Today the first round of the 2020 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super 1600 was held at the Circuit de Catalunya Grand Prix circuit in Spain and although their was quite a significant reduced start grid, the series still provided the fans back home with some great racing action throughout the day.
Due to the ongoing travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 crisis there are only 12 drivers entered for this double-header weekend, down from an original 22 on the entry list before the pandemic.
The race weekend started early on Saturday with free practice on a sunny, cold and damp track. It was the last year’s championship runner-up Gergely Marton who took the fastest time with his four other team mates from Volland Racing ending up within the top eight.
For the first time since the stand-alone event of Euro RX in Estering in Germany last season, the fans could follow all the actions from the qualifying sessions live on the FIA World Rallycross Championship livestream.
In the qualifying sessions, Yuri Belevskiy from Russia, who is racing under the Switzerland flag, took the first win of this season, before going on to win both the semi-final and in the final.
He took an early lead which he held on to over the finish line which was his second win in the series after his first one at Estering last year.
Team mate Marton looked to secure almost a clean sweep today if it wasn’t for his misfortune in the first qualifying and he ended up in second place in the final.
The Super 1600 veteran from Hungary won the second and third qualifying heats to take the first top qualifier position of the year and he also won his semi final to book himself a front-row spot in the pole position alongside Belevskiy but after the first turn he had to slot in to second place which he held on to the finish line.
Rasmus Tuominen, who is debuting in the class this weekend as part of his RX Academy championship prize from winning the series last season, showed great pace despite being new in it series.
He scored a debut podium finish after clever jokerlap tactics in the final and despite been caught up in traffic, he managed to finish behind the two Volland Racing Audi cars out in front.
Marius Bermingrud, who was supposed to be behind the wheel of a Alfa Romeo MiTo for Tedak Racing this season, but instead stood in for Timur Shigabutdinov in the Audi S1.
Even though the Audi was a new car for Bermingrud, he was quick all day and managed to put himself within the top five fastest times in the qualifying sessions.
Höljes winner from last season Bermingrud’s ended the day fourth after a fine comeback drive in the final.
The fourth Volland Racing car in the final was Artur Egorov. He finished the final in fifth place after it looked like he was about to miss out the final due to two rounds of contacs with the Super 1600 legend Josef Susta from the Czech Republic. Both were under investigations by the stewards but no action was taken.
Rounding up the entrants in the final was series newcomer Joao Ribeiro from Portugal. He has a lot of experience in Super 1600 machinery from his national series and just a week before the start of the first race of the season, he had bought the Škoda Fabia from Zsolt SZIJJ Jolly.
Ribeiro looked set to take a podium finish in the final, but as Tuominen was starting to close in on him, he had no more chances to take the joker and as a result on the last lap he ended up coming out of the joker lap in last place.
Volland Racing’s new signing Marat Knyazev was the only driver from the team to miss out the final, while both Marcel Snoeijers and Radoslaw Raczkowski both had mechanical issues with their cars so have a long night ahead of them ahead of the second round tomorrow.
The second round of the 2020 Euro RX Super 1600 championship will take place tomorrow in Spain, beginning with the qualifying session at 10am.
Stay tuned on The Checkered Flag where we will keep you updated on everything that happens at Circuit de Catalunya.