Monaco In Verse

It’s the Monco Grand Prix, the grandest of the races on the calendar. Let us take a lyrical lap.

The Lights Go Out, The Tyres Burn

Sainte-Devote The Very First Turn
Is There A Crash, How Many Cars?
Your Safely Through To Beau Rivage

Inches From The Barrier At Massenet

The Cars They Jostle, Positions Are Set

Into Casino A Sweeping Curve

Mirabeau Next Will They Hold Their Nerve

Slow Right Down Approach The Hairpin

Grand Hotel Spectators Shout And Sing

Its Portier Next As They Enter The Tunnel

Heading For Novelle, Into The Chicane They Will Funnel

Sweep Round The Harbour Through Tabac

Then Louis Chiron, There’s No Turning Back

The Swimming Pool Section, No Time For A Dip

They’d Better Slow Down, Thats My Only Tip

Because It’s Rascasse Next, The Cars They Slow

Then Its Off Through Noghes And Off They Go

Through The Grid For Another Lap

As The Crowds They Scream, They Cheer, They Clap

This Is Monaco Full Of Glamour And Speed

These F1 Legends Are Brave Indeed

The Barriers So Daunting And The Crowd So Near

Negotiating The Streets, Drivers With No Fear

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

A WRX Farewell To Lydden

(c) Image courtesy of Lydden Hill Circuit


World Rallycross bids a tearful farewell to Lydden Hill Circuit this weekend in what will be an emotional send off.

Situated in East Kent between Canterbury and Dover, Lydden Hill Circuit is a historic track with a fantastic, sweeping layout. A friend of mine once called it “The Monza Of Kent”. Yes a little enthusiastic, but I can see where he’s coming from.

It is the shortest racing circuit in the UK and from the late fifties it attracted stock-car racing and with motorcycles, grass-track racing. In the mid-sixties tarmac was laid and it attracted Formula Three attracting such drivers as Roger Williamson and Tom Walkinshaw. it was around the same time which Lydden Hill gave birth to Rallycross and the first race was won by a Porsche 911 driven by Vic Elford. James Hunt recorded his first race win at Lydden Hill, driving a Russell-Alexis Mk14 Formula Ford and returned just under one year later to record a second win.

Since that time, British Rallycross, European Rallycross and FIA Rallycross events have flocked to Lydden Hill and it is tagged with “The Home Of Rallycross”. It truly is.

Since 1993 the circuit was leased to the British Motorcycle Club and it allowed both cars and bikes to use the track.

World Rallycross came to Lydden Hill on 24th May 2014. In that first year names who will grace the circuit this season raced and won. Andreas Bakkerud won the final and it was one year later when Petter Solberg took the spoils. Last season Mattias Ekstrom reigned supreme in what was a fantastic weekend of racing.

Andrew Jordan, who returns this year for MJP Racing in place of Timo Scheider, won Heat 3 at Lydden Hill in 2015 and he would love to repeat such a performance in 2017.

Yes, World Rallycross is moving to Silverstone, the championship is growing not only in stature but in numbers and popularity. Many Rallycross fans are sad to see WRX leave Lydden Hill, I am one of them, but emotions aside it has to be said that if World Rallycross as an FIA event wishes to grow and move forward in the world of motorsport it needs a bigger venue. Is Silverstone the correct venue? That is soon to be found out.

This weekend I will be attending Lydden Hill with my good lady (as photographer) for what appears to be the last time for a WRX event. It is going to be the usual fun, chaotic weekend full of mayhem and excitement but behind the smiles there will be a tinge of sadness. I won’t stop going to Lydden Hill as it will still host some fantastic events and the owners of the circuit will already be working on how to promote the track further.

It is going to be a hell of a weekend. Join us tomorrow at @PitCrew_Online as myself – @world_racing and my photographer @viv_simmons enter the heat of the bowl.

The time has come. It’s Rallycross and anything can happen.

See you at the chequered flag.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Viv Gillings

Twitter: @viv_simmons

Adventures At Lydden – May 2016

In 2016 I visited Lydden Hill as a paying spectator to watch World Rallycross live. This year I will be attending as a media representative, along with my good lady as photographer, with the official passes, giving my reports of the entire weekend. I am very much looking forward to it.

It is also the last year WRX will visit Lydden Hill before it moves on to pastures new.

To celebrate my return to Lydden I thought I would republish the shenanigans from last season. Interviewing a champion, bumping into a BTCC champion, walking the paddock and accidentally getting involved with scrutineering.

This is World Rallycross and this is what happened last year.

Cue a thumping theme tune…….

The Saturday.

There are three things that I will take away from the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill. The series itself is insanely entertaining, Lydden Hill is a fantastic circuit and I have sunburn.

The sun literally blazed down at the weekend and what a glorious two days it was too. In my life as a racing fan and writer, I have been to some terrific circuits and events but I have to say that after my first visit to Lydden Hill and a WRX event it has definitely hit the button of ‘favourite’.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

This visit had been planned for some while with a good friend of mine and we had both been counting the days. I had not planned to write an article for The Pit Crew, but as the date drew closer it morphed into a good idea. I had moved to Kent just over a year ago and quickly found out that Lydden Hill was on my doorstep. That was when the decision was made to attend the FIA World Rallycross Championship. A decision that proved to be outstanding.

I have been a big fan of World Rallycross since its inception, but this visit has made me fall in love with the event.

We arrived on the Saturday, a day that would include practice, two qualifying rounds of WRX and three qualifying rounds of the Super 1600’s and RX Lites. In between there would be stunt shows, drifting, Group B demonstrations and the chance to walk around a very accessible paddock area. Now, this is where WRX differs from a lot of other championships I have attended. It is quite normal to be standing in the paddock of a support series, but being inches away from the cars and drivers such as Sebastien Loeb, Ken Block, Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekstrom and Liam Doran! That was just quite unbelievable.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

So, there I am getting out the car with the track in the dip below me and I was instantly impressed. My mate and I were treating Saturday as a bit of a recce but soon found out that the action on track was just non-stop. The turnaround in races at a World Rallycross event are extraordinary. No sooner are the cars on their warm down lap than the next set of cars are lined up on the grid. The 1600’s were out practicing and so we wandered up to North Bend and down the side of Hairy Hill.

The first set of awnings I came across had the Group B demonstration cars inside. They all looked retro and proud with big bodywork and even bigger spoilers. We sauntered down and came to the paddock area. First sightings were of the Super 1600 cars and we just casually walked by the garages as the drivers wandered around and the mechanics worked on the cars to get them ready for the upcoming qualifying heats. We took a zig-zag route and passed by the large awning of Terry Grant with his stunt cars. More about them later.

My first visit would be to Hoonigan Racing Division. There was Ken Block’s #43 car in it’s multi liveried glory sitting in the garage as a couple of mechanics made some adjustments. As I cast my eye up, there was the great man himself standing about two feet away from me. I crossed over the paddock to where Johan Kristoffersson’s car was up on a jack with the right wheelbase being looked at, an engineer busily replacing something which looked rather important.

Over at Team Peugeot-Hansen, both Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen were having hasty work done to their cars in readiness for the upcoming qualifiers. The mechanics looked a bit busy, too busy. Walk round the corner with World RX Team Austria awnings to the right. They had two helicopters in the field behind! Two!

We had been walking around looking at the paddock when I walked by a man wearing a baseball cap, Red Bull sponsored Audi shirt and sunglasses. I did a double take and continued to walk on as my brain tried to tell my mouth who I thought I had seen.

“That’s Andrew Jordan!” I said to my mate.
“Where?” He asked.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

I pointed behind and with him being a big BTCC fan, he wandered back and with the subtle nature of a brick, leaned on the guard rail, turned and stared at Andrew Jordan. He looked across at me and nodded. I walked back and he got his camera out.

“Go get a pic,” he said.

I didn’t want to seem like a pillock so waited for a moment as he was in the middle of a conversation. Then, when I thought the time was right, I walked over.

“Andrew Jordan?” I asked.
“Yes, mate.” He replied.
“Do you mind if I have photo? Big fan of yours.”

We stood next to each other and I had my photo taken with a BTCC champion. I thanked him for the photo and wished him the best of luck for the rest of the season. Bizarre! – Great spot though.

I walked down a bit further and there was the massive set-up of double world champion, Petter Solberg. Now, in my build-up to Lydden Hill I had emailed the PR Manager of Petter Solberg cheekily asking for a quick interview with the champ himself, not expecting any kind of reply. Imagine my surprise when I got an email saying, “Yes, sure come after Q2 on Saturday.” – I looked inside the garage and there was Petter talking to his team. Now was not the time so I left the other fans taking photographs and wandered down the slope towards the dummy grid where they line up. Liam Doran’s car was already there, mechanics standing by the car with arms folded.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

Opposite Paddock Bend and above the dummy grid area I saw the Monster Energy stage and decided to go up. They had the stunt cars lined up and I saw a two sets of steps leading up to the hospitality area with security guards. I just wandered up, a security guard jigging to the booming music being played. He smiled and ushered me inside and that’s when I saw the PS4 WRX game set up which my mate made a bee-line for. I wandered cautiously over to the Monster bar, not knowing if we were supposed to be here or not and ordered a Monster Lemon Rossi with the VR46 logo all over it in a yellow can. I stood looking out as the cars went hurtling round the track. The qualifying had started. This was a great vantage point so we decided to stay where we were. The stage was set high above the paddock and I had a great view of what was going on. During the interval, Terry Grand came out in his Monster sponsored cars, drove around the entire circuit on two wheels, performed drifts and set a Ford Sedan Legend up to go round in a circle on its own whilst he did the same in the opposite direction in his TVR. Very entertaining I must say. The drift cars came out and did their thing. I’m not a massive drift fan but it was very impressive and put on a great show.

This is when the start of what was a very entertaining day became surreal. I had already drunk two cans of Monster, I’m hyper enough anyway so imagine that included into the equation. This had the desired effect that I needed the gents. I explained to my mate that I was popping off to find one.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

On the way I saw Kevin Hansen standing at his awning talking to someone. Feeling slightly brave I slowed my walk and casually, without looking too weird (I hope) looked at the car being worked on. The man he was talking to walked off and Kevin just shot me a glance. I took my opportunity.

“Kevin, I write for The Pit Crew Online, wondered if I could just ask you a couple of questions?” I asked, expecting a shake of the hand or just a polite no.
In my head the reply was “What! Sorry? Did you just say sure?” – Think quick Simmo.
“Tough day today, how are you finding it out there?”
“It was hot and very tough. Hoping to deliver better.”
“What do you think of Lydden?”
“Great circuit, very quick.”

I nodded to the car and Kevin smiled as the mechanic worked on it, he shrugged his shoulders as if to say “No idea” and politely waved as he walked off.

I saw World RX Team Austria driver. Janis Baumanis, he had a huge fan base at Lydden, he smiled and I said:

“How’s the car?”
“Good.” He replied and smiled.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

With those spontaneous Q&A’s done, I wandered off to the gents in the corner. On the way back I could see a large crowd gathering as cars were going out. I worked my through and as I reached the turning that would take me back to the Monster Energy stage I noticed it was cordoned off and fans were being stopped from moving across. I gazed around and noticed that I had a line of cars coming up behind me. RX Lites. All the people surrounding me wore FIA World Rallycross identification and I suddenly felt slightly out of place. I asked the marshal if I could duck through but she said I’d have to wait where I was for a moment. The people around me were FIA scrutineers and they were checking the cars. A young lad who was part of their team stood next to me. I looked at him and smiled uncomfortably, he smiled back and walked away from the man he was with to the front of the car. The grey haired man with the clipboard turned and said to me.

“Can you see that damage at the back?”
“Yes,” I replied nervously.
“Was that from Q1?”
“I have no idea.” I replied still feeling rather nervous.
“It’s not too much. I think it’s fine to race, what do you think?” He asked.
“I think if you reckon it’s fine then that’s good enough for me.” I replied not knowing what to do. The marshal was wetting herself. This was slightly awkward.

He waved the car on and his young assistant joined him. He gazed at the young man, realising he had not been speaking to his assistant and then looked back at me. I just smiled and suddenly felt very uncomfortable. The grey haired man laughed, tapped me on the shoulder and walked away. Phew! The cars filed through and eventually the marshal let me escape, still laughing.

I ran back to the Monster stage and told my mate who just laughed and shook his head. The surreal moments did not stop there.

This is where I bumped into an official Monster and WRX photographer, I didn’t get his name. We were on top of the Monster Energy tower watching the racing with an RX Lite driver who had been punted off the track wandering back onto the track after the race in front of the car who had smacked him to remonstrate with the driver. That was quite entertaining. The photographer explained that he had just come back from Rally Portugal. As we stood there just chatting about racing, it was getting chilly. He took off his very expensive camera equipment and placed them on the floor.

“Do you mind watching that whilst I grab a jersey?”
“Sorry.” I said, looking down at the thousands of pounds worth of equipment on the floor.
“If you could keep an eye on it for me, be back in a minute.”
“Er, yeah. Sure.”

Off he wandered leaving me, somebody he had never met, guarding his extremely expensive camera equipment.

“There’s probably a deposit worth of a house there you’re looking after.” My mate said, which made me feel a bit nervous.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

Fortunately the cameraman wasn’t too long, I was so relieved. Wandering back through the paddock after Q2, as instructed by Petter Solberg’s PR, I noticed that he was in deep conversation. The option had been given for me to chat to him after the race on Sunday and I was beginning to think this was a good idea as the crowds gathered round his awning and I didn’t know what his PR man, named Per, looked like. Suddenly my mate nodded in the opposite direction and there was Marcus Gronholm standing with his World Rallycross driver son Niclas. I wandered over and as I got closer, Marcus got taller. He is huge! I noticed he was being very fan friendly and so I asked him if I could have my photo taken with him and his son Niclas.

“Sure.” We stood waiting for my mate to take the photo and he said “One hundred Euro’s a snap.” He laughed and that was the picture opportunity done. So not too bad, a BTCC driver, double World Rally champion and a WRX driver on my tick list.

Walked by the Hoonigan Garage and shook hands with Andreas Bakkerud. Name dropping all over the place. He had a huge fan club, all dressed up in their blue hoodies. They looked like they were having fun.

During the day we had walked the entire circuit, had a spot of lunch, saw a lot a grid girls, walked the paddocks and witnessed some epic racing we decided to go back to the Monster Energy tower.

I had decided to give up on the Petter Solberg for today and go and find him tomorrow after the final. We stood on top of the tower and my mate nudged me and pointed at the Quest TV crew who were setting up for an interview. I didn’t pay much attention and then one of the crew wandered over to us.

“Hi, guys. Sorry to be pain. Do you mind if we use your spot for a bit? We’re interviewing Petter Solberg.”

A rounding “No, we don’t mind at all,” was the response he received.

He chatted to us and I mentioned that I was supposed to be interviewing Petter today but he seemed a little busy.

“Well, why don’t you have him after we’re done.” Said the Quest crew member.

A few minutes later, Petter Solberg in full race uniform walked up with a couple of people and had his TV interview with Quest. My friend pointed at two men standing in front of me, an old guy with a notebook writing furiously and a young guy about my height with short blonde hair.

“One of those could be your man.” Said my friend who knew about the exchange of emails I had with Per, the PR man for Petter Solberg.

Neil Simmons 2016 (c)

I checked both men. The older man seemed like a journalist and so I discounted him. I looked at the blonde haired man and took a deep breath.

“Excuse me. Are you Per?” I asked.
“Yes.” He replied.
“Neil, from the Pit Crew Online. We emailed each other.”
“Ah! Yes. Neil Simmons.” Per said smiling.
“I could see Petter was really busy earlier as he is now, so I may leave the interview until tomorrow.” I said politely.
“We can do it straight after this TV interview. No problem.” Per replied.

I felt my heart rate get a bit quicker. Petter was nearing the end of his interview and I was about to be faced by a double World Rallycross champion.

“Only if you’re sure?” I asked.
“Sure. No problem.”

We stood to one side and I had noticed earlier my phone had died so I persuaded my friend to use his voice recorder on the phone to record the interview. Per nodded to me and I wandered over with the Quest TV crew watching on with a gathering of journalists who had been waved away. I felt out of my depth and slightly nervous, but I took a deep breath. I knew I only had three questions, due to time constraints.

“Hello. Petter. The Pit Crew Online, I write for them. We follow your career and I’m doing a special feature.” Petter relaxed from the initial approach and nodded at me.

“How did you feel how today went?” I asked, knowing that he had blitzed everybody in qualifying.

“I feel good. We did a lot of hard work since the last race in Belgium, because the Audi’s have been a little bit faster. But now I think we are catching them back again.” He replied.

“But you like Lydden don’t you?” I asked and Petter smiled.

“Ah. Lydden is a fantastic track. I am looking forward to tomorrow. We are going to try to do some small adjustments to get the team in first place.” Petter replied.

“And who do you think will be your biggest challenger tomorrow. Ekstrom?” I asked.

“Yeah. Ekstrom.Yeah. Definitely.”

Petter Solberg smiled and I put my hand forward and we shook.

“Fantastic. Thank you, Petter.”

He was welcoming, cheery and had a very relaxed nature about him. I had been very nervous but straight from the off he relaxed me. If I had more time then I could have gone into a few more questions but I knew he was against the clock.

That was Day One at Lydden. Bizarre, surreal and I interviewed Petter Solberg. World Rallycross offers some fantastic racing, insane action and boy…do they know how to put on a show! Lydden as a circuit is just so nice. I loved it.

I came to Lydden Hill as a motor racing writer and a World Rallycross fan, I left falling even more in love with this series. If you have never been to WRX event I urge you to go. Honestly, you won’t regret it.

Neil Simmons

WRX Editor

Twitter: @world_racing


Quick 10 With…..Max Pucher

Born in Vienna, he is an Austrian businessman and rallycross driver, he is also co-founder of a Swiss-Austrian software company.

He competed a full 2015 season in the World Rallycross Championship and selected events in last year’s European Rallycross Championship.

He is responsible for pairing up Kevin Eriksson and Timo Scheider this season and has signed Andrew Jordan to compete at Lydden. He is the team boss of MJP Racing, these are his Quick 10 questions and he is…..Max Pucher

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?
My favorite track for fun driving is Hell, Norway.

2. Who is/was your racing idol?
I really do not have idols. I admire quite a few drivers for skill and personality and Timo Scheider and Patrick Sandell belong there.

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?
In RX there are always 4 opponents in each heat and they are always the toughest right now.

4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?
In RX I would choose Kristofferson and Loeb for speed and marketing value. But Timo Scheider comes right afterwards.

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?
As I would cook myself I would invite Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Wolfgang Puck and Giada De Laurentiis.

6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?
My number is 31 and it is my birthday.

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?
My best race will always be the next one.

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?
I am really just interested in Rallycross.

9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?
I did motorcycle racing when I was 20 and came back to car racing with 59 when I started RX. I raced the World Championship in 2015 at 60.

10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?
Patrick Sandell: ‚All four wheels must point where you want to go when you hit the throttle!’

I would like to thank Max for taking the time out to answer these questions and I will accepting his generous invitation to visit the team garage at Lydden Hill this weekend.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Images courtesy of MJP Racing

WRX Week – Quick 10 With…..Kevin Eriksson

World Rallycross


He started out in the RX Lites Cup before progressing to the European Rallycross Championship. He made his debut in the World Rallycross Championship racing at RX Argentina in 2014. Since 2016 he has been a full time driver on the Supercar grid where he burst onto the scene with Olsbergs MSE before signing for MJP Racing this season.

He has also competed in Global Rallycross and RallyX On Ice.

He has one WRX win to his name (World RX of Germany 2016) and is remembered for THAT move, ‘Round The Outside’, at Estering last season.

These are his Quick 10 questions and he is……Kevin Eriksson.

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?

My personal favorite track is the more old school type RX track and to name 2 Montalegre and Estering. There’s more flat out and sideways action and that’s a lot more fun to drive if you ask me

2. Who is/was your racing idol?

Since I grew up in paddocks in both Rally and Rallycross whatching my father race I obviously looked up to him a lot and still is but another driver I always enjoyed is Kimi Raikkonen, for just being himself.

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

During the beginning of my career I had a lot of good battles with my namesake Kevin Hansen. Now we’re both in the top tier of RX and racing against guys like Ekstrom, Solberg, Loeb so I would say that those more experienced guys are the toughest at the moment.

4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?

If I would be looking at results and making the choice I would go for Michael Schumacher and Sebastien Loeb for obvious reasons. Good mix of disciplines and a lot of championships.

But back to this day I would go for youth and my little brother Oliver Eriksson and Mitchell DeJong.

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

Hard question…. I would invite LeBron James, Zlatan Ibrahimovic just because I’m a big fan of them and their sports as well as Hmmm… Eminem and Michael Jackson because I like their music. This dinner wouldn’t last very long I guess, haha

6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?

My number is 96 and it’s a real simple reason behind it. I’ve never really been the number guy but when I started with RX you needed to have a personal number so I just went with the year I was born. I also liked 96 because it’s say 96 if you look both from the front and back

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?

My best race so far during my career must be World RX of Estering last year where I grabbed my first World RX victory and did the Round the outside move around the guys in the first corner.

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?

I have always wanted to try one of the 4wd 900hp Pro 4 trucks they race over in the US. Those trucks looks like a lot of fun.

9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?

My whole family have been into different types of Motorsport but the biggest influence was still my dad since he raced in high level in both Rally and Rallycross as I grew up.

10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?

Oh there’s been a lot but the most recent one was connected to tennis and goes like this. “There’s only one ball and that’s the one your playing right now” which means that whatever happened in the heat before you need to forget that and focus on the next.

I would like to thank Kevin for taking the time out from his busy WRX schedule to answer these Quick 10 questions and wish him all the best for the rest of the season. Thanks also to Max Pucher at MJP Racing for making this interview possible.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Images courtesy of MJP Racing

Three In A Row For Ekstrom

Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom has extended his lead in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy after taking a lights-to-flag victory at the Cooper Tires World RX of Hockenheim. It is the EKS driver’s third win in a row – and made even more impressive as Ekstrom also raced in DTM during the same weekend. Twenty minutes after stepping off the World RX podium, Ekstrom was back in his DTM car to take part in race two qualifying.

Hockenheim RX runner-up Johan Kristoffersson had another strong weekend after winning his semi-final which allowed the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver to line up alongside Ekstrom on the front row of today’s final. Ekstrom was quickest to turn one and Kristoffersson remained second for the duration of the race. Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timmy Hansen finished third in his Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar – two spots ahead of his team-mate Sebastien Loeb who won two qualifying races and was placed top qualifier at the end of Q4.

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Petter Solberg finished fourth, slowed by a bad getaway in the final. EKS driver Topi Heikkinen finished sixth and also won the Monster Energy Super Charge Award – a prize given to the driver who had the quickest reaction off the lights during the final. EKS has won all three Monster Energy Super Charge Awards so far this season with Ekstrom winning the first two in Barcelona and Portugal.

“I am super happy for Audi and for the whole team – thanks to the guys for the all their hard work which has really paid off,” said Hockenheim RX winner, Ekstrom before jumping into his DTM car for his next race.

Ekstrom’s team-mate Heikkinen added: “Friday was really hard for us so overnight we made some changes to the car that were hugely important. As a team, we are working really hard and getting very little sleep over race weekends which is obviously paying off as Mattias has now won three events in a row. He is always wanting to make changes to the car until everything is perfect. EKS has won Belgium for the last three years in a row [Heikkinen 2014 and 2015, Ekstrom in 2016] so it is a obviously a good event for us – hopefully we can take some more silverware home for the team.”

Runner-up Kristoffersson commended Ekstrom’s efforts in today’s event. He explained: “Mattias had a very good start in the final, and I tried to follow and put the pressure on him but he did not make a single mistake for six whole laps – he was driving so well. For that, he deserves this win and I wish him all the best in the DTM race this afternoon too.

Reflecting on his own performance, Kristoffersson added: “Overall it was a good weekend for us – we struggled with the balance in the car during Q1 and Q2 but the launches were very good so that left me in a good position. Everything felt better for Q3 and in Q4, it was almost perfect and I was able to push the guys out front. I had a good battle with Sebastien [Loeb] in the semi-final and it was good to show we had really picked up the pace. Both myself and Petter have been in the final for the last three events and we continue to leads the teams’ standings which we are really happy with.”

Sweden’s Timmy Hansen was pleased to have secured his first podium of the year and complimented the performance of the car. “The car was so good today,” explained the 24-year-old. “Obviously I didn’t want any rain before today’s races but it was about trying to adapt to the situation as best as I could and the start line was very slippery. I was leading for most of my semi-final but I pushed a bit too hard and I went off at the Sachs Curve which was when Mattias got in front. The final was a big challenge, Mattias and Johan were tough competitors but I’m pleased to get my first top three of the year which is an important result for the team.”

Elsewhere, MJP Racing Team Austria’s Timo Schieder was seventh. Kevin Hansen – younger brother of Timmy – was eighth, the 18-year-old having suffered a setback earlier in the day when he damaged the rear of his car after an impact during the sighting laps. Kevin Hansen, Kevin Eriksson and Reinis Nitiss were then caught in a collision in turn two of their semi-final. Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block spun in his semi-final.

After the first three rounds of the 2017 season, Ekstrom leads the overall standings with a total of 85 points – 16 points ahead of Kristoffersson in second. Solberg remains third with 62 points, while Loeb has moved up to fourth with 48 points – one point ahead of his team-mate Hansen. In the teams’ standings, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden lead the way with 131 points – 17 points ahead of EKS.

World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy, concluded: “We’ve had 79,500 fans attend the Hockenheim RX/DTM double header and once again the rallycross Supercars have put on a fantastic display. Congratulations to Mattias, Audi and EKS for another flawless performance this weekend. The fact that Mattias is able to swap from a rallycross Supercar to a DTM car in a matter of minutes and deliver so well in both championships is testament to his sheer talent behind the wheel. Well done to Johan and Timmy also – both drivers thoroughly deserve a spot on the podium. Now the teams have very little rest as it’s straight to Mettet in Belgium for round four of the season.”


Kornel Lukacs “CsuCsu” #10, Q1, Reprimand for “causing a collision”

Kornel Lukacs “CsuCsu” #10, Q2, 30 second penalty for “pushing”

Andreas Bakkerud #13, Q2, Reprimand and 20 second penalty for “pushing”

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

Quick 10 With…..Carl Fogarty

Neil Simmons

He retired from motorcycle racing in 2000. He won 7 world titles, four World Superbikes (1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999) as well as three World TT (Formula 1) titles (1988, 1989 and 1990).

He helped develop the Petronas FP1 racing team in the early 2000’s.

In 1998 he was awarded an MBE.

In 2002 Ducati, in recognition of his services, released a special limited edition model (only 300 units were built) in his honour.

He is the global ambassador for Triumph, he is also endorsing for ZONA (see the official ZONA press release and competition and how you can enter at the end of the interview).

He started 219 World Superbike races, with 108 podiums, 16 double wins, 29 race wins and totalled 3,008 points.

Add to that he was crowned King Of The Jungle for I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here in 2014.

These are his Quick 10……and it is my absolute honour to say he is Carl Fogarty……or to his fans…….FOGGY

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?

Assen. It was my most successful circuit. The old circuit’s banked corners suited my riding style of high corner speed.

2. Who is/was your racing idol?

Kenny Roberts. He was the most successful racer when I was growing up and I loved seeing him in the TransAtlantic races at Oulton

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

Either John Kocinski or Scott Russell – two tough Americans who wanted to win as much as me

4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?

Mike Hailwood and Valentino Rossi

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?

Donald Trump, Liam Gallagher, Gazza and James Whitham

6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?

Number 1. No explanation required

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?

I probably remember my two wins at Brands Hatch in 1995. It was the perfect weekend. I was fastest in every session, on pole, broke the lap record and won both races in front of 60,000 fans.

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?

It would have been nice to have had 2 or 3 seasons on the Marlboro Yamaha in Grand Prix but it didn’t happen, probably because World Superbikes was so big at the time

9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?

I raced motocross as a boy and followed my dad when he was racing. So it seemed the natural thing to do.

10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?

I’m still waiting for that!

How did you get involved with ZONA?

I receive a lot of approaches to get involved with new products but it has to be the right product. I honestly believe ZONA can improve safety and the riding experience for every rider.

Tell us about the product and how it enhances and assists road bike users?

ZONA is a unique and solution to the age-old problem of poor rear vision for motorcycles. It’s an in-helmet display wirelessly linked to an intelligent rear camera. The intelligent vision and delivers clear and wide screen stabilised rear views without interference to riders’ forward vision, as well as eliminating vulnerable blind spots.

Is there anything more you’d like to see done regarding road safety?

I think technology will play a bigger and bigger part in making riding more safe.


Overwhelming biker response to ZONA reveal at MCN London Bike Show

Zona – a new motorcycle accessory – was revealed at the MCN London Motorcycle Show.

There was a tremendous response to Zona at the show with 2,500 people visiting the stand and around 1,000 trying the product for themselves. During the show over 500 hundred people registered for Zona news updates and dozens of people took advantage of the show’s pre-order offer and purchased the product.

Zona is a unique solution to the age-old problem of poor rear vision for motorcyclists. It can be fitted into any helmet and on to any bike. It’s been carefully engineered to extend the rider’s view – enhancing the riding experience.

Using cutting edge patented technology and advanced optics Zona is a state-of-the-art in-helmet display wirelessly linked to an intelligent rear camera.

The team received excellent feedback about the product and in response they are adding an extra feature – loop recording – to Zona at no extra cost ahead of its official release in the summer. So if anyone is shunted from behind they will have video footage to support their insurance claim.

Customer Dave, at the MCN London Show, said: “I think it’s brilliant. I saw a similar product a few years ago, it was too intrusive in your helmet but just trying this on now it’s fantastic, completely out the way but what you can see behind is incredible.”

Customer Graham Lynch said: “Incredible idea, can’t wait for it. Roll on summer for sure, even more safe miles now seeing everything around me thanks to Zona.”

Zona is an invention that 7 x World Champion Carl Fogarty knows will change the way bikers ride forever.

Carl has been influential in developing Zona and was at the MCN London Motorcycle Show on the Sunday to talk about the product, which generated even more interest in the new accessory.

Zona is easy to fit and can be used with any motorbike and helmet. It has flexible fitting options to suit individual rider preferences and once fitted it provides a clear wide screen rear view to the rider with a single glance into the in-helmet display.

The rider sees a stabilised full rear view through Zona’s micro display and optics fitted inside the rider’s helmet. It appears to the eye as a 30” flat screen at 3 metres distance from the rider, giving a comfortable focus for the rider’s eye when looking into the helmet-mounted display, and works equally well for riders who wear glasses when riding.

Zona is not only about enhancing the rider’s experience and enjoyment, it’s about keeping them safe too. The product eliminates vulnerable blind spots and automatically adjusts to remove blur giving riders a better view of any potential hazards around them.

Zona’s Intelligent Rear View System becomes a natural extension of the rider’s senses, giving them better awareness of what’s around them and more time to focus on the road ahead, and ride with more enjoyment, freedom and confidence.

John Hale, Founder and CEO of Zona, said: “We’ve been blown away by the fantastic response at the London Show. We were hoping for a positive reaction, and this was even better than we had expected.

“I’ve been riding since I was old enough to get my bike licence. I know that poor rear vision for bikers is a real problem. Not being able to see clearly behind the bike affects us every day. Motorcycling is an experiential activity – it’s all about connecting with the road and enjoying the ride.

“Zona is a revolutionary solution to this problem and will change the way we ride our bikes forever. It helps bikers focus on the road ahead, improving their overall experience by making them feel more comfortable and the ride more enjoyable – that’s what it’s all about.”

Zona has been a real labour of love for John as he initially came up with the idea back in 2003 when he was nearly knocked off his motorbike on his way to work after not being able to see a motorist behind him.

Initial research and designs led him to putting the idea on hold until the correct technology was available. In 2010 John secured £100,000 funding to develop the first prototype to prove the concept of Zona.

Following the concept design and further investment the final prototype was completed in 2016 and the product is now ready to take to market and will be available in June.


For your chance to win a ZONA just re-tweet this article on Twitter or share it on Facebook. Yes, it is that simple to win this state of the art bike technology.

I wish to thank Carl Fogarty for taking the time out from his busy schedule to take part in this Quick 10, it was an absolute honour to put these questions to not only a racing legend and champion but somebody as a fan I cheered on. I would also like to thank his manager Neil Bramwell for the help and assistance in making this interview possible, always at the end of an email with quick responses. Really appreciated. I would also like to thank Sarah Jeffery the Senior PR Executive at Gardiner Richardson in her help and generosity with ZONA. Without these people this interview would never have occurred.

Ladies and gentlemen that was the Quick 10 With…..Foggy

Visit Carl at:

Follow Carl on Twitter at: @carlfogarty

Visit ZONA at:

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

(c) Carl Fogarty images courtesy of permission from Neil Bramwell (no credit required)

(c) ZONA images

Contrast In Characters

The weekend passed and for some motor racing fans, memories of twenty-three years ago remained as strong and emotional as ever.

Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were two contrasting characters from different backgrounds who are now tied by a date.

Senna’s rise and subsequent legendary status in motor racing has been told many times in articles, books and on film. What isn’t so well documented is that Roland Ratzenberger is a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner.

He had forged his way to Formula One via Formula Ford, Formula 3, Touring Cars and Sportscar racing. It was in 1993 he was co-driver with Mauro Martini and Naoki Nagasaka in a SARD Toyota 93C-V when they took the C2 class title at Le Mans. One year later Ratzenberger would find himself in F1 with the Simtek team.

I never had the honour in meeting my racing hero, Ayrton Senna, but I did have the pleasure in meeting Roland Ratzenberger. It was 1987 and I was just starting out on my writing adventure as a junior admin. I bumped into a young Roland, who was testing in British Formula 3. I had been involved in karting at the time and when it became apparent I was not going to make it in racing I decided to write about it.

That is how the initial conversation with Roland came about, our mutual love of racing. I could see the passion in his eyes when he spoke, it was so infectious and as a young teenager it spurred me on to put that kind of passion into my writing.

I was a doing a piece on testing for the team we were assisting around press work and I just found Roland so friendly and accommodating. He would take time out to speak with me about the car and giving his opinion on how it was handling, the conditions out on track and his thoughts on other drivers in the championship. These opinions were always courteous and I never once heard him talk rubbish about another driver.

It was in 1991 when I was now assisting with some Le Mans promotional work when I happened to bump into Roland again. He was co-driving with Will Hoy and Eje Elgh in a Porsche 962C. Not only did he remember me from those years earlier, he remembered my name. We had a chat about Le Mans and he was so excited about the direction his career was heading. He also put aside his own ambitions and was asking me how my writing was developing and wished me luck on my adventure. That was the mark of the man.

Two years later he would be a class winner at Le Mans.

Senna had quickly grown to become my racing idol. The man could be a confusing paradox with his thoughts on life, religion and racing and he did split opinions on his racing style at times with fans. My love of all things Senna stemmed from his days with Toleman. Any racing fan worth their weight in gold could see what a talent he was even then. I was young and had no real concept of his rise through karting and the lower single-seater series at that time. It was not until later in life when I was able to read back when it added to the legend of the man.

There will always be debate on who the greatest Formula One driver of all time is, based on opinions, facts and figures but in my humble opinion Ayrton Senna was and still is the greatest driver to grace Formula One. Even Michael Schumacher said that Senna was the greatest and he’s won more titles than anybody else.

That weekend, twenty-three years ago, was the only time I have ever cried as a racing fan. Not only did a man I had met, worked with and found so friendly lost his life doing a sport he was so passionate about, the very next day the motor racing world lost a legend.

A very difficult weekend for racing (add to that the injury to Rubens Barrichello) and one which I found difficult to watch back until recently.

It feels like yesterday since we lost these two men.

A contrast of characters who are both now connected by one tragic weekend.

I will never forget either man.

See you at the chequered flag.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

RX Round Up – Portugal



Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom has won Bompiso World RX of Portugal, round two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.

It is the second victory in a row for Ekstrom and sees the EKS driver extend his lead in the overall driver standings by 14 points over second-placed Johan Kristoffersson. Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Sebastien Loeb finished runner-up this weekend, while PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Kristoffersson took the third podium spot. In the teams’ championship, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden continue to lead the standings after both Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg made today’s final. Solberg, however, was slowed by a puncture in the final and finished the event sixth overall. After a strong outing in the Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar Timmy Hansen ended the weekend fourth overall, with EKS driver Reinis Nitiss rounding out the top five.

“That was one of the hardest fought wins in rallycross,” admitted Ekstrom who also secured the coveted Monster Energy Super Charge Award after his rapid reaction off the line. “We weren’t on the pace throughout the qualifying process – both Johan and the Peugeots were very fast – but we concentrated on our own work. In rallycross you have to fight until the bitter end, which is what we have proved today. I’m super happy for myself but also as a team owner – it’s fantastic to have all three cars in the semi-finals and it’s a huge step forward. I had a hungry Frenchman [Sebastien Loeb] on my bumper in the last lap but he is a fair racer – I managed to defend and it was a very enjoyable fight. Next we have Hockenheim where once again I will compete in both DTM and World RX in the same weekend – it is a great opportunity to showcase our sport to the German fans and I expect a lot of spectators.”

Runner-up Loeb echoed Ekstrom’s comments about fair racing. “It was a great final – at the end I could see that Mattias had made a small mistake so I tried to make the most of the opportunity and get as close as I could. We were side by side towards the end but I would have had to push too hard to get past and that wouldn’t have been right. As Mattias said, we like to be fair racers and he did a very good job so deserves this win.”

Loeb – who has moved up to sixth in the overall driver standings – added: “After a bad start in Barcelona when I left the event with only three points, it was very important that I did well this weekend. This is a good result for the whole team. We were struggling a bit yesterday and I got caught behind Kevin [Eriksson] in Q3 but found the right set-up for the semi-final and was really on the pace. The speed of the car is very good and that has been the main thing we’ve been looking for. We need to make some small changes to the car’s balance and then we will be able to fight again in the next few races.”

Kristoffersson proved the man to beat after day one after winning the first two qualifying sessions but a misunderstanding between the Swede and the spotters’ tower meant he failed to take the Joker Lap during Q3, resulting in a 30 second penalty.

Kristoffersson took up the story: “Yesterday was about as good as it could get, but in Q3 we missed the Joker and then in Q4 we lost out because the track wasn’t as dry. In the final, I had a plan to stay behind Petter but unfortunately he had a slow puncture on the left rear and was losing a lot of time. I managed to get past him on lap three which meant I had three laps to drive as fast as I could and I successfully closed on Timmy [Hansen]. We’ve made some good improvements since Barcelona, especially with the launch and it feels great to give Volkswagen its first podium of the season.”

Elsewhere, Hoonigan Racing Division team-mates Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud both qualified for the semi-finals but Q4 winner Bakkerud damaged his suspension in semi-final two, resulting in retirement. Block finished fifth in semi-final one, one spot behind Kevin Hansen who was fourth in the same race.

2017 newcomers STARD had both its drivers [Timur Timerzyanov and Janis Baumanis] in the semi-finals for the first time. Timerzyanov had a difficult start in the first semi-final and was unable to make up the time he lost while Baumanis broke his car’s wheel in semi-final two.

In the Super1600 championship – where Montalegre marked the first of six rounds – it was Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann who triumphed in his Peugeot 208. Reigning S1600 Champion Krisztian Szabo took the runner-up spot, while Latvia’s Artis Baumanis finished third. Timur Shigaboutdinov would have finished third but was given a five second penalty for pushing and overtaking in the final. He eventually finished fifth, one spot behind Kasparas Navickas.

Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Montalegre RX organisers and the Portuguese ASN [FPAK] for putting on a fantastic event. Over the past 12 months, the Portuguese team have worked extremely hard building another grandstand, a new medical centre, an extended press room and major infrastructure changes to the paddock as a whole. The hard work has definitely paid off as we saw 25,000 fans this weekend including a sell-out crowd for today’s semi-finals and final. Thankfully we were blessed with good weather and the excitement out on the track was the icing on the cake. We have signed a new five-year deal with Montalegre RX and look forward to returning

to Portugal with the World Championship for many more years to come.”

The third round of World RX takes place at the Hockenheimring in Germany next month (5-7 May) as the World Championship joins DTM for a thrilling weekend of motorsport action.


World RX

#66 Demoustier: 10 Championship points deducted for sealing an additional turbo

after scrutineering

#21 Hansen: 10 Championship points deducted for use of an unregistered tyre in Q3


#17 Baumanis: Reprimand for pushing in Q3

#89 Shigaboutdinov: Reprimand for pushing in Q3

#17 Baumanis: Five-second penalty for pushing and overtaking in Q4

#16 Susta: Reprimand for pushing in Q4

#89 Shigaboutdinov: Five-second penalty for pushing and overtaking in the final

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

(c) images courtesy of FIA World Rallycross

Why Alonso Has To Win The 500



Is it the desire of McLaren to win their first Indy 500 since 1976 (Johnny Rutherford) or the desire of Fernando Alonso to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’? That is the question of many questions.

There are two current drivers who can achieve the Triple Crown. The only person to grab hold of this elusive title is Graham Hill.

That fact is quite historic.

The ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ to those who know better includes the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not the F1 World Championship. There is a thought that it is the F1 World Championship instead of the Monaco Grand Prix, but that is just a modern way of thinking (in the eyes of this writer and many other motor racing fans).

Base the theory on the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans and this year two drivers go head-to-head as the only two people in the world who can achieve this feat.

Fernando Alonso and Juan Pablo Montoya.

The only man to complete the Triple Crown (in real terms) is Graham Hill.

Alonso has won the F1 Monaco Grand Prix in 2006 and 2007. Montoya has won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2003 and the Indy 500 in 2000. Montoya has one more race to complete the set, whereas Alonso has the Indy and Le Mans.

Now, we all know Alonso wants to race Le Mans, we also know that Montoya is gearing himself up for Le Mans and this, aside from any racing fan-ship, poses a fantastic option.

Which of these two, if any of them, will grab it?

McLaren in association with Andretti Motorsport have recently announced their inclusion for the Indianapolis 500 with Fernando Alonso. That, in itself, should raise some interest in the motor racing family. Some may look back and comment and think it slightly strange.

Take stock for one moment what I said before, there is only one other driver in the history of motorsport who has completed this task, Graham Hill. Now wonder at the thought that there are two drivers who could do this, now in our modern time right in front of our eyes.

McLaren, as a team, last entered the Indy 500 in 1979, their last win was 1976 when Johnny Rutherford won, having won in 1974 and the team finishing second in 1975. A great era.

But what of now?

McLaren in Formula One aren’t doing so well, they want to do better as do their fans, but they aren’t.

Is this some kind of PR stunt? Maybe.

Is it a platform for Fernando Alonso to complete the near impossible at the end of his career? I think it might be.

It is not a hidden fact that Alonso is not the happiest bunny in the world when it comes to the Formula One World Championship, but can McLaren be competitive at the Indy 500?

Can McLaren be competitive at the Indy 500 when they can’t compete at the top in Formula One? Different series, different regulations and different rules.

If Alonso is, and it is strange to say this about the double world champion, as a rookie could win the Indy 500, he would then be on par with Juan Pablo Montoya.

The records:

Juan Pablo Montoya won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2003, he also won the Indy 500 in 2000. He has won two of the Triple Crowns.

Fernando Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice in 2006 and 2007 but is yet to win an Indy 500 and like Montoya, a Le Mans.

They are both yet to win the toughest race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Both men want to race Le Mans but only Montoya is in a place at this time to achieve this. Are McLaren putting all their eggs in one basket and putting Alonso out there?

It is no secret that Zak Brown loves Le Mans and the Indy 500 and if Honda in Formula One are not delivering and their ageing, experienced and still talented driver in Alonso is delivering then why not look at another series or race? To see a McLaren team at the Indy 500 is an amazing sight and, if they intimate, to see them at Le Mans would be fantastic.

Zak Brown loves his Formula One history, he is American, he has pedigree in sportscar racing and he likes to make a difference. Based on this information it is not beyond the impossible that Fernando Alonso winning the Indy 500 and then competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That is not fantasy, that is fact.

I put Juan Pablo Montoya into the equation. He has two of the titles and is readily experienced to win the third, the toughest and the hardest to get. The 24 Hours. He is testing cars for this.

Make no mistake, it does not matter whether you are an IndyCar groupie, a WEC fan, a Le Mans veteran, a Formula One addict or a racing fan in general. The battle in mainstream racing is not F1 and Ferrari vs Mercedes or Vettel vs Hamilton, this year or next it is whether the Triple Crown can be equalled and there are only two drivers who can currently achieve this. But who and when? That are the questions.

Montoya and Alonso.

So…..when it comes to the 500 this year, it just got a little more interesting for Alonso and McLaren and for Montoya….well, we all know that pout and that bravado of the man that is Montoya and he will think, ‘All I need to do is win Le Mans”. Alonso will readily accept the 500 challenge and look ahead.

Are McLaren going for the Triple Crown or will Montoya beat them to it?

It won’t be answered this year, but it does pose many other questions, among those, are McLaren moving over to sportscars again?

That is for another article.

For now, where would your money go, Montoya or Alonso?

But what if Alonso won the 500 this year, one of the most difficult races to win? What then?

If Alonso and McLaren win the 500 then it is just Le Mans to win and then THAT is driver vs driver…..Alonso vs Montoya…..Manufacturer vs Manufacturer and a sponsors absolute dream.

McLaren fans will obviously be willing Alonso on, IndyCar and NASCAR fans will be courting Montoya, but proper racing fans and neutrals will be hoping Alonso wins the 500.


Because if Alonso wins the Indy 500 then the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans just got a whole lot more interesting and the only other drive aside Montoya and apart from Graham Hill, would be in contention to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

Whether you are a Formula One, IndyCar or Le Mans fan I can only offer one piece of advice. Grab your favourite beverage and snack…sit back and watch. You may well watch history in the making. You may not, but you never know.

Alonso vs Montoya. Pick your seat.

And on that…..I will see you at the chequered flag.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

©2017 The Pitcrewonline