Hockenheim, a well-known circuit for the F1 and DTM races, received this weekend the second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, as a gravel/asphalt circuit in the stadium section received the 600-bhp beasts for the first time ever.
New circuits doesn’t seem to scare the Norwegian car jumper Petter Solberg, as the 2014 World RX champion gave no room to take him out of the top step of the podium.
The Hockenheim RX was the debut event of the JRM Mini RX cars, driven by Danny Way and Dave Mirra, as well the first race of guest star Tanner Foust for Marklund Motorsport this season. Even though Mirra was able to do some good performances here and there, both Minis left the competition after the qualifying heats. In the other hand, Foust was faster all the way and advanced to the semifinals without problems.
The first semifinal counted with both SDRX cars of Solberg and Liam Doran, two Marklund VWs, of Foust and Topi Heikkinen, as well Andreas Bakkerud and PG Andersson.
Right from the start, Solberg disappeared in the lead, while Andersson became a victim of the contacts from the other cars, going down to last place. Bakkerud was holding Liam Doran in a good fight, but an engine problem Doran’s Citroën DS3 stop, killing his chances of a good result.
In the end, Solberg and Bakkerud just cruised to 1st and 2nd places, while a Maklund battle decided the 3rd place, as Foust was right behind Heikkinen, but unable to pass, saw the Finnish driver take the last spot from that semifinal.
The second semifinal had both cars from Team Peugeot-Hanssen, with Timmy Hanssen and Davy Jeanney, and from VW Team Sweden, with Protugal winner Johan Kristoffersson and Tord Linnerud. Reinis Nitiss was the second Olsbergs MSE driver in the semifinals, while Robin Larsson was the warrior of the indepent entries against the big teams.
Nitiss had a strong race and just went ahead of everyone, while Larsson and Kristoffersson made a Swedish battle for the 2nd place, initially won by Larsson. Even with a heavily damaged front end, Kristofersson was decided to pass Larsson, but when he tried a move on lap four, he failed to capitalize it in an overtake and lost his position to a sneaky Hansen.
Nitiss and Larsson just got the first two spots after all six laps, while Hansen had trouble to get the third spot by having to hold a charging Kristofersson until the finish line.
In the final, only Olsbergs MSE had two drivers, counting with Bakkerud and Nitiss to dethrone Solberg. But just one lap was enough to Solberg jump to first place, while Nitiss and Hansen were in close pursuit. Bakkerud, in the other hand, had an unfortunate end to his race as a contact took him out.
Everybody except Larsson opted for a late Joker Lap, and that proved to be on favor of Solberg, that wasn’t threatened until the checkered, while Nitiss got the second place, unable to attack Solberg.
The last podium spot had a battle royale between Hansen, Heikkinen and Larsson. Larsson was about to take the third place, but a misjudged move on Hansen caused a contact and a problem on the suspension of his Audi, ending his race in the final lap.Heikkinen was too distant to attack Hansen, so the Swedish driver settled for third place, keeping Peugeot-Hansen on a podium spot.
Check all the results here, from heats to final.
Solberg’s win on Germany already propelled him to the top spot in the drivers’ championship, with 57 points, well ahead of Kristoffersson’s 42 points and Bakkerud and Hansen, with 37. SDRX also got the teams’ championship lead, with 74 points, against 71 of Olsbergs MSE and 65 of Peugeot-Hansen. The next World RX round will be at Mettet, Belgium, on May 15th.
PHOTOS: FIA World RX