Toomas Heikkinen wins Q1 at Loheac

by Jack Cunnane

After a long absence from the FIA World Rallycross championship, Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen has taken the win in the opening qualifying session at Loheac.

The session got underway with a three car race involving Oliver Bennett, Fabian Pailler, and Guerlain Chicherit. It was a disastrous start for Chicherit as he stalled on the line, leaving Bennett to take the lead into turn one. An early joker from Pailler and some quick laps enabled him to overhaul Bennett on the last lap to win the opening race in front of his home crowd.

IMG: Fia World RX

Race two saw Cyril Raymond and Timur Timerzyanov make contact into turn one. Luckily, the pair managed to carry on ahead of Jonathan Pailler but time was certainly lost. Timerzyanov held on for the race win ahead of Raymond but he was visibly frustrated, shaking his head on the way back to the paddock. He said: “We definitely lost time with the contact, we need to go and find some more pace in the car before Q2”.

It was a poor session for championship leader Kevin Hansen as he was dumped down to the back in turn one of race three. Trying to make up ground, he went up the inside of Herve “Knapick” Lemmonier into turn one. Lemmonier, unsighted, turned in and made contact with Hansen. This left Lemmonier in the wall but he did manage to bring the car to the end. Untroubled out front was Heikkinen, who went on to set the fastest time of the session.

IMG: FIA World RX

Drama reigned in race four. It was Timo Scheider who took the lead, and who ultimately went on to win, but the focus was on the battle between Janis Baumanis, Anton Marklund, and Andreas Bakkerud. Contact between Marklund and Bakkerud in turn one left the Norwegian at the back. Baumanis and Bakkerud then worked together to try and bridge the gap to Marklund.

It was tight at the joker lap merge on the final lap as Marklund tried to slot ahead of Bakkerud. There was more contact as they came into the final corner. Baumanis came in ahead of Bakkerud and Marklund brought up the rear. Bakkerud was visibly furious with Marklund, holding the swede up as they came back into the paddock. As they pulled in, Bakkerud jumped from his car and stormed towards Marklund only to be pulled away by his mechanic. Is the pressure getting to the Norwegian.

IMG: FIA World RX

The final race saw the debut of Esmotorsport’s new driver Matvey Furazhkin alongside Niclas Gronholm, Guillaume De Ridder, Timmy Hansen and Liam Doran. It was Gronholm who took the lead into turn one but at the last corner of the same lap, Hansen made a terrific move up the inside to take the lead. Furazhkin didn’t get off to the best of starts, hitting the tyre barrier and tearing bodywork off the Skoda. A clean run from Timmy Hansen out front wasn’t enough and it was Heikkinen who took the session win on his return.

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