The first round of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship took place at Montalegre in Portugal with a surprising outcome…
Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud is leading the season-opening Bompiso Rallycross of Portugal, round one of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, after the event’s first two heats. Reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg is second in his SDRX run Citroen DS3 Supercar while Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen rounds off the top three.
Heavy rain fell on the Montalegre circuit in north-east Portugal today as Bakkerud, who drives for the Ford Olsbergs MSE squad, posted the fastest time in heat one out of the 21 Supercars. Hansen and Solberg finished second and third respectively – separated only by one hundredth of a second as both drivers posted a time of 2m57s.
“I’m happy with my performance today; the conditions were very tricky for the start, so I focused on that,” explained leader Bakkerud at the end of day one. “As long as we’re top seven in the rest of the heats then we will have good points to get into the semi-finals. For sure I want more speed to come later on and I know we are not even close to the limit yet.”
The rain continued for heat two which saw Solberg take the heat win over Bakkerud who was second-quickest. Team Volkswagen-Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson was third quickest, while Marklund Motorsport’s PG Andersson clinched fourth place.
It was a dramatic opening day for EKS driver Anton Marklund who rolled his Audi S1 EKS Quattro going into the second lap of the first heat. The Swede returned for heat two but was forced to retire when his car stopped half-way through. Elsewhere, Robin Larsson spun his Audi A3 Supercar going into the Joker Lap and beeched his car in the gravel.
Alx Danielsson had a difficult start on his RX debut with ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport after suspension problems during free practice meant the ex Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion was unable to start Saturday’s heats.
Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson has won the Bompiso Rallycross of Portugal, round one of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, after a dominant display in his Volkswagen Team Sweden Polo RX Supercar. Reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg clinched the runners-up spot and Timmy Hansen finished third for Team Peugeot-Hansen.
Kristoffersson – an accomplished racing driver having won the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) and Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia – lined up on the front row along Solberg for today’s six-car final. Joining Solberg, Kristoffersson and Hansen on the grid was Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Olsbergs MSE), Davy Jeanney (Team Peugeot-Hansen) and PG Andersson (Marklund Motorsport). Kristoffersson was quickest off the line and was awarded with the first Monster Energy Super Charge Award of the year.
“I am so, so happy,” beamed Kristoffersson, who also wins a Rebellion Timepieces Wraith Drive Rallycross limited edition watch for his win in Portugal this weekend. “I nearly stalled the engine on the start line and the whole circuit was unbelievably slippery but I drove a clean race. I couldn’t see out of the side windows so it was more about survival than actual racing. I want to say a big, big thank you to Volkswagen Sweden and to my entire team who have done a fantastic job over the past few months. They have worked very hard to build this car which has been working well all weekend. It’s the best possible start to the season.”
Second placed Solberg, who won last year’s race in Portugal, added: “It is very important to have a good first race – consistency is as important as winning races in rallycross. I’ve not been feeling well this weekend and then I lost my gear lever in the final so it certainly wasn’t easy but I’m happy with second. Johan [Kristoffersson] has done a very good job this weekend.”
Team Peugeot-Hansen got its 2015 season off to a promising start after team-mates Timmy Hansen and Davy Jeanney finished third and fourth respectively. “The final was like driving on soap, there was no grip and then I lost my power steering – my arms are so tired now,” explained 22-year-old Hansen. “I’m really happy with the car, it’s very quick but it’s new so we need to make some small changes before our next race. Overall, it’s been a great start to the year and I’m really happy that both myself and Davy got to the final.”
Andreas Bakkerud rounded off the top five in Portugal after a solid display in his Olsbergs MSE prepared Ford Fiesta. The Norwegian was leading overnight but was knocked out of podium contention after contact with Sweden’s PG Andersson during the final.
Two-time DTM Champion and EKS team owner Mattias Ekstrom finished seventh overall in Portugal, while last year’s World RX runner-up Topi Heikkinen was eighth after a consistent weekend of driving in the Marklund Motorsport prepared Polo. Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov and Austria’s Manfred Stohl finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG, commented: “We’ve witnessed some sensational driving in Portugal this weekend and the performance displayed by our younger drivers in such tricky driving conditions is particularly impressive. Kristoffersson joins us as a permanent World Championship driver for the first time this year and the fact that he can win on his debut with Volkswagen Team Sweden is testament to the high standard of drivers that we have competing in World RX. It’s excellent to see three manufacturers – Volkswagen, Citroen and Peugeot – finish on the podium and the development on the cars over the winter hiatus has been very impressive. It’s always a pleasure coming to Montalegre – the Portuguese fans are extremely passionate and still flocked in their thousands despite the rain. With four races in five weeks, the teams have got little restbite now as we head straight to Hockenheim for our first ever event alongside the highly-acclaimed DTM series.”
Round Two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place at Hockenheim in 7 datlys…
All the best!