Logitech G World Rallycross Of Catalunya – Preview

image courtesy of WRC

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya plays host to the seventh and eighth rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. This is the sixth event of the year to be held behind closed doors and only 295 event personnel have been permitted entry, if they produce a negative PCR test result before entering the venue.

 

Championship leader Johan Kristoffersson has taken three wins this year in rounds one, three and five and the double world champion is looking strong as he is currently 17 points ahead of his nearest rival, Mattias Ekström.

 

Ekström, the 2016 world champion, has won rounds two and six in this COVID impacted season and has only missed out on being in the final on one occasion. This has led KYB Team JC to first in the team’s standings going into this round. His performances have been supported by his teammate Robin Larsson, who achieved his first podium in the second round in Latvia. He currently sits fifth in the individual standings.

 

Niclas Gronhölm has achieved one win at his home event in Finland and this has helped him into third place in the standings. GRX Taneco also have Timur Timerzyarnov who came third in his one final appearance. They currently sit in third place behind Team Hansen in the team’s championship standings.

 

Finishing in first and second place in the event here last year, Team Hansen will be hoping for a similar result this weekend. Current world champion Timmy Hansen sits in fourth place in the standings with two third places and a visit to the final in all but one round. Kevin Hansen lies in sixth place in the standings with his best result of the season coming in round six at Latvia with a third place.

 

Timo Scheider of ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport has had his best start to a World RX season by making it to three finals and sits in eighth place in the standings. Team owner René Münnich will not be contesting this round and hands over his car to Mandie August who is only the second ever female to start a World RX event.

 

Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel had a more successful weekend in Latvia by both drivers making it to the semi-finals. Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud has improved to seventh in the standings and Liam Doran sits in thirteenth place.

 

GCK Bilstein driver Anton Marklund has been suffering multiple technical difficulties but has worked through these to sit in tenth place.

 

GCK UNKORRUPTED have withdrawn from this event stating that their cars are not race ready and this was the safest decision for their drivers. This means that Guerlain Chicherit and Rokas Baciuška will not be participating in rounds seven and eight.

 

Joining the permanent competitors this weekend is Tamas Karai in the Audi S1 RX, who also competed in Finland finishing in thirteenth and sixteenth place in rounds three and four respectively. Oliver Bennett returns to World RX action in his Mini Cooper for the first time this year. Patrick Guillerme joins the event in his Hyundai i20 and Enzo Ide will be making his first start of the year in his Audi S1 RX.

 

The rallycross track is situated around turns 10 to 15 of the Formula 1 circuit and is 1135m long. 60% of the track is asphalt and the remaining 40% is gravel. The safety of the track has been improved this year by introducing a steel guard rail where the rallycross turn three, a long right hander, is replacing a previously used tyre wall.

 

The event starts a 1030 local time on Saturday and 0930 on Sunday and if the previous events are anything to go by, this will be a spectacular event to watch.

Neste World Rallycross of Riga, Latvia – Preview

10km east of Riga in Latvia lies the Biķernieku forest. Here, a 1295m rallycross track with 60% asphalt and 40% dirt can be found. In this COVID-19-impacted season, it holds the fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA World Rallycross season. Johan Kristoffersson has taken two wins in the first and third rounds of the series with Mattias Ekström and Niclas Gronhölm taking wins in the second and fourth rounds respectively.

Coming into this weekend, Kristoffersson has a 17-point lead over Ekström in the championship standings. This is a strong track for Kristoffersson as he has two wins here, coming in 2017 and 2018.

After a successful weekend at home in Finland, Gronhölm comes to Riga in third place in the standings with a six-point gap to Timmy Hansen in fourth. Gronhölm’s teammate Timur Timerzyarnov is in 10th place after scoring a third place in the fourth round.

As mentioned before, 2019 World Champion Timmy Hansen is in fourth place in the championship with only one podium in the first four rounds. His younger brother and teammate Kevin is just behind him in fifth place. Both have undertaken some testing before this round which they are hoping will allow them to extract as much out of the car as possible this weekend.

Credit: FIAWorldRallycross.com

Timo Scheider has had his best ever start to a World Rallycross season by making it to three out of the four finals that have been held including a third place in the first round of the season. This has helped him to seventh place in the standings. Team boss of the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team, René Münnich, has had a tougher season than his teammate and is only 16th.

Monster Energy GRX RX Cartel’s Liam Doran has had multiple technical failures leading him to be 21st in the championship, but team-mate Andreas Bakkerud has had more luck by reaching the final on two occasions and scoring 53 points.

Anton Markund for GCK Bilstein is currently in ninth place after the four rounds and will be hoping to make it through to the final at one of these rounds again. The GCK Unkorrupted pairing of Rokas Baciuška and Guerlain Chicherit are in 15th and 17th respectively.

Joining the 14 permanent racers is home favourite Renis Nitišs, who makes his first appearance of the season with ESmotorsport Eigesa WRX Team in the Škoda Fabia. Jani Paasonen also returns with Ferratum Team in the Ford Fiesta and Krisztián Szabó returns after Höljes with GRX SET in the Hyundai i20.

The time difference to Riga from London is two hours so Qualifying 1 for World Rallycross begins at 8.30 am BST. If the last four rounds are anything to go by, this event is not to be missed!

Swecon World Rallycross of Sweden Rounds 1 and 2: Preview

By Amy-Ann Stokes

image courtesy of FIA WRX

Based in the Finnskogen of Värmland in Sweden, the Swecon World Rallycross of Sweden takes place at Höljes Motorstadion. Traditionally, it is held on the first weekend of July and plays host to the ‘Magic Weekend’, however, due to COVID-19, it is taking place on the 22nd and 23rd of August as the opening round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross season.

There will be two rounds of World Rallycross taking place over the two days with each consisting of three qualifying rounds, semi-finals and a final. The European Rallycross Supercars and the new series Projekt E will have two qualifying sessions per day, then the semi-finals and final on Sunday.

 

World Rallycross

Defending champion Timmy Hansen and third place finisher Kevin Hansen will be contesting the series again, under the watchful eye of their parents, Kenneth and Susann Hansen. Team Hansen are the only team in the championship that will be running the Peugeot 208 RX.

Sebastian Eriksson, who won this event in 2019, returns to try and make it a double in Sweden. He will be racing with Olsbergs MSE in a Honda Civic.

Double world champion Johan Kristoffersson returns to the series after a one-year hiatus in the Volkswagen Polo GTI RX, which is a proven race and championship winning car. He is aiming to add a third win at Höljes.

The former champions returning does not stop there as Mattias Ekstrom is taking the place of Janis Baumanis in the KYB Team JC Audi S1 RX. Baumanis has had funding issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ekstrom will be partnered with the 2019 European Rallycross for Supercars champion Robin Larsson, who won the title after finishing first four times and second once and did not contest the final round in Latvia.

Guerlain Chicherit has been able to expand his sphere of influence by adding an additional team to run under the GCK banner, the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel with drivers Andreas Bakkerud and Liam Doran. They will be driving the Renault Mégane R.S. RX. Anton Marklund will also be driving the Mégane but for GCK Bilstein. GCK UNKORRUPTED will feature the team boss Chicherit and Rokas Baciuška driving the Renault Clio R.S. RX.

GRX Taneco return with Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov and add an additional Hyundai i20 WRC for Krisztián Szabó for the first two rounds. They are hoping to improve on their three round wins in 2019.

Ferratum Team are a new entry to the sport with their sole entry of a Ford Fiesta Supercar RX for Jani Paasonen.

Alongside Timo Scheider, René Münnich will be racing for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport in the Seat Ibiza RX. This is the first time since the race in South Africa 2018 that the team owner has taken part in a World Rallycross event.

 

European Supercars

Höljes forms the opening weekend of a three-round championship, the other rounds being Latvia and Belgium. There are 16 expected starters for this round, and this includes the second and third place finishers in the championship in 2019, JB Dubourg and Thomas Bryntesson.

Stepping up from RX2, champion Oliver Eriksson will be driving a Ford Fiesta and RX2 race winner Ben-Phillip Gundersen will be racing in an Audi S1. The field also included former WRC champion Pontus Tidemand in a Volkswagen Polo and the motorsport legend Per Eklund in a VW Beetle.

 

Projekt E

This is a new international series for electric rallycross racing, and it is hoped that it will become just as large as its sister series. The Austrian company STARD provide a powertrain and battery which provides 1000Nm of torque and almost all of this is instantaneous. It also delivers 450kW of power. This means that almost any car that has a rally or rallycross variant can take advantage of this.

At the inaugural weekend in Höljes, there will be three Ford Fiestas featured driven by Ken Block, Natalie Barratt, and Herrmann Neubauer. Mads Østberg was meant to feature in the Citroën C3 however this has been postponed until the second round in Riga.

This weekend is set up to be incredibly exciting and should not be missed by any fan of motorsport.

Opinion: 2020, the year that could have been for Ferrari

It’s safe to say that 2020 has not been the best year for Ferrari. From dropping Sebastian Vettel, who has previously been their best shot at a title, to engine problems leaving them and their customer teams falling behind initial expectations.

Only two podiums in the first four races would usually be a disaster for Ferrari in the modern era, especially when McLaren have one third place and Mercedes have won all four. It doesn’t bode well for a team with such pedigree within the sport.

Not having both drivers through to Q3 in Austria wasn’t a major issue, especially as Charles Leclerc had described the performance of the car as “probably worse than we expected”. But when team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed that there were major design flaws with the SF1000, particularly regarding the aerodynamics, this did not fill anyone within the team, or the fans, with confidence.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

As if things couldn’t get worse, they did at the Styrian Grand Prix when both cars collided on the first lap and had to retire. Even with the new upgrades to the front wing and rear diffuser, the car just couldn’t meet the standards expected from the team and the fans.

Hungary was an improvement, especially in qualifying. Both drivers made it through to Q3 and both finished the race, even if they were both lapped by Lewis Hamilton.

Also, Ferrari are lucky to not have had significant mechanical failures like some Mercedes engines and the electronics issues with the Honda-powered cars. The Ferrari-powered Haas cars had issues with the brakes in the Austrian GP. Even if their power unit isn’t as good as in 2019, its reliability is something to be impressed about.

2020 was destined to be the year for them. Leclerc had just finished his maiden year with the team and Vettel going into his last with them. Surely, just surely, they could string a good season together.

A technical restructure for the team before the British Grand Prix was needed and came with Rory Byrne being mentioned, who helped Ferrari to titles in the dominant Schumacher era. His expertise will be used to ensure the team do not fall as far behind as they currently are.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Bringing a low aerodynamic package to Silverstone, one that would commonly be seen at a track like Spa-Francorchamps, proved that Ferrari were focusing on a defensive strategy rather than trying to attack from the front. This is due to the fact that Silverstone is dominated by engine power and this has been the main point of concern for the team.

The qualifying performance from the team was more impressive at Silverstone than previous races, with Leclerc starting in fourth place just over a second behind the new record time set by Hamilton, and Vettel also qualifying in the top 10.

This was also supported by a strong performance in the race with a podium for Leclerc, assisted by a tyre issue for Valtteri Bottas in the final moments of the race, and tenth for Vettel, after struggling to keep the Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly behind him.

After four races, the team is in fourth place in the constructor’s championship, one point ahead of Racing Point who have had a strong showing so far. For the drivers, Leclerc is in fifth position behind Lando Norris, and Vettel is only two points behind Gasly in 13th place. Vettel has not finished a race higher than sixth, which would usually be the minimum for one of the top three teams.

2020 has unfortunately proved that Ferrari are not going to be automatically considered to be in the running for titles or even race wins. With the rules staying the same into 2021, it is unlikely that they will be more competitive next year.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office