Anton Marklund (Hyundai i20) was declared winner of the second round of the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX1 cars at Höljes in Sweden today (July 3). For the Swede his second win of the Euro RX1 season. Oliver Solbergl who initially “won” the final from Anton Marklund (Hyundai i20) and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Peugeot 208) was disqualified following final scrutineering after the final. Wins in the other categories went respectively to Marius Solberg Hansen (Škoda Fabia Mk3) in Euro RX3 and Viktor Vranckx (RX2e) in RX2e.
Given the format changes that have been introduced for the 2022 season – “Q4” has been dropped and replaced by so-called ‘Progression races’ – the second part of the event has first of all a focus on those progression races. All drivers – with the condition of having taking the start in at least 50% of the heats – are allowed to take part in it to seek qualification for the semi-finals. The ranking after three heats is used for the grids for the progression races. On the other hand it also has its importance related to qualification for the semi-finals as it is used to solve ties in certain situations (e.g. it is possible under the new format that the final spot in the semi-finals and the final spot in the final has to be solved by using the ranking positions after three heats).
In Euro RX1 on Sunday a third heat was completed with Anton Marklund being fastest. The ranking after three heats – with Marklund on top, Solberg second, Johan Kristoffersson (VW Polo Mk5) third and so on – was then used as input for the progression races in accordance with Appendix 3 of the Sporting Regulations. In this case all of the 25 starters moved on to one of the five 5-car progression races with each time the first three qualified for one of the three semi-finals. As such any of the 25 starters was on Sunday afternoon, at least theoretically, still able to qualify for the semi-final, for the final and as such even able to win the event.
After 10 Euro RX1 drivers were eliminated during the progression races – without any surprises – the remaining 15 took the start in the semi-finals. In the first semi-final with Marklund and Andreas Bakkerud (Audi S1) among others the first named was leading it up into the penultimate lap when he had to deal with a puncture right front. Bakkerud was able to pass him and secure his spot for the final. Marklund still managed it to come in second and secure his spot for the final as well as he was on top of the list after three heats. In the second semi-final Oliver Solberg booked a solid win but the main action was behind Solberg with Sondre Evjen (Audi S1) and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg battling it out for second place eventually won by Dubourg. The third and final semi-final went to Kristoffersson. As Jānis Baumanis (Peugeot 208) came in second it meant that Dubourg was through to the final because of a better ranking.
The Euro RX1 final saw a line up with Oliver Solberg on pole, beside him Johan Kristoffersson, then Andreas Bakkerud with Anton Marklund and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg completing the grid for the 5-car 5-lap final. Solberg won the start and went into the first corner ahead of Kristoffersson who decided to pass through the joker lap section immediately in the opening lap. He was followed by Bakkerud and Dubourg. Then Solberg made it into the joker the lap after and managed it to join the main track again ahead of Kristoffersson who was forced to retire the lap after. Solberg started chasing Marklund who was leading but still had to pass through the joker lap section. Therefore it was relatively easy for Solberg to gain the lead in the final lap and make the Höljes Euro RX1 event his. Bakkerud then initially moved into second ahead of Marklund but soon had to retire as well. Therefore Solberg passed the finish line first with championship driver Anton Marklund and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg coming in second and third.
Then close by 9pm a decision from the Stewards of the Meeting was published saying that Solberg’s car was in breach with Appendix J Article 279 10.3.15 with underbody protection of the Hyundai being overweight. Weight limits regarding underbody protection were put in place so that teams may not manipulate the centre of gravity of the car the Steward’s Decision reads. Following the breach Solberg was disqualified from the final and Anton Marklund was declared winner with Jean-Baptiste Dubourg now second and Andreas Bakkerud third.
“Obviously you never want to win this way, and I feel very sorry for Oliver [Solberg] because he drove amazingly all weekend,” Marklund said afterwards. “I know the heartache he is feeling right now, since I lost what would have been my first World RX win in Norway in 2017 due to a technical infringement, but that’s the way it is and the result is obviously very positive for the championship for us.
“To be second overall on Saturday was already very good, but to then go fastest in heat three and move to the top of the leaderboard in such a strong field was fantastic – and it was brilliant to see so many fans back again.
“Here at Höljes, there’s always a lot of drama. I hoped I wouldn’t be struck by it, but in the semi-final, I picked up a puncture and had to really fight to hang on for the last two laps. In the final, I then completely overshot the jump on lap one and after that, the front end of my car didn’t really feel like it should. I couldn’t keep up with Oliver [Solberg]’s pace, but I got lucky with the other guys having issues and we ended up with the win. Hopefully we can now capitalise on this momentum over the rest of the year.”
In the standings after two events Anton Marklund (40 points) is leading it with maximum points, 18 points clear on Jānis Baumanis.
In Euro RX3 all of the 16 starters also qualified for the progression races. This lead to four 4-car progression races to eventually end up with 15 drivers for three 5-car semi-finals. The driver who got eliminated after the progression races was Guttorm Lindefjell (Škoda Fabia Mk2) as he was the lowest placed driver in the ranking of all fourth place finishers. Afterwards in the first semi-final it was Portuguese driver João Ribeiro (Audi A1) who won it from Kobe Pauwels (Audi A1). Therefore Pauwels had to sit out the remaining semi-finals to see whether he made it through. The second semi-final was won by Marius Solberg Hansen with Damian Litwinowicz (Audi A1) coming in second. Almost maximum benefiting from the new system was Estonian Janno Ligur ((Škoda Fabia Mk3) who won the third semi-final and qualified for the final after a DNS and a DNF in the first and second heat on Saturday. Pauwels and Litwinowicz were also through to the final while Espen Isaksætre (Peugeot 208), who finished second in semi-final three, got eliminated.
Marius Solberg Hansen had the better start in the Euro RX3 final and lead it from lights to flag. For Janno Ligur unfortunately the final was halted in the opening lap. Solberg Hansen went into the lead ahead of three Audi A1’s with Ribeiro, Pauwels and Litwinowicz chasing the Norwegian. Pauwels and Litwinowicz passed through the joker lap section in the second lap while Ribeiro passed through it later allowing Pauwels to move into second. Litwinowicz eventually came in third after he passed Ribeiro in the final lap. However, as this was done under a yellow flag Ribeiro was promoted to third and joined the podium of Euro RX3 with Solberg Hansen and Pauwels. Kobe Pauwels is leading it in the standings with 36 points ahead of Ribeiro (26 points) and Litwinowicz (23 points)
In Rx2e with 10 qualifiers after the heats no one was eliminated following the progression races as its purpose in this case was solely to determine what driver was racing in what semi-final. Viktor Vranckx was one of the drivers to start in the first semi-final and together with Nils Andersson (RX2e) he made it through to the final. The qualifiers from the second semi-final were Isak Sjökvist (RX2e) and Raül Ferré (RX2e). Patrick O’Donovan (Rx2e) won semi-final two but forgot to pass through the joker lap section. He consequently received a 30 seconds time penalty. The fifth qualifier for the final was Pablo Suárez (RX2e) as best third place finisher in the semis.
In the final of the RX2e Viktor Vranckx start it from pole and went into the lead ahead of Sjökvist. Andersson went into the joker lap in the opening lap and then climbed to second place eventually after first Raül Ferré and then Isak Sjökvist passed through the joker lap section. Vranckx only made it in the joker lap section in the final lap but had a comfortable lead to score his first win the RX2e championship. Nils Andersson and Isak Sjökvist joined the Belgian on the Rx2e podium.
Next rounds are taking place on July 30-31 at the Nürburgring in Germany with the 2022 FIA World Rallycross Championshiop opening round, the second round of the 2022 FIA RX2e Championship and the third round of the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship for RX3 cars.The Euro RX1 championship resumes in August in Hell in Norway.
Euro RX1 – Final: 1. Anton Marklund (S), Hyundai i20; 2. Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (F), Peugeot 208; 3. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Audi S1 – DNF; 4. Johan Kristoffersson (S), VW Polo Mk5 – DNF; -. Oliver Solberg (N), Hyundai i20 -DSQ.
Euro RX3 – Final: 1. Marius Solberg Hansen (N), Škoda Fabia Mk3; 2. Kobe Pauwels (B), Audi A1; 3. João Ribeiro (P), Audi A1; 4. Janno Ligur (EST), Škoda Fabia Mk3 – DNF; -. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), Audi A1 – DSQ.
RX2e – Final: 1. Viktor Vranckx (B), RX2e; 2. Nils Andersson (S), RX2e; 3. Isak Sjökvist (S), RX2e; 4. Raül Ferré (AND), RX2e; 5. Pablo Suárez (E), RX2e.
Euro RX1 (2/5): 1. Anton Marklund (S), 40; 2. Jānis Baumanis (LV), 22; 3. Enzo Ide (B), 19; 4. Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (F), 18; 5. Sivert Svardal (N), 17; etc;
Euro RX3 (2/5): 1. Kobe Pauwels (B), 36; 2. João Ribeiro (P), 26; 3. Damian Litwinowicz (PL), 23; 4. Marius Solberg Hansen (N), 20; 5. Jan Černý CZ), 16; etc;
RX2e (1/5): 1. Viktor Vranckx (B), 20; 2. Nils Andersson (S), 16; 3. Isak Sjökvist (S), 13; 4. Raül Ferré (AND), 12; 5. Pablo Suárez (E), 11; etc.