After a three week break, the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship returns with a double header round at Barcelona. It was Johan Kristoffersson who continued his unrivalled form by taking another top qualifier spot in Barcelona.
Lining up for race one were Kevin Hansen, Enzo Ide, Timmy Hansen, and Robin Larsson. It was Larsson who got the best launch from slot four and attempted to squeeze everyone into turn one.
He briefly appeared in the lead but Kevin managed to slot back up the inside to take the lead. Timmy was shuffled to the back and opted for the early joker.
Meanwhile, Larsson made an excellent pass on Kevin into the long left hairpin and took the lead. Kevin jokered later but came out behind his brother who was lapping quickly.
Larsson jokered on the final lap and came very close to taking the lead but Timmy held on to take the win, an encouraging sign for Team Hansen.
Patrick Guillerme lined up on pole for race two next to Andreas Bakkerud, Mattias Ekström, and Liam Doran. A strange sequence of events began with Doran jumping the start.
Then on the restart, an uncharacteristic mistake from Ekström saw him also jumping the start. This put the ball firmly into Bakkerud’s court as the other drivers were given an extra joker lap.
It was Doran who got the jump on everyone on the third attempt and led from Bakkerud. He jokered immediately. The battle for second ensued between Doran and Ekström as they tried to out-joker each other.
It was Doran who got the better of him in the end. Bakkerud took the win but not by much. He ended up two seconds slower than Hansen, largely explained to a power steering failure in the last two laps.
Championship leader Johan Kristoffersson lined up on pole for race three next to Niclas Grönholm, Timo Scheider, and returning Oliver Bennett.
It was an equal start between Grönholm and Krisoffersson with Grönholm trying everything to squeeze Kristoffersson out, but to no avail. Kristoffersson took the lead and Scheider slotted in front of Grönholm and the pair began to battle, allowing Kristoffersson to check out in front.
The championship leader absolutely destroyed the time of Hansen by three seconds to rocket to the top of the timing sheets before Scheider suffered a major failure on the run to the last corner and stopped metres before the finish line.
After almost three minutes, he managed to restart the Ibiza and register a finish.
The final race of the session saw Tamas Karai lined up on pole with Timur Timerzyanov, Mandie August, and Anton Marklund making up the rest of the grid. Karai added a third jump start to this weekend’s list by getting a little too eager with his Audi.
He reset though and managed to get the best start on his second attempt. He ran a little too deep in turn one which allowed Timerzyanov to slot up the inside to take the lead. Marklund jokered early and began to set good pace.
He eventually jumped Timerzyanov at the merge and crossed the line to take the third fastest time. Kristoffersson, therefore, took another session win to add to his tally. The gap of almost three seconds is incredible worrying.
It was fastest first for qualifying two and the grid for race one was Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, Marklund, Larsson. Drama ensued off the start as once again, Larsson put the squeeze on the field on the outside line.
Marklund was then left in a sandwich in the middle and was forced into Kristoffersson who went up on two wheels after riding the barrier on the inside. He somehow managed to get it back on four wheels and kept battling with Hansen and Marklund, making heavy contact with Marklund on the run towards turn two.
Both the start and the contact in turn two are currently under investigation. Larsson got out in the lead but then on lap three, he suffered a front left failure and careered into the barriers after the jump.
He was uninjured and walked away from the incident, but it would be a DNF for him. Hansen took the lead but Kristoffersson punched in the laps and managed to get Hansen at the merge. He took the win but his time was four seconds off his qualifying one time. Would it be enough?
Grönholm, Timerzyanov, Bakkerud, and Kevin Hansen lined up for race two. Grönholm got the best start but Bakkerud backed off and managed to sneak up the inside of both GRX Taneco cars to take the lead.
Both Grönholm and Hansen jokered on lap one. A mistake from Grönholm in the last corner allowed Hansen to overtake him. The track was getting worse and the times weren’t quite as quick as the first session.
Timerzyanov managed to pass his teammate at the joker merge but couldn’t quite get Kevin. Out front, Bakkerud crossed the line to snatch the fastest time by less than a tenth of a second. The fight was on.
Doran, Ekström, Bennett, and Ide lined up for race three. Doran got the best start as Ekström suffered a poor getaway. Ekström slotted into second but had to follow Doran.
At the joker merge on the last lap, Ekström just about managed to beat Doran and took the heat win, but the time was nowhere near enough to beat Bakkerud. He later confirmed that he was suffering a clutch problem and that they are working to solve it.
The final race of the session saw Karai, August, Guillerme, and Scheider lining up on the grid. Karai stalled off the line as Scheider got an amazing start from the outside and took the lead into turn one.
August had a good battle with Karai for second with August holding on. Scheider led by a country mile out front and took the win but the time was only good enough for fourth, giving Andreas Bakkerud his first qualifying session win of the 2020 season!
Qualifying three started off with the news that Larsson would receive a penalty for the contact in qualifying two that sent Kristoffersson up on two wheels. He was docked ten qualifying points which sent him to the back of the pack in the standings. He would need an incredible result to make the semi-finals.
Lining up for race one were August, Karai, Guillerme, and Larsson on the outside. Larsson got an epic start and took the lead into turn one. He pushed hard out front and took the heat race win, but would it be enough to secure a spot in the semis?
Marklund, Grönholm, Ide, and Bennett lined up for race two. Grönholm took the lead in turn one and fought with Marklund all the way to turn two, the Finn getting the better of the Swede.
Ide slowed down with a problem which held up the Mini of Bennett. Marklund jokered early to try and jump Grönholm but it didn’t work. Grönholm held on to take the victory and the fastest time.
Kevin Hansen lined up on pole for race three with Ekström, Timerzyanov, and Doran next to him. Again, Ekström got a terrible start and dropped back. Hansen got the lead and held off Doran who tried a move on the outside.
Ekström jokered early and began to push. On the last lap, Kevin jokered and the pair emerged side-by-side, with Ekström just managing to take the lead.
Even with the problems, Ekström took the win and the fastest time. It came down to the final qualifying race.
Lining up for the final qualifying session of the day were Bakkerud, Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, and Scheider. Once again, Kristoffersson nailed the start and took the lead.
The Polo was flying and was smashing the lap times of Ekström’s Audi. An early joker for Timmy worked out well and he managed to jump Bakkerud for second. Kristoffersson took the win and the fastest time by nearly three seconds, securing yet another Top Qualifier spot.
The pace in the Hansen Peugeot is encouraging, however, as Hansen was only one second behind Kristoffersson over the line. It looks set to be a great semi-final!
Round sevens and eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship continue in Barcelona throughout this weekend.