Timmy Hansen has taken his third FIA World Rallycross Championship win of the 2015 season after being victorious at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey ahead of Ford Olsbergs‘ Andreas Bakkerud and Volkswagen Team Sweden‘s Johan Kristoffersson.
Hansen was fastest in the overnight standings after winning heat one, however after finishing the two final heats inside the top six he qualified for the second Semi-Final where he managed to come through and win after leader Reinis Nitiss had a mechanical problem. In the final, Hansen took the lead from the start and built a cushion, allowing him to take his joker on the final and hold off a determined Bakkerud for the win.
Hansen was overjoyed with his victory: “My semi-final was the craziest and most fun race I have had, I have never had to fight so much for a win,” grinned Turkey RX winner Hansen. “Our start was not so good in the semi-final and there was a lot of chaos with so many close battles going on. I was so happy to come out top. Then the final, wow! I got a great start and then kept pushing until the very end when I did the Joker and just managed to stay ahead of Andreas Bakkerud. I actually can’t believe I won today and all I have left to say is that rallycross is the most exciting sport in the world!”
Bakkerud was graceful in defeat: “It’s really great to be back on the podium but it’s hard to be second when you’re so close to the win. The team have worked so hard and it’s nice to be able to give something back to them. Reinis should be here with me. It was a great battle and unfortunately he lost out.”
Kristoffersson completed the podium whilst further back Davy Jeanney had contact in the final with both EKSRX drivers Mattias Ekstrom and Anton Marklund. Ekstrom would recover to take fourth place from the French driver on the final lap whilst Marklund retired.
Kristoffersson was happy to take another podium finish: “Our semi-final was chaos but I managed to make it through to the final and then I had one of the best starts I’ve had all season. There was so much traffic in turn one so I lost some time and slotted in behind some of the others. After my contact with Anton in turn three, I just tried to focus on the track and do my own thing. I’m really happy with P3.”
Despite Hansen taking the win there were several drivers with star performances who were also in with a chance of victory this weekend.
Mattias Ekstrom showed much improved pace in his EKSRX Audi S1 Quattro by going fastest in heats two, three and four to qualify into the Semi-Finals. Despite contact in the Semi-Final, Ekstrom was able to finish second behind Bakkerud before moving into the Final. Bakkerud’s team-mate Reinis Nitiss was another driver who looked to have the pace to win during a weekend where both Ford Olsbergs drivers showed the pace for victory.
The Latvian driver stayed inside the top three during the first two heats and a canny tyre strategy kept him quick enough to qualify for the front row of his Semi-Final. Nitiss led the race until taking his Joker on lap 4 and then he subsequently slowed with a mechanical issue, allowing the two Peugeot-Hansen drivers and Kristoffersson through to capitalise.
Drivers’ Championship leader Petter Solberg had a difficult beginning to the event, constantly dealing with traction and setup issues on his Citroen DS3 but that didn’t stop him going second quickest in heat four after a demon move across the other four drivers in his heat race to take the lead. Despite qualifying for Semi-Final One, Solberg made no impact on the race as he too suffered a mechanical issue that left him at the back of the race in sixth place.
This now means that Timmy Hansen has reduced Solberg’s lead in the Drivers Championship to 19 points with two rounds left, handing Hansen a chance to close down Solberg further and Solberg is aware of the task ahead: “We lost too many points this weekend which isn’t so good for the Championship, now the pressure is really on for Italy,”
Tom Onslow-Cole had a positive debut in the supporting RX Lites Cup by taking a heat race win in his Rockstar backed car before going on to qualify for the Semi-Finals. From there he finished second to qualify on the middle row for the Final where Onslow-Cole finished in third place to secure a maiden podium finish behind winner Thomas Brynetesson and Kevin Hansen.
Onslow-Cole was very happy with his weekend’s work: “I’ve absolutely loved getting to grips with rallycross this weekend and it’s definitely made me hungry for more,” smiled the British GT racer. “I’m used to endurance racing and rallycross is a totally different ballgame – even though the races are shorter, it’s equally as exhausting! I’d love to come back to the rallycross paddock again soon and hopefully this isn’t the last you will see of me.”
The FIA World Rallycross Championship returns in two weeks time at the Frnciacorta International Circuit in Italy which will also play host to the final rounds of the FIA European Rallycross Championship, the FIA Super1600 Rallycross Championship and the RX Lites Cup.