Albatec Racing enjoyed a strong weekend of action as both of its drivers made an impact at the opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rallycross Championship at Mettet in Belgium.
Jerome Grosset-Janin wasted no time at all putting his stamp on the 2016 Euro RX of Belgium as he guided his Peugeot 208 RX to the fastest time in all 4 Qualifying sessions and scoring a perfect 200 points. Using his familiarity of the car from 2015, this gave the Frenchman pole position for Semi-Final One and he continued his reign over the standings by taking the win ahead of Tord Linnerud and Grosset-Janin’s 2016 team-mate Tommy Rustad to put him on pole position for the Supercar Final.
In the Final itself, the French driver move into the lead at turn one and would not lose this until he took his joker on lap five. However with the field being so closely bunched together during the race, he came out behind Peugeot-Hansen Academy driver Kevin Hansen and was unable to pass him for the lead.
However after dominating the weekend, Grosset-Janin was left in the joint Drivers Championship lead and was happy with this result:
“It’s been a good weekend all round and I’m happy to have got some solid points from the opening round. We had good pace all weekend which allowed me to win all my qualifying races and the semi. I’m very happy with all of my race starts, I was matching everyone else, which gave me the confidence to know I had the potential to win. We knew Kevin [Hansen] had good pace and knew it would be tough, he’s a factory driver after all, but we’ve had to do very little to my car this weekend to be as competitive. We’ve had great team spirit again all weekend, across the mechanics, the engineers, everybody, and with Tommy everything has worked well together too. As a team that’s important for the championship and the coming races.”
Tommy Rustad was made to work a little harder than his team-mate in the Norwegian drivers first event with Albatec. After winning his Q1 race and setting the second fastest time behind the Frenchman, Rustad suffered damage in Q2 and dropped to 10th place but remained inside the crucial top 12 places in both Q3 and Q4 to gain a spot in Semi-Final One. He was rewarded with third place and would qualify for the Supercar Final. Off the start Rustad has a poor getaway but this allowed him to catch up and keep pace with the other runners to bring home his Peugeot 208 in fifth place overall.
“It’s been a difficult weekend with mixed emotions, but overall I’m happy with the points. I won my opening race yesterday and finished second overall to Jérôme, but in the second I didn’t get away well and was hit by another car which caused some damage and a puncture dropping me down the order.” said Rustad.
“The hard kerbs and jumps meant we changed our set-up for warm-up, but that didn’t really work well for today’s Q3 and I spun on the penultimate lap. I pushed hard to finish eighth overall ahead of the final race. I didn’t get a good start in that, and was involved in a start crash, but still managed to win to put me fourth overall and secure a place in the semi-finals,
“In the race again I didn’t get the best start, but managed to pick up three places on the joker lap, which gave me the last position for the Final. I tried a few moves to pass but didn’t succeed. I’m still learning the car; the engineers, the mechanics, the entire team has worked hard, and have done a great job with the car. It’s not been easy for our first event, but I think we have a great future with Albatec, and the opportunity to pick up more points, so I’m looking forward to the next race.”
Team Principle Andy Scott was happy overall with the drivers and teams effort last weekend, “It’s certainly been a weekend of mixed emotions here in Belgium. Saturday started very well, P1 and P2 after the opening qualifying race was the best possible result. To follow that up with three further qualifying race wins and victory in the semi was just reward for all our hard work. We had a few issues to overcome over the weekend, which we’ve done, and the team has worked well together.”
“Jérôme has driven superbly all weekend, he had great pace across all four qualifying races and the finals, it’s just disappointing for him and for us that we didn’t come away with the result we all deserved, but I think we showed once again that the potential is there,” explained Scott. “Tommy drove exceptionally well and considering his relative inexperience in the car was able to win two races, challenge for overall heat wins, and consistently be in a position to qualify for the final. Learning a new car takes time, but he adapted well, so it all bodes well for the remaining races.”