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18 May 2015

WRX: Topi bags Belgium – again

Category: News, WRX Posted 18.05.15 00:01 by

At the end of Day 2 of the WorldRX round in Belgium it was Finn Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen who claimed overall victory at Mettet for the second year back-to-back. Petter Solberg made it to runner-up, although throwing a good result almost away through a jump start in his Semi-Final…

 

The Sunday at Mettet started with the usual one hour long Warm-Up session, Johan Kristoffersson with his 39.476 seconds setting the fastest time here. Three more drivers needed less than 40 seconds for a Circuit Jules Tacheny lap: Petter Solberg with 39.639s, Timmy Hansen with 39.889s and Mattias Ekström with 39.947s.

Kristoffersson remained in top form for Heat 3, the VW Polo Mk5 driver setting the fastest time here in 2:47.177 minutes. Peugeot 208 campaigner Timmy Hansen (2:48.063m) drove to the second fastest time, Toomas Heikkinen (2:48.67m) powered his VW Polo Mk5 to third place. Heat 4 fell also prey to Kristoffersson, Johan’s 2:46.000 minutes became eventually the fastest qualifying time of the weekend and his ticket for the pole position of Semi-Final 1. Petter Solberg (2:46.399m) set the second fastest time here to ensure himself the pole of SF2. Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson (2:46.885m) proved with his third fastest time to be one competitor to reckon with for the races to come.

 

Former WRC ace Per-Gunnar 'P-G' Andersson just missed the winners rostrum in Belgium. © JKR/ERC24

Former WRC ace Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson just missed the winners rostrum in Belgium. © JKR/ERC24

 

For Mattias Ekström the Belgian weekend had some hard luck on offer. © JKR/ERC24

For Mattias Ekström the Belgian weekend had some hard luck on offer. © JKR/ERC24

 

Semi-Final 1 was led for more than half of the distance by Kristoffersson, till the Volkswagen driver clipped a kerb to destroy one of his tyres. Subsequently finishing in fifth place the weekend was over for the son of ex-Rallycross ace Tommy Kristoffersson. Similar bad luck for Timmy Hansen who suffered also from a puncture to finish fourth and had to watch the later Final from the stands. Therefore, full advantage for Heikkinen, ‘Topi’ claimed SF1 from the OlsbergsMSE duo Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitišs.

When Semi-Final 2 was due to get the green lights it was Petter Solberg who jumped the start. “It was my own mistake, I was stupid to do this, but in the end it gave me a bit more time on the track,” grinned ‘Hollywood’ later in his usual light-hearted style. Before the second start attempt it was clear, that the reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion had to do two Joker Laps instead of just one, which would cost him at least three additional seconds. However, now the Norwegian got an extra impetus, claimed within no time the lead of the six-pack and was eventually fast enough to finish in second place, behind the winner ‘P-G’ Andersson and ahead of Mattias ‘Eki’ Ekström.

 

Frenchman Jérôme Grosset-Janin claimed victory of the ERX SuperCars  category. © JKR/ERC24

Frenchman Jérôme Grosset-Janin claimed victory of the ERX SuperCars category. © JKR/ERC24

 

The spotters of the teams play an important role in nowadays Rallycross events. © JKR/ERC24

The spotters of the teams play an important role in nowadays Rallycross events. © JKR/ERC24

 

The last race of the weekend turned into a battle between Heikkinen, who won the start from the first row of the grid, and Solberg, who made it quickly to second position, after coming out of the second row. During the wild chase towards the chequered flag the reigning champ lost a possible win by hurling his Citroën somewhat too daring through the Joker Lap detour slope. Meanwhile the Finn was more cautious and when he came out of the Joker Lap section two laps later there was just one car length of space between his Polo and the DS3 of the Norwegian.

“I’m really happy, Belgium is starting to feel like home,” grinned Heikkinen later on. “I’m feeling really comfortable in the car now – it suits my driving style but I have to say that I am not alone. There is a team of more than 20 people who helped me to win today, my team are amazing and I couldn’t have done this without them. The fight for the Championship is well and truly on and now we get ready for Lydden Hill next week and hope to repeat this all over again.”

 

Nomen est omen: The Sunday had on offer what his name is promising, fine weather. © JKR/ERC24

Nomen est omen: The Sunday had on offer what his name is promising, fine weather. © JKR/ERC24

 

Heikkinen was heavily showered with champain by Solberg and Nitišs on the podium. © JKR/ERC24

Heikkinen was heavily showered with champain by Solberg and Nitišs on the podium. © JKR/ERC24

 

Solberg stated for his part of the story: “I took a gamble in the Semi-Final, but it didn’t work out. After that I had to really push to make up for the time I was going to lose from taking two Jokers. All I could think about was going as fast as I could. Then, in the final, the plan was to aim for second, but when my spotter told me I was only a second behind Topi, I tried to catch him, but went into the Joker too fast. Last time we were here, we finished third, this time we came second – maybe next year we can win!”

Third placed Reinis Nitišs was quick to thank his fans who had travelled from Latvia, but was his own harshest critic. “Of course it’s good to be third for the second event in a row, but I need to improve my driving,” said the 19-year-old. “The car feels really good, but my times weren’t as good in the Semis or the Final, so I want to work on that.”

 

Latvian Jānis Baumanis took the overall victory of the Super1600 class in Belgium. © JKR/ERC24

Latvian Jānis Baumanis took the overall victory of the Super1600 class in Belgium. © JKR/ERC24

 

The podium of the Super1600 category with (from left) Nikita Misyulya, Jānis Baumanis and Andréa Dubourg. © JKR/ERC24

The podium of the Super1600 category with (from left) Nikita Misyulya, Jānis Baumanis and Andréa Dubourg. © JKR/ERC24

 

In the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship (EuroRX) Frenchman Jérôme Grosset-Janin took the overall victory in his Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 RX SuperCar. Fredrik Magnussen won this weekend’s TouringCar category, the Norwegian making an incredible comeback after rolling his Ford Fiesta Mk7 on Day 1. And a win for Renault Twingo Mk2 driver Jānis Baumanis in the Super1600s category sees the Latvian lead the championship standings after two rounds.

 

Final results of WRX SuperCars to be found here.

WRX SuperCar standings after Belgium to be found here.

Final results of ERX SuperCars to be found here.

Final results of ERX Super1600s to be found here.

Final results of ERX TouringCars to be found here.

 

More ERC24 images from Mettet to be found here.

 

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