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24 May 2015

WRX: Solberg rules Day 1

Category: News, WRX Posted 24.05.15 00:15 by

For Round 4 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship a total of 29 SuperCar drivers gathered at the ‘Cradle of Rallycross’, Lydden Hill International Circuit in England, where reigning World Champion Petter Solberg claimed both the fastest qualifying heat times of Day 1.

 

Of the 30 drivers that had made an entry for the Pentecost weekend event it was only Norwegian Ole Kristian Nøttveit who did not show up at the Lydden Hill International Circuit, situated halfway between Dover and Canterbury in the south-east of England. Although WorldRX of Great Britain does not count towards the five rounds series of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for SuperCar drivers many non-regulars are also at the legendary venue, where the motorsport of Rallycross came into being on February 4 1967, as Lydden is for many a year one of the favourite tracks among the competitors. With Liam Doran, Andy Scott, Rally ace Guy Wilks, BTCC star Andrew Jordan, Kevin Procter, Julian Godfrey and David Binks there are seven Brits in SuperCars to make the Union Jack fly over home soil.

 

The homeboys (from right) Liam Doran, Guy Wilks and Andrew Jordan joined by Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud (left). © JKR/ERC24

The homeboys (from right) Liam Doran, Guy Wilks and Andrew Jordan joined by Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud (left). © JKR/ERC24

 

Mattias Ekström's first ever racing attempt on Lydden Hill looks not bad at all after Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

Mattias Ekström’s first ever racing attempt on Lydden Hill looks not bad at all after Day 1. © JKR/ERC24

 

Day 1 started at 10:00 AM local time with the Open Practice runs and here it was Swede Mattias Ekström who was able to beat Petter Solberg with a time of 42.028 seconds. The Norwegian making it to second fastest with 42.162s and it was Ekström’s teammate and fellow countryman Anton Marklund who needed 42.602s for the third fastest time. However, from now on it was ‘Hollywood’ Solberg’s turn, the Citroën DS3 SuperCar campaigner claimed the fastest times in both, Heat 1 (2:56.739m) and Heat 2 (2:56.684m). Swede Johan Kristoffersson was twice second fastest (H1 in 2:57.594m, H2 in 2:57.264m), while the third fastest time of Heat 1 fell prey to his compatriot Timmy Hansen (2:57.602m). In Heat 2 it was Ekström (2:57.698m) who finished in third position. Anton Marklund was on his way to a very good time in his first heat, but failed to take his double Joker Lap penalty and was given a time penalty of 30 extra seconds that dropped him deep down the order.

 

American Tanner Foust (right) is back for another WorldRX round, but only 18th after Saturday. © JKR/ERC24

American Tanner Foust (right) is back for another WorldRX round, but only 18th after Saturday. © JKR/ERC24

 

WRX front runners Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg while chatting with Global RallyCross star Tanner Foust. © JKR/ERC24

WRX front runners Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg while chatting with Global RallyCross star Tanner Foust. © JKR/ERC24

 

Petter Solberg later on: “We’ve changed the car quite a bit since Belgium and we’ve been working on our start procedures. We missed the start on the second heat, but I knew I could make up the time in the gravel. So the team saw the opportunity to take the Joker Lap at the right time which meant I could slip ahead of Johan. We’re right where we want to be at the end of two heats.” Runner-up to Solberg after today, Johan Kristoffersson, struggled with his VW Polo Mk5’s set-up during Open Practice, but later was a model of consistency in both heats. “I’ve had punctures in Portugal, Hockenheim and Belgium, so I’m just hoping for a clear weekend,” explained the Volkswagen racer.

 

'Hollywood' Solberg powering his flame spitting Citroën DS3 SuperCar towards another fastest qualification time. © JKR/ERC24

‘Hollywood’ Solberg powering his flame spitting Citroën DS3 SuperCar towards another fastest qualification time. © JKR/ERC24

 

Nowadays BTCC tarmac racer and former Rallycrosser Andrew Jordan enjoys his returns to the mixed-surface tracks a lot. © JKR/ERC24

Nowadays BTCC tarmac racer and former Rallycrosser Andrew Jordan enjoys his returns to the mixed-surface tracks a lot. © JKR/ERC24

 

Lying in third position of the overnight standings is Mattias Ekström; Latvian Reinis Nitišs is fourth, Swede Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson fifth, while Norwegian Tord Linnerud in sixth place is completing the leading half-a-dozen. After posting the third fastest in Heat 1 Timmy Hansen suffered from a flat tyre in Heat 2, with the result that the Peugeot 208 SuperCar driver dropped to 13th in the standings. Joining Hansen and Frenchman Davy Jeanney in the Team Peugeot-Hansen squad this weekend is wildcard entrant Andrew Jordan who suffered a similar fate to Hansen when he incurred a slow puncture in his first heat. However, with his current 10th place is the former Rallycrosser and nowadays BTCC racer leading the team-internal following order.

 

Swede Robin Larsson and his Audi A1 SuperCar in troubles ahead of compatriot Anton Marklund. © JKR/ERC24

Swede Robin Larsson and his Audi A1 SuperCar in troubles ahead of compatriot Anton Marklund. © JKR/ERC24

 

Swede Thomas Bryntesson is in the lead of the RX Lites class after winning two qualifying heats. © JKR/ERC24

Norwegian Thomas Bryntesson (using wrong flag here) is in the lead of the RX Lites class after winning two qualifying heats. © JKR/ERC24

 

Elsewhere it was a promising Rallycross debut for Rally ace Guy Wilks who is piloting a BMW MINI 1.6 SuperCar this weekend. The 34-year-old took a race win in Heat 2 and sits 12th overall going into Day 2. “I’m really pleased with how today has gone – it’s all about learning for me this weekend and I saw a big difference with times on that second heat. Tonight we will make some adjustments to the brakes, but right now everything feels really good,” said the Briton later.

The TouringCar and RX Lites drivers ran three instead of two heats today. Norwegian Mazda RX-8 campaigner Jan Gabrielsen and fellow Norwegian Lites racer Thomas Bryntesson (holder of a Norwegian passport and racing licence) lead the two classes respectively. Gabrielsen was fastest in the first two heats and second fastest in the third to lead fellow countryman Anders Bråten who is second. Swede Kevin Hansen was fastest in the first RX Lites heat, before Thomas Bryntesson set fastest times in both, the second and third runs to lead on Day 1 while Hansen is second.

 

SuperCar standings after Day 1.

TouringCar standings after Day 1.

RX Lites standings after Day 1.

 

More images from WorldRX of Great Britain to be found here.

 

Top photo: Petter Solberg made Day 1 of WorldRX of Great Britain at Lydden Hill his. © JKR/ERC24