European RallycrossProjekt E

PREVIEW: 2020 Euro RX / Projekt E of Latvia – Rallycross Returns to the Beloved Forest Park

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Credit: Neste World RX of Latvia

The second round of the 2020 FIA European Rallycross Championship will take place at Riga in Latvia this weekend and after the very successful season opener at Höljes earlier this summer, it’s all to play for as the series reaches its mid point.

18 drivers will compete in Euro RX this weekend, at the circuit which has hosted the championship every year since 2016.

The Riga circuit is well known for being very technical with tight corners and has been a location for a lot of action in recent seasons. For first time since 2016 however Latvia doesn’t play host as the Euro RX season finale due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with that title instead going to Belgium in November.

Latvia is also the first venue that allows spectators to watch this season, with 1000 fans set to be allowed around the circuit throughout the two days of action.

The first corners always brings a lot of door-to-door action – Credit: IMG / World RX

Who have raced in Latvia before?

Andri Ōun, Mats Öhman, Oliver Eriksson, Peter Hedström, Paulius Pleskovas, Jean Baptiste and Andréa Dubourg are some of the drivers that have competed in Latvia in the past.

The popularity of the long-standing circuit means as a result only four drivers entered in the class haven’t previously competed a race in Latvia, whether that be in either Euro RX or RallyX Nordic, which visited the tack in 2018.

Tobias Daarbak from Denmark had a great start to his first season in a Supercar at Höljes. The 18-year-old has learned a lot so far in only a couple of outings so far this year. He comes from a background of racing rear-wheel-drive previously with both Crosskart and Euro RX Touringcar experience. He is for sure one driver to look out for this weekend if he has the same luck as he did in Höljes.

Returning to the championship after missing out the season-opener due to travel restrictions is Mikko Ikonen from Finland. Last year he was one of the permanent drivers in the championship but he had to miss out Latvia due to a heavy crash in Lohéac.

Dan Öberg will be swapping his Scirocco for the weekend – Credit: RallyX Nordic

Replacing Pontus Tidemand who has selected to do the FIA World Rally Championship round in Turkey this weekend, will be the Supercar newcomer Dan Öberg. He made his debut at Höljes but for this round he is swapping his VW Scirocco to the Hedströms Motorsport Polo and lining up alongside the team manager Hedström in the team.

Similar to Daarbak, coming from the Touringcar class is David Nordgård, who has dominated in the Norwegian championship this year but didn’t have any luck with him at the season opener after suffering technical problems.

It will be a tight battle in the top

Oliver Eriksson is currently leading the championship after his dominant performance on home soil in Sweden. The newly crowned RallyX Nordic champion has only raced one time in Latvia before though when the RallyX Nordic series visited the venue back in 2018.

With his lack of experience of the track, he has to play this weekend smart and try not to make any mistakes as he competes against a strong field of drivers that have competed here regularly before.

Jean Baptiste Dubourg won in Latvia last year – Credit: IMG / World RX

Jean-Baptiste Dubourg won in Latvia last season with his brother Andréa Dubourg finishing not far behind in second place.

Ben-Philip Gundersen is still relatively new to the Supercar class but he still has to be considered for a strong result this weekend. He is well known for fast starts and will be hoping to keep up this reputation with overtaking traditionally much to do here than at most other rallycross circuits.

Both Sondre Evjen and Thomas Bryntesson have done well in the past at the circuit so should also be drivers to watch as well as rallycross veteran Peter Hedström also. If Ulrik Linnemann manages to make it to the event, he is also another man who could be challenging for a win.

Projekt E Continues to Make History in Latvia

The Projekt E all-electric support series also returns this weekend, at the same location where the championship was first unveiled last season.

In the very first race of the new era of rallycross racing, it was YouTube and Gymkhana star Ken Block who won and wrote a new chapter in the history books.

The American driver doesn’t however enter this weekend, but a new car does make its debut in the form of the Citreon C3 ERX.

Double RX2 International Series champion Cyril Raymond will give the new vehicle its first public outing, which is the first car in the class to have been designed using a R5/Rally2 base.

Janis Baumanis with the concept car in Latvia last year – Credit: STARD

Local hero Janis Baumanis, who had been set to do a full season campaign in World RX this year but was forced to miss some of the events due to financial problems caused by the pandemic, will also compete in the class with a STARD prepared Ford Fiesta ERX.

Natalie Barratt is the only driver from the first round that we do know will definitely be competing at Riga. The British female driver had a roller coaster start to her campaign but a second place finish in the final at Höljes should have boosted her confidence in the car a lot more ahead of this weekend.

Svein Bjarte Holten from Norway was the first customer to buy a fully-electric car when they became available to purchase and enters his first weekend of the season after being forced to miss out in Sweden.

The Projekt E series was officially unveiled in Latvia last year with a specially created media conference held at the Riga Motor Museum. Throughout the weekend the concept car was seen out on track with various of guest drivers testing it in a bid to promote the upcoming 2020 season.

The layout of Riga

  • Track lenght: 1.295 km
  • Dirt / asphalt: 40% / 60%
  • 2019 winner: Jean-Baptiste Dubourg
  • Fatest lap: Rokas Baciuska (World RX 2019) 48.485 seconds

Riga is one of the oldest tracks on this year’s calendar and has been previously been used for circuit racing that dates way 50 years way back to the Soviet Union era.

In 2016 the track was rebuilt with a proper rallycross layout and the circuit is well known for its narrow and hard to pass nature.

The track is really challenging in the wet – Credit: Neste World RX of Latvia

The track has also one of the longest joker laps on this year’s calendar and the merge is really difficult for the drivers because to a blind spot, meaning spotters play an even more vital role this weekend.

The weather in Latvia in previously years has always either been rainy on either one or both days of the weekend. The slippery surface have caused many drivers to run wide on the third corner and hit the tyre wall also in the past.

Round 2 weekend schedule (local time GMT +3)

Saturday 19 September

  • Free practice: 08:30
  • Euro EX Q1: 10:30
  • Projekt E Q1: 12:10
  • Euro RX Q2: 13:45
  • Projekt E Q2: 16:15

Sunday 20 September

  • Euro RX Q3: 10:15
  • Projekt E Q3: 10:45
  • Euro RX Q4: 11:50
  • Projekt E Q4: 12:20
  • Euro RX semi-final: 13:15
  • Euro RX final: 14:15
  • Projekt E final: 16:30

Where to watch?

Every qualifying session including World RX can be followed on the official FIA World Rallycross Championship YouTube and Facebook pages, with coverage presented by regular presenter Neil Cole and commentary by Andrew Coley and Dan Rooke.

The TV shows like usual starts one hour before the finals. If you live in a country without a local TV broadcasting deal you can still continue to watch it on social media but if you can’t access these, you can have a look at the national TV listings where the championship is broadcast.

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