The 2016 World RX of Canada proved once again to be an action packed event as the FIA World Rallycross Championship visited the Trois-Rivieres circuit for the third year in a row and the fans were treated to a spectacular festival of speed without an outcome no one saw coming.
Timmy Hansen guided his Team Peugeot-Hansen Peugeot 208 WRX to the win, however the young Swedish driver was nowhere in the Supercar Final as he missed the cut in Semi-Final Two. Andreas Bakkerud, Topi Heikkinen and World RX Team Austria’s Timur Timerzyanov originally qualified for the Final however a last lap move by Timerzyanov on Heikkinen was adjudged to be illegal and the former Double European Rallycross champion was disqualified from the Final. This controversial move by the stewards meant that Hansen was promoted in the Final itself, occupying the back row.
After his storming pace in Semi-Final one, winning the race by nearly five seconds, Petter Solberg held pole position for the Final with Hoonigan Racing’s Andreas Bakkerud joining him on the front row with the Norwegian driver looking for his third win in a row. Volkswagen RX Sweden saw both cars in the Final with Johan Kristoffersson on row two with Heikkinen in his EKSRX Audi S1 alongside whilst Anton Marklund lined up on the back row with Hansen.
Heikkinen led the six cars into turn one with Bakkerud and Solberg close behind for company, however by turn two, Kristoffersson, Hansen and Marklund had all passed Solberg who dropped down to sixth position. The two Volkswagen drivers took their joker laps on lap one as Bakkerud and Hansen harried Heikkinen into lap two. Again turn one proved to be crucial as the Finn’s slick tyres lost grip going into the corner, allowing Bakkerud and Hansen to pounce on the EKS driver who fell to third place. Despite being TQ and also fastest in SF2, Solberg struggled in the mixed track conditions on his slick tyres and fought with Marklund as Heikkinen took his joker in lap three to secure fourth place.
The fight at the front was frantic as Bakkerud and Hansen played a cat and mouse game as to who would take their joker first and it was Hansen who took his on lap four, beating Kristoffersson to the following turn to keep second place. When Bakkerud took his joker on the following lap, Hansen had done enough to beat the Ford Focus RS RX to the next turn and he kept the lead to the end of the race, with Bakkerud coming home second from Kristoffersson and Heikkinen whilst Solberg passed Marklund to take fifth place on the last lap. Despite finishing in fifth place, Solberg now leads the Drivers Championship by five points from Mattias Ekstrom.
Hansen was an unexpected winner and he was completely surprised by the race itself:
“I am so surprised to win – I wasn’t even supposed to be in the last six but after Timerzyanov’s black flag, I was told I needed to line up for the final,” explained Hansen, “Moments before the final, it started to rain which was a blessing for us as the car worked perfectly in the wet. Opportunities like what happened today don’t come along very often and we made the most of everything. It feels great to be sharing the podium with Andreas and Johan too, we always have good battles together. Today has been like a dream but we need to keep working to improve the car and now we move forward to Loheac which we hope will be another good event for the team.”
Bakkerud put his best efforts into what was a difficult but positive weekend for the team:
“Firstly, congratulations to Timmy on his victory. The whole weekend has been crazy and today we saw non-stop action. In fact, the final is a bit of a blur and I can’t even remember what happened right now! I didn’t feel like I had the best pace over the weekend but I took opportunities when I had them and thankfully everything worked out really well for us. This is our third podium in a row and now I can’t wait for the rest of the season.”
Kristoffersson was happy overall with his podium finish:
“We’ve been so close and finally our hard work has paid off and we are back on the podium – it feels really good to be back here. Petter was outstanding in the semi-final and I felt like I couldn’t catch him but then the rain started and our car works so well in the rain. The first two laps were really good for us and the car worked perfectly.”
Despite Timerzyanov being the second fastest in Qualifying, he was classified in seventh place and there is surely more to come as the Russian driver has been looking faster at each event this year whilst Ekstrom finished in eighth place overall after two punctures, but the German driver is already looking to fightback at Loheac in September:
“Although the end wasn’t as expected, I’m quite happy with the weekend. We have been in the top three whenever we had fresh air and our starts were absolutely insane. But, with the two punctures, there is also a stale aftertaste. I lost the lead in the drivers’ standings to Petter and went from being the hunted to the hunter. In France, we will strike back.”
The next round of World RX takes place at the Iconic Loheac circuit in France on 2-4 September.