2014 FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg has won the first ever WorldRX of Hockenheim, during a unique weekend of action shared with the DTM. Reiniss Nitiss and Timmy Hansen joined him on the podium.
Solberg and his team-mate Liam Doran, who together run as SDRX, have been the class of the field, with the action kicking off on Friday which saw heats one and two take place. After heat two, SDRX led the overnight standings with Doran leading ahead of Solberg and both drivers showing improved form from the conditions in Portugal last weekend. Both men qualified for the Semi-Final One, but it was Solberg who was victorious and through to the Final as Doran hit engine issues.
Solberg was ecstatic with taking his first 2015 win.
“I love big fights and tough competitions and that’s why I love rallycross,” Solberg explained. “The fans seemed to love rallycross and it’s been great to be in Hockenheim alongside DTM this weekend, it’s been very well organised. It’s not been an easy weekend, we had a bad start on Friday, there was little grip off the line and then I had a puncture in the semi-final.
“I had two choices going into Saturday: one was to go fast or the second was to go very fast – I went for the second option! I know everybody says this but my win is credit to the team. They are fantastic and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
As Solberg went on to win the event, it was Ford OlsbergsMSE driver Nitiss who scored his first podium of the season. Nitiss enjoyed a consistent weekend which saw him qualify from the heats to the Semi-Final which he won. A safe drive behind Solberg netted him second position.
Nitiss was happy with the progress he made this weekend.
“I am very happy, we are getting closer and closer to Petter all the time, but I guess that he has been in cars for longer than I have been alive,” said Nitiss.
Timmy Hansen endured a difficult qualifying in the heat stages to finish in 12th place and make it to the Semi-Finals. After finishing in third place in Semi-Final Two, he followed that up with a last lap joker move in the Final and after surviving contact with Robin Larsson after his joker lap, the Team Peugeot-Hansen driver secured his second podium in a row.
Hansen thanked his family and the team for their support in helping him to his podium.
“I was feeling lost at the end of yesterday as something didn’t feel right but my family and team kept me going,” said Hansen. “Today I woke up and felt different – we found a very good strategy and the start was unbelievable. I really pushed behind the wheel and it paid off. I’m feeling very emotional.”
Behind these three drivers in the Final were Topi Heikkinen, Larsson and Andreas Bakkerud. Bakkerud stopped after two laps and retired with an issue, whilst Larsson and Heikkinen fought with Nitiss and Hansen for the podium. Last lap contact between Larsson and Hansen saw the 2014 EuroRX Champion spin into the gravel whilst Heikkinen went on to finish in fourth place.
Tanner Foust made his first 2015 WorldRX appearance at Marklund Motorsport and enjoyed a good weekends work, progressing through the heats to make it to the Semi-Finals, where he finished fourth behind team-mate Heikkinen in Semi-Final One.
Portugal winner Johan Kristoffersson was pushed much harder by his fellow Volkswagen Team Sweden driver Tord Linnerud. Both VW Polo drivers would progress to the Semi-Finals, Linnerud especially lucky to qualify after an epic spin in the heats, however both drivers would finish 4th and 5th respectively.
Solberg now leads the Drivers Championship on 57 points with Kristoffersson in second place on 42 points, whilst Hansen’s two podiums keep him in third place on 37 points. In the Teams Trophy, SDRX lead on 74 points from Ford OlsbergsMSE on 71 points with Team Peugeot-Hansen on 65 points in 3rd place.
There is now a two week break before WorldRX heads to round three at Mettet in Belgium, where the 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship kicks off. 39 Supercars are expected to take part in the event.