The penultimate round of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at the Franciacorta International circuit in Italy and it will be the scene of several titles being decided come Sunday evening.
With the recent form of Team Peugeot-Hansen and Timmy Hansen in particular, what seemed a forgone conclusion for SDRX driver Petter Solberg to take his second WorldRX title has now become a fight where Hansen is only 19 points behind the championship leader with a chance to close even further this weekend at a circuit where the young swede triumphed twelve months ago. In the Teams Championship, Team Peugeot-Hansen could sew up the title this weekend as they hold a 79 point lead over Ford OMSE.
The 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship is also a two horse race which will see Albatec Racing’s Jerome Grosset-Janin go head to head to Marklund Motorsports Tommy Rustad for the drivers title in the series final weekend. After Rustad was penalised last time out in Spain, both drivers are seperated by 7 points. With Grosset-Janin holding one victory to his name this year as well as consistency against Rustad’s two victories, deciding the winner will be another heated affair.
The FIA European Super1600 Rallycross title should be secured by Latvia’s Janis Baumanis who holds a 26 point lead over his nearest rival Krizstian Szabo whilst the exciting RX Lites catergory will be decided between Kevin Hansen who has a 14 point lead over rivals Thomas Bryntesson and third-placed Kevin Eriksson. As in 2014, the winner of the catergory will get a Supercar drive at the WorldRX finale in Argentina next month.
Italy also sees the appearance of several interesting wildcards taking part. 2013 British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan is subbing for Mattias Ekstrom in the EKSRX Audi S1 Quattro whilst he races in the DTM Finale this weekend. Jordan is looking forward to his return to the series:
“Rallycross is a sport I love so much and having been part of the commentary team for the last two years, it has only fuelled my enthusiasm for the sport. I haven’t been to the Italian circuit before and I know there have been some changes for this year, but I have been putting in a lot of study time to research the track from last year. My initial aim is obviously to get through to the semi-finals. With four clean heats I think that’s possible, and then my second aim is to get to the final.”
Former Grand Prix driver and TCR International Series title contender Gianni Morbidelli is making a one off appearance in the Munnich Motorsport Audi S3 Supercar and he is well aware of the challange before him this weekend:
“I know that the World Rallycross Championship is at a very high level, but it’s something new, something very exciting and very nice. I think my most difficult challenge will be driving on the gravel, something I’ve never done before,” admitted Morbidelli.
Gigi Galli returns to WorldRX after making his debut in the series in 2014 in a Ford OMSE Fiesta. The Italian has announced the creation of his GGRX team and a 3 year programme using the brand new Kia Rio Supercar which debuts this weekend in Italy and he is looking forward to see what he can achieve this weekend:
“I am very excited about creating a brand new team and car,” explained Galli. “I don’t want to talk about results yet because that would be very premature. We have a lot to do before we get to the point where you can think about winning. This is the beginning of a three-year programme, and we will be at the start of World RX in 2016.”
Other notable drivers will be Henning Solberg returning in the Eklund Motorsport VW Beetle, Gaetan Serazin who won this year’s highly-competitive French Rallycross Championship in Dreux last weekend, will compete in his Peugeot 208 and Hungarian circuit racer Tamas Pal Kiss who makes his debut in Euro RX this weekend when he pilots a Peugeot 208 Supercar with Hansen Talent Development.
JRM Racing return with their MINI Cooper Supercar with Guerlain Chicherit back for driving duties after his debut at Loheac in France and the Frenchman is full of confidence after a recent test:
“It was a good test and I’ve definitely got more confidence in the car,” explained the Frenchman. “When I first drove the car it was really, really impressive – the handling, the power, everything. Now I’ve learned more about the car, I’m at the stage where I am really enjoying the power and wanting more! Finishing in the top 12 is definitely my target.”
Finally, the Drive For Life RX Team makes its first appearance of the season with Touring Car Rallycross driver Anders Braten making his Supercar debut this weekend at the wheel of the team’s Ford Focus: “I can’t wait to get to Italy, driving a Supercar has been a big dream for me, and seeing it coming true through my role as ambassador for Drive for Life makes it meaningful and fun at the same time. I’m very humbled to be the first driver to get this chance, and I will make sure to do my utmost to get a result we can all be proud of.”