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09 Aug 2014

WRX: Canada ruled by Hollywood

Category: News, WRX Posted 09.08.14 12:12 by

Petter Solberg won the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship round held outside of Europe when he claimed a never challenged start-to-finish victory at Trois-Rivières in Canada, ahead of Anton Marklund and Timur Timerzyanov.

 

It was Norwegian Petter ‘Hollywood’ Solberg who took an unchallenged lights-to-flag victory at the World Rallycross Championship round of Canada, thereby becoming the first ever driver to win an FIA sanctioned Rallycross event held on another continent. The PSRX team Number 1 is now also the first double winner in the inaugural WorldRX series. Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Anton Marklund from Sweden and Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Russian star Timur Timerzyanov finished in second and third place respectively, both entering a WRX podium for the first time this season.

Staged at the Trois-Rivières street circuit as part of the annual Grand Prix Trois-Rivières (GP3R) motorsport festival, the seventh round of the WorldRX series attracted 30,000+ people to watch a total of 18 competitors with their flame-spitting SuperCars as well as another nine drivers in the one-make RX Lites category of the so-called ‘Intercontinental Cup’ event. With former Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, ex-IndyCar star Patrick Carpentier and multiple North American Rally Champion Antoine L’Estage the passionate home crowd had three Canadian motorsport stars to cheer up at the all-new Rallycross venue halfway between the cities of Montreal and Québec. However, while Villeneuve was – according to the FIA regulations – denied a place in the Semi-Finals, due to a fuel tank issue that forced him to withdraw, it was Carpentier who surprised his compatriots with a very strong Rallycross debut that brought the Marklund Motorsport wildcard driver into the all-decisive Final where he eventually finished sixth overall.

 

The Trois-Rivières SuperCar podium with (from left) Anton Marklund, Petter Solberg and Timur Timerzyanov. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

The Trois-Rivières SuperCar podium with (from left) Anton Marklund, Petter Solberg and Timur Timerzyanov. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

By his victory in Canada Petter Solberg has extended his WRX championship lead. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

By his victory in Canada Petter Solberg has extended his WRX championship lead. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

Petter Solberg: “I am so, so happy right now, but it hasn’t been the easiest day." © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

Petter Solberg: “I am so, so happy right now, but it hasn’t been the easiest day.” © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

“I am so, so happy right now but it hasn’t been the easiest day,” admitted Petter Solberg, who has extended his lead at the top of the standings by 20 points thanks to three heat victories, plus a win in both, Semi-Final 1 and the Final. The 2003 World Rally Champion then added: “The morning didn’t start so well – we had similar problems to the Mettet event in Belgium, but the mechanics worked really hard on the car and I want to credit this win to my team. I wouldn’t be here without them – they work harder than anyone else. It’s always been my dream to become the first person to win two World Championships [in different motorsports] and now that dream is getting closer, but there are still five races to go and this sport is tough. I’d also like to thank the Canadian organisers – it’s fantastic to come to a new event, and they have done a great job.”

Anton Marklund was a model of consistency over the weekend after never finishing outside the top five in all of the four qualifying heats. The 21-year-old went on to win Semi-Final 2 to qualify on the front row of the Final alongside pole position starter Solberg. “This has been a lot of fun,” grinned Marklund during the press conference. “I’ve managed to score points all day and driving down the long straight at speeds of around 190kmph is just amazing. Usually Rallycross events are over two days, so this has been a big challenge for my team to work over one day and they have done an amazing job. It’s also really good for Volkswagen to have three out of four cars in the Final and now we’re tied with OlsbergsMSE in the manufacturer standings too – it’s been a great weekend for the whole team.”

 

The all-decisive Final was run on Friday evening. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

The all-decisive Final was run on Friday evening. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

Anton Marklund made it to runner-up while Timur Timerzyanov claimed third place. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

Anton Marklund made it to runner-up while Timur Timerzyanov claimed third place. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24

 

The 1370 metres long Trois-Rivières RX track had 65% tarmac and 35% gravel on offer. © Albatec/ERC24

The 1370 metres long Trois-Rivières RX track had 65% tarmac and 35% gravel on offer. © Albatec/ERC24

 

After what can only be described as a torrid four heats for Timur Timerzyanov, the Russian defied all odds to reach the Final where he drove a mature race and secured a well-deserved third place for Team Peugeot Hansen. The reigning European Rallycross Champion commented: “It’s fair to say I’ve had an active day: I’ve been fighting against rails, tyres… but somehow I made it to the Final! I need to work on my driving style but for now I’m really happy and I hope this is the first of many podiums in the second part of the season.”

Two punctures for Reinis Nitišs proved costly for the Ford OlsbergsMSE driver who narrowly missed out on a Semi-Final spot after qualifying 13th at the end of the heats. However, the retirement for Joni Wiman before the Semi-Finals opened the door for Nitišs, as the first reserve driver, to enter the Semi in which he finished in third place.  The Latvian progressed to the Final and eventually finished fourth, but the lack of points gained from the heats means he drops behind VW Marklund’s Toomas Heikkinen in the overall standings. Finn ‘Topi’ Heikkinen rounded off the top five at WorldRX Canada.

 

Briton Andy Scott leading Patrick Carpentier over his home soil, the Canadian eventually made it to the Final. © Albatec/ERC24

Briton Andy Scott leading Patrick Carpentier over his home soil, the Canadian eventually made it to the Final. © Albatec/ERC24

 

Homeboy Jacques Villeneuve had expected more than a 16th place from WorldRX of Canada. © Albatec/ERC24

Homeboy Jacques Villeneuve had expected more than a 16th place from WorldRX of Canada. © Albatec/ERC24

 

Arguably one of the most impressive drives of the event was that of local wildcard driver Patrick Carpentier who made his Rallycross debut in the event racing one of the Marklund Motorsport VW Polo SuperCars. Carpentier, a former NASCAR and IndyCar regular, proved a natural talent despite having only one short test ahead of the race. “I can’t explain how happy I am to have made it to the Final,” beamed the French-Canadian. “Before today my only aim was to reach the Semis and to be in the Final in front of such an amazing home crowd on my RX debut is more than I could ever have hoped for.”

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Henning Solberg and Davy Jeanney both reached the Semi-Finals, but a stall for Solberg on the start line saw the Norwegian denied a spot in the final. Jeanney was close to finishing in the top three in his Semi, but a tussle in the last lap saw the Frenchman lose out on the chance of reaching his first Final this year.

 

Petter Solberg's older brother Henning replaced Liam Doran in the the Briton's Citroën DS3 SuperCar. © Manu Naud/ERC24

Petter Solberg’s older brother Henning replaced Liam Doran in the the Briton’s Citroën DS3 SuperCar. © Manu Naud/ERC24

 

After two heat race wins Jacques Villeneuve was on course for a spot in the Semis, but a heavy landing wreaked havoc with the fuel tank on his Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 SuperCar and forced the French-Canadian to retire. Britain’s Andy Scott made the final 12, thereby securing crucial points for the Scottish-based team.

Vermont-based squad Subaru Rally Team USA impressed on its debut in the WorldRX series as threefold European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen was on the pace throughout all four Heats.  The Norwegian reached the Semis, but finished fifth, one place behind his fellow-countryman OlsbergsMSE driver Andreas Bakkerud who also missed out on a spot in the all-important Final.

 

Swede Patrik Sandell, here leading Frenchman Julien Febreau, made the RX Lites victory his. © OMSE/ERC24

Swede Patrik Sandell, here leading Frenchman Julien Febreau, made the RX Lites victory his. © OMSE/ERC24

 

In the RX Lites ‘Intercontinental Cup’ Swedish former WRC driver Patrik Sandell took the win, with compatriot Kevin Eriksson securing the runner-up spot. F1 commentator and accomplished Rallycross driver Julien Febreau took the third spot on the podium after an impressive debut in one of the RX Lites vehicles. The Frenchman commented: “It’s amazing to come here and take a win – the competition was really tough, the field was full of very talented young drivers, but I’m delighted to have made the Final and it’s even better to finish in the top three.”

 

Official final results of the SuperCars category to be found here.

Official final results of the RX Lites category to be found here.

 

Top photo: The GP3R at Trois-Rivières featured the first ever WRX round outside Europe. © McKlein/IMG/ERC24