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29 Sep 2014

WRX: Solberg bags World title

Category: News, WRX Posted 29.09.14 00:30 by

After winning the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) Petter Solberg has now made the first ever FIA World Rallycross Championship (WRX) his, a third place in Italy was enough to become unbeatable in the two remaining rounds of Turkey and Argentina.

 

With a 51 championship points advantage over Finn Toomas Heikkinen Norwegian Petter Solberg had arrived in Italy. To ensure himself the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship title early the Citroën campaigner had to build up a 60 points margin prior to the penultimate round in Turkey and the Finale in Argentina. In case of an eventual tie the four overall victories of ‘Hollywood’ will be decisive, his competitor cannot win more than three rounds. After WorldRX of Italy in Franciacorta Solberg has collected a total of 235 points now and his closest rival ‘Topi’ Heikkinen has 175 points on his tally the Norwegian is the first driver ever to have claimed two FIA World titles in completely different carsport disciplines.

 

Petter Solberg was kissing his SuperCar after learning that he had claimed the WorldRX title. © JKR/ERC24

Petter Solberg kissed his SuperCar after learning that he had claimed the WorldRX title. © JKR/ERC24

 

STCC star Richard Göransson made it to runner-up in his first SuperCar race. © JKR/ERC24

STCC star Richard Göransson made it to runner-up in his first SuperCar race. © JKR/ERC24

 

“This hasn’t sunk in yet, it is a dream come true,” grinned Solberg. “When I stopped Rallying I didn’t know what to do and then IMG took on Rallycross and brought it to an amazing level, so now it seemed like the right choice. I broke the right-rear suspension in the Final and my spotter was shouting on the radio that I needed to calm down because all I had to do was get to the podium and I would win the title. I just wish my family were here today with me – my wife Pernilla [daughter of 1980 European Rallycross Champion Per-Inge Walfridsson] and my son Oliver are back home because Oliver won the Norwegian Crosskart Championship yesterday. I have to thank them and my whole team who have worked so hard to make this happen; they really do an incredible job and have worked day and night for a lot of the season. I can’t wait to celebrate this moment with everyone tonight.”

 

OMSE wildcard driver Gigi Galli and the team's regular Andreas Bakkerud joking about. © JKR/ERC24

OMSE wildcard driver Gigi Galli and the team’s regular Andreas Bakkerud joking about. © JKR/ERC24

 

Former WRC star Galli adopted quickly to the Rallycross SuperCar but got lost in his Semi-Final. © JKR/ERC24

Former WRC star Galli adopted quickly to the Rallycross SuperCar but got lost in his Semi-Final. © JKR/ERC24

 

Winner of the Franciacorta weekend became Timmy Hansen, the older of the two sons of 14-times ERC winner Kenneth Hansen, on the day before his fathers 54th birthday. The 21-year-old looked almost untouchable in his Peugeot 208 SuperCar, setting the fastest times in two of the four heats as well as winning his Semi-Final and the all-decisive Final to grab his first WorldRX victory. “This has been a brilliant weekend and it is the best feeling to win when I pushed so hard for this moment,” explained Hansen who was joined by teammate Timur Timerzyanov on the front row of the six-car Final. “During the Final I was pushing really hard, but after a few laps in I saw pieces from the other cars all over the track so I knew there had been a lot going on behind me. Both Petter and Richard [Göransson] were giving me a lot of pressure, but thankfully I was able to hold on and I’m so happy to finally take a win for my team.”

 

Johan Kristoffersson was the big surprise of the Italy weekend. © JKR/ERC24

Johan Kristoffersson was the big surprise of the Italy weekend. © JKR/ERC24

 

The weather was perfectly right for the Monster grid queens. © JKR/ERC24

The weather was perfectly right for the Monster grid queens. © JKR/ERC24

 

Joining Timmy Hansen and Petter Solberg on the winners’ podium was Swedish STCC ace Richard Göransson who impressed a lot of people during his SuperCar debut. The Saab driver in the Swedish Touring Car Championship series and RallyX Lites campaigner battled with an OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST SuperCar against a hugely competitive field of 37 other SuperCars to eventually reach the Final. Here he took advantage from Solberg’s broken suspension to become Hansen’s runner-up. “I am speechless, it has been an absolutely crazy weekend,” explained the Swede. “This has been my first ever SuperCar event and I would have been happy to have made the Semi-Finals, never mind second overall. I kept out of trouble in the Final and that’s what led to this result.”

 

The rostrum of the RX Lites drivers with (from left) runner-up Kevin Eriksson, winner David Holten and third Kevin Hansen. © JKR/ERC24

The rostrum of the RX Lites drivers with (from left) runner-up Kevin Eriksson, winner David Holten and third Kevin Hansen. © JKR/ERC24

 

The RX Lites campaigners chasing over the 1400 metres long Franciacorta International Circuit. © JKR/ERC24

The RX Lites campaigners chasing over the 1400 metres long Franciacorta International Circuit. © JKR/ERC24

 

Alongside Göransson in the Final driving a second Fiesta was OMSE’s regular Andreas Bakkerud who retired very early to finish the event in sixth place. Bakkerud’s teammate Reinis Nitišs was still in the title fight with Solberg, but the 18-year-old’s chances of the WorldRX title were shattered when the Latvian was knocked out of the Semis. Sweden’s Johan Kristofferson led the Intermediate Classification after Day 1 and another very strong performance on Day 2 saw the VW Polo driver finish fifth in WorldRX and second in the EuroRX classification. The most impressive result of Johan K. was his third place in Semi-Final 2, where the son of Rallycross legend Tommy Kristoffersson had to do two the Joker Lap twice after jumping the start.

 

The venue's Rallycross paddock pictured on Saturday evening. © JKR/ERC24

The venue’s Rallycross paddock pictured on Saturday evening. © JKR/ERC24

 

Italy is more than Pizza and Spaghetti. © JKR/ERC24

Italy is more than Pizza and Spaghetti. © JKR/ERC24

 

Beside Round 10 of the World series Italy also marked the final round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship, which Robin Larsson won after finishing seventh in the Intermediate Classification stage. Petter Solberg’s older brother Henning Solberg finished runner-up in EuroRX after reaching today’s Semi-Finals while his stepson EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand was awarded third. “It feels great to be European champion. We’ve been struggling all weekend with engine problems so we didn’t have the power we wanted. We have just been safe in all four heats and managed to finish them,” said the offspring of double ERC winner Lars Larsson later.

 

The podium of the Super1600 competitors with (from left) runner-up Jānis Baumanis, winner Nikita Misyulya and third Krisztián Szabó. © JKR/ERC24

The podium of the Super1600 competitors with (from left) Jānis Baumanis, Nikita Misyulya and Krisztián Szabó. © JKR/ERC24

 

Second Filip Baelus (left), winner Anders Bråten (centre) and third Torleif Lona (right) on the TouringCars podium. © JKR/ERC24

Second Filip Baelus (left), winner Anders Bråten (centre) and third Torleif Lona (right) on the TouringCars podium. © JKR/ERC24

 

Russian Škoda driver Sergey Zagumennov claimed the European Super1600s crown at the Intermediate Classification; while his compatriot and make-colleague Nikita Misyulya went on to win the Italian event. Misyulya finishes the year 18 points behind Zagumennov who scored three event wins over the course of the season. Latvian Jānis Baumanis was awarded third. Swede Daniel Lundh sealed his name on the TouringCar championship, while Norwegian Torleif Lona finished second in the standings. Lona’s fellow-countryman Anders Bråten took the event win and ends the year as third overall.

 

Final results of the SuperCars to be found here.

Final results of the Super1600s to be found here.

Final results of the TouringCars to be found here.

Final results of the RX Lites to be found here.

 

For more images please visit our Flickr gallery here.

 

Top photo: Timmy Hansen has scored his first WorldRX victory at Franciacorta. © JKR/ERC24