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28 Sep 2014

WRX: Johan K. leads Italy

Category: News, WRX Posted 28.09.14 01:00 by

By claiming a second fastest as well as a fastest time it was Johan Kristoffersson who ensured himself the top position of the Overnight Standings at Franciacorta in Italy while WorldRX championship leader Petter Solberg faced engine troubles.

 

It took more than three decades to bring Rallycross back to Italy where between 1977 and 1980 the Rallypista Santo Spirito at Gropello-Cairoli near Pavia hosted a total of four rounds counting for the FIA European Championships for Rallycross Drivers of its early years. Although Italy never had its own national Rallycross scene the Franciacorta International Circuit near Brescia was granted Round 10 of the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship, to be run over an almost 1400 metres long track using the tarmac parts of the ‘Autodromo’ situated in the comune Castrezzato of the Lombardy region in the north of Italy.

 

After a 30+ years break Rallycross is back on Italian soil, the 2014 venue is the Franciacorto Circuit. © JKR/ERC24

After a 30+ years break Rallycross is back on Italian soil, the 2014 venue is the Franciacorto Circuit. © JKR/ERC24

 

Championship leader Petter Solberg jumped high, but is only seventh overnight.  © JKR/ERC24

Championship leader Petter Solberg jumped high, but is only seventh overnight. © JKR/ERC24

 

After Day 1 Johan Kristoffersson, the son of former Rallycross star with Audi Tommy Kristoffersson, is leading the event from his compatriots Timmy Hansen and Anton Marklund, making it three Swedes on top of the Overnight Standings. WorldRX championship leader Petter Solberg faced engine troubles right from the beginning of the weekend. “What a day, I am very relieved to be in seventh place after the day I have had I can tell you,” explained Solberg who can win the WorldRX title this weekend if he extends his lead to 60 points. “At the end of Open Practice there was an oil leak as the engine block had cracked. We didn’t have the time to change it during the heats, so we took off the gearbox to try and fix the crack as best as we could. During Heat 2 I also broke the left-rear shock damper and then got a puncture as well. Eventually I was lucky to finish ninth. We have a big job ahead – we need to change the engine and the turbo. We need to look at the gearbox and the dampers too, it will be a big night ahead. But tomorrow is a new day and I have an amazing team so I’m confident they will do a good job tonight.”

 

Former WRC star Gigi Galli is the WRX guest driver that pulls the interest of the media people. © JKR/ERC24

Former WRC star Gigi Galli is the WRX guest driver that pulls the interest of the media people. © JKR/ERC24

 

With a Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST SuperCar of OMSE Italian Galli is racing in the Top 10 so far. © JKR/ERC24

With a Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST SuperCar of OMSE Italian Galli is racing in the Top 10 so far. © JKR/ERC24

 

After a very good start of his weekend, including the fourth fastest time in practice, the second fastest time in Heat 1 and eventually the victory in Heat 2, Johan Kristoffersson is delighted to hold the first place overnight in his fourth WRX outing. The by Volkswagen Sweden backed Polo SuperCar campaigner, who also leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (EuroRX), of which Italy is the final round, explained: “I’m really enjoying myself here – the track suits me and the car very nicely. In the second heat I had some technical problems as I had the throttle stuck on full, but I got the fastest time so maybe it wasn’t such a big problem after all!”

After the first two heats fourth and fifth place are occupied by Marklund Motorsports’ Finn Toomas Heikkinen and Latvian Reinis Nitišs. Nitišs’ OMSE teammate Andreas Bakkerud was not placed so well. The Norwegian incurred a double Joker Lap penalty for a jump-start in Heat 1 and was excluded for exceeding the track limits in Heat 2. Sixth overnight and leader of the EuroRX championship is Swede Robin Larsson with his Audi A1 SuperCar.

 

Finn Toomas 'Topi' Heikkinen claimed a seventh and a third fastest time on Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

Finn Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen claimed a seventh and a third fastest time on Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

 

The weather is perfect down in Italy with temperatures of over 25 °C. © JKR/ERC24

The weather is perfect down in Italy with temperatures of over 25 °C. © JKR/ERC24

 

Arguably the most impressive drive of Day 1 was that of local hero Gigi Galli who excelled on his WorldRX debut with a Focus Mk7 ST SuperCar of Ford-OlsbergsMSE to hold eighth place overnight. “I am really happy to be here, and I’m also a little surprised,” admitted Galli who helped to design the Rallycross track of the venue. “To be racing against the likes of Petter [Solberg] who I know from my days in the World Rally Championship is amazing. My aim here is to learn, to enjoy myself and to do my best. The car was perfect today so now I continue to learn tomorrow and hope to go as far as I can in front of my home fans.”

 

"We don't care about speeding!" © JKR/ERC24

“We don’t care about speeding!” © JKR/ERC24

 

Swede Daniel Lundh currently tops the TouringCar standings and has done his title chances no harm on Day 1; after three heats he is third overall. Norwegian Anders Bråten was third fastest twice as well as fastest in Heat 3 to top the order, with his fellow-countryman Per Magne Røyrås in second place.

In Super1600s Latvian Jānis Baumanis is on top after winning all three heats. Russian Denis Salikov is second, with compatriot Nikita Misyulya in third position. Series leader Sergey Zagumennov from Russia is seventh overnight, but with a 24 points lead he looks set to wrap up the title tomorrow provided he keeps his nose clean.

 

In the RX Lites category Daniel Holten (left) and Kevin Hansen (right) have ruled Day 1 in Italy. © JKR/ERC24

In the RX Lites category Daniel Holten (left) and Kevin Hansen (right) have ruled Day 1 in Italy. © JKR/ERC24

 

The 2012 German Rally Champion Mark Wallenwein's first Rallycross experiences are tough. © JKR/ERC24

The 2012 German Rally Champion Mark Wallenwein’s first Rallycross experiences are tough. © JKR/ERC24

 

Kevin Hansen came back with the fastest times of Heat 1 and Heat 2 before the Swede lost Heat 3 to Norwegian Daniel Holten. Therefore, the son of 14-times ERC winner Kenneth Hansen tops the order of the RX Lites category, ahead of Holten and the offspring of OMSE principal Andréas Eriksson, Kevin Eriksson.

 

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.

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

 

For more images please visit our Flickr gallery here.

 

Top photo: After two qualifying heats it is Johan Kristoffersson who leads the SuperCar standings. © JKR/ERC24

 

The highlights of Day 1.

 

Neil Cole report after Day 1.