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21 Sep 2014

WRX: Solberg tops the order

Category: News, WRX Posted 21.09.14 01:30 by

FIA World Rallycross Championship leader Petter Solberg tops the following order after Day 1 of the German WRX round, although he wasn’t able to set the fastest time in the first or the second qualifying heat.

 

The Estering at Buxtehude near Hamburg has seen its first Rallycross event on May 21 1972, before being host for the second ever European Rallycross Championship round in 1973. Ever since the German venue has hosted European rounds almost every year and, as a matter of fact, is holding the ERC round record with a total of 39 organised events. For 2014 the organising AC Niederelbe was lucky to be granted Round 9 of the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship, the pinnacle in the history of the club that was ruled till 1993 by the late Bernd Ziskofen. Not many people know or remember that it was Ziskofen who during the late 1980s and early 1990s was trying very hard to turn the European championship into a by FIA recognised World series. A project he wasn’t able to realise before he passed away immediately after a meeting of the European round organisers association ERA in November of 1993. The merchant from Hamburg-Neugraben, who for almost two decades was the person with the biggest influence in our motorsport, would certainly have loved to play a leading role in this weekend’s event…

 

The Estering is hosting its 40th ERC/WRX round this year. © JKR/ERC24

The Estering is hosting its 40th ERC/WRX round this year. © JKR/ERC24

 

The late Bernd Ziskofen, here together with the late Klaus Stich (right), was "Mister Estering" and keen to create a Rallycross World series. © EL/ERC24

Bernd Ziskofen (left), here pictured with the late Klaus Stich, was “Mister Estering” and keen to create a Rallycross World series. © EL/ERC24

 

1972: The Estering pictured in its first ever Rallycross year, when Start and Finish were still near the track entrance. © Webfind/ERC24

1972: The Estering pictured in its first ever Rallycross year, when Start and Finish were still near the track gate. © Webfind/ERC24

 

A record breaking 41 SuperCars started Day 1 of the German event with the two hours long Open Practice sessions. It was Swede Mattias Ekström who posted the quickest time with 36.884 seconds here, ahead of his four compatriots Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson (36.947s), Johan Kristoffersson (37.022s), Timmy Hansen (37.082s) and Peter Hedström (37.103s), while Finn Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen (37.109s) was the first non-Swedish driver in sixth place. It did not take long that EuroRX points leader Robin Larsson clocked the fastest time of Heat 1 with 2:36.010 minutes. In Heat 1. Petter Solberg (2:36.052m) was second fastest, while his older brother Henning Solberg (2:36.842m) took third place as once more stand-in for Liam Doran in the Briton’s Citroën DS3 SuperCar.

 

The action of Day 1 was intense, here a battle between Anton Marklund and Andreas Bakkerud. © JKR/ERC24

The action of Day 1 was intense, here a battle between Anton Marklund and Andreas Bakkerud. © JKR/ERC24

 

The fight went on through the entire so-called 'Hohlweg' [defile]. © JKR/ERC24

The fight went on through the entire so-called ‘Hohlweg’ [defile]. © JKR/ERC24

“I love this circuit – it’s really technical but that first corner can be crazy. You need to get it just right and there’s more pressure with so many cars. The tiniest mistake can knock you out of a heat and with 40 other cars and with the Championship to think about, I need to get the right balance between flat out and getting through all of the races,” explained Petter Solberg who leads the overall driver standings of the series by 28 points, ahead of Reinis Nitišs and Toomas Heikkinen.

Ford-OlsbergsMSE driver Andreas Bakkerud also spoke of the difficulties on turn one, which saw the driver break his car’s suspension during the first heat. The Norwegian explained: “There is a lot of traffic on the first corner, and I could feel the car start to dance. I managed to get round the corner but then I lost control again and the car was everywhere. I could see Anton [Marklund] and Davy [Jeanney] behind and I started to panic, but they were gentlemen and slowed so they didn’t hit me. It was really scary, but I made it through and now I will push to make the semis tomorrow.”

 

The long awaited Audi S3 SuperCar of German René Münnich did not finish in both heats. © JKR/ERC24

The long awaited Audi S3 SuperCar of German René Münnich did not finish in both heats. © JKR/ERC24

 

Tommy Rustad drove his Volvo C30 SuperCar twice to a fast time. © JKR/ERC24

Tommy Rustad drove his Volvo C30 SuperCar twice to a fast time. © JKR/ERC24

 

Mattias Ekström went on to win Heat 2 with 2:36.618 minutes, pipping reigning European Rallycross Champion Timur Timerzyanov (2:36.904m) to the post by 0.3 seconds. “The Joker is what makes this circuit really difficult,” explained the Tatarstan-Russian who is currently seventh in the driver standings. “I nearly rolled the car at one point, you need to be very careful. My times have been good today and now I will get a good night’s sleep and hope to be fighting for the win tomorrow.” Third fastest time was clocked by Petter Solberg (2:37.359m) here, thereby the 2003 World Rally Champion ensured himself the lead of the overnight standings. Solberg the Younger has currently 87 points, Timerzyanov in second position holds 85 and Ekström in third place 82 points.

 

Henning Solberg holds fifth place of the overnight standings. © JKR/ERC24

Henning Solberg holds fifth place of the overnight standings. © JKR/ERC24

 

The ex-Sverre Isachsen Ford Focus Mk2 SuperCar helped Frode Holte the his current seventh position. © JKR/ERC24

The ex-Sverre Isachsen Ford Focus Mk2 SuperCar helped Frode Holte the his current seventh position. © JKR/ERC24

 

Guttorm Lindefjell dances with 'Donna', the ex-Holte Volvo C30 SuperCar. © JKR/ERC24

Returnee Guttorm Lindefjell dances with ‘Donna’, the ex-Frode Holte Volvo C30 SuperCar. © JKR/ERC24

 

Fourth overnight is EuroRX front-runner Tommy Rustad after a sterling drive in his Volvo C30 SuperCar. Henning Solberg rounds off the top five and spoke positively about his performance at the end of day press conference: “I’ve been really happy with the car today and have enjoyed the gravel sections of the circuit. I think we have shown the kind of speed that we should have had in the previous couple of rounds and I’m looking for a place in the final tomorrow.”

After a day of close race action in the Super1600 and TouringCar FIA European Rallycross Championship categories, Dane Ulrik Linnemann and Norwegian Kjetil Larsen lead their classes respectively.

 

Standings in SuperCars after Day 1 to be found here.

Standings in Super1600s after Day 1 to be found here.

Standings in TouringCars after Day 1 to be found here.

 

For more images please visit our Flickr gallery here.

 

Top photo: Petter Solberg hurling his Citroën DS3 SuperCar over the Estering. © JKR/ERC24 

 

Day 1 highlights.