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03 May 2014

WRX: TT takes Day 1 of new era

Category: News, WRX Posted 03.05.14 23:54 by

Day 1 of Round 1 of the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship was marked by the fight of 2012 and 2013 ERC winner Timur Timerzyanov and his challenger 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg.

 

The first day of a new Rallycross era is already history. Round 1 of the inaugual FIA World Rallycross Championship kicked off at Montalegre in northern Portugal, just a stone throw away from the border with Spain. A total of 43 drivers for the three known categories SuperCars, Super1600s and TouringCars showed up at the venue, another 9 competitors made it to the startline for the international debut of the RX Lites vehicles.

The two most interesting drivers for the media, prior to the WRX season start, were 1997 Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg. Each of the two having the unique chance to claim another FIA World championship title in a completely different motorsports discipline now. Meanwhile, the Team Peugeot-Hansen of 14-times European Rallycross Champion Kenneth Hansen played with hidden cards till the eleventh hour. The extension of the cooperation with threefold ERC winner Timur Timerzyanov was not revealed before the WorldRX Media Day in Italy, where the Swedish squad arrived without its brand-new Peugeot 208 SuperCars…

 

Ups and downs for Petter Solberg again, he is currently 10th. © JKR/ERC24

Ups and downs for Petter Solberg again, he is currently 10th. © JKR/ERC24

 

Reinis Nitišs was in the lead on Saturday eve, but not for long. © JKR/ERC24

Reinis Nitišs was in the lead on Saturday eve, but not for long. © JKR/ERC24

 

Petter Solberg started the Montalegre event with the fastest time in Open Practice, in a last minute attempt topping Timur Timerzyanov’s 39.513 seconds with his final 39.340s. Third place was claimed but SuperCar debutant Reinis Nitišs; with 40.227s the Latvian was leading the pack of drivers that was not able to cross the 40 seconds mark.

In Heat 1 it was the other way round; ‘TT’ made the fastest time his while ‘Hollywood’ became his runner-up. ‘BabyBlue’ Andreas Bakkerud finished in third place, Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen was fourth and Timmy Hansen fifth fastest.

 

Timur Timerzyanov is in the lead after Saturday, teammate Timmy Hansen in 11th place. © JKR/ERC24

Timur Timerzyanov is in the lead after Saturday, teammate Timmy Hansen in 11th place. © JKR/ERC24

 

Alexander Hvaal finished the Saturday in 7th position. © JKR/ERC24

Alexander Hvaal finished the Saturday in 7th position. © JKR/ERC24

 

Heat 2 saw an early collision between the Russian and the Norwegian, Solberg was nudged out of the race in the first corner. After driving his Peugeot to the fastest time again the Team Peugeot-Hansen driver was given a black flag penalty, with the result that Reinis Nitišs found himself on top of Saturday’s point standings. However, this was for less than one hour only. After the Stewards of the Meeting had heard what Solberg and Timerzyanov had to tell about their incident the Peugeot driver’s exclusion was quashed. With the result, that the overnight situation sees Timur Timerzyanov (100 points) ahead of Andreas Bakkerud (81), Toomas Heikkinen (80), Reinis Nitišs (80), Anton Marklund (78) and, somewhat surprising, Koen Pauwels (75).

 

Jacques Villeneuve found himself in 15th place on Saturday evening. © JKR/ERC24

Jacques Villeneuve found himself in 15th place on Saturday evening. © JKR/ERC24

 

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve finished his Rallycross debut in poor 15th place at the end of Day 1. “It was a tough learning day and the level of competition here is very high, so I will need to push,” explained the former F1 World Champion. “The car feels different to how we tested it during the winter. I made a mistake in the first heat and had a puncture in the second, but I hope to make the semis tomorrow. It feels great to be part of a Championship again – the Rallycross fans are great.”

 

Portuguese Joaquim Santos ploughing the sand on home soil. © JKR/ERC24

Portuguese Joaquim Santos ploughing the sand on home soil. © JKR/ERC24

 

Ulrik Linnemann was the fastest of Heat 2 in Super1600s. © JKR/ERC24

Ulrik Linnemann was the fastest of Heat 2 in Super1600s. © JKR/ERC24

 

Torleif Lona hurling his Ford Fiesta Mk7 RWD to a heat win in TouringCars. © JKR/ERC24

Torleif Lona hurling his Ford Fiesta Mk7 RWD to a heat win in TouringCars. © JKR/ERC24

 

STCC star Richard Göransson showed his Rallycross skills in RX Lites, leading after Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

STCC star Richard Göransson showed his Rallycross skills in RX Lites, leading after Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

 

The new RX Lites category has the potential to entertain the Rallycross fans. © JKR/ERC24

The new RX Lites category has the potential to entertain the Rallycross fans. © JKR/ERC24

 

More Montalegre images to be found here in our Gallery.

 

Situation in SuperCars after Day 1 to be found here.

Situation in Super1600s after Day 1 to be found here.

Situation in TouringCars after Day 1 to be found here.

 

 

 

Top photo: Threefold ERC winner Timur Timerzyanov finished Day 1 with the maximum of 100 points. © JKR/ERC24