FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy visited a whole new track for the third round of the 2019 season.
The Belgian Spa Francorchamps circuit had built a new Rallycross track, that the drivers would christen this weekend.
There was a little change in the driver line-up. Niclas Grönholm couldn’t drive for GRX Taneco team due to laparoscopy. Joni Wiman would take his place.
Mattias Ekström was back to the Rallycross world for a weekend as guest driver.
The two qualifying rounds on Saturday were run on a wet track. It led to tricky conditions and Guerlain Chicherit had a half spin in Q1, where Janis Baumanis couldn’t avoid hitting him.
Two Belgian local heroes Guillaume de Ridder and Francois Duval had a bit of contact in Q2, and de Ridder came out as the winner of the duel.
Liam Doran was the best man after the first day, ahead of his teammate Andreas Bakkerud, while newcomer Joni Wiman was P3, right in front of Timo Scheider, Krisztian Szabo and Janis Baumanis. We must go all the way down to P11 and P11 to find the two Hansen brothers, who were leading the championship prior to the weekend.
The sun was out when the Sunday session started.
In Q3, all semifinal dreams were over for de Ridder, when he got technical problems with the car and finished last in his heat.
Guerlain Chicherit did a jump start and had to take a Joker Lap as a penalty.
Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen had a duel that lasted one and a half laps, where paints got swapped between the two cars. Timerzyanov chose to take Joker Lap to get out of the battle. Then it was just Timmy and Kevin Hansen who continued to duel, where they almost drove each other off over the jump. They both however crossed the finish line. That heat was the best heat in Rallycross in a long time, and it wasn’t even the final.
The hard driving continued in Q4, when Francois Duval was forced to retired after a contact. Pål Try was spun around on the penultimate lap by Cyril Raymond, so Try finished second last, almost a whole lap behind.
Krisztian Szabo and Guerlain Chicherit had a collision on the first lap in their Q4 heat, which damaged the Hungarian’s car while the Frenchman could continue.
Ekström had the best start, but he got squeezed by Kevin Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud and came out last from Turn 1, and could never get higher up in the field.
Semifinal 1 would have Andreas Bakkerud, Liam Doran, Timur Timerzyanov, Kevin Hansen, Timo Scheider and Krisztian Szabo, while Joni Wiman, Timmy Hansen, Anton Marklund, Janis Baumanis, Mattias Ekström, Cyril Raymond were in Semi 2.
Guerlain Chicherit, Oliver Bennett and Guillaume de Ridder were some of the well-known names who didn’t get through to the semis this weekend.
Bakkerud got the best start in Semi 1, while Timerzyanov pushed Doran a bit out of Turn 1. Doran chose to take Joker Lap already on the first lap, in order to avoid the traffic ahead. Timerzyanov was right behind Bakkerud and tried to get past the Audi.
Szabo took Joker Lap on lap 4, while Timerzyanov waited until the penultimate lap. Bakkerud and Kevin Hansen waited until the very last lap, but it wasn’t enough for Timerzyanov to beat Bakkerud. On the other hand, Kevin Hansen lost third place to Liam Doran, with the two flying over the finish line, and actually ended up stopping in the concrete wall together. Timo Scheider and Krisztian Szabo finished P5 and P6.
Semi 2 also got a dramatic start, where Wiman had the best start and kept Baumanis behind him throughout the first corner. Ekström was almost sent to the tires in Turn 1 and chose to take Joker Lap on the first lap, so did Anton Marklund. On the second lap, Raymond was in the alternative line.
Marklund and Raymond had a duel for fourth place, while Ekström was right behind them.
Baumanis was in Joker Lap on lap 4, and Timmy Hansen and Wiman waited until the last lap. Wiman took P1, while Janis Baumanis drove past Timmy Hansen with half car length. Anton Marklund, Cyril Raymond and Mattias Ekström didn’t make it to the final.
In the final, Wiman and Bakkerud already had a contact in Turn 1, where Wiman nearly ended up in the tire barrier. Doran hit his teammate Bakkerud as his steering wasn’t as it should be.
Timmy Hansen was in Joker Lap on the first lap, while Janis Baumanis went in on second lap.
Baumanis overtook Timmy Hansen in 180 degrees gravel corner, and there was no chance for Hansen to retaliate.
Wiman and Doran were in Joker Lap on the fourth lap, and in an impressive way, Wiman was up to third position again.
Timur Timerzyanov opted to Joker on the very last lap, and he won with a fantastic two-second gap down to Andreas Bakkerud and super sub Joni Wiman. It was Timerzyanov’s first every victory in World RX. Timmy Hansen, Janis Baumanis and Liam Doran finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the final, respectively.
Kevin Hansen is still leading the championship, ahead of his big brother Timmy, while Timur Timerzyanov with the win jumps up to P3, right in front of Janis Baumanis and Andreas Bakkerud.
Team Hansen MJP still leads the team championship, ahead of GRX Taneco, Monster Energy RX Cartel and GC Kompetition.
The next round of FIA World Rallycross Championship will be run at Silverstone on 25 and 26 May 2019.