Block Leads The Pack In 2017 World RX of South Africa

by Phil Kinch

Ken Block is the overnight leader in the 2017 World RX of South Africa after setting top five times in Q1 and Q2, however the pack of drivers chasing him is very close and competitive after a day dominated by punctures at the Killarney International Circuit.

The Hoonigan Racing driver set the fifth fastest time in Q1 before going faster in Q2 to go second quickest in what is the final weekend of competition for the iconic Ford Focus RS RX in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The American driver holds the lead just ahead of Latvia driver Janis Baumanis who holds second place overnight in the Team STARD Ford Fiesta.

Janis Baumanis is second overnight in the 2017 World RX of South Africa. Credit: Baumanis Motorsport Photography

Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson jointly hold third place with both drivers tied on eighty points after the first two Qualifying sessions.

Hansen took his Team Peugeot-Hansen 208 WRX to the fastest time in Q1 before suffering a puncture in Q2 whilst PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden driver Kristoffersson was second fastest in Q1 before a puncture dropped him to ninth in Q2.

Timmy Hansen was fastest in Q1 for the 2017 World RX of South Africa. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

Block’s team-mate Andreas Bakkerud completes the top five places ahead of EKSRX driver Topi Heikkinen, who has been in the thick of the action as he looks to help the Swedish squad to try and take second place in the Teams Championship.

Kevin Hansen in the 2016 Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar lies in seventh place whilst birthday boy Timo Scheider lies in eighth place in the MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta.

Andreas Bakkerud has been in the thick of the action in South Africa. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

The all important battle for second place in the Drivers Championship sees Petter Solberg in ninth place overall with rival Mattias Ekstrom one place behind in tenth place after the first day’s action.

Solberg holds a one point advantage over the Swedish driver and needs to finish ahead of Ekstrom in South Africa to finish the year in second place overall.

Jean-Baptiste Dubourg is enjoying a good comeback in World RX as he holds eleventh place in the DA Racing Peugeot ahead of Olsbergs MSE driver Oliver Eriksson. Eriksson lies in the vital twelfth place for the Semi-Finals on Sunday however there are some big names looking to move up on Sunday.

Ashley Haigh-Smith is getting to grips with World RX during his home event. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

Timur Timerzyanov and Sebastien Loeb are two of the big names just outside the top twelve with an eye of moving forward in both Q3 and Q4 on Sunday. Loeb was one of several drivers to suffer a puncture whilst Timerzyanov enjoyed some hard racing during the days activities.

Kevin Eriksson and Reinis Nitiss are seventeenth and nineteenth currently and are both hopeful of moving up the order during the remaining Qualifying sessions in order to try and make the Semi-Finals on Sunday.

Mark Cronje has had a strong start to his World RX debut. Credit: McKlein/Albatec Racing

Local drivers Mark Cronje and Ashley Haigh-Smith have had a quiet debut in their home World RX round. Cronje suffered mechanical issues in the Albatec Racing Peugeot after a strong start in Qualifying whilst Haigh-Smith has been getting to grips with the Olsbergs MSE run Ford Fiesta.

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