Irish driver Derek Tohill finished the last round of the FIA European Rallycross for Supercars at the Lankebanen in Hell, Norway (9-11 June) in a respectable tenth place overall.
Tohill entered the Norwegian event on the back of the season-opening race in Spain last April, where he scored his career-best fifth overall finish, knowing that round two would provide him with a tough challenge, since Tohill’s PFCRX team has never performed particularly well at the Lankebanen, and also because of the 32-strong entry grid.
As the competition started, the Irishman constantly mixed with the best car-driver combinations in the EuroRX, and despite the tricky surface conditions, his best result of the weekend was sixth in Q2. Even though he felt his car’s set-up wasn’t optimal for a drying track, Tohill closed the qualifying stage in tenth place overall, gaining a spot in the semi-finals, making good use of the lessons he learned at a recent test in Latvia.
At this point, Tohill knew he had to finish the race on the podium in order to reach the final, so he attempted an early overtake on another car, but as the other driver shut the door, Tohill’s Ford Fiesta got a puncture as a result of hitting a kerb, putting him out of the race. Despite the unsuccessful semi-final, PFCRX still finished the event in tenth place overall, and Tohill is now seventh in the championship, on equal points with his countryman Ollie O’Donovan.
“To get a top 10 finish at what I’d call our bogey track is great,” Tohill says.
“It was always going to be damage limitation here, there are a lot of Norwegian drivers in Euro RX that are on home turf, and this is always a tough event for me. That’s great because next up is Sweden, France and Latvia and we love all three. We’ve gained in the Championship too, so there are lots of positives to take from the weekend.
“If we found a couple of tenths per lap, I think we’d be consistently in the top six, so we just need to find a couple of tenths and its game on. With such a big and strong entry, the first objective is to make the semi-finals, and in 10th we did that. We tried a brave move in the semi-final to make a few positions and try to get to the final, but it didn’t work – that’s rallycross.
“The lads have worked really hard before the event and all weekend, they’ve done an amazing job. We’re all still learning, it’s only our second year running the Supercar with our own team so there’s a lot more to come. We need to work on making some better starts, which kind of let us down today, and put us on the back foot when normally that is a strong point of ours, so we’ll work on that over the next couple of weeks and look forward to Sweden, which for us is the holy grail of rallycross.”
In two weeks’ time, PFCRX and Tohill are returning for round three of the ERX for Supercars at Höljes in Sweden. The Irishman scored his best result on the Swedish circuit back in 2013, when he was competing in rear-wheel-drive TouringCars, scoring his second win of the season on his way to his second European title.