Circuit Of The Americas provided gravel and asphalt for the first time for FIA World Rallycross Championship, when round 10 was run on the American soil.
There was a new man in the field this weekend, where Anton Marklund jumped into GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS car next to team owner Guerlain Chicherit, after Jerome Grosset-Janin and Liam Doran had been in the car earlier in the year. The plan was for Marklund to drive for the rest of the season.
The championship leader, Johan Kristoffersson, had a really bad Q1, when he only drove 13th fastest time, because he ended up in traffic in his heat.
In Q2, Sebastien Loeb got five seconds time penalty when he was a little too harsh on Mattias Ekström in their mutual heat. Loeb pushed Ekström off the track and sent him several positions back.
After the first day, Petter Solberg was the best man, with two out of two wins. Mattias Ekström and Andreas Bakkerud with their EKS Audi Sport cars were second and third, while Johan Kristoffersson was up to sixth place with the next best time in Q2.
Q3 on Sunday started with a light fog over the track, and very humid gravel that made the conditions difficult.
Timmy Hanse couldn’t start at all in his Q3, when he stalled at the start of the heat and had to retire due to a technical problem.
Andreas Bakkerud also stalled in his Q3, but he managed to restart the car, although he lost valuable time.
It ended up with Ekström being the fastest in Q3.
Kristoffersson was the quickest man in Q4, without big drama amongst the 15 World RX cars that had taken the tour to the US. Only Kevin Eriksson was unlucky to brush the wall and broke a half shaft – other than that Q4 ran without significant problems.
After the four qualifying rounds, Petter Solberg, Johan Kristoffersson, Kevin Hansen, Timmy Hansen, Guerlain Chicherit, and Janis Baumanis were through to Semifinale 1, while Mattias Ekström, Andreas Bakkerud, Sebastien Loeb, Niclas Grönholm, Kevin Eriksson, and Anton Marklund were in Semi 2.
Timur Timerzyanov, Robin Larsson, and Gregoire Demoustier were unfortunately done for the weekend.
The sun finally came out for the semi finals, and it gave the drivers some extra challenges with the heat. Luckily a Rallycross heat is only four minutes long, so the drivers could get out of the cars quickly.
Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, Chicherit, and Baumanis were in Joker Lap straight away, while Petter Solberg and Kevin Hansen chose to go on. Solberg went in on the second lap and came out only milimetres ahead of Kristoffersson, while Kevin Hansen waited until the fourth lap. He rejoined right behind his brother Timmy, and in front of Chicherit.
But nobody could touch Solberg, who won ahead of Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen. Baumanis and Chicherit were done for the day.
The result meant that Kristoffersson was already before the final could call himself FIA World Rallycross Champion 2018.
In Semifinale 2, Bakkerud, Eriksson, and Marklund went to Joker right away, while Ekström, Loeb, and Grönholm continued on the normal track. Grönholm went in on lap 3 and rejoined in front of Eriksson. Ekström and Loeb waited until the very last lap with their Joker, but they came out again first and second ahead of Bakkerud, who was the last man going to the final. Grönholm, Eriksson, and Marklund didn’t make the cut.
At the start of the final, Solberg and Bakkerud continued on the normal track, while Kristoffersson, Ekström, Timmy Hansen, and Loeb all went Joker in the first lap. Solberg was in on the second lap and came out on P2, right ahead of his teammate Kristoffersson.
Bakkerud took his Joker Lap on the third lap and rejoined behind Ekström, who did a mistake in the next corner, so Bakkerud went up to P2.
On the penultimate lap, Solberg outbraked himself, even though he had a comfortable lead, which meant that Kristoffersson took the lead.
The newly crowned double-world champion Johan Kristoffersson won the final, ahead of Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Sebastien Loeb, Timmy Hansen, and Mattias Ekström, who fell back to the last place.
Johan Kristoffersson, as mentioned, has won the championship, while Mattias Ekström is P2, ahead of Petter Solberg, Andreas Bakkerud, Sebastien Loeb, and Timmy Hansen.
It was nine victories out of ten rounds this year in World RX.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden leads the team championship, ahead of EKS Audi Sport, Team Peugeot Total, GRX Taneco, GC Kompetition, and Olsbergs MSE.
The season’s penultimate round of FIA World Rallycross Championship will be back in 14 days, when the series visit Estering track near Buxtehude in Tyskland, just south from Hamburg.
Update: Timmy Hansen got a five-second time penalty for hitting Mattias Ekström in the final, and thus they swapped places in the result. Other than Ekström gets one more point in the World Championship and Timmy Hansen one point less, it doesn’t change any position.