Bad weather presented itself at Höljes, Sweden, during the weekend, just to let sunlight bright again on Sunday for the final parts of the World RX of Sweden and to show the way for Norwegian driver Andreas Bakkerud to win again in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
It was an atypical qualifying round as Johan Kristoffersson took the lead with Sébastien Loeb behind him, and Mattias Ekström had to do a recovery as the current leader was on the verge of elimination at a given point.
First semifinal is away and Johan Kristoffersson takes advantadge of being closer to the inside of the first corner, taking the lead and giving no space to Petter Solberg and Toomas Heikkinen.
Even though balance is the strong point of Solberg’s Citroën DS3 RX, he wasn’t finding a way to overtake, and to worsen the situation, he and Heikkinen lost two positions when they went to the Joker. When Kristoffersson went out the Joker in the last lap, it was a Swedish 1-2-3 with Timmy Hansen, Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström, and even though Solberg was closer to the lead group, he was denied of a spot in the final.
Then we had the second semifinal, with Andreas Bakkerud taking a dominant position and closing the door of Sébastien Loeb. Loeb then started to put pressure in the Hoonigan Racing Division driver, but once in the faster section, Bakkerud regained control of the situation.
On lap 3 Bakkerud got a more consistent lead while Loeb had to worry with Janis Baumanis and Niclas Grönholm, but when Baumanis made a mistake and let the door open to the Olsbergs MSE driver, the lead fight was resumed. The first four made the Joker lap at the same time, but only Bakkerud and Loeb remained in their positions, just having to run for the checkered flag. Baumanis’ hoped of a final were ruined when Anton Marklund sneaked into third position to not let it go.
Final race is on and Timmy Hansen held everybody to keep a Peugeot-Hansen 1-2 with Loeb, but Marklund was near there to make sure he would ruin the party, and so he did on Lap 2 when he overtook Loeb.
Halfway point and only the Peugeot-Hansen duo haven’t gone to the Joker, which would benefit Bakkerud. Hansen’s advantage was good, but in the eleventh hour Bakkerud got the lead, and with the Ford Focus RS RX dominant in the final half of the track, Hansen was unable to even try to repeat what he did last year, making it the second straight win for the American team. The Swede still had problems in his Peugeot 208 WRX at the finish line, leaving Loeb finish in second and barely getting the third spot.
Mattias Ekström is still the leader with 142 points, but Solberg is right on his rearview mirror with 137 points, while double winner Bakkerud jumped to third with 110 points, followed by Loeb and Kristoffersson with 106. Between the teams there are no changes, as EKSRX leads with 224 points, Team Peugeot-Hansen has 192 and Volkswagen RX Sweden sits in third with 152 points.
Now the competition goes to a long one month stop to cross the Atlantic and arrive at the Trois-Rivieres circuit for the World RX of Canada event, the first of the two overseas events of the season.
PHOTO: Ford Performance
PHOTO: Ford Performance