Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) claimed his first win of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today (October 17) when he won the seventh round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. Johan Kristoffersson (VW Polo Mk5) and Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208) joined Timmy Hansen on an all Swedish podium. Yury Belevskiy (Audi A1) drove to victory in the opening round of the 2020 FIA European Super1600 Rallycross Championship. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held behind closed doors.
Round seven of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, with the official name ‘World RX of Pirineus-Barcelona 2030’ focusing on a possible 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games candidacy, went underway on Saturday morning without one of the permanent teams. Guerlain Chicherit’s Unkorrupted pulled out of the event saying on social media that “during tests after Riga major problems (‘des problèmes importants’) were discovered that could not be solved in time”. Following the absence, the Stewards of the Meeting, according to the regulations, fined the team for failing to participate in the competition with 50.000 Euro, suspended until the end of the season.
Therefore the number of World RX teams was brought down to five for this seventh round of the 2020 championship. A total of 16 drivers (team entries and individual entries) were allowed to take part in the event. Points leader after six events in the championship Johan Kristoffersson immediately set the fastest time in Q1. His main challenger in the championship Mattias Ekström (Audi S1) was only tenth. He caused one of the jumpstarts in his Q1 race and was therefore forced to pass through the joker lap section twice. In Q2, that was run according to fastest first, Kristoffersson was out on the track in the first Q2 race and beat Timmy Hansen. For the fastest time in Q2 the Swede got beaten by Andreas Bakkerud (Renault Mégane Mk4). Once more Mattias Ekström was dealing with issues in the start and made it eventually in sixth. After Q2 he complained about clutch issues and was hoping it would be replaced for Q3 in an attempt to obtain still a good qualifying position.
During Q3 on Saturday afternoon unfortunately for Ekström he was still struggling with the issues in the start what brought him into fourth place. Bad luck also for Ekström’s teammate at KYB Team JC Robin Larsson (Audi S1). He got penalized by the Stewards for not respecting the cars on the left in his Q2 race before the first turn, putting him back to 16th place overall before Q3. He then made it to 13th in the intermediate classification and therefore he was normally out for the semi-finals. Top qualifier at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was once more Johan Kristoffersson who set another fastest time in Q3. Timmy Hansen was second overall and Andreas Bakkerud third. Both also set a respectively second and third time in Q3. The top five in the intermediate standings was completed by Kevin Hansen and Mattias Ekström.
The first semi-final went underway with Johan Kristofferson and Andreas Bakkerud on the front row, Mattias Ekström and Timur Timerzyanov (Hyundai i20) on the second row and Timo Scheider (SEAT Ibiza Mk4) and Oliver Bennett (BMW MINI) on the third row. After the start and turn one, Kristoffersson went into the lead ahead of Bakkerud and Ekström. Ekström was the first one of the leading trio to pass through the joker lap section in lap three. When Bakkerud did the same the lap after Ekström moved into second place. Kristoffersson on the other hand had a comfortable lead and his win never came in danger. He won the semi-final with Ekström and Bakkerud the other qualifiers for the final.
Both of the Hansen brothers were on the front row for the second semi-final. The second row was occupied by Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai i20) and Anton Marklund (Renault Mégane Mk4). For the third row the luck was back on Robin Larsson’s side as Enzo Ide (Audi S1) – racing basically for the same ‘team’ – was left out of the semi-final and Larsson, as first reserve, was brought in. He was placed on the last row together with Liam Doran (Renault Mégane Mk4). When the green light was shown both of the Hansens closed the door for second row starter Grönholm. After the first turn Kevin Hansen was leading it from Timmy Hansen and Grönholm while Larsson was in fifth. With Marklund and Grönholm in the first and second lap passing through the joker lap section Larsson was able to climb to third spot in the race. With Timmy Hansen passing through the joker lap section in lap four he climbed to second behind leader Kevin Hansen. Both made it into the joker in the last lap giving Timmy Hansen the possibility to move into the lead. Larsson on the other hand went down to fifth and was out for the final. Grönholm joined the Hansen brothers to the final.
Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen were on the front row for the final with Ekström and Kevin Hansen behind them. The grid was completed by Andreas Bakkerud and Niclas Grönholm. Kristoffersson lead it after the first turns from Timmy and Kevin Hansen with Ekström in four and making it into the joker lap section in the opening lap. From there he was never able to join the battle for the podium. This was decided among Kristoffersson and the Hansens. Following the joker lap strategies Timmy Hansen was running second in the last lap when Kristoffersson still had to pass through the joker lap section. He then was successful in overtaking Kristoffersson and holding him off in the remainder of the lap to win his first race of the season. “It feels like I’ve just beaten the unbeatable one. For so many years we have chased that Volkswagen, as a private team, as a factory team with Peugeot and now as a private team again,” Timmy Hansen said. “The guys have done some magic back home, we’ve been testing really hard but we’re onto something and we came here feeling we had the pace.” Kristoffersson eventually finished second and Kevin Hansen was third. Ekström finished in fifth behind Grönholm while Bakkerud was the last finisher in six. In the standings after seven rounds Kristoffersson (193 points) now established a 25 point lead on Ekström (168 points). Third in the standings is today’s winner Timmy Hansen with 140 points. “It’s been details here and there today,” commented Kristoffersson. “But for the overall picture I have to be very happy, to take 27 points and extend the lead in the Championship.”
Alongside the seventh round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship today’s event featured also as the opening round of the 2020 FIA European Super1600 Rallycross Championship. The Super1600 European championship is scheduled to run over three rounds in 2020. Round 2 will be held tomorrow (October 18) at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya while the third round normally will take place mid December at the Nürburgring in Germany.
Only 12 drivers made it in these Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic times to Montmeló. Leading entry this year in Super1600 is Volland Racing who is fielding 5 Audi A1 cars and won also last year’s championship with Aydar Nuriev. Nuriev is not racing in the 2020 championship and as such not defending his title. Marat Knyazev (Audi A1) was initially the sole newcomer in the Volland Racing squad but later on also Marius Bermingrud (Audi A1) joined. The Norwegian ultimately changed from Tedak Racing and an Alfa Romeo to Volland Racing and an Audi A1. Bermingrud replaces Timur Shigaboutdinov who decided not to race in Super1600 in 2020. Furthermore Gergely Marton (Audi A1), Artur Egorov (Audi A1) and Yury Belevskiy (Audi A1) continue with Volland Racing prepared cars in 2020. Apart from the five Audis also two former Volland Racing cars are present with the Škoda Fabias of Portuguese driver João Ribeiro (Škoda Fabia Mk2) and French racer Jérémy Lambec (Škoda Fabia Mk2).
The top three in the intermediate classification was occupied by Audis with Marton claiming the top qualifier position after having set fastest times in Q2 and Q3. Belevskiy, who was fastest in Q1, was second ahead of Bermingrud. Set Promotion’s Rasmus Tuominen (Renault Twingo Mk2) got classified fourth with Artur Egorov in fifth. Tuominen won the 2019 RX-Academy season and was awarded a drive in the 2020 championship. As a consequence of the twelve-driver-startlist all of them were “qualified” for the semi-finals. The real battle therefore was about who will make it through to the final. Following the first semi-final the Audis of Gergerly Marton, Marius Bermingrud and Artur Egorov all qualified for it after a one-two-three finish. The second semi-final was won by Belevskiy with Tuominen second and Ribeiro third.
The final with Marton and Belevskiy on the front row and Bermingrud and Tuominen on the second row went underway with Marton and Belevskiy going side by side after the first turn but then the latter went into the lead ahead of Marton and Tuominen. Tuominen, after an early joker, was down to fifth then but then moved into fourth in the penultimate lap after he passed Ribeiro. With Bermingrud, who ran third, passing through the joker lap section the Finn climbed further to third in the race. In the mean time Belevskiy and Marton were still leading it and made it as one and two to the finish line while Tuominen claimed the last step of the podium. Belevskiy (29 points) is also leading it in the standings after one event from Marton (27 points).
The next rounds in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship and the 2020 FIA European Super1600 Rallycross Championship are taking place tomorrow Sunday October 18 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at Montmeló. The action on the track starts at 8:30 am local time with a warm-up session.
World RX final: 1. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 2. Johan Kristoffersson (S), VW Polo Mk5; 3. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 4. Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Hyundai i20; 5. Mattias Ekström (S), Audi S1; 6. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Renault Mégane Mk4.
Super1600 final: 1. Yury Beleveskiy (RUS), Audi S1; 2. Gergely Marton (H), Audi A1; 3. Rasmus Tuominen (FIN), Renault Twingo Mk2; 4. Marius Bermingrud (N), Audi A1; 5. Artur Egorov (RUS), Audi A1; 6. João Ribeiro (P), Škoda Fabia Mk2.
Drivers (7/10): 1. Johan Kristoffersson (S), 193; 2. Mattias Ekström (S), 168; 3. Timmy Hansen (S), 140; etc.
Teams (7/10): 1. KYB Team JC (S), 275; 2. Team Hansen (S), 258; 3. GRX Taneco (FIN), 207; etc.
Super1600 (1/3): 1. Yury Belevskiy (RUS), 29; 2. Gergely Marton (H), 27; 3. Rasmus Tuominen (FIN), 22; etc.