PREVIEW – 2017 World RX of South Africa: Everybody Wants Second Place…

by Phil Kinch

The World RX of South Africa makes its debut as the final round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship this weekend with the Killarney International Circuit playing host to a quality line up.

But the big question is: Who will finish second?

Ekstrom will go head to head with Solberg for Second Place in the Drivers Championship in South Africa. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

With Johan Kristoffersson already crowned Drivers Champion for 2017 and PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden crowned Teams Champion for 2017, the focus moves to the hotly contested second place in both series with a lot of the big names and teams in the hunt for this vital end of year place.

In the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship, Double World RX Champion Petter Solberg holds second place, but he is only one point ahead of 2016 World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom…and that’s where the excitement starts.

EKSRX take the fight to Team Peugeot-Hansen this weekend in South Africa. Credit: @World / Red Bull Content Pool

With thirty points on offer this weekend and the honour of ending the year in glory, you can be sure that these two Titans of World RX will go at it hard on track to secure that vital placing. With a new circuit to learn, the challenge will be to see who can learn it quickest over the weekend.

However the action doesn’t end there. Second place in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship is also up for grabs between two teams who are looking for a good end to what has been an up and down 2017 for them both.

Mark Cronje is aiming for a Semi-Final spot at the first ever World RX of South Africa. Credit: McKlein/Albatec Racing

Team Peugeot-Hansen hold second place after a run of podiums for drivers Timmy Hansen and Sebastien Loeb, however the Franco-Swedish squad is winless so far this year. With a new circuit to learn this weekend, everyone is on an even footing, however EKSRX are also out to snatch that vital second place away.

Whilst there is a twenty-eight point gap between the two squads, a maximum score for a two car team over the weekend is fifty-six points.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship makes it debut in South Africa. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

You can be certain that whilst Ekstrom and Solberg are battling hard, Topi Heikkinen will be in the mix as he takes the fight to the Peugeot team. To add further into the mix, expect Kevin Hansen and Reinis Nitiss to play their part as third entries for both teams.

Adding to the 20 car entry list this weekend are two local drivers. Mark Cronje will make his World RX debut driving for Albatec Racing in one of their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars in what could be the most colourful livery so far in 2017. Having already raced in French RX earlier this year, Cronje has his sights set on reaching the Semi-Finals.

Oliver Eriksson returns to World RX in South Africa. Credit: Olsbergs MSE

Fellow South African Ashley Haigh-Smith makes his World RX debut at the wheel of an Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta Supercar alongside the returning Oliver Eriksson. Whilst Haigh-Smith will be learning the trade on home turf, Eriksson went well on his last outing in Sweden and will be looking to upset the established order in South Africa.

Fellow guest stars include Rene Munnich, who sampled the circuit earlier this year at the launch event, in his Munnich Motorsport SEAT Ibiza RX whilst Gregoire Demoustier returns for his final out of of the year in the second DA Racing Peugeot.

The Ford Focus will make its last World RX appearance in South Africa this weekend. Credit: IMG / FIA World RX

With Hoonigan Racing competing in their last World RX event for now, you can be sure that both Andreas Bakkerud and Ken Block will do their utmost to finish the career of the Ford Focus RS RX with a win, after what has been two seasons of one of the most iconic Supercars to compete in the current era of World RX.

This weekend presents the best parts of Motorsport. A new circuit to learn, the pressure of who can learn the track quickest and who can finish the highest, all whilst introducing the exciting sport that is the FIA World Rallycross Championship to a brand new audience.

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