four seasons, from 2021 to 2024. "Kreisel will supply a state of the art 52.65kWh battery with an innovative cooling system, two 250kW motors for each axle and two inverters," the statement said.

The first prototype will be presented to the teams in March 2020 and will be available to order from 17 April. "The kit will be priced at €300,000 with an additional €100,000 for four years support, which is lower than the price of current ICE power units over the same period."

The electrification of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will begin with the introduction of a support series, Projekt E from 2020. 

Projekt E will see electric-powered cars compete at several European rounds next year on the same weekend as traditional World RX supercars. 

The World Motor Sport Council has also approved the selection of QEV Technologies to run an 'arrive and drive' junior electric rallycross championship, also beginning in 2021.

The new FIA Junior eRX Championship will feature a bespoke 4-wheel drive tubular chassis, electric car with a 32kWh battery producing 250kW.

"Up to 20 cars will compete against each other as the first international electric step to Rallycross over six European rounds. The Entry fees will be priced at 
€150,000 for the season or €30,000 per race," the statement added.

Written By Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

World RX of South Africa travel packages now available.

FIA World Rallycross Cape Town race organisers have announced a broad selection of high value travel packages for out of town fans keen to witness the thrill of the world title showdown at Killarney first hand, while also enjoying the tourist treasures of Cape Town over the 9-10 November finale weekend.

The sensational allure of Swede Timmy Hansen arriving in Cape Town just one championship point ahead of Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud with younger Hansen brother Kevin also lurking large in third is among the highlights of the international motorsport year and it's going down right here in the shadow of one of the seven wonders of the world. Now a selection of World Rallycross Travel Packages are available to make Cape Town the perfect mid-November destination to suit all tastes.

Ranging from a basic accommodation-only deal starting at R1 500 for a single room per night and including a broad variety of options up to an all-inclusive R12 170 all-inclusive VIP four-night package for two people sharing in among Cape Town's finest four-star hotels, World Rallycross Cape Town Travel Packages can be tailored to your exact needs.

The packages include accommodation at the 4-star city centre Cape Sun Hotel or the new 3-star Sun Square Hotel, both close to all the great Cape Town attractions from the Waterfront to Table Mountain and so much more. World Rallycross fans can tailor the packages to include anything from a basic accommodation deal to a full bed and breakfast offer including Wi-Fi. 

World Rallycross Travel Packages also include the option of self-drive car hire or all transfers included, free accommodation for kids under 18 sharing, Wi-Fi, early breakfast on race day and more, as well as a choice of event access options up to VIP trackside hospitality. All packages are available to browse and book now at Prices are subject to availability and change without prior notice.

For those not requiring accommodation, World Rallycross Cape Town also offers a variety of high-value race day packages from a new world-beating Group package to day tickets for the first time and high-end VIP Trackside Bar and Hospitality access for those keen to be truly spoiled over that spectacular Cape Town race weekend. Book now at

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

'There is no reason why we can't perform in Cape Town' - Niclas Grönholm.

Niclas Grönholm is ready for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship season finale in Cape Town in November after a relatively positive season for GRX Taneco who are second in the teams' standings. 

GRX Taneco entered the 2019 World RX season with an updated Hyundai i20 Supercar, and right out of the box in Abu Dhabi, the Finnish squad showed a strong pace with a second-place finish for Gronholm and a seventh-place finish for teammate Timur Timerzyanov. 

In Abu Dhabi, despite crossing the finish line first Grönholm received a time penalty for ''pushing and passing'' Kevin Hansen in the final and would finish in second place. The Finn sat out of two events after appendicitis surgery and claimed victory in Norway on his return after Anton Marklund was disqualified for a technical infringement. 

The Hyundai i20 Supercar has improved over the course of the season, and with no manufacturers heading the field, the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been the closest fought championship to date.  

The 23-year-old Finn struggled with consistent starts in Latvia but claimed a second-place finish. 

"Honestly, we have a very good car and I am happy with how it handles," he said. "There is no reason why we can't perform there [South Africa] but let's see."

Grönholm has not had the strongest performance at the Killarney International Raceway [in Cape Town] having claimed a fifteenth place finish in 2017 and thirteenth place finish in 2018.

"It's not really a track that I like and I have been bad there in the past few years, but it looks like the tracks that I don't like I have been quite okay this year. So, maybe things will change."

Written By Junaid Samodien