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06 Apr 2016

WRX: Portugal Preview

Category: News, WRX Posted 06.04.16 14:50 by

With just under 10 days until the 2016 FIA World Rallycross season opener: Rallycross of Portugal in Montalegre, 15-17 April – teams get set for what promises to be an epic season.

A dramatic opener awaits and offers many of the new stars and teams the opportunity to lay down a new claim for a title challenge. The quick Montalegre circuit no doubt provides a fitting setting for what is in store. Located in the extreme north of Portugal, on the border with Spain – the circuit tests drivers with its fast straights, and tight sections. High altitude due to it’s setting in the Vila Real Mountains, also challenges teams and drivers with its ability to sap the power from the cars.

 

For EKS newcomer Anton Marklund Montalegre had a bad surprise on offer. © JKR/ERC24

For EKS newcomer Anton Marklund Montalegre had a bad surprise on offer in 2015. © JKR/ERC24

 

Despite its continental location, conditions have been mixed at the circuit over the past three years.   The 2013 event was hampered by snow early on, whilst last year’s event was a particularly wet affair.

Their have been three different winners at the event over the past three seasons. Johan Kristofferson taking a maiden victory in 2015, whilst Petter Solberg and Liam Doran took 2014 and 2013 respectively. The championship missed Montalegre in 2012, with Tanner Foust being the first American to take the win at the event in 2011.

 

Almost 25,000 people hailed Petter Solberg after his overall victory at Montalegre. © JKR/ERC24

Petter Solberg after his overall victory at Montalegre in 2014. © JKR/ERC24

 

Surprisingly it is the experienced Sebastian Loeb who is the new kid on the block. A debut drive for Loeb in Portugal in a new for 2016 Peugeot 208 warrants cause for patience, although it wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see the nine-time World Rally Champion up there challenging the reigning World RX title holder: Petter Solberg.

Scandinavian outfit EKS (Mattias Ekstrom and Finland’s Topi Heikkinen), will look to prove early on that they have built a team strong enough to challenge the current driver and team champions. Heikkinen the former GRC champion, alongside Ekstrom – who stormed to yet another event victory in Sweden last season as well as various other podium finishes throughout 2015.

2015 event winner and VW RX Sweden driver Johan Kristoffersson joins Anton Marklund on the starting grid; who had has own challenges at the event in 2015 (pictured above).

World RX Team Austria, are perhaps the most unknown outfit this season. Outings and testing towards the end of the 2015 calendar proved that they definitely have the cars to compete. Signing Latvia’s Janis Baumanis and Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov for 2016, clearly shows intent. 

The new addition of two Ford Focus RS RX Supercars, driven by Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud, no doubt sets the pulse racing, but like World RX Team Austria the Hoonigan Racing Division still has a lot to prove.  

The consistent OMSE team return to WRX, yet again fielding a pair of Ford Fiestas. Although, adding this season the experienced stewardship of Marcus Gronholm to guide newcomers Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Gronholm.

 

 

Confirmed Supercar Entires:

  • 1. Petter SOLBERG – Petter Solberg World RX Team (Citröen DS3)
  • 3. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON – Volkswagen RX Sweden (Volkswagen Polo)
  • 4. Robin LARSSON – Robin Larsson (Audi A1)
  • 5. Mattias EKSTRÖM – EKS (Audi S1)
  • 6. Janis BAUMANIS – World RX Team Austria (Ford Fiesta)
  • 7. Timur TIMERZYANOV – World RX Team Austria (Ford Fiesta)
  • 9. Sébastien LOEB – Team Peugeot-Hansen (Peugeot 208)
  • 13. Andreas BAKKERUD – Hoonigan Racing Division (Ford Focus RS)
  • 15. Reinis NITISS – ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport (Seat Ibiza)
  • 17. Davy JEANNEY – Peugeot-Hansen Academy (Peugeot 208)
  • 21. Timmy HANSEN – Team Peugeot-Hansen (Peugeot 208)
  • 31. Max PUCHER – World RX Team Austria (Ford Fiesta)
  • 33. Liam DORAN – JRM World Rallycross Team (BMW Mini)
  • 41. Joaquim SANTOS – Bompiso Racing Team (Ford Focus)
  • 43. Ken BLOCK – Hoonigan Racing Division (Ford Focus RS)
  • 56. Bohdan LUDWICZAK – Bohdan Ludwiczak (Mitsubishi Lancer)
  • 57. Toomas HEIKKINEN – EKS (Audi S1)
  • 68. Niclas GRÖNHOLM – OlsbergsMSE (Ford Fiesta ST)
  • 71. Kevin HANSEN – Peugeot-Hansen Academy (Peugeot 208)
  • 77. René MÜNNICH – ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport (Seat Ibiza)
  • 87. Jean-Baptiste DUBOURG – Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Citröen DS3)
  • 92. Anton MARKLUND – Volkswagen RX Sweden (Volkswagen Polo)
  • 96. Kevin ERIKSSON – OlsbergsMSE (Ford Fiesta ST)

 

Confirmed Super1600 Entries:

 

2014 WRX: Petter Solberg hurling his Citroën DS3 SuperCar over the Montalegre soil in Portugal. © JKR/ERC24

2014 WRX: Petter Solberg hurling his Citroën DS3 SuperCar over the Montalegre soil in Portugal. © JKR/ERC24

 

Photo Caption: Rallycross of Portugal in Montalegre, 15-17 April – teams get set for what promises to be an epic season. © JKR/ERC24