The 2016 World RX of Belgium is round three of this years FIA World Rallycross Championship and it’s already looking to be one of the biggest weekends so far in the 2016 calendar.
There are a record breaking 49 Supercars entered with 30 confirmed for the opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rallycross Championship and 19 confirmed for the World RX event itself. Seven days ago the teams and drivers were competing at the legendary Hockenheim circuit in Germany and since then they have moved to the Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet in Belgium to prepare in that short time for round three.
With Topi Heikkinen having won the World RX of Belgium in both 2014 and 2015, the Finn is looking a good bet to secure victory for a third year in a row, especially after his excellent start to the 2016 season now that he is am EKSRX driver alongside Mattias Ekstrom. However whilst Ekstrom is now tied at the top of the Drivers Standings with Petter Solberg, expect the PSRX driver to come out fighting to keep the lead after Sunday evening. Who can forget his Semi-Final drive last year where a jump start meant the double World RX Champion had to take two joker laps to gain a place in the final.
And secure that place in style he did…
Behind these three drivers, there are several who are looking to secure their first 2016 win. Johan Kristoffersson took victory at Portugal last year and will be looking for the top step at a circuit that has been suited to the Volkswagen Polo for the past two years. Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen will be looking for an improved form in their Peugeot 208 WRX’s which so far have not seen victory yet in 2016. Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud have both qualified for a final each so far this year and the Ford Focus RSRX looks to be an impressive beast as its development continues. OlsbergsMSE duo Niclas Gronholm and Kevin Eriksson will be joined by former WRC ace Francois Duval, who has already set his sights on a semi-final spot.
Liam Doran had a spectacular giant killing performance in Hockenheim in the JRM World RX BMW Mini and he will be looking for a semi-final spot again to show how impressive the 1.6 litre turbocharged Supercar is. World RX Team Austria duo Janis Baumanis and Timur Timerzyanov have impressed so far and will be looking for another semi-final spot each. Also keep an eye out for Robin Larsson who has qualified for both Finals so far and Reinis Nitiss in the Muennich Motorsport SEAT Ibiza RX which took its first qualifying race win in Germany.
There is also a close fight in the Teams Championship where Volkswagen RX Sweden, Hoonigan Racing Division and 2015 Teams Champions Team Peugeot-Hansen are locked in battle for second place behind EKSRX. These three teams are seperated by just nine points and any one of these could easily take a large haul of points this weekend.
The opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rallycross Championship kicks off with its largest entry of Supercars for a full season so far at 23. 30 cars have been entered for Mettet and heading the list of potential winners are the two men who finished first and second in the 2015 Drivers Championship: Tommy Rustad and Jerome Grosset-Janin. Both men have signed for Dumfries based Albatec Racing for 2016 and are looking favourites to battle it out again. Kevin Hansen will be another driver to watch as he contests the full Euro RX season in a Peugeot-Hansen Academy 208.
Other drivers who will be serious contenders during the year include Peter Hedstrom in his Ford Fiesta, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg in his brand new DA Racing Citroen DS3, Max Pucher who will contest the full season of Euro RX in his Ford Fiesta and Tord Linnerud in his Volkswagen Polo who steps down from World RX in 2016. In reality, anyone of the 30 drivers entered can top the podium this weekend as the competition is that close.
Finally, the TouringCar catergory also gets underway this weekend, with Daniel Lundh looking to be the man to beat in his Volco C30. However keep an eye out for such talents as Anders Nymoen Braten in his Ford Fiesta and the fast and young Magda Andersson in her Valvoline RX Team backed Fiesta. The RX Lites Cup also has its second round take place where Thomas Bryntesson will be looking for his second race win in a row after dominating Hockenheim.