Loheac, in France, normally is the place where the FIA World Rallycross Championship gets the most prolific numbers of the season, both in entries than in crowd. Spectator figures of around 75.000 people in the French circuit were there to see the FFSA Championnat de France de Rallycross drivers compete against the world stage drivers, as well some illustrious drivers in action. But it was a Swedish driver in a French machine that outpaced the competition this Sunday (06).
Unfortunately the guest star Yvan Muller saw his World RX quest at Loheac finish still in the qualifying heats, although he was able to match the pace of the regular competitors. JRM’s Guy Wilks was in good performance until the last heat of the day, when a chain reaction led by his team mate Guerlain Chicherit, which saw him being launched to the gravel with two other drivers.
Here comes the first semifinal, Timmy Hansen goes well ahead, followed by Mattias Ekström, while Ekström’s team mate, Anton Marklund, sent Hansen’s team mate, Davy Jeanney, right to the barrier, but even with the contact, Jeanney kept going. This situation left the third spot to a lucky Jean-Baptiste Dubourg and his Citroën C4.
But, proving that everything can turn from bad to worse, a bump in the second corner made Andreas Bakkerud lose control of his Ford Fiesta, and the Olsbergs MSE driver ended hitting Jeanney’s Peugeot 208. Bakkerud kept going with some smashed bodywork, while Jeanney was sent to the wall with considerable speed, but the French driver got out of the car without any scratches.
Jokers complete, Ekström started pursuing Hansen, but the Swede with the Peugeot closed the door of the Swede with the Audi, keeping positions unchanged until the finish line. With half of the field having problems, Dubourg had clean way to finish third and get a spot in the final.
Semifinal two started with Petter Solberg in the lead, with a daring Robin Larsson doing a banzai move round the outside of the first corner, just to see the attempt fail as he went a bit off the track and losing time. Johan Kristoffersson placed himself in second, enduring Larsson’s attacks.
Solberg dominated the semifinal without any opponents near him, and with their places in the final and nothing more to win, Kristoffersson and Larsson kept their second and third places until the checkered flag.
While on the wait for the final, Larsson commented in interview to Neil Cole: “There are very strong guys in the final, but everything can happen in the first corner, so I will go all the way.”
Solberg compared his situation at Loheac with the past rounds, as he said: “It’s good to be on the top again without someone crashing me.”
Final had its go, Hansen held Solberg, and Larsson did the same outside move of the semifinal, finally succeeding and fighting with Kristoffersson for the third place, but later on, Larsson stopped and retired.
Hansen held the lead, but he still had to do his joker, which would give a chance to Solberg to take the lead. But Hansen did the joker, and kept the lead with a comfortable gap, and all that the TeamPeugeot-Hansen driver needed to do is race his Peugeot to the finish to win his second round in a row in 2015, while Solberg finished second. After them, Dubourg appeared in a surprise third place and a podium for the independent French driver.
After the race, an extremely happy Timmy Hansen said: “It feels really good. We are in France, with Peugeot, and I feel that I am at home.”
Also, an overwhelmed Jean-Baptiste Dubourg commented about his performance, saying: “It’s a motor race, anything can happen, and I enjoyed very much these six laps. My spotter was saying ‘push, push, push’, and finishing third in the world stage… Wow. ”
Solberg’s performance keeps him in the lead, with 219 points, although Hansen is closing little by little, with 182 points, and probably the title fight will be limited to these two drivers. Next round is the debut of Barcelona into World RX, with the two-way title fight, a whole new circuit and the German Timo Scheider as the main attractions, on September 20th.
PHOTO: Team Peugeot-Hansen
PHOTO: Team Peugeot-Hansen