Round seven of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at the Circuit Trois-Rivieres, Canada as the championship its sole appearance in North America with the championship heating up,
Kevin Hansen leads the championship from brother and teammate, Timmy Hansen by a slim margin of six points. Andreas Bakkerud is still in contention for the title, twenty-two points behind Kevin.
There are no favourites in 2019 with at least half of the entry list for the World RX of Canada, capable of winning the final. So far the series has seen five different winners from six events, including four first-time winners and a wildcard winner.
2019 World RX Winners
- World RX of Abu Dhabi – Kevin Hansen
- World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya – Timmy Hansen
- Spa World RX of Benelux – Timur Timerzyanov
- World RX of Great Britain – Timmy Hansen
- World RX of Norway – Niclas Gronholm
- World RX of Sweden – Sebastian Eriksson
Astonishingly, despite winning six qualifying, two semi-finals and demonstrating excellent pace, Andreas Bakkerud is not one of those winners in 2019. Even more surprising is that the Norwegian has not won since November 2016 in Argentina.
Bakkerud could have won the last three events. A driveshaft failure when leading his semi-finals last time out in Holjes hurt him in the championship; the torrential rain in Hell did not play into his hands as the 27-year-old failed to make the final at home in Norway and at Silverstone, a better joker lap strategy in the final could have put the Monster Energy RX Cartel driver ahead of Timmy Hansen.
Luck has not been on Bakkerud’s side recently and in rallycross, you need every bit of luck you can get in such a chaotic championship. Thankfully, the Trois-Rivieres circuit is less demanding on the car compared to Holjes last time out with a smaller jump and a less abrasive surface.
What makes Trois-Rivieres unique is that is has the characteristics of a street circuit. There is no other circuit in the calendar like it. The walls are close all the way around the 0.85 miles track so accuracy is vital and you need to get close to the walls to execute the optimal laptime.
Three words you might hear a lot this weekend are ‘nice, neat and tidy’ because you can’t really slide the car too much are ‘send it’ into the corners in Canada unlike some of the tracks World RX has been to so far this year. Trois-Rivieres is similar to Silverstone in that sense.
The run down to turn one is the longest of the year so the cars jostle for position at high speed and there is always drama throughout the weekend because cars can often be four or even five abreast going into the braking zone. The width of the track at turn one allows cars to duck underneath one another as drivers run wide by braking too late or carrying too much speed into the corner.
From then on, the track tightens up with no real opportunity to overtake. The joker lap merge can be awkward because the tight right hander only has one racing line and if the drivers try to go side by side into there, the driver on the outside is almost certainly going to end up in the concrete wall.
- Track Length: 0.85 miles (1.37KM)
- 2018 Winner: Johan Kristoffersson
- Asphalt/Dirt: 60%/40%
- Joker Lap Loss: 2.7 seconds (approximately)
Nobody has dominated the season but the Team Hansen MJP Peugeot 208s could be tough to beat in Canada. The nimbleness of the Peugeot and the style of both Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen will suit them. We saw this in Spain earlier this year at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya when they Timmy took a clean sweep (topping all of the qualifying sessions, winning his semi-final and the final) with brother Kevin making it a Hansen 1-2.
Silverstone could have had a similar result had Kevin not spun on the last lap of his semi-final. The Silverstone and Barcelona tracks require a very good front end and strong mechanical grip, just like Trois-Rivieres so the Hansen brothers might be the drivers to beat in Canada.
The reality is that more than half of the 17-car entry list have a genuine chance of winning.
GC Komptition are yet to win an event this season, following Anton Marklund‘s heartbreaking disqualification in Norway after crossing the line first. Marklund is still the team’s best bet for a win with Guerlain Chicherit lacking raw speed and Rokas Bacuiska still learning the car after joining the team mid-season.
The junior squad, GCK Academy, have still not extracted the pace from the Renault Clio and Belgium driver Guillaume De Ridder has had plenty of hard luck this year. De Ridder has made only one semi-final appearance so far this year and his results do not show the speed and talent that he has.
Due to the small entry for Canada, GCK will be looking to get all five cars into the semi-finals. From there, anything can happen but with the pure number of cars they have, don’t be surprised to see one of the Renaults’ on the podium.
Nobody has made every final in 2019, although Niclas Gronholm has made the final every time he has competed in an event. The GRX Taneco driver missed the Belgian and British rounds due to an appendicitis operation. Super-sub, Joni Wiman, stepped in and did a brilliant job in the Hyundai i20, including a podium at Spa.
If you add Gronholm’s and Wiman’s point together (96+39) then Gronholm would be the championship leader on 135 points. It is such a shame that Gronholm is not realistically in the title fight but if he can make the podium this weekend and make the final in the remaining events, you never know what position the 23-year-old may find himself in, come the final round in South Africa.
You would be a brave person to make a prediction about what will happen in a rallycross event and even if the Hansen brothers, Bakkerud and Gronholm might be the favourites going into the weekend, they are only very slight favourites and everyone else can genuinely challenge and beat them.
Execute the perfect weekend and you will give yourself a chance to win, the only problem is that you have 16 hungry, determined, adrenaline-filled drivers who are trying to do exactly the same thing. The walls are always ready to bite in Trois-Rivieres so any mistake or any misfortune will be punished and punished hard.
Whoever can avoid the walls and keep it clean will prevail but you also have to avoid the other 600BHP machines who will be willing to bump, lean and trade some paint to cross the finish line in first place.