This weekend’s FIA World Rallycross Championship round six, at Hell in Norway, was also supported by the FIA European Rallycross Championship, with both Supercars and TouringCars represented.
In the Championship’s round two for top category, Robin Larsson of Sweden, the 2014 EuroRX champion who spent the past two seasons in the World Championship, returned to the top step of the podium after almost two years since his last win in Argentina. In the final, Larsson was up against current Championship leader Anton Marklund, who won round one in Barcelona, fellow former European champion Tommy Rustad, Hungarian ace Tamas-Pal Kiss, as well as long-time competitors like Peter Hedström and Alexander Hvaal.
The qualifying phase saw four different winners in as many rounds: Kiss was fastest in Q1, while Larsson took Q2. Marklund fought back in Q3, while young Norwegian Thomas Bryntesson, despite winning Q4, would not be as lucky in the following phases.
Semi-final 1 saw Larsson win ahead of Marklund and Kiss, while Frenchman Jérome Grosset-Janin (runner-up in 2015), Norwegian Ola Fröshaug (Bryntesson’s team-mate at JC Raceteknik) and Albatec Racing‘s Jere Kalliokoski would go no further.
Semi-final 2 saw just four drivers battling for the final, as Irishman Derek Tohill and Norwegian Henning Solberg (Petter Solberg‘s older brother) were out in the early stages of the race. In the end, Q4 winner Bryntesson missed out on the final due to mechanical trouble, unlike his rivals Rustad, Hedström and Hvaal.
“I’m disappointed with the result, Bryntesson says. “I was the fastest driver in the semi-final before we had the gearbox problem, which caused me some problems.
“It’s a shame because I think we could have gone a long way in the final today. I have shown that we have the speed many times before, so I just hope the whole race will flow soon.
“Even though we didn’t get what we wanted in Hell, I feel more and more at home in the car all the time. If you look at the times and compare with the others, we are even setting similar times to World Championship teams. It’s awesome, because we’re a small team that doesn’t have the same budget as the factory teams.”
In the all-important final, Larsson’s early joker lap paid off, while Rustad’s race was over after just three laps. Marklund also showed good pace, just like Kiss. At the end of the race, the Hungarian got penalised for causing a collision, as well as for blocking Marklund, so, despite crossing the line in second place, he got demoted to fifth. Marklund and Hvaal completed the podium, followed by Hedström, then Kiss and Rustad.
In terms of Championship standings, little has changed since round one in Barcelona: Marklund, also a former WorldRX competitor, still leads with 56 points, ahead of Larsson whose win promoted him to second overall, then Kiss, Rustad and Bryntesson, despite the latter not having yet competed in a final since the season has begun. Ireland’s Ollie O’Donovan, meanwhile, who finished third in Spain, narrowly missed out on the final here in Norway, qualifying 13th.
The European series for rear-wheel-drive rallycross cars with 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated engines, at his fourth and penultimate round, saw Norwegian Lars-Oivind Enerberg cement his Championship lead with his third win in a row, after Mettet and Lydden, while he finished sixth on the opening race in Barcelona. Alongside him in the final, Sweden’s Philip Gehrman, winner of the Spanish round, local stars Fredrik Rolid Magnussen, David Nordgard and Steinar Stokke, and Belgian Steve Volders.
Qualifying saw Enerberg claim the first three rounds, while Magnussen took Q4, en route to qualifying second overall, in front of Gehrman, Ben-Philip Gundersen, Stokke and Nordgard.
Semi-final 1 was mostly a Norwegian affair, despite Swede Gehrman taking the win, ahead of Enerberg and Stokke. Norway would dominate semi 2 as well, with Nordgard winner and Magnussen third, and Belgium’s Steve Volders in between.
Scandinavians would be the leading force in the final too, with Norway’s Enerberg claiming his third win of the season, Sweden’s Gehrman in second, and three more Norwegians (the best-represented nationality in TouringCars), Magnussen, Nordgard and Stokke third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Volders would finish sixth.
At his home race in Hell, Enerberg consolidated his Championship lead with three wins out of four meetings, commanding the standings with 106 points, while his countryman Anders Braten (81 pts.), who narrowly missed out on the final here, got overtaken by Gehrman, now second on 87 points.
The FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars returns at the World RX of Sweden in Höljes, 1-2 July with round three. The TouringCars series, meanwhile, won’t return until 30 September, with the season finale at the Estering in Buxtehude, Germany.