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28 Jun 2014

WRX: Marklund & Nitišs on top

Category: News, WRX Posted 28.06.14 23:00 by

During Day 1 of WorldRX Round 4 at Kouvola in Finland Latvian Reinis Nitišs and Swede Anton Marklund have both claimed a fastest heat time to lead the overnight following order with 90 intermediate points each.

 

Kouvola, about 135kms north-east of the capital city of Helsinki, is with a population of 87,000 people the 10th largest town in Finland. After five European Rallycross Championship rounds in the 1970s at Keimola, two intermezzos at Hyrylä (1979) and Suonenjoki (1992) and a total of 18 ERC rounds at Hämeenlinna the Tykkimäen Moottorirata at Kouvola hosted it first European round in 2010. Two more ERC events were organised before Kouvola was granted to organise this Round 4 of the inaugural World Rallycross Championship.

 

The Tykkimäen Moottorirata at Kouvola is busy with its first ever WorldRX round. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

The Tykkimäen Moottorirata at Kouvola is busy with its first ever WorldRX round. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

American Tanner Foust is back in Europe, removing track banners in Kouvola. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

American Tanner Foust is back in Europe, removing track banners in Kouvola. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Of all those who had made an entry for the event just five drivers are missing. Swede Daniel Björg in RX Lites, Russian Denis Salikov in Super1600s as well as Finn Janne Kanerva, Pole Bohdan Ludwiczak and Briton Andy Scott (as the second Albatec Peugeot 208 is still not repaired yet) in SuperCars. This is a very good aspect of the new series, seen that in the past the entry list often contained many more names than the eventual starting list. With 24 entries in SuperCars Kouvola is not playing in the same league as Lydden Hill, Hell or Höljes, but has five more entries than Montalegre on offer.

 

Foust enjoys all of his visits to the WorldRX venues. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

Foust enjoys all of his visits to the WorldRX venues. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Pole Krzysztof Skorupski comes to grips with his Citroën DS3 SuperCar now. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

Pole Krzysztof Skorupski comes to grips with his Citroën DS3 SuperCar now. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Day 1 started with the two hours long Open Practice sessions, Brit Liam Doran (41.418s) eventually topping the order ahead of Swede Timmy Hansen (41.480s) and his compatriot Pontus Tidemand (41.552s). Current WorldRX series leader Latvian Reinis Nitišs (52.559s) made it to fourth, Norwegian Petter Solberg (41.711s) and American Tanner Foust (41.711s) with the same times to fifth and sixth place respectively. For 2012 FIA GT1 World Champion German Markus Winkelhock the racing weekend ended already here. The wildcard driver for Swede Mattias Ekström, who is racing in the DTM round at the German Norisring in Nürnberg this weekend, had to give up due to engine issues of the EKS Audi S1 SuperCar. According to a comment on its Facebook the team has no spare engine available.

 

2012 FIA GT1 Champion Markus Winkelhock preparing for the Open Practice... © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

2012 FIA GT1 Champion Markus Winkelhock preparing for the Open Practice… © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

...but when the engine of his Audi S1 SuperCar gave up the event was over and done with. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

…but when the engine of his Audi S1 SuperCar gave up the event was over and done with. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Heat 1 was driven in fine weather, Reinis Nitišs setting FTD with 2:54.281m, followed by his OMSE teammate Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud (2:54.605m) and Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timmy Hansen (2:55.224m). Liam Doran faced technical problems with his DS3 here, he completed the race, but a poor time of 3:15.638m dropped the Citroën campaigner down to 21st place.

 

After Day 1 and a 10th and a 9th fastest time Alexander Hvaal is 9th overall... © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

After Day 1 and a 10th and a 9th fastest time Alexander Hvaal is 9th overall… © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

...while his teammate PSRX boss Petter Solberg is 10th of the intermediate standings. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

…while his teammate PSRX boss Petter Solberg is 10th of the intermediate standings. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Heat 2 added an extra challenge for the teams when intermittent rain produced a soaked loose surface as well slippery tarmac conditions. This suited several drivers, especially Anton Marklund, who with 3:01.307m set the fastest time here. “The Polo is made for these sorts of conditions,” explained the 21-year-old Swede. “I spent a lot of time this winter driving on ice and it definitely helped me out there today. I was trying to make as few mistakes as possible and I think the strategy paid off. It’s a great start and I’m very pleased with how everything is gone. Tomorrow I will be aiming for the top of the podium.”

 

People from all over Europe have gathered in Kouvola for the Finnish WRX round. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

People from all over Europe have gathered in Kouvola for the Finnish WRX round. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Ex-F1 racer Jacques Villeneuve is confident to drive the Scott Peugeot 208 into the finals. © Albatec Racing/ERC24

Ex-F1 racer Jacques Villeneuve is confident to drive the Scott Peugeot 208 into the finals. © Albatec Racing/ERC24

 

Like father, like son: Marcus Grönholm's offspring Niclas Grönholm is doing well in the RX Lites category. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

Like father, like son: Marcus Grönholm’s offspring Niclas Grönholm is doing well in the RX Lites category. © Toni Ollikainen/ERC24

 

Ex-Formula One driver Canadian Jacques Villeneuve is 13th of the overnight standings, but confident to qualify for the Semi-Finals: “This Kouvola track is great, a lot of fun, but unfortunately we didn’t get the best results from the two heats and so that’s a little frustrating. The car is good, there are no major problems there, we just need to get better starts and find an easier way to get past the slower cars out there.”

Heat 1 of the Super1600 drivers saw Dane Ulrik Linnemann setting the fastest time while Russian Nikita Misyulya made Heat 2 his. The Škoda driver leads the overnight standings with 92 points from the Peugeot campaigner who scored 90 intermediate points. In TouringCars Norwegian Kjetil Larsen drove his Škoda Fabia Mk1 to twice the fastest times, leading the standings with a maximum 100 points now. In RX Lites the son of double World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm gave an impressive debut, Finn Niclas Grönholm drove the fastest time in Heat 1. However, after being fastest in Heat 2 Swede Kevin Hansen is with 88 intermediate points ahead of Grönholm Junior who has bagged 84 points so far.

 

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.

Situation in RX Lites after Day 1 to be found here.

 

Top photo: Marklund is on top of the overnight standings, with Nitišs also having 90 points. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

Day 1 Highlights