PREVIEW: World RX of Germany – Championship still in play for runner-up spot

by Vince Pettit

While the main drivers’ championship title may already have been decided as the ever-dominant Johan Kristoffersson marched on to his second consecutive championship, it is all still to play for for the runner up spot as the FIA World Rallycross Championship heads back to Europe for the World RX of Germany.

The series visits the Estering circuit in Buxtehude, Germany this weekend, which aside from being the oldest track on the current schedule, also features one of the fastest sections with the long downhill run between turn one and two.

Heading in to the race, Kristoffersson’s team-mate Petter Solberg is one of four drivers who all have a chance of securing the runner-up spot. He won this event in the closets finish in rallycross history in 2014, just five thousandths-of-a-second separating the top two and has followed things up with two more podiums at the circuit since.

Another former champion with a chance of taking second is Mattias Ekstrom, who heads in to the weekend just two points ahead of Solberg as he hopes for a good end to the 2018 season following the announcement that Audi would be ending their involvement in the EKS rallycross programme.

Andreas Bakkerud and Sébastien Loeb are the other two drivers in contention, and with eleven podiums this year between the two, cannot be discounted for the win.

While Kristoffersson has won a lot of races in his rallycross career, he has yet to make it to the podium in Germany, something he will be looking to change this weekend!

Timmy and Kevin Hansen will be pushing all of the way for a strong finish to the year, the former was in the hunt for second place in the championship but a loss of 30 points due to penalties for engine changes in Latvia and USA has put him out of contention. Kevin will be hoping to progress through to the finals once again after doing so in the the last two World RX of Germany events.

GRX Taneco Team will be hoping for a repeat (or better) of Niclas Gronholm‘s performance in 2017 when he finished fifth place. Hyundai team-mate and former Euro RX Champion Timur Timerzyanov will also be doing his best to progress to the finals.

Credit: World RX / IMG

Coming in strong with three cars is the GC Kompetition team, owner Guerlain Chicherit heads up the entry with the British Bomb Liam Doran returning once again along with Anton Marklund. Doran has form at this circuit having won in 2012 on the way to the runner-up spot in Euro RX.

Olsbergs MSE bring  two drivers – Robin Larsson, who secured the final podium spot in 2014 and their very own Kevin Eriksson who went down in local folklore after taking his maiden World RX victory two years ago with his spectacular ’round the outside’ first corner move.

“Germany two years ago was without doubt the best moment of my World RX career to-date.” said Eriksson. “It’s always special to win, but to do so at the absolute pinnacle of the sport and against the very best drivers in the business is an incredible feeling.

“The first corner was the key for me. I had visualised the start in my head so many times, and when it came to it, I swallowed some brave pills and just went for it – and it paid off!

“Going back to the Estering always brings back good memories for me, and with the recent engine updates to our Ford Fiesta, hopefully we can have another strong performance this year.”

Aside from the teams there are a number of one-car entries returning, Team STARD are back with Janis BaumanisSebastien Loeb Racing’s Gregoire Demoustier, Briton Oliver Bennett in his XITE Racing Mini, Rene Muennich for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport, Norway’s Kjetil Larsen and reigning RX2 International Series Champion Cyril Raymond who will be racing a Peugeot 208.

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