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.

Grönholm strikes back to seals third RallyX Nordic win.

Niclas Grönholm gained his revenge over Johan Kristoffersson with victory in Round 6 of the RallyX Nordic Championship at OuluZone, Finland (yesterday).

The Finnish race winner, who was leading the Round 5 final before suffering a puncture, looking unstoppable on Sunday, when he set the fastest time of the weekend in Q1 - beating Johan Kristoffersson in the process. 

The three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion responded by claiming Q2, but the pair reversed positions once more in a thrilling Q3 dual run in dramatically changing conditions.

Both drivers won their respective semi-finals, setting up yet another thrilling final, with Kristoffersson getting a marginally better start than Grönholm, but with an inside line, it was slightly easier to defend. Trying to outfox his Finnish rival, Kristoffersson ran quite wide into turn one to carry a bit more speed, but ultimately Niclas powered his way into the lead, and the rest is history. 

"This was revenge for yesterday [Saturday] – that sucked. It all seemed to go my way yesterday until the puncture so very happy to get the win here today. I was a bit nervous all day to be honest, we haven’t had good launches, and starting on the inside has been really tricky – I think it’s the worst spot on the grid!" Grönholm said. "I had a decent launch in the final though, the car was stalling a bit and I couldn’t hold it anymore and Q3’s launch was a bit worse than that, three of our starts we struggled with stalling."

"Johan [Kristoffersson] took me after turn one for the first few meters over the bump but then I got him on the gears. Johan was close on the first lap, that’s been the same all weekend. For me, the second or third lap has been the best once the tires get up to temperature. The first lap I’ve generally been quite cautious, I was trying to avoid any mistakes and obviously go carefully over the bump after yesterday."

Right behind them came, Juha Rytkönen, who was quite impressive securing third on his return to RallyX Nordic having shown strong pace throughout the weekend in his Betomik Racing Team prepared Ford Fiesta. 

EKS JC's Enzo Ide came home in fourth ahead of Jere Kalliokoski, whilst championship contender Sondre Evjen failed to finish the final due to broken steering. And, despite failing to finish the final, he remains ahead of Fraser McConnell in the championship standings after the Jamaican driver's steering collapsed in his respective semi-final. 

Grönholm's victory sees him climb to second in the championship standings despite missing the season-opener at Nysum, having won three times in four appearances. 

"We came here to get more racing under our belts and to compete against Johan and the other guys in this series so we're very happy to get the win and get more time in this car," the 25-year-old said. "We learned a lot this weekend, what works and what doesn’t and there’s obviously a lot of tarmac here so it's useful to know these things for when conditions are similar to this."

So, will Niclas return to potentially challenge Kristoffersson in the RallyX Nordic final in Arvika?

"No! I don't think so!," Grönholm said. "This was the extra round for me. It was quite close to come here... only a nine-hour drive."

Monday, 31 May 2021

RallyX Nordic title battle heats up as World RX stars join the fray

It's race week! Words all motorsport enthusiasts love to hear. This weekend, the RallyX Nordic season continues at Oulu Zone, with the Finnish double-header, that is set to have a major impact on the ongoing title fight. 

Coming off the back of a hugely successful weekend at the iconic Höljes circuit in Sweden a few weeks ago, Niclas Grönholm is back for more RallyX Nordic action. Having secured consecutive wins on his season debut, the Finn is joint-fourth in the standings despite missing the opening double-header and will hope to get the better of his rivals on home soil in OuluZone this weekend. 

Fresh from the oceans of Senegal, Johan Kristoffersson will have his work cut out for him, as he has a giant target painted on his back. The Swede currently leads the Supercar standings after a victory and two second-place finishes at the opening four rounds of the RallyX Nordic season. 

Kristoffersson will have one target on his mind - to consolidate the top spot in the standings. 

The Swede's nearest rival, Fraser McConnell is just 13 points behind after a challenging weekend in Höljes, whilst Sondre Evjen is only four points further back and will be a mission to close the gap. 

Grönholm will be joined on track by fellow countrymen and World RX racer Juha Rytkönen. The Finnish national rallycross champion took a surprise second place on his debut at Kouvola last year and is an exciting addition to the field. 

Finnish RX racer Jere Kalliokoski will also make his season debut this weekend, along with Juri Tuuri. 

The high-octane action-packed racing will be broadcast live, free and in high-definition at tv.rallyx.se, with the racing set to get underway on Saturday, 5 June and concluding on Sunday, 6 June.

What does the future hold for Andreas Bakkerud?

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
Love him? Or love him? Yeah! There’s only one real option. Why? Because Andreas Bakkerud is one of the most loved drivers in rallycross, and not having him in top-flight rallycross would be rather disappointing. 

After a grueling 2019 World RX season, Andreas walked away as the runner-up, which isn’t the best feeling when you finish the season on level points, with your rival. But despite the disappointment, he returned in 2020, this time in a PRODRIVE developed Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercar, which might not have been the easiest car to get to grips with from the offset, but he kept chipping away. 

In the season finale (in Barcelona), the Norwegian came very close to leading the final and even had the pace to fight for the win, but unfortunately, his race ended in the barrier before deflecting into the path of Robin Larsson. His final result was seventh overall in the championship standings. 

The 29-year-old has competed in World RX since its inception back in 2014, and has raced in his fair share of teams – his RX career kicked off at Olsbergs MSE. He then moved over to the Hoonigan Racing division with Ken Block before moving to EKS RX, but following their departure at the end of the 2018 season. Andreas was left without a seat, he then became a team principal and driver after hiring two Audi S1 Quattro Supercars from the EKS squad. 

Whilst money keeps the world spinning, it also helps keep aspiring sports professionals within their sport. Seeking sponsors or should we say partners, is never an easy task. So, building a reputation is always important, as it attracts respective partners. But things became a lot more challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies have their money tied up. 

Andreas Bakkerud climbing the kerb in his STARD electric Ford Fiesta.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Bakkerud.
The 2021 World RX campaign will get underway next month (in June) with eight rounds in Europe, but the identity of the field remains relatively unknown, with two teams confirmed. EKS JC and All-Inkl.com Motorsport have committed to the World RX championship thus far. 

So, with that being said, will we see Andreas Bakkerud return to World Rallycross in 2021 or will he sign up for the Nitro Rallycross series? It’s a bit of an unknown right now! Speaking at the RallyX Nordic double-header in Sweden, the Norwegian confirmed that he is currently working on plans for the 2021 season. 

“[I am] still working on it. I wish I could tell you something, but it's still very much up in the air, and it’s very much moving around [constantly]. It’s a positive and negative,” Bakkerud said. “The good thing is the phone is ringing all the time and things are changing.”

“In the World RX championship, Nitro RX, and in the RallyX Nordic series things are happening, but we are seeing changes from naturally aspirated cars to electric cars and also the Covid-19 situation on top of it.”

“It’s very hard for us, the drivers because everything is changing from one week to another,” he adds.

Bakkerud made his return to competitive racing two weeks ago in the RallyX Nordic series behind the wheel of a STARD all-electric Ford Fiesta, and his pace was quite impressive. He beat a few internal combustion-powered Supercars along the way. 

For now… Andreas Bakkerud's future is uncertain, but we certainly do hope that he returns to competitive rallycross in 2021! 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Kristoffersson and Grönholm rivalry set to continue in RallyX Nordic.

PHOTO CREDIT: Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS.
Johan Kristoffersson and Niclas Grönholm are set to go head-to-head once again when the RallyX Nordic series returns next weekend in Finland. 

Fresh off the back of a thrilling duel in Höljes last time out, it was Niclas Grönholm who stood out above the pack winning Rounds 3 and 4 at the iconic Värmland circuit behind the wheel of his 2021 World RX specification Hyundai i20.

Whilst it all went to plan for Niclas, Kristoffersson on the other hand had to deal with a few mechanical issues, as well as a puncture in the semi-final of Round 3, but despite that, he bounced back pretty well and fought his Finnish rival all the way to the checkered flag in Round 4.

Kristoffersson's fightback on home soil ensured that he remained at the top of the Supercar championship standings. 

And, guess what? They are back for me! Both Kristoffersson and Grönholm are confirmed for the Finnish double-header next weekend. These top-flight World RX drivers will undoubtedly bang doors once again when RallyX Nordic heads to Finland, a track Niclas has visited previously.

"It's a new course for me. Based on the videos I have seen, it is a very circuit-like track," Kristoffersson said. "Maybe not what our car likes most, but we have to make some adjustments and see what we can conjure up. Above all, we have to get the starts in order."

Having finished behind Grönholm in Höljes, the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver will be on a mission to beat his Finnish rival.

"[It's] time for revenge! We were beaten last time, but it's great to get another chance to try ourselves at the highest level. I always enjoy tough competition. It also makes winning more fun," Kristoffersson adds.

The three-time World RX champion admits that he needs to continue to collect points without taking any major risks if he is to maintain the championship lead. Whilst Niclas will have other plans in mind. 

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
Grönholm RX has often used the RallyX Nordic series in preparation for the World Rallycross Championship, and this year it's no different. The Finnish squad will be hoping to keep the victory streak alive.

"We all had a good time racing in Sweden recently and importantly we were able to try a number of different things through the weekend," Jussi Pinomaki, GRX Team Manager, said. 

"We are all racers in the team and competing is what we love to do so when the opportunity came up to once again race in RallyX Nordic with Niclas in our ‘home’ rounds at Oulu, we were keen to make that happen.

"There is some strong competition in RallyX Nordic so it’s a good way to continue preparing for our plans this season, not only on track but operationally for the team too."

It's still all to play for with three rounds remaining, but it's fair to say that Kristoffersson will be both the hunter and hunted in Finland. 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Kristoffersson extends lead despite challenging Höljes double-header.

Johan Kristoffersson extended his RallyX Nordic championship advantage over Fraser McConnell this weekend, after a challenging weekend in Höljes.

The 32-year-old failed to make the final on Thursday (round 3) after a puncture, which saw him eliminated in the semi-finals. 

Returning a few days later, he was on a mission... and despite challenging weather conditions, it did not quite turn out the way he had hoped for. 

He struggled with starts and clinched third place overall on Saturday afternoon (in Q1 and Q2). 

"The starts weren't good enough - at all - and that's the most important detail in rallycross," Kristoffersson said.

The dawn of a new day ushered in new opportunities, and yet more changeable weather conditions. The third and fourth qualifying rounds ended in the same vein. Johan once again had problems with the starts, but he offered effective joker actions and a great overtaking display. 
After the qualifiers, Kristoffersson had still managed to secure a place at the front row for the second semi-final. 

"We had no really big problems, but far too many for us to be able to challenge the World RX cars," he explained.

Even in the semi-finals, Krisztian Szabo had the best start and immediately shut the door on Johan, but in a masterful strategy, the three-time world champion wisely used his tactic and skill to fight back and win to seal a place alongside Grönholm in the final.

"I drove to my absolute extreme, and had to turn out everything I could," he adds.

Yet again, Johan had a bad start in the final, but with Fraser McConnell with an inside line into turn two, he immediately took the joker lap and the push began. 

From there, his only target was "to win". He pulled off a masterful overtake around the inside of Andreas Bakkerud on entry to the velodrome, and from there pushed to close the gap. 

"Yes, it was different. I had to "take it on a volleyball" you could say, but it worked out," he said.

Once he passed the Norwegian, the Swede had a couple of laps to catch up with Grönholm, but it was not quite enough. Although he finished 0.400s behind the race winner, it was a solid second-place finish.

Former team-mate and championship rival Sondre Evjen missed the final, which means the Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS driver now has a 13-point lead in the championship, over Fraser McConnell. 

Despite the challenge, team boss Tommy Kristoffersson is quite pleased. 

"We have to take the positives from this weekend," he said. "We knew it would tough against the World Championship cars, but we should not hide under the chair that we have struggled with some technical challenges."

RallyX Nordic will head to northern Finland in just three weeks, a track that not too many drivers have raced on before. So, it will be new for many, but the action will still be pretty epic! 

"Satisfied" Grönholm doubles up with Höljes win.

Niclas Grönholm is "satisfied" after securing back-to-back Supercar wins in Höljes over the weekend. 

Level on points with Fraser McConnell after Q1 and Q2 on Saturday, Grönholm picked up where he left off by setting the fastest time in Q3. 

Having had the superior pace all weekend. The question remained: Would Niclas have the pace for a clean sweep in qualifying? Soon, we'd get the answers to these questions.

Despite keeping his nose clean during the final qualifying race, it was Anton Marklund who sprung a surprise to claim the top spot in Q4 but based on the points tally over the four qualifying sessions, it was Grönholm clinched the Top Qualifiers honors. 

The 2021 specification World RX Hyundai Supercars have had superior starts (launches) all weekend, and in the semi-final, Niclas enjoyed a trouble-free run from the lights to flag, ahead of second-placed McConnell. Whilst Kristoffersson fought back to overhaul Krisztian Szabo to book a spot on the front row in the final. 

From pole position, Grönholm had another impressive start to cover off turns 1 and 2, whilst those behind battled for position with fast-starting McConnell taking the inside line for turn 2 forcing Kristoffersson into a lap one joker. Thereafter, Niclas controlled the pace to the flag.  

With a desire to win, Kristoffersson pulled off an incredible pass on Andreas Bakkerud to keep some pressure on Grönholm. Soon after, he picked off McConnell who took the joker lap, but his efforts to catch the Finn were ultimately in vain as the Hyundai driver comfortably controlled the pace to cross the line 0.400 seconds ahead of the three-time World RX champion. 

"I’m definitely more satisfied with this win than on Thursday!" Grönholm said. "To be honest, the first laps I didn’t know what the gap was behind, they didn’t tell me but it got to the stage where Jussi [Pinomäki] said we need a bit more, luckily I found it and managed to push without making any silly mistakes so that’s something to be satisfied with."

"For sure it feels nice to get these two victories so I’m happy but as always, the hard work continues."

Kristoffersson admits "I did what I could" to challenge Niclas Grönholm in the Supercar final.

"The lap times were just not enough when Niclas got into the rhythm, but it was a difficult place to be in the final starting in the second position, and I have two Hyundai's on the inside. Our starts haven't been good enough, but it was good-ish," Kristoffersson said.

"Niclas had a very good start and I was able to slot in there. Then McConnell came from the outside. I didn't plan to joker on the first lap because of the exact situation that happened. Then tried to get my head down, but it was just not enough. I did everything I could. Right now, it feels shit. I am happy in one way because I could challenge-ish Niclas, but not really because I know that he is controlling it a little bit. The plan was not to make Niclas feel comfortable in the final. I did what I could!"

Round one race winner, Fraser McConnell, brought his Olsbergs MSE Fiesta home in third to keep his championship hopes alive, with Krisztian Szabo finishing in fourth ahead of Enzo Ide, and Andreas Bakkerud who made history for not only winning qualifying races but also making the final in the fully electric STARD Ford Fiesta.  

Kristoffersson’s second-place finish in Höljes means he retains the lead in the Supercar standings, 13 points ahead of McConnell and a further 5 points clear of Sondre Evjen whilst Grönholm sits in joint-fourth with Ide following his two-round appearance in Sweden.

Will Niclas Grönholm return for the three remaining rounds of the RallyX Nordic championship? 

"You never know. Let's see what happens!" Grönholm said. "There are a lot of things going on not only rallycross, so we need to see if it's possible, but for sure racing is always fun."

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Grönholm and McConnell share overnight TQ honors in Höljes.

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
Niclas Grönholm and Fraser McConnell draw level on points midway through qualifying for Round 4 of the RallyX Nordic championship in Höljes.

Both drivers picked up 90 points from their two qualifying heats, both claiming a win and the fourth-best time, which see them on equal points at the top of the Supercar class intermediate standings. 

Changeable conditions did not impact the on-track action, as McConnell stamped his authority on Q1, with a mighty strong start out of blocks with Grönholm and Anton Marklund slotting in behind. Thereafter, the Jamaican showed blistering pace in his Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta Supercar to win by a margin of 3.055 seconds in Q1.

Having set the fourth-fastest time in Q1. Niclas Grönholm launched a fightback in Q2, and despite not getting the perfect start. He drew level with Fraser and squeeze Marklund and Kristoffersson to back off and slot in behind. On the run into turn 2, the Finn took the joker lap with an aim to benefit in clear air. 

Marklund, who was right on the bumper of McConnell spun off from second-place, dropping to the rear of the field on the first lap clearing the way for Szabo, Grönholm, and Kristoffersson behind. 

With a clear pace advantage, Niclas latched onto the rear of Krisztian Szabo who strategically jokered on lap 2 to make life easier for his team-mate. The ice-cool Finn started chipping away at Fraser's lead in the wet conditions, and as McConnell jokered. Who emerged in the lead? None other than Niclas Grönholm who won Q2. 

Three-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson had a day to forget after suffering from a turbo hose issue, which slowed him down quite considerably in Q1. After two qualifying sessions, Johan is six points behind Grönholm and McConnell in the intermediate standings, with his immediate championship Sondre Evjen a point further back in fourth. 

What will happen on day 2 is anyone guess? But it's all to play for tomorrow! 

Friday, 14 May 2021

Kristoffersson retains championship lead, despite semi-final exit.

Johan Kristoffersson retains the RallyX Nordic championship lead, despite missing the final of round 3 in this weekend's Höljes doubleheader.

The three-time world champion dominated from the start, winning all the three qualifying rounds with tough but thrilling on track battles especially from the likes of Krisztian Szabo and Niclas Grönholm their 2021 specification Hyundai i20's.

 "I had to use all the tricks in my book," Kristoffersson said. 

Constant work to improve the Kristoffersson Motorsport Polo GTi RX has yielded positive results, but Johan admits that the car is the best it has been to date. 

"The car has never been as good as it is now. I actually do not know if I can improve more without rebuilding the whole car," he adds.

In the semifinals, it all went according to plan initially, with Johan out in the lead after an intense battle with Niclas Grönholm. A spot in the final looked secured, but during the fourth lap, he had a puncture on the right front tyre (a new tyre) and his lead quickly evaporated. 

"Leading is absolutely the worst place to get a puncture, especially in Höljes. I lost a lot of time right in the velodrome corner," he says. 

In the end, he crossed the checkered flag in fifth place and would go no further. 

And, despite missing out on the final, the 32-year-old maintains the championship lead, four points ahead of rival and former teammate Sondre Evjen. 

Johan will have a chance at redemption when the championship continues in Höljes on Saturday and Sunday.

"It's going to be super fun. I hope to use all the tricks in the book, even this time," he concludes.

Grönholm claims "nerve-wracking" win in Höljes.

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
Nicolas Grönholm claimed a nerve-wracking victory behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20, staying level-headed in a frenetic Supercar final in Höljes.

The 24-year-old bagged third-place finish in the opening race of the 2020 'Magic Weekend' and finished as top qualifier in the second event - onto to run into mechanical issues. 

This year, however, there were no such problems for the Finn who worked throughout the day to find the perfect balance with his Supercar, finishing third in Q1 then matching the result in Q2 after a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel with Krisztian Szabo and Johan Kristoffersson. 

Niclas followed that up with a second-place finish in Q3 after a stunning pass on team-mate Szabo to took the runners-up spot in his semi-final.

Lars Andersson rolling after a high-speed impact with a grass bank.
PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic LIVE coverage.
In the semi-final, he recovered well to finish 0.270s behind Anton Marklund in a hideous affair, which saw Lars Andersson involved in a high-speed accident whilst fighting Fraser McConnell. Thankfully, he walked away unscathed. Thereafter, race leader Kristoffersson bowed out with a front-right puncture. 

With a second row slot for the final, Grönholm was forced into a first lap joker due to congestion at turn two but made the most of the clear air and leapfrogged early race leader Sondre Evjen when the latter ran wide at turn one and was forced into a joker of his own.

Contact between Marklund and Szabo slowed the pair, who took their jokers in simultaneously, clearing the way for the Finn to cruise to the checkered flag. Anton Marklund brought his Hedstroms Motorsport VW Polo across the line in second followed by Szabo in third. 

But, ultimately, it was Niclas Grönholm in his 2021 specification Hyundai i20 Supercar who came out on top in Höljes.

"It wasn’t the easiest win today - it was nerve-wracking!" he said. "I had the pace to go a little bit quicker but in the end, I knew that those ahead hadn’t taken their jokers so I tried to keep the car in one piece and avoid punctures.

Whilst a race win is always good on paper, Niclas admits that he was not entirely happy with his return to the RallyX Nordic championship.

"The result is good, but I’m not completely happy with it," the Finn added. "We’ve been struggling all day and we need to sit down and find out why. On the bright side, we got the win but there were some tough competitors who didn’t make the final. I hope they will on Sunday so we can have a rematch with Johan and Enzo [Ide] – if we can match their pace, I will be a bit happier."

The action resumes at Höljes with Round 4 of the 2021 season, starting on Saturday (15 May) and concluding on Sunday (16 May), and you can catch it LIVE on RallyX TV.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Bakkerud to make history with electric RallyX Nordic entry

Andreas Bakkerud will make his RallyX Nordic debut this weekend at the legendary Höljes circuit. 

The 29-year-old Norwegian was drafted in to drive Manfred Stohl's all-electric Ford Fiesta Mk8, which is set to go door-to-door with a field of internal combustion-engined Supercar competitors.

Andreas will test his mettle against a strong field, comprising of several of his World RX adversaries including three-time Champion Johan Krisroffersson and three-time event winner Niclas Grönholm, as well as the usual RallyX Nordic fraternity with the likes of Fraser McConnell (Olsbergs MSE) and EKS JC’s Sondre Evjen continuing their 2021 title campaigns.

RallyX Nordic opened up the rules for Rounds 3 and 4 at Höljes to allow electric cars to enter into the headlining Supercar class for the first time. 

"Lots of people think that this will be a David and Goliath story and that I don’t stand a chance – but this an opportunity to look into the future and I couldn’t let it pass me by!," Bakkerud said.

"The whole car world is now looking at electrification, and everyone points out that it must come to rallycross. These cars are extremely powerful and have both strengths and weaknesses compared to petrol-powered cars. For me, this is going to be a great challenge, and an opportunity to measure the potential of an electric car.

"It is also important to learn about where we stand in the development, and how it compares against some of the world’s toughest cars and drivers. I will of course give everything I have and I’m excited to see what it can do. I won’t have tested before the race so it will be interesting when I hit the track! It’s a really competitive grid so its going to be a challenge for sure.

"Being at Höljes gives the whole thing an extra boost for me – it’s my favourite course. It is also the only track in the world where I have driven all the different cars I competed in, so I have a lot of knowledge there."

Bakkerud will also be racing in the recently announced Superteam Challenge as a field of four RX2e cars compete in a one-off event this weekend.

Norway axed, Sweden delayed and Portugal returns in revised 2021 World RX calendar.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Championship.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship has today issued a revised calendar for the 2021 season due to the ever-changing global situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Norweigan round originally set to host the season opener for the 2021 season in mid-June has been canceled, but the season will now begin at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in Spain on 23-24 July. 

"Earnest efforts were made by all parties to reach a resolution, but strict border restrictions and the lack of a suitable alternative date made it impossible to hold the event in 2021," the championships statement said.

Germany's Nürburgring will host rounds 2 and 3 (a double-header) at its new rallycross track based around the Müllenbachschleife amphitheater section of the illustrious circuit. Thereafter Höljes - the discipline's most iconic venue which was originally penciled in as round 2 has been delayed by seven weeks in hopes of accommodating a limited number of fans. 

"The challenges of the ongoing pandemic have required Rallycross Promoter GmbH to adopt a flexible and agile approach to respond to an ever-changing global situation," the championship statement adds.

"Following close consultation with event organizers and the relevant authorities in each of the host countries, an updated calendar has been put together that not only visits some of the best rallycross tracks in the world but also maximizes the likelihood of welcoming fans on-site where possible."

Thereafter, Lohéac in France, Riga in Latvia, and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium will maintain all the dates as previously revised in March. 

Portugal's Montalegre track will host the final round of the 2021 campaign, returning after two years. 

“We all acknowledge the positive trend over the summer of the pandemic in Europe," Arne Dirks, Executive Director, Rallycross Promoter GmbH, said. "That’s why, after having liaised closely with our key stakeholders, we have taken the deliberate decision to delay the start of the campaign in the hope of being able to open the gates to fans at as many rounds as is feasible and safe, and have assembled what we believe is an irresistible blend of iconic rallycross tracks and state-of-the-art modern venues. We are confident we now have the best possible World RX calendar for 2021."

"To be able to confirm the return of Montalegre – a circuit that has always been a fan-favourite and never fails to offer World RX a warm welcome – is fantastic news for all concerned, and whilst we are obviously disappointed not to be able to race in Norway this year due to ongoing complications related to the pandemic, we are sure we will see Hell back on the calendar in the future as World RX races into a bright new era."

The first-ever FIA RX2e (electric) rallycross championship – will also join World RX in Spain, Germany, Sweden, France, and Belgium.

Höljes to stage one-off electric Superteam Challenge with the world's best drivers.

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
A legendary line-up of rallycross stars will go head-to-head in a one-off RX2e Superteam Challenge at the upcoming RallyX Nordic meeting in Höljes (on 13 to 16 May).

World Rallycross title winners Johan Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen will be joined by, among others, multiple World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm for the inaugural Superteam Challenge. 

Oliver Eriksson, 2020 RallyX Nordic Supercar Champion, and double RX2 champion will also be in the mix alongside RX Lites title-winners Kevin Hansen and Kevin Eriksson while World RX race winners Andreas Bakkerud and Sebastian Eriksson complete the star-studded driver pool.

The eight drivers will be split into four teams, with each pair sharing a brand new RX2e car that is set to be used in the 2021 FIA RX2e Championship. 

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
The electric RX2e vehicles, generate 250kW (335bhp) of power and up to 510Nm torque, and will be showcased in four heats and two finals as the world’s best rallycross/rally racers do battle.

Renowned rallycross commentator Andrew Coley will be tasked with drawing out the team pairings, and he is well-aware of the potentially explosive partnerships he could create and is equally excited about the new technology on display.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the RX2e cars head-to-head for a number of reasons; first and foremost the driver line up! Who doesn’t want to see a legend like Marcus Gronholm going up against Kristoffersson, the Hansens, Bakkerud, the Erikssons?!," Coley said.

"But aside from that, I’ve been lucky enough to see electric rallycross cars run on several occasions, but we’ve rarely seen them racing in a close pack, so this should be great fun and a proper demonstration of the technology."

The Superteam Challenge heats and finals will slot into the packed RallyX Nordic schedule, with on-track action at Höljes getting underway on Thursday (13 May) at 9:15am (CET) and continuing on until Sunday (16 May).

Monday, 10 May 2021

Grönholm joins Kristoffersson, McConnell for Höljes doubleheader.

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
RallyX Nordic returns this weekend at the iconic Höljes circuit, with the Swedish double-header, that is set to serve up another dose of top-class action.

Missed the season opener in Denmark? Don't worry! Here's a quick round-up of events. Fraser McConnell grabbed the headlines in round one in the Supercar class in Nysum, with the Jamaican putting in a stellar display to get the better of Johan Kristoffersson and secure his maiden RallyX Nordic victory.

The 22-year-old started the final on the back row of the grid but a lightning launch in his Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta saw him go door-to-door with his established rivals before he claimed an advantage that he would not relinquish.

However, the three-time World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson fought back on Sunday with an unrivaled display having overcome a number of technical issues. He even at one point he entered Turn One backward - and finishing the weekend on top of the championship classification.

The Super Swede will return to the RallyX Nordic Championship this weekend. 

"It will be exciting to continue working with the development of our own car," Kristoffersson said. "And Höljes is one of the coolest tracks in the world, so of course, you want to be part of it."

Kristoffersson currently leads the Supercar class with 56 points, five ahead of former teammate Sondre Evjen, with Fraser McConnell in third on 47 points.

PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX Nordic.
Among the well-known names returning for rounds 3 and 4, Niclas Grönholm returns in 2021 along with Krisztián Szabó, and Anton Marklund.

The Finn expects to have a pretty competitive weekend in his Hyundai i20 Supercar.  

"I’m looking forward to the RallyX Nordic race at Höljes, it’s a track I enjoy driving on. We did that race last year and it was pretty competitive – I expect it to be the same this year too," Grönholm said. 

"We have some small things on the car we would like to test, and what better way to do that than in a race against some good drivers and cars. It’s going to be interesting to get racing again after a long break, so it’s going to be very exciting." 

In a first for rallycross, the Höljes doubleheader will see electric rallycross cars compete alongside internal combustion-engined Supercars, with Manfred Stohl's team joining the line-up in a Ford Fiesta ERX [Projekt E Supercar]. 

But, wait there is more! Extreme E racer Catie Munnings is linking with 2019 World RX champions Team Hansen and LifeLive Nordic to compete in the CrossCar/Crosskart category and gain more wheel-to-wheel experience. 

Don't miss the live free-to-air broadcasts on tv.rallyx.se this weekend.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Electric cars to compete against ICE Supercars in Open 4WD class.

In a first for rallycross and motorsport alike, the RallyX Nordic championship has announced the FIA's approval for electric rallycross cars to compete alongside internal combustion-engine Supercars in a newly re-named 'Open 4WD' class for the remainder of the 2021 season. 

The new season kicked off over the weekend in Denmark, but moving forward, all FIA-approved rallycross EVs will be able to compete wheel-to-wheel with their combustion-engined counterparts in the RallyX Nordic's 'Open 4WD' category. 

In order to preserve the current championship battle, the series organisers have decided that "whilst electric entries will be classified in the results, they will not be eligible for points."

"The concept of running ICE and EVs alongside each other is one that has never been tried before but we have no doubt that RallyX Nordic fans and drivers will greatly enjoy the racing spectacle," the RX Promotion spokesman, said.

"The revolutionary P1 Racing BIO RACING 100% fuel has been approved for use in all RallyX Nordic classes and our aim for the 2022 season is to hold fossil-fuel-free events; this is something that is unique in motorsport and is vitally important for future generations.

"Electric vehicles and fossil-fuel-free ICE cars can now compete on a level playing field, helping us retain the dedicated fanbase and amazing atmosphere that RallyX Nordic has become synonymous with while leading the way into a new era of rallycross."

RallyX Nordic returns at Sweden’s iconic Höljes circuit on 13-16 May.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Evjen 'delighted to be second' in RallyX Nordic championship.

Sondre Evjen is delighted to be second in the RallyX Nordic championship after a successful debut with the EKS JC team in Denmark this weekend. 

The Norweigan excelled with a fast pace from the outset, including good starts and lap times at the front of the field. Thanks to a third and then second-place finish in the two rounds, he leaves Nysum second in the Supercar standings.  

"Two podiums in Nysum is of course good, and today it felt really nice to be able to take second place. I’m very happy with my launches and felt more and more comfortable in the new car. But, I struggled a little to do the first and second corners perfectly," Evjen said. "I often drove against Johan [Kristoffersson] and it’s not so easy to pass him considering his level, but we still gave him a good fight."

"Saturday went very well until the final, where I lost out a bit at the start and then decided to take the joker too early. Sunday in the final I did what I could and pushed as much as I dared in the dust, and ended up second." 

"I’m delighted to be second in the championship. We’re all looking forward to Holjes, it’s a track I’m comfortable on and we go there with a fast car, strong team, and good setup. If we continue like this, we will be hard to beat."

After a frenetic weekend in Denmark, teams will have little time to catch their breath before the action resumes with rounds three and four of the 2021 campaign at Sweden’s iconic Höljes circuit in just two weeks’ time (13-16 May). 

Ide 'not completely happy with' RallyX Nordic outing.

Belgian racing driver Enzo Ide is not particularly happy with his RallyX Nordic outing in Denmark over the weekend. 

Ide displayed front-running pace, including setting a fastest time but unfortunately didn't start in either final. He finished fourth in the semi-finals on Saturday and was then disqualified from the semi-final on Sunday. 

"I’ve just started with rallycross, but the speed is already there and as I’ve already said, I drive in RallyX Nordic to gather experience before the World Championship," Ide said. "Even though I haven’t done so many races yet, I’ve tested a lot. We knew we would have a good pace even though it’s a completely different experience to drive against other drivers. I'm not completely happy with the weekend and there were some incidents and tough driving on the track, but I will take the positives going forward."

"My pace was good, but I also made some big mistakes. The team is very happy with my lap times and I adapted quickly, even though it was my first time at this track. EKS JC did a fantastic job all weekend, the car worked perfectly and I’m very happy with it. Unfortunately, there was no final and I know that the team is a little disappointed with my black flag in the semi-finals today, but at the same time, it was my fault and not theirs. Now I look forward to Holjes, it’s my favourite track.”

The 29-year-old currently lies sixth in the points after two rounds.

Kristoffersson credits mechanics for victory and overall RallyX Nordic lead.

PHOTO CREDIT: Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS.
Johan Kristoffersson has taken hold of the RallyX Nordic championship after the first weekend of the season in Denmark.

The three-time world champion followed up Saturday's second place with a victory a day later.

"I'm very satisfied on the whole. We went through the whole weekend and picked up many points," Kristoffersson said.

The season opener on Saturday caused some technical problems for Johan and his team, but he was still able to claim a second-place finish behind Fraser McConnell. 

There was no time to rest for the Kristoffersson Motorsport mechanics. They frantically worked until the wee hours of the morning to prepare the car for Sunday, where Johan took home maximum points haul as the best qualifier and with victories in both the semi and final.

"A mechanic victory! A super job by the mechanics. No problems with anything today," he adds.  

Tactics are key in rallycross, as Kristoffersson saved tyres for the upcoming rounds of the RallyX Nordic championship. 

"There are a bit tougher tyre regulations here than in the World RX championship, so you have to try to make trade-offs to save on tyres," he said. 

This meant the 32-year-old lost the victory in one of the qualifying rounds, but overall he was in firm control.

"It still felt safe all the way," Tommy Kristoffersson, Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS manager, said. "We got to patch up the car and give it real love until well into the night after the first race. There were no normal work shifts that the mechanics put down."

Johan returns to Sweden not only, as the overall standings leader in the RallyX Nordic Supercar class but also as the father of a newborn daughter. Congratulations Johan!