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03 May 2015

WRX: Solberg’s second blow

Category: News, WRX Posted 03.05.15 18:30 by

Reigning World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg dominated his Semi-Final and eventually the all-decisive Final of the ‘WorldRX of Hockenheim’ round in Germany to claim a victory one week after the season opener in Portugal.

 

The WRX round Sunday at the DTM and Formula One venue Hockenheimring had the shortest time schedule in the history of Rallycross on offer, after just one hour the three most important races were over and Hockenheim done with. The Warm-Up session started at about half past eleven, a claimed 75,000 people strong crowd in the so-called ‘Motodrom’ (rather than ‘Sachs-Arena’) witnessed Latvian Reinis Nitišs driving his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST in 47.790 seconds to the fastest time here. Finn Toomas Heikkinen (VW Polo Mk5) set the second fastest time with 48.166s, Swede Johan Kristoffersson (VW Polo Mk5) finished third fastest in 48.192s.

 

The Hockenheim podium with (from left) Reinis Nitišs, Petter Solberg and Timmy Hansen. © JKR/ERC24

The Hockenheim podium with (from left) Reinis Nitišs, Petter Solberg and Timmy Hansen. © JKR/ERC24

 

Timmy Hansen drove his Peugeot 208 SuperCar to third place in Germany. © JKR/ERC24

Timmy Hansen drove his Peugeot 208 SuperCar to a valuable third place in Germany. © JKR/ERC24

 

When Semi-Final 1 got its ‘GO’ it was Petter Solberg who shot his Citroën DS3 into the lead, closely followed by his SDRX teammate Liam Doran in a similar DS3. However, Andreas Bakkerud did not agree with the situation and after the Briton and the Norwegian had sorted the first corner out the Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST campaigner was in second place. ‘British Bomb’ Doran now tried very hard to dog-hound ‘BabyBlue’ Bakkerud, but faced engine troubles in lap four that led to a car standstill. While ‘Topi’ Heikkinen took advantage from Doran’s problems, claimed the third place and thereby his ticket for the Final, the Briton got his Citroën going again, but reached the finish flag almost one minute later than teammate ‘Hollywood’ Solberg.

 

Reinis Nitišs in the Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST made it to runner-up in Hockenheim. © JKR/ERC24

Reinis Nitišs in the Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST made it to runner-up in Hockenheim. © JKR/ERC24

 

WorldRX of Hockenheim saw Latvian Nitišs taking his first 2015 podium. © JKR/ERC24

WorldRX of Hockenheim saw Latvian Nitišs taking his first 2015 podium. © JKR/ERC24

 

In Semi-Final 2 Reinis Nitišs also proved that the pole position had the best grip, the Latvian powered his Ford Fiesta Mk7 ST to a never challenged lights-to-flag victory here. Behind Nitišs there was a spectacular fight for second place between the two Swedes Johan Kristoffersson and Robin Larsson, the latter eventually bringing his Audi A1 SuperCar as runner-up over the finish line. Kristoffersson remained pretty fair, with the result that it was fellow-Swede Timmy Hansen who was able to subsequently claim third place. However, the Peugeot 208 driver looked all but safe of his Final ticket, till being able to produce a clever Joker Lap attempt during his sixth and last lap that cost him surprisingly no position.

 

In the penultimate lap of the Final Robin Larsson had to retire after this contact with 'Topi' Heikkinen. © JKR/ERC24

In the penultimate lap of the Final Robin Larsson had to retire after this contact with ‘Topi’ Heikkinen. © JKR/ERC24

 

Swedish individual WRX regular Larsson's hopes for a place on the rostrum came to end with a broken car. © JKR/ERC24

Swedish individual WRX regular Larsson’s hopes for a place on the rostrum came to end with a broken car. © JKR/ERC24

 

When the last race of the four days schedule got its green light Petter Solberg took the lead, Reinis Nitišs was in second position and Timmy Hansen, who produced a superb start from the last row of the grid, grabbed third place. For Andreas Bakkerud the Final came to its end in Lap 1 already when the Norwegian faced a broken front suspension of his Ford Fiesta. Solberg extended his lead and eventually crossed the finish line being two and a half seconds ahead of Nitišs. When Larsson came out of his Joker Lap he had contact with the Peugeot 208 of Hansen, while Heikkinen was not able to avoid his VW Polo crashing with the Audi A1. While the offspring of double European Rallycross Champion Lars Larsson did not make it to the chequered flag, the son of 14-times ERX winner Kenneth Hansen finished third, Heikkinen in fourth place.

“I love big fights and tough competitions and that’s why I love Rallycross,” confirmed Solberg who received a standing ovation alongside his fellow WorldRX finalists as the DTM fans showed their appreciation for the FIA’s newest World Championship. “The fans seemed to love Rallycross and it’s been great to be in Hockenheim alongside DTM this weekend, it’s been very well organised. It’s not been an easy weekend: we had a bad start on Friday, there was little grip off the line and then I had a puncture in the Semi-Final. I had two choices going into Saturday: one was to go fast or the second was to go very fast – I went for the second option! I know everybody says this but my win is credit to the team. They are fantastic and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

“I am very happy, we are getting closer and closer to Petter all the time, but I guess that he has been in cars for longer than I have been alive,” joked 19-year-old Reinis Nitišs. Timmy Hansen on his part of the story: “I was feeling lost at the end of yesterday as something didn’t feel right, but my family and team kept me going. Today I woke up and felt different – we found a very good strategy and the start was unbelievable. I really pushed behind the wheel and it paid off. I’m feeling very emotional.”

 

Petter Solberg (right) and Liam Doran are in the lead of the FIA World Rallycross Championship for Teams now. © JKR/ERC24

Petter Solberg (right) and Liam Doran are in the lead of the FIA World Rallycross Championship for Teams now. © JKR/ERC24

 

Happy 'Hollywood' Solberg pictured while pleasing the spectators in Hockenheim. © JKR/ERC24

Happy ‘Hollywood’ Solberg pictured while pleasing the spectators in Hockenheim. © JKR/ERC24

 

Mattias Ekström (left) was not able to start in the WRX event, but instead won a DTM round. © JKR/ERC24

Mattias Ekström (left) was not able to start in the WRX event, but instead won a DTM round. © JKR/ERC24

 

Hockenheim final results to be found here.

WRX point standings after Rd2 to be found here.

 

More ERC24 images of WRX of Hockenheim to be found here.

 

Top photo: Watched by many thousands of spectators the WorldRX of Hockenheim Final is on its way. © JKR/ERC24