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05 May 2014

WRX: Solberg writes history

Category: News, WRX Posted 05.05.14 00:30 by

Day 2 of the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship series saw Norwegian Petter Solberg claiming a historical maiden victory, while Intermediate Classification leader Timur Timerzyanov missed out a place in the all decisive Final.

 

Montalegre is a rather small rural town with a population of about 1800 inhabitants in the highest north of Portugal. Laying at about 900 metres above sea level the centre of the Montalegre municipality makes part of the so-called Alto Trás-os-Montes [‘behind the mountains’] sub-region at the very close Portuguese border with Spain and its Galicia territory. In 2007 the Pista Automóvel de Montalegre has become a venue for international Rallycross events, subsequently hosting a total of five ERC rounds till 2013. This weekend it was up to the Montalegre track to host the maiden round of the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship and about 25,000 spectators where present to witness the beginning of a new Rallycross era.

Day 2 at Montalegre started with the usual warm-up, Petter Solberg, his teammate Alexander Hvaal and Timmy Hansen setting the pace here. Liam Doran proved to be on par yet, his fourth fastest time produced some hope for the Briton. However, things did not work out as expected and at the end of the weekend the Citroën DS3 campaigner found himself in 19th and thereby last place at the bottom of the Intermediate Classification standings.

 

The Final has been started... © JKR/ERC24

The Final has been started… © JKR/ERC24

 

...Petter Solberg did not launch as good as Reinis Nitišs... © JKR/ERC24

…and Petter Solberg did not launch as good as Reinis Nitišs… © JKR/ERC24

 

...but eventually he enters the first corner in the lead. © JKR/ERC24

…but eventually enters the first corner in the lead. © JKR/ERC24

 

After his victory the Norwegian was cheered by the enthusiastic spectators. © JKR/ERC24

After his victory the Norwegian was cheered up by the enthusiastic spectators. © JKR/ERC24

 

Petter Solberg dominated the entire Sunday, the 2003 World Rally Champion setting the fastest times in Heat 3 and 4, winning his Semi-Final and eventually storming to a never challenged overall victory in the six laps Final. Here the Norwegian reached the chequered flag with an advantage of about one hundred metres over his compatriot and friend Andreas Bakkerud. During the four heats and the Semi-Finals ‘BabyBlue’ had lost the team internal fight versus Latvian Reinis Nitišs with a 1:4 result, but during the all decisive run for the podium places Bakkerud was able to keep Nitišs in a sufficient distance to become the runner-up to Solberg. The Ford-OMSE pair claimed second and third place overall and, thereby, scored valuable points for the Team Championship.

“I am overwhelmed, today is like a dream,” explained an emotional Solberg in the press conference after his success and continued: “I have been fighting for another victory for a long time, so it is fantastic to finally get this win. It’s like winning my first ever Rally again and I’m sure even my mum and dad are proud of me now. I have to thank my wife Pernilla too, and I have some of the best mechanics, they are fantastic. Finally, I also want to thank IMG – they do an incredible job. I’ve never seen anyone promote a sport as well as they have done with Rallycross. It’s amazing.”

 

Reinis Nitišs (right) and Andreas Bakkerud claimed the most points for the Team Championship standings. © JKR/ERC24

Reinis Nitišs (right) and Andreas Bakkerud (left) claimed the most points for the Team Championship standings. © JKR/ERC24

 

Bakkerud proved at Montalegre that he is one of the 2014 top favourites. © JKR/ERC24

Bakkerud proved at Montalegre that he is one of the 2014 top favourites. © JKR/ERC24

 

'BabyBlue' is loved by the fans for being always ready for a joke or two. © JKR/ERC24

‘BabyBlue’ is loved by the fans for being always in the mood for a joke or two. © JKR/ERC24

 

Andreas Bakkerud: “First of all, I want to congratulate Petter, I have seen how hard he has worked and he deserves this. About myself I must state that I’m not 100% happy, seen that the second is actually the first loser. But for us the main point is that we’ve put Ford-OlsbergsMSE at the top of the Team Championship and it’s great to be sharing this podium with my teammate Reinis.”

Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was unable to make it to today’s Semi-Finals after his bad luck yesterday. His 12th fastest time in Heat 4 was the best he could do in Portugal. The French-Canadian concluded his own Rallycross kick-off: “This weekend has been like an appetiser and even though it hasn’t gone to plan, I’ve learned a lot. I’m very happy with the Albatec Racing team and now we have more time to prepare for the next rounds.”

 

The Peugeot-Hansen team made it to the Semi-Finals, but there it was where bad luck hit both drivers. © JKR/ERC24

The Peugeot-Hansen team made it to the Semi-Finals, but there it was where bad luck hit both drivers. © JKR/ERC24

 

Alexander Hvaal had to give up after half the distance of Semi-Final 1. © JKR/ERC24

Alexander Hvaal had to give up after half the distance of Semi-Final 1. © JKR/ERC24

 

The Monster badgers were once again part of the show. © JKR/ERC24

The Monster badgers were once again part of the RallycrossRX show. © JKR/ERC24

 

Russian Sergey Zagumennov (Škoda Fabia Mk2) took the Super1600s victory and summarised his victory in only one sentence: “I always have the pedal flat down and that’s how Russians like to drive!” Second place was claimed by his fellow-countryman Nikita Misyulya (Škoda Fabia Mk2), both Russians driving with the German Volland Racing team, while Latvian former Autocrosser Jānis Baumanis (Renault Twingo Mk2) was taking the third step of the Montalegre rostrum.

In the TouringCars category it was Norwegian Torleif Lona (Ford Fiesta Mk7 RWD) who took the overall win, followed by his compatriots Kjetil Larsen (Škoda Fabia Mk1 RWD) and Anders Bråten (Ford Fiesta Mk7 RWD). Lona summed up his weekend: “This is incredible – we didn’t expect this when we got here. I had a bit of a struggle with the car this morning, but we sorted it out and now we see how we feel for the rest of the year.”

The first ever RX Lites Cup competition, in 2014 a support category of WorldRX, was won by Sebastian Eriksson with Kevin Eriksson in second. Multiple STCC series winner Richard Göransson claimed the final podium spot, to make it a Swedish 1-2-3 success.

 

More Montalegre images to be found here in our Gallery.

 

Final results of the SuperCars category to be found here.

Final results of the Super1600s category to be found here.

Final results of the TouringCars category to be found here.

Final results of the RX Lites category to be found here.

 

 

 

Top photo: Petter Solberg made the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship event his. © JKR/ERC24