After a rain-soaked day one, action at the FIA World Rallycross Championship round eight in Trois-Rivières, Canada, resumes today. In the WRX heats, Q1 awarded EKS‘ Finnish driver Toomas Heikkinen with a surprising fastest time, while the following round went Johan Kristoffersson‘s way, with the Swede also top qualifier overnight.
Let’s have a quick look at today’s action:
The day-opening warm-up session sees once again the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden squad lead the way, with Petter Solberg fastest and Kristoffersson third, while American star Ken Block squeezes between them in second, just half a second slower than the Norwegian.
Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division) does his best to make up for his Q2 misfortune (driveshaft failure on the first lap) and the eleventh-fastest time he sets after starting last in race 1 is enough to promote him to twelfth overall, with one session still to go. But the true star of Q3 is Petter Solberg, who qualifies on top, just in front of his team-mate Kristoffersson, although the latter retains his top-qualifier status. Third fastest is reigning World Champion Mattias Ekström, while Niclas Grönholm entirely misses out on his run.
Yet another qualifying victory for Kristoffersson: the Swede will start from pole position in semi 1, alongside his countryman Ekström (third overall). Solberg remains second in the intermediate standings, although fellow Norwegian Bakkerud loses P12 (and a semi-final grid spot) to Timo Scheider: a bitter disappointment. His team-mate Block finishes more than one minute behind race 3 winner Timur Timerzyanov, as a result of first-corner contact with Heikkinen, but retains eighth overall. Hungary’s ‘Csucsu’, finally, goes off the track on lap one.
Kristoffersson’s blinding start in semi 1 immediately puts him into a commanding lead: both brothers Timmy and Kevin Hansen opt for a first-lap joker, as does Ekström. In the latter stages of the race, contact occurs between Timmy and Kevin Eriksson, although without any serious consequences, as both of them make it to the final, unlike Janis Baumanis, who briefly led the race until taking his joker, Kevin Hansen and Ekström, the Audi man hit by mechanical failure.
Solberg’s semi 2 was another lights-to-flag victory, securing an all-Volkswagen front row for the final. Heikkinen and Sébastien Loeb choose to take early joker laps, further clearing the Norwegian’s way to victory and joining him in the all-important final. Timerzyanov manages to hold off Block for the whole race, but Timo Scheider closes dead last.
Although Solberg pulled off the best of the starts, Kristoffersson’s pole position means the Swede has the inside line on turn one, and so he snatches the lead from his team-mate. Both PSRX Volkswagen Sweden drivers adopt early joker-lap strategies, so as to maximise their chances of winning. Hansen looked set for a podium finish as well, although mechanical failure on lap five ultimately put him out of the race, handing the lowest step of the podium to his Peugeot-Hansen team-mate Loeb. Fourth place went to Eriksson, Heikkinen closed fifth.
PSRX have thus extended their lead in both the Drivers’ Championship, currently led by Kristoffersson, and the Teams’ Championship over rivals Team Peugeot-Hansen.
The World RX Championship will return on 2 September, after the summer break, with round nine in Lohéac, France.