Three rounds in, and the FIA World Rallycross Championship has produced three different winners Petter Solberg took a fantastic win in Portugal to start his season with a bang, Andreas Bakkerud stormed to victory at Lydden Hill and Reinis Nitiss topped the podium in a dominant fashion in Hell, Norway.
With 26 entries confirmed (at the time of writing) for Finland it is hard to predict a winner, especially with the addition of Markus Winkelhock in the EKS RX Audi A1 and the return of Tanner Foust who will be looking to build upon a strong performance at Lydden Hill.
Joining the supporting role is the TouringCar and Super1600 classes with a further 25 entries while the RX Lites bring a further 10 drivers including Niclas Gronholm, son of former World Rally Champion Marcus.
“I still can’t believe that I won in Norway, I really didn’t expect to be on the podium beside two big names [Petter Solberg and Ken Block]. The media attention at home has been fantastic and now I hope to continue the success in Finland,” explained 18-year-old Nitiss.
Petter Solberg sits second in the championship standings, just three points behind Nitiss and is expecting this weekend to start an important part of the year, “The next three World RX races will determine much of the world title fight,” said ‘Hollywood’ “About three and a half weeks from now, we will know the answer to who is still in the game and who’s not…”
Reigning Red Bull Global RallyCross champion Topi Heikkinen is currently in third place and heads to Finland a hot favorite to win in front of his home crowd. “Our home event is really the perfect opportunity for me to thank all the people from home who have supported me over the years,” admitted Heikkinen.
“I really hope I can do well but I know that I’ve got the equipment and capability to do it. We were a bit unlucky at the last round in Norway, but hopefully that’s our bad luck out of the way now and we can concentrate on what we do best, which is winning.”
Heikkinen is joined by team-mate Anton Marklund and Tanner Foust, who has previously won at Kouvola.
Liam Doran is bouncing back from a bad start to the season and will be looking to make it to podium. “Finland has always been a good track for me, and it’s one of my favourites to drive. Since Portugal, we’ve been getting quicker and quicker. In Norway we proved we have the pace, so now it’s just a case of tying it all together. I’m pretty confident we can get a good result” he said.
Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen are looking to take their Peugeot’s all the way to a win after showing promising pace so far this year.
Team EKS RX return for their second outing of the year with Pontus Tidemand being joined by ex-F1 and GT racer Markus Winkelhock,“As a GT driver, the race weekend in Finland will be a big shift, that’s for sure. But I was very happy with the first steps after my test and the team has been too. I’m very thankful to Mattias [Ekstrom] who gave me the chance to race.”
Jacques Villeneuve showed improved form for his second outing and took the the fastest lap in the opening round in Hell. As the lone representative for Albatec racing the former F1 World Champion is ready to push, “I will be pushing hard to get some clean, fast heats and won’t be happy with anything less than a place in the semi finals.” Team prinicpal Andy Scott is expected to be on track again in Sweden.
“Kouvola is a highlight of the World RX calendar” exclaimed Martin Anayi, Managing Director for World RX at IMG Motorsport added. ” It is a very well organised event, the fans are passionate, the atmosphere is electric and the drivers love competing here. The track is very technical: the drivers will have to strike the right balance between knowing when to push and when is best to hold off the throttle.
“As demonstrated in the opening three rounds, the smallest off can result in a puncture so the drivers will need to think wisely as they prepare for one of the most technically challenging races of the year. I’d like to welcome Markus to World RX – as a former GT, F1 and winner of last weekend’s 24 hours of Nurburgring, he’s already proved himself as a world-class driver. Now it will be interesting to watch how Markus fares against the other Supercar entries in Finland.”