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29 Nov 2014

WRX: Solberg in the lead

Category: News, WRX Posted 29.11.14 01:00 by

Day 1 of the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship final round at San Luis in Argentina saw World Champion Petter Solberg winning Heat 1 and claiming the second place in Heat 2, thereby taking the lead of the overnight standings, ahead of Reinis Nitišs and Toomas Heikkinen.

 

The town of San Luis in central Argentina is claimed to be founded in 1594 and is nowadays a city with a population of around 155,000 people. The about four and a half kilometres long motorsport venue Autodrómo Rosendo Hernández of San Luis has been chosen to host the 12th and last round of this year’s inaugural WorldRX series. The asphalt sections of the 1357 metres long Rallycross track uses the existing circuit, but the remaining 40% gravel sections – including the Joker Lap detour which features half way through the lap – has only recently been constructed.

 

San Luis is hosting the first ever Rallycross event in Argentina. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

San Luis is hosting the first ever Rallycross event in Argentina. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

 

Liam Doran is back in the game after his suspension has been reduced by his ASN. © IMG/McKlein/ERC24

Liam Doran is back in the game after his suspension has been reduced by his ASN. © IMG/McKlein/ERC24

 

Andreas Bakkerud started the Friday in top form by setting the fastest time of the Open Practice sessions. The Norwegian remained the only driver to do one lap in less than 49 seconds, with 48.931s he finished first ahead of SuperCar rookie Swede Kevin Eriksson (49.054s) and his compatriot Anton Marklund (49.141s). Finn Toomas Heikkinen (49.264s) finished his practice runs in fourth place, Swede Timmy Hansen (49.565s) made it to fifth and Norwegian Petter Solberg (49.667s) to sixth fastest.

 

After Day 1 Reinis Nitišs is second while his teammate Andreas Bakkerud is fourth. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

After Day 1 Reinis Nitišs is second while his teammate Andreas Bakkerud is fourth. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

 

Heat 1 started the final run for the World Championship title of the teams. Ford-OlsbergsMSE is locked in a battle with Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport to claim the title by the end of the event, while Team Peugeot-Hansen has still a chance to change things. And for the drivers final standings Reinis Nitišs is also fighting with Timmy Hansen for third place.

 

Dust is hampering the drivers at the loose sections of the new track. © IMG/McKlein/ERC24

Dust is hampering the drivers at the loose sections of the new track. © IMG/McKlein/ERC24

 

With Swede Kevin Eriksson (196) and local Miguel Baldoni (106) the SuperCars category sees two newcomer. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

With Swede Kevin Eriksson (196) and local Miguel Baldoni (106) the SuperCars category sees two newcomers. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

 

Latvian Nitišs made it to fourth fastest, finishing Heat 1 behind Petter Solberg, Toomas Heikkinen and Timmy Hansen, but ahead of his teammate Andreas Bakkerud. “The first heat was quite ok. Fourth is a good time to start with,” said the OMSE driver. “The lap times aren’t very equal at the top, so we have some work to do. I will make some changes to the car and to my driving style and we will try again in the next heat. The track is interesting, it’s quite dusty and I lost a bit of time when Petter came out of the Joker Lap in front of me. I’m not thinking about any championships or anything at the moment. I’m just trying to drive as fast as I can and make improvements. The main day is tomorrow, that is when it is most important for to be at the top,” claimed the Ford campaigner.

 

The weather is fine in Argentina and temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius on Day 1. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

The weather is fine in Argentina and temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius on Day 1. © OMSE/QBA/ERC24

 

However, Nitišs was able to improve his position for the overnight standings by setting the fastest time of Heat 2. Petter Solberg made it to second fastest here, followed by Andreas Bakkerud, Toomas Heikkinen and Timur Timerzyanov. The reigning World Champion is now topping the order with 95 intermediate points, Nitišs (90) is in second position and Heikkinen (85) is third. “Leading the WorldRX event of Argentina after a 1-2 result is my best performance of the 2014 season. I feel very confident and enjoy every second out on the San Luis circuit. Only in Canada and in Germany have I been leading the race after two heats. Thanks to the Argentinean fans for the support,” stated Solberg the Younger after Friday’s racing was done.

 

Standings after Day 1 to be found here.

 

Top photo: Petter Solberg (centre) is in the lead of the overnight standings. © IMG/McKlein/ERC24