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Event

World Rallycross Championship Round 5 – Lydden Hill

8th June 2017 — by Steve White

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This is a blog I have been dreading writing. The news that 2017 would be the last year Lydden Hill would host a round of the World Rallycross Championship certainly isn’t new – in fact it’s been almost six months since the announcement – but with the Lydden weekend done and dusted, the sad realization that we will no longer see the biggest names and best cars in rallycross competing at Lydden has hit home.

12 months ago I wrote about the instrumental role Lydden Hill has played in both my introduction to, and long running obsession with, rallycross. Over the last decade I have seen Lydden bring the European Rallycross Championship back to the UK, garner significant interest on TV and aid in the growth of the World Rallycross Championship. With such success the loss of the World round here seems unthinkable but, if I’m brutally honest, the move to Silverstone doesn’t surprise me. Lydden has had proposed development work held in limbo by the local council for well over two years now and, with the rapid expansion of the World Rallycross Championship, it was impossible to ignore the fact that the paddock was bursting at the seams this year.

Still, I have already dwelled on the matter enough. The final World Rallycross Championship round at Lydden also coincided with the 50th anniversary of rallycross and for that reason, rather than mourning the departure of a Championship, I considered the weekend a celebration of the sport that was conceived at Lydden 50 years ago.

Just a fortnight ago PSRX Volkswagen Sweden broke the winning streak of 2016 World Rallycross Champion and current Championship leader Mattias Ekstrom, when Johan Kristoffersson claimed the win in Belgium. After several near misses, spectators finally saw the full potential of the new Polo GTI and the question everyone was asking was if they could repeat the performance at Lydden.

Timmy Hansen narrowly missed out on denying PSRX Volkswagen Sweden their maiden victory at round 4, when a puncture slowed him on the last lap of the final. With the Peugeot-Hansen 208’s looking stronger in 2017, Timmy led the teams charge at Lydden, placing higher in the intermediate classifications than teammates Sebastien Loeb and Kevin Hansen.

Four home drivers were vying for success at round 5, with World Championship regular Guy Wilks joined by European Championship competitor Ollie O’Donovan, British Championship rookie Oliver Bennett and British Touring Car driver Andrew Jordan who was making a one off appearance in the MJP Racing Team Austria Fiesta usually occupied by Timo Schneider.

Wilks is often spectacular to watch in the ex- Kristoffersson Polo, but I do wonder if his flamboyance is preventing him from topping the timesheets. Guy was certainly consistent at Lydden and fourteenth in the intermediate standings was a respectable finish but, sadly, it was just short of a spot in the semi-finals.

Ollie O’Donovan seemed intent on reducing his Christmas card list for 2017, as he traded paint (and an assortment of body panels) with other competitors. Ollie finished outside the semi-final positions, but he posted faster times than several of the permanent World Championship entries which is surely an encouraging sign for O’Donovan’s next European Championship outing.

Of all the home talent it was Andrew Jordan who fared best. Placing eighth in the intermediate standings Andrew earned a spot in the semi-finals and, although it was a real shame not to see him progress any further, it was still an astonishing drive from Jordan when you consider he arrived at Lydden with zero seat time in the car!

Although the entry list had been revealed several weeks prior to the event, there was a late surprise with regards to one of the cars. Rene Munnich has added yet another supercar to his stable, specifically one of the two PSRX Citroen DS3’s, which he will use in place of the Seat Ibiza he drove in Barcelona.

Although not an old car, this DS3 has quite a history, having been the first car the PSRX team built for Petter to use in the 2013 RallycrossRX Championship. The car subsequently went on to become the second team car in 2014, with Alexander Hvaal driving it for the first half of the season, before Sten Oja used it in Canada, Simon Romagna in France and Manfred Stohl made his rallycross debut at the final round in Argentina. Pleasingly Munnich seemed to have adopted a Solberg-esque driving style for his new toy, with some very sideways moments around North Bend.

It has been a PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo that has headed every opening practise session of the 2017 World Championship and Lydden would be no exception. Solberg not only went fastest but broke the previous lap record by over a second.

That could perhaps be partially attributed to the track conditions, with the loose sections of the track looking swept before the first cars had even touched the track but, based on the trend seen thus far, the Polo GTI looks to be pushing the envelope of Supercar performance.

Seemingly with the bit between his teeth, Petter blitzed qualifying one and two, posting fastest times in both. With team mate Johan Kristoffersson close behind, the Volkswagen duo finished the opening day in first and second position overall.

Given the strong start to proceedings many were already talking about the pair locking out the top two steps of the podium but, with Mattias Ekstrom sitting in third, I was unconvinced that Ekstrom wasn’t just sandbagging in order to preserve his tyres.

The 50th anniversary of rallycross was the central theme of round 5 and it was marked with a huge car display at the top end of the paddock. There were some stunning cars in attendance, with all eras of rallycross represented. Predictably it was the Group B monsters that drew the most attention and the iconic sound of Will Gollop’s bi-turbo Metro 6R4 once again echoed around Lydden.

Of the cars in attendance, my preference will be unsurprising to anyone who has read any of my previous blogs. This is the very car that lured me to my very first rallycross meeting back in 2006 and I never tire of seeing it return to the track: especially when Pat Doran is giving it a good thrashing!

Despite having the lowest entry numbers of any of the rallycross classes this year, the Touring Cars have provided some of the closest – and most difficult to predict – racing of 2017.

Defending Champion Ben-Phillip Gunderson has got his title defence off to a terrible start, with a disastrous weekend in Barcelona followed by a marginally less awful round two in Mettet. Gunderson was pushing hard during the opening qualifying races and was sitting second in the overall standings after two races. Quickest in both qualifying one and two though, Mettet winner Lars-Oivind Enerberg was the early pace setter.

Anders Braten wrapped up the first day with a win in qualifying three and, coupled with seventh in qualifying four, he took second position in the intermediate standings from Ben-Philip Gunderson who slipped down to fourth.

Lars-Oivind Enerberg looked to have dropped in pace slightly when racing got underway on day two, but he was clearly saving the best for last, finishing second in the second Touring Car semi-final before going on to win the final. Second for Steve Volders and third for Kjetil Larsen allowed Enerberg extend his Championship lead to nine points.

After a shaky start at the opening round of the RX2 Championship, Cyril Raymond staged an astonishing comeback during the second day to take victory in the final and tie on points for the Championship lead.

Simon Olofsson had looked capable of matching the raw speed of Raymond in Belgium, topping the intermediate standings and winning the first RX2 semi final. Unfortunately his challenge came to an abrupt end when he picked up a puncture whilst leading the final.

Although Olofsson placed as high as fourth in the third qualifier at Lydden, Simon was unable to match the pace of the front runners and eventually finished in sixth overall. Olofsson retains his third in the Championship, with Guillaume de Ridder snatching fourth from Glenn Haug by just a single point.

Dan Rooke got his 2017 RX2 campaign off to a fantastic start at Mettet and English fans were hoping for another strong performance from Rooke, especially as he was on a familiar track.

Even on his home turf, Rooke was unable to best Cyril Raymond. With considerable RX Lite seat time under his belt, Cyril drove to a flawless victory at Lydden, winning all four qualifying rounds, the first semi-final and the final.

A maximum haul of points sees Raymond move into the lead of the RX2 Championship with Dan Rooke now trailing by four points. Coupled with further RX Lite success in the Global Rallycross Championship Cyril looks the man to beat this year. Fingers crossed Rooke can find a fraction more speed to challenge Raymond for the 2017 title.

My biggest failing when covering motorsport events is neglecting to spend enough time in the paddock and that is especially true with regards to rallycross. There are some fantastic personalities in the sport, but the cars have always been the stars for me and I curse myself for failing to spend more time studying them in detail.

With the ever-increasing level of competition within both the World and European Championships many teams are now reluctant to allow cameras anywhere near the front of their cars when the bonnets are up, however most are still happy for shots in and around the cars when they are all buttoned up and sitting on the dummy grid.

I find it fascinating to note the differing approaches taken by the various teams when it comes to both the major and minor design elements. If I was building my own car though, the interior of the STARD Fiesta is how I’d want to do it: fingertip controls, a flocked dash and heaps of carbon fibre.

Pleasingly Lydden Hill was another marginal improvement for the STARD team, with both Janis Baumanis and Timor Timerzyanov making it to the semi-final stage. Alas neither made it through to the final, but as the cars – and results – become more consistent it is surely only a matter of time.

The PSRX Volkswagen Sweden duo continued where they left off when racing resumed on day two. Petter Solberg took qualifying three from his team mate, with those positions switching for qualifying four when Johan Kristoffersson led Solberg to the line.

I still had my doubts as to whether we were seeing maximum attack from Mattias Ekstrom, but after all four qualifying races were completed I was surprised to learn that Kristoffersson still had two new tyres in reserve while Solberg had three remaining, having used just one new tyre for qualifying three. Tyre preservation has unquestionably been an issue for Petter in the past, so to see him reach this stage of the weekend with three of his eight tyres untouched was quite a shock.

Ken Block posted his best result of the season in Mettet with eighth overall and, with both Hoonigan Racing Division drivers believing the Focus RS RX would be well suited to Lydden, it looked likely that he would be able to continue that form.

Seventh in the intermediate standings placed Block on the second row of the first semi-final. Although Ken would finish just one place shy of the all-important top three positions, fourth in the semi netted him seventh overall, topping his finish in Belgium.

As the weekends racing began to near its conclusion, Andreas Bakkerud emerged as the greatest threat to the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polos. With a string of bad luck early in the season Bakkerud was clearly desperate for a win and with the Focus RS RX performing as well as hoped, Andreas looked likely to challenge Solberg and Kristoffersson for the top step of the podium.

Despite the talk, it was only when the racing reached the semi-final stage that I truly believed the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden cars could dominate the entire weekend. Knowing that Solberg had three new tyres on his Polo for the first semi-final, I was expecting Petter to lead the pack into the first corner and that’s exactly what happened. Starting alongside Solberg, Timmy Hansen dived into an early joker while Andreas Bakkerud slotted in behind Petter to take second.

Typically the lead driver will hold off on the joker until the last lap of the race but, in a break from the norm, Petter relinquished the lead in favour of the joker at the start of lap two. The gamble paid off, as Solberg emerged in the middle of the field with clear track ahead of him and no one to harass him from behind. As the cars ahead peeled off one-by-one for their joker, Solberg ascended back up the order until he found himself leading again.

In the second Supercar semi-final Johan Kristoffersson was joined on the front row by Mattias Ekstrom. With both cars fitted with a single new tyre (interestingly on opposing sides of the front), they ran side-by-side off the line and, given his placement on the outside of the track, Ekstrom sensibly opted to take his joker on the first lap of the race.

Sebastien Loeb moved into second as the pack headed into turn one and Loeb began pursuing Kristoffersson for the lead. Sebastien never lost sight of Johan, but as each lap passed Kristoffersson stretched his lead a little more.

Exiting the joker with a clear track ahead of him Mattias Ekstrom had clear air to try and reduce the gap to the lead pair but, like Loeb, he was unable to match the speed of Kristoffersson. Notably the EKSRX Audi S1 didn’t look anywhere near as composed on the loose section at the bottom of Paddock Hill as either the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo or the Peugeot-Hansen 208.

Ekstrom looked like he was on the absolute limit and it was unusual to see wisps of smoke from his rear tyres. Nevertheless Mattias still managed to cross the line in third, earning himself a spot on the back row of the grid for the final.

With a semi-final win apiece it was an all Polo GTI front row for the final. Predictably the Volkswagen pair split off the line, with pole position sitter Petter Solberg opting for the normal lap while Johan Kristoffersson headed for an early joker.

As with the first semi-final Solberg chose to joker at the end of the first lap and, exactly as before, he emerged with a clear track ahead of him and a comfortable gap between himself and the car behind, which in this case was his team mate Johan Kristoffersson.

While Bakkerud led, Mattias Ekstrom found himself battling for second as he fended off the advances of Timmy Hansen. Hansen opted to joker on lap three, joining the race behind team mate Sebastien Loeb. Timmy didn’t stay there for long though, as a left rear puncture sent him pirouetting into the tyre wall as he applied the brakes on the approach to North Bend.

As Ekstrom slowly lost touch with leader Bakkerud, Solberg was closing in from behind, reducing the gap to Mattias to just over a second before Ekstrom took his joker. With only Bakkerud ahead, Petter continued his charge and when Andreas took his joker on the last lap, Solberg and Kristoffersson moved into the top two positions with just half a lap to go. Bakkerud re-joined in third to complete an all Monster Energy top three.

Exiting the joker behind Sebastien Loeb, Mattias Ekstrom suffered exactly the same fate as Timmy Hansen, with a left rear puncture putting paid to any hope he had of taking fourth from Loeb.

Mattias eventually limped over the line in fifth. After opening the year with three wins, it was surprising to see Ekstrom off the podium for the second round in a row. The drama certainly made for an exciting final though and it was a fine spectacle to conclude the 50th anniversary weekend with.

Victory for Solberg has slashed his Championship point deficit to Ekstrom, while second overall was enough for Johan Kristoffersson to take the Championship lead. Are we on the tipping point of a season of dominance from PSRX Volkswagen Sweden? I still think it’s too early to jump to conclusions, but with the team managing to pair their single lap speed with consistency they look to be the team to beat. Can Ekstrom, or anyone else in the field, extract more speed to match them?

Thankfully we don’t have a long wait to find out, with Round 6 of the Championship taking place in Norway this weekend. Stay tuned to the official World Rallycross Championship website for the latest news and and expect more World Rallycross content on Fueltopia later this year!

 

 

Want to see more of the World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill? Click here for a full image gallery.

Event

Scottish Drift Championship – Round 2

1st June 2017 — by Connor Mathieson

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After missing the first round of the Scottish Drift Championship, I was quite eager to get back into it and look at the progress since last year. Once again I’m fairly shocked by the driver level this year.

Many people that competed in previous years are getting seriously consistent and with having so much practice days at Driftland to attend, their proximity in chase driving has gotten insanely good. This change in consistency showed through with there being not one single incident, Be that contact/crash or just someone running off track and getting stuck until the small pile up that occurred in the trains just before the top 4

So that’s an entire day of drifting being completely ahead of schedule and it comes down to that consistency. Even in practice, people are getting close to one another. In previous years, practice was where people would leave gaps to each other and essentially do solo runs. Now however its actually interesting to watch.

They have a new system for practice and qualifying as well now. I’m not entirely sure if they ran it like this at Round 1 as well, but it goes like this: Practice and qualifying is joint. There are 2 queues, The first queue is for practice. You line up with someone and either do a run with someone or you can go alone if you want. The second queue is for qualifying, So if after 3-4 practice runs you’re feeling confident, you can go attempt a qualifying run.

There are 2 groups for the Practice/Qualifying session, each having around an hour and a half. That’s basically an hour and a half to get some battle practice and complete your 2 Qualifying runs. It actually works out really well. It seems to run a lot smoother than a regular competition event that splits practice and qualifying into separate instances.

Qualifying was over really fast with this new system, not that it’s a bad thing. The day did seem to go fairly quick as a whole though.

Qualifying in First place was Mark Gemmell in the V8 350z. Mark being a BDC driver, it’s no surprise he was right up top.

Coming in for 2nd place would be Jack Symes, Yet another BDC driver although Jack hasn’t competed in quite a while But his V8 E30 still rips pretty hard!

3rd place was reserved for Kev Kay in the monstrous little M3 Compact.

There was a lot of high calibre Names in the top 10 for Qualifying as well as some more unknown names to competition. From Driftland Regulars to BDC and Driftcup drivers. There was a huge amount of talented drivers all over the qualifying bracket.

Straight into battles and it was clear to see that it was going to be quite an exciting event from a driving standpoint.
David Hunter who had only just got his Licence to compete in SDC in the morning, would be thrown into the deep end coming up against last years champion James Young. He put in a solid fight, but there is a reason James won last years competition. Strong, Close chase runs and a great lead run would see James advance to the top 16

Zenki vs Kouki, Illand vs MaCleod. Battle of the S14’s was here. Craig MaCleod in the blue Kouki was having nothing but issues all day with the car running really bad. He pushed it to its limits in Qualifying, straining every ounce of power to get just 1 run down and amazing managed to do just that.

Thankfully the car was running “properly” in the battle against Mark Illand and allowed him to really push the car. I think a slight lack in seat time on the day was plaguing Craig however. He chased a little scrappy but his lead run was solid. Hitting every clip really nicely, but having a lack of power in practice in the morning with the car having its gremlins just didn’t give Craig the seat time he needed for the day.

No doubt Craig will have been disappointed with himself and the car. But his solo runs had been great all day. Even with that lack of power he had earlier he was still hitting every single clip. Can’t wait to see him back out with the car running 100%!

Chris Shand in the mighty Altezza had a tough battle on his hands being pitted against 3rd place qualifier Kev. Shand had been having issues in Practice with what looked to be an excessive amount of grip. The little Beams engine could only do so much with the help of some big clutch kicks to keep the car in drift while in practice. As the practice went on and the tyres got more worn he did start to get a much more consistent slide going on.

Shand did everything he could to stick it on Kev’s door in his chase run and did a fine job at that. But Kev is a super aggressive driver when it comes to chasing, being known to be to aggressive at times and putting himself out of competitions in the past with his aggressive style. Kev like always was driving fantastic all day and with a great lead and a nice close chase run he would put shand out in the top 32.

Top 16 battles started with an exciting battle between James Young and Steven McConnell. Proximity and door rubbing is a simple way of explaining this battle. Both drivers chasing ridiculously close, So close the judges had to call a “One more time”.

In the one more time battle it was more or less a mirrored image from the first Battle. Both drivers doing that same lead and chase drive again. I certainly couldn’t tell who had won, The judges took their time and came to the conclusion that Steven had beaten last years champ and moved into the TOP 8.

From here on battles would become this game of consistency, Where one small mistake would cost you a battle.

Chrissy Nailen hot of his win over John Galasso in the huge 600bhp 2JZ JZX100 in the top 32 needed to pull out all the stops to beat Kev and he did try. However Kev’s chase run was just ridiculous. All over the back of Chrissy’s car from start to finish.

Stuart McLellan in the nitros powered barbie E36 took on none other than Angry Jack. Stuart’s car is the only car in the field that runs NOS and it has some serious pace. But Jack being an ex BDC competitor is no stranger to chasing down fast cars. Overall Jack has a good few years of battle practice over Stuart but that doesn’t mean Stuart let him win. Like most of these later battles i’m standing waiting to hear the “One more time” call as these battles are so close.

Like i had been anticipating, a one more time was called. Jack did eventually get the win here over a hard pushing Stuart McLellan and progressed towards the semi finals.

Kev met Mark Illand in the top 8, both drivers had been putting in some great chase runs all day. Kev for me had been easily the best chase driver overall but Mark stuck it right on Kev’s door in his chase run.

Turn these guys around and yet again kev sticks on his opponents door hard than they could do to him.

Naturally Kev got the win here but the man was on fire, it would take a lot for someone to get the better of him.

Into the semi finals and Jack Symes was taking on Steven McConnell. Steven had been doing this very interesting dive on the transition to clip 2 against everyone he had faced so far. This dive was allowing him to get right on top of his competitor coming through the long left harder. Yet again Steven made this huge dive on Jack and stuck to his door through the entire remainder of the section. Jack would then have to do the same thing in order to even gain a one more time.

Amazingly Jack pretty much mirrored Stevens run and by what could only have been the smallest of margins, managed to put himself into the final. Steven would then have to fight for 3rd.

The second battle of the semi finals would see Kev Kay face against Ross Ogilvie. Both of these drivers are regulars to the track and both of which are no stranger to some competition. Ross’ previous battle to get him into the semi finals saw him take down Mark Gemmell in the v8 350z, a real David vs Goliath fight.

A re occurring theme of having no idea who was going to win a battle was something that really set the tone of the day. Every battle was fiercely contested to the bitter end. Yet again though, Kev’s chase run was unreal, Slinging him right into the finals.

Ross Ogilvie and Steven McConnell were to duke for 3rd place honours. This would be yet another battle to head into a one more time with the first pass being too close to call.

In the second battle Ross managed to pull a gap big enough on Steven to edge out an advantage in the first run. Ross would then stick it on the door of Steven and for the frist time in a while, I was clearly able to see an advantage in a battle.

Just like that we had made it to the final. Jack Symes taking on Kev Kay, Jack had been having an overheating issue all day with his car and actually took a five minute rule in order to let his car cool down before he fought for the win.

In the first pass Kev like always put in a great chase run sitting right next to jack through the entire course. Jack would have to it all to do in the next run.

Run number 2, and boy did Jack stick it to Kev. Coming through the infield section Jack dives onto Kev’s door display exactly what Kev had been doing to everyone else on the day. Two pretty amazing back to back runs with no clear winner. Amazingly however, the judges had came to a decision.

Steven McConnell just missed out on 3rd place but picked up a well deserved hard charger trophy.

Ross Ogilvie got himself a well deserved 3rd place trophy.

Jack Symes fought the V8 E30’s overheating issues all day but pushed on and grabbed the 2nd place Trophy.

Kev Key Fought insanely hard all day providing the best chase runs i’ve seen. From practice to the final sticking his car on everyone’s door and getting that glorious 1st place trophy.

So just like that, the day was over. The single smoothest drift competition i have witnessed. Not one hiccup all day and being ahead of schedule.

The Scottish Drift Championship is now in it’s second year and the driving level is getting out of hand. To have such competitive close runs in practice alone is awesome to witness.

Round 3 heads to Golspie and what a venue that will be!

Photos and words by Connor Mathieson

Event

 Old Town

30th May 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Armed with a beer and a camera, the air thick with the smell of booze, fuel and barbecue I felt the wave of childish excitement washing over me.

I write this through the eyes of a beer-fuelled tourist shuffling excitedly around the streets and bars of Old Town in Kissimee, Florida. It had been around 20 years since I last visited and I wanted to see if recollection of this petrol head nirvana was accurate. Fair warning, this will be a somewhat chaotic blog post, I hadn’t intended on doing event coverage, I just turned up looking to relax and drink some beer. I had no agenda, no features lined up, I was just there to take it all in. It wasn’t till I got home that I realised just how many pictures I had taken.

Before the dulcet tones of burbling V8’s filled the air, the sound track of the evening was people having fun in the fairground and surrounding bars. Picking up my first beer, I started walking from the bottom of Trophy Row, the staging ground for the cruiser cars, to get a closer look at the evening’s offerings. The night I visited was the Saturday Nite Classic Car Cruise which is hosted every Saturday with the main cruise starting at 8:30pm.

Event

World Rallycross Championship Round 4 – Mettet

25th May 2017 — by Steve White

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After a fantastic weekend at the opening round of the 2017 World Rallycross Championship I had to be content with watching rounds two and three from afar. Thankfully the wait between rounds is minimal and I have returned to the Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet in Belgium for round four.

A quick glance at the results from this year’s Championship and you could be forgiven for thinking that Mattias Ekstrom is dominating the 2017 season.

Although Mattias has won all three finals – and managed to pull out a significant lead in the Championship standings in the process – the wins have come as a result of smart driving in the closing stages of the weekend rather than though outright domination. The top qualifier at each of the three 2017 Championship rounds thus far has been a different driver: all driving different marques.

In terms of raw pace the new PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI has been the car to beat. The Polo has topped the practise timesheets at every round of the Championship thus far and Belgium would prove no exception to that rule, with team mates Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson placing first and second respectively.

Of course races are not won on a single lap time and it has been consistency – and arguably luck – that has kept overall victory out of reach for Kristoffersson and Solberg. Day one in Mettet would see the team perfectly combine speed and consistency, with Petter and Johan taking a qualifying win each. There was still a long way to the final, but could this be the weekend when the Polo GTI took its first overall victory?

Pleasingly the Peugeot-Hansen 208’s seem more competitive in 2017. Sebastien Loeb had failed to make the semi-finals at the opening round in Barcelona, but he looked much stronger at both rounds two and three, making it to the final at both and finishing as high as second in Portugal. Team mate Timmy Hansen also performed well in Germany, qualifying second at the intermediate stage and taking third – his first podium finish of 2017 – in the final.

Notably Timmy Hansen seemed far more aggressive with his lines at Mettet than I can ever recall seeing in the past. With his circuit racing background, Timmy has always been synonymous with smooth and tidy driving, but he was riding curbs and skimming – or even clipping – trackside furniture in Belgium. This resulted in several spectacular two wheel moments: and a number of smashed front bumpers!

Despite reaching the semi-final stage in both Portugal and Germany, Kevin Hansen is yet to reach a final in this year’s World Rallycross Championship. I had been expecting to see Kevin challenge – and perhaps even beat – his older brother Timmy, but the speed isn’t quite there yet.

Things got off to a promising start in Belgium, with two top ten times in the opening days qualifying races. Unfortunately any hopes of surpassing Timmy in Belgium disappeared in the third qualifier, when Kevin ran slightly off line on the ascent from the bottom of the circuit, clipping the banking and sending his Peugeot 208 into a violent series of rolls.

After a strong second half to the 2016 season, which included three overall victories, I touted Andreas Bakkerud as one to watch this year. Third in Barcelona was an encouraging start, but a semi-final retirement in Portugal was followed by a disastrous weekend in Hockenheim where Bakkerud failed to make it beyond qualifying.

Ken Block has at least delivered consistent results for Hoongian Racing Division, with Block qualifying for the semi-finals at rounds one, two and three.

Mettet would prove to be the best weekend of the year for Hoonigan Racing. Bakkerud placed fourth in qualifying one with Block in eleventh, then Block surprised many to take fourth fastest time in qualifying two. Ken continued that form in day two, with ninth in qualifying three and another fourth in the final set of qualifiers.

Sixth in the intermediate standings was the best qualification result of the year for Block and, with Bakkerud in fourth, both Focus RS RX qualified for the second of the World Championship semi-finals.

Unfortunately Block’s progress was again halted at the semi-final stage, as he retired on lap five of the race after an interaction with the scenery. Ninth overall was still his best result of 2017 and hopefully an indication that the American might be a finalist before the year is out.

Andreas Bakkerud fared better, chasing Petter Solberg to the flag and earning a spot on the second row of the Supercar final. After the disappointment of Portugal and Germany, it was fantastic to see Andreas back at the sharp end again.

While Mettet didn’t constitute part of the European Championship, it had a packed timetable with the second round of both Touring Cars and Super 1600 taking place, as well as the opening round of the 2017 RX2 Championship.

The latter was a particular point of interest for me as, although the RX2 category (formerly known as RX Lites), has produced some good racing, the permanent class numbers haven’t been that high, so the overall Championship battle has often been fought out by just a couple of drivers.

With eighteen entries at Mettet, interest in RX2 looks very strong this year. Included among those entrants was 2016 British Rallycross Champion Dan Rooke who, after failing to secure a budget for this year’s British Championship, has managed to secure himself a drive in an RX Lite.

After recovering from a poor start, Philip Gehrman won the opening round of the Touring Car Championship in Barcelona and it was Philip who headed the Championship standings prior to racing getting underway in Belgium.

Defending Touring Car champion Ben-Philip Gunderson had a weekend to forget in Spain, but things got off to a much more promising start in Mettet. Second in the opening qualifying race was followed by another second in race two and two first places in qualifying three and four.

Lars-Oivind Enerberg had qualified top at round one, but finished outside the top three in his semi-final and thus missed out on the final. Enerberg was again quick in qualifying at Mettet, winning the first days qualifying races and placing well enough on day two to sit second in the intermediate standings. Winning the first Touring Car semi-final, Lars-Oivind claimed a front row spot for the final.

It looked like Enerberg would be fighting with Ben-Philip Gunderson for the overall win but, for the second time, Gunderson failed to make it through to the final. Although Ben-Philip at least managed to get some Championship points on the board in Belgium, failing to make it beyond the semi-final stage was a real blow to his title defence, with Gunderson now trailing the Championship leader by 29 points.

Enerberg carried his semi-final winning form into the final. Leading the pack out of turn one, the biggest threat to Lars-Oivind came from Anders Braten. Opting for an early joker, Braten pushed hard to close up the gap and, when Enerberg took his joker, Anders took the lead. When the joker staggered unravelled at the end of the race, it became clear that Lars-Oivind had done just enough and he took the win from Braten, with round one winner Philip Gehrman in third.

I had suggested in my pre-season preview that, if consistent , Ulrik Linnemann unquestionably had the speed to win both individual rounds and this year’s Super 1600 title.

Linnemann proved his race-winning pace at the first round of the Super 1600 Championship in Portugal, where he took overall victory, Unfortunately Ulrik couldn’t repeat the feat in Belgium, as mechanical woes forced his retirement during the final.

Top qualifier in the Super 1600 category at Mettet was Artis Baumanis. After setting fastest overall time in the opening race, Artis posted top eight times in the remaining races to pip Kasparas Navickas to the top spot.

After winning in the first Touring Car semi-final one, overall victory for Baumanis was looking ever more likely until, on lap four of the final, Artis clipped the tyre barrier on the outside of turn one. Obviously keen to make up any lost time, Baumanis charged into the joker section a bit too hot, rolling his Fabia in the process and handing the lead over to Janno Ligur.

With the damaged Fabia of Baumanis on the circuit, the race was immediately red flagged and, as Ligur was yet to take his joker lap, a time penalty was awarded which handed first position to Kasparas Navickas, who had already taken his joker.

Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme scored his best result of the year, with third in the intermediate standings, second in his semi-final and third in the final.

Kasparas Navickas now leads the Super 1600 Championship, with Ulrik Linnemann in second just five points adrift of Navickas. Artis Baumanis and Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme are joint third and Krisztian Szabo fifth. All five drivers are separated by just nine points and, with four rounds of the Championship left, I strongly suspect that the lead will change hands again before the seasons end.

In the RX2 category, it looked like defending Champion Cyril Raymond was making a measured start to the weekend, as he posted sixth fastest time in the opening RX2 qualifying race. However problems in qualifying two saw Cyril tumble down the standings.

With Raymond struggling, it was Simon Olofsson who set the early pace in RX2. The greatest challenge to Olofsson came from Dan Rooke, who demonstrated considerable pace against the RX Lite veterans. Rooke placed second in qualifying two, then went one better and won qualifying three.

Rooke was second only to Olofsson in the intermediate standings which was a superb way to get his RX2 campaign underway.

Bouncing back from the disappointment of qualifying two and three, Cyril Raymond won the fourth qualifier and the second RX2 semi-final, placing him alongside Simon Olofsson on the front row of the final grid. When the lights went green Olofsson was able to fend off Raymond to take the lead and it looked like the challenge to Simon would instead come from Dan Rooke. While Rooke and Olofsson battled, Raymond took an early joker and, when Simon picked up a puncture, Dan found himself second to Cyril after taking his joker.

Victory in the RX2 final was a remarkable reversal of fortune for Cyril Raymond. From fifteenth overall at the end of day one to an overall win at the end of day two. Cyril left Mettet with an equal point haul to Dan Rooke and the pair currently share the lead of the RX2 Championship. With the next round of RX2 taking place at Lydden Hill, Rooke will have circuit knowledge on his side, so fingers crossed he will stand on – or perhaps even atop – the podium at round 2.

Timo Scheider has seemingly been unable to duplicate his round one podium success. Kevin Eriksson was the MJP Racing Team Austria Fiesta to watch at Mettet, with Kevin making it all the way to the back row of the final. Eriksson might have made posed a challenge for a podium spot, but a puncture relegated him to the back of the field where he eventually finished fifth.

I was expecting a breaking in period for the pair of STARD Fiestas, but I thought we might see them posing more of a threat for final positions at this point in the season. Janis Baumanis barely managed to finish the top 16 where he netted a single Championship point. Team mate Timur Timerzyanov got a little further but, for the third time this year, his weekend came to an end in the semi-finals.

I believe both drivers have the talent to be challenging the front runners and I hope it’s not long before we see them up there.

With such a strong performance throughout the weekend and cars on the first and second row of the grid, the odds of a maiden victory for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden seemed good. After the lights had gone green it was Petter Solberg who led the pack into the first corner and down towards the lower section of the track. Timmy Hansen slotted into second and, after a brief moment of contact with Andreas Bakkerud, Johan Kristoffersson snatched third.

Petter would retain the lead until the end of lap two, when Timmy Hansen got fantastic drive out of the inside of the final corner and ran alongside Solberg as they turned into the first turn of lap three. Petter tried to hold off Timmy, but instead ran wide, grazing the tyres on the outside of the first corner. As the Polo GTI snapped back onto the racing line, Solberg collected the hapless Focus RS RX of Bakkerud and fired him into the tyre barrier on the opposite side of the track.

Andreas managed to limp on for another half a lap before retiring at the side of the track. With Kevin Eriksson struggling with a puncture and Kristoffersson opting for an early joker, Mattias Ekstrom was elevated to third. The position of Ekstrom was to prove critical to the final result as, although he was several seconds behind the race leaders, both Johan and Petter would end up behind Ekstrom after taking their joker lap.

As Kristoffersson and Solberg tried to find a way past Ekstrom, Hansen had a clear track ahead and could focus on putting in the quickest laps possible. It looked like Timmy might have stretched out enough of a gap to joker and retain the lead, until the final lap of the race when it became apparent that his Peugeot 208 had picked up a left front puncture. With Ekstrom also opting to take his joker on the final lap, the finishing order was decided on the last corner.

Despite being held up by Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson had done enough and he took the maiden win for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI. Undeterred by the puncture, Timmy Hansen had the throttle absolutely pinned as he emerged from the joker and, although it looked like Petter had crossed the line first, Timmy claimed second place by a hundredth of a second.

Finishing fourth Mattias Ekstrom retained first place in the World Championship standings, however his lead has been slashed, with just three points to second place Kristoffersson and fourteen to third place Solberg. With Ekstrom’s early Championship lead severely eroded, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden pair will surely be aiming to catch and pass Mattias next time out.

The fifth round of the Championship takes place at Lydden Hill this weekend. Fueltopia will be in attendance, so be sure to check back for full event coverage in the coming days!

 

 

Want to see more of the World Rallycross Championship at Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet? Click here for a full image gallery.

ReviewsUncategorised

Scratching a PS13 Size Itch

19th May 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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We all have friends that are the perfect example of spontaneity, jumping at an opportunity & not thinking twice, simply just going for it. I’m envious of those people & I for sure wish I could live like that at times.

Gianni, the man behind the extremely popular clothing brand Status Error is one of those people & luckily a very close friend of mine which usually means I get brought a long for the ride on his adventures.

He’s not reckless by any means but where he just makes a move & thinks later is with his car purchases. I have no doubt that Gianni puts a tonne of thought into a car purchase but to everyone else the cars come & go, as if they are itches that need scratching, something that he needs to own to get it out of his system. Luckily though the man has good taste.

It is with this mindset that he ended up with this stunning Red Purple” 1993 Nissan Silvia (PS13). The car was imported in 2015 by EPRacing & has to be one of the cleanest S-Bodies in the UK.
Beating at its heart is a lightly tuned SR20DET pushing out around 320BHP (Full spec list below).

We actually filmed a vlog about the day we headed down to Newcastle to grab this car. You can check it out below or on the Status Error YouTube channel.

In the video we start off in his old DC5 Honda Integra Type R. His car history is phenomenal & before that Gianni had owned a plethora of JDM metal, MR2s, MX5s, Civic Type Rs, Porsche 944s, RX8s & even RX7s… the list is huge & I can’t fault him for any of them.

How does the Silvia compare to everything he’s had before? Well its a monster, but in a good way. Its power delivery is extremely aggressive, thrusting forward once on boost & constantly wanting to step out, an amazing car but an absolute animal.

In the time he’s owned it he has been able to quickly make it his own. The interior has definitely had some fantastic additions, adding bucket seats & a spread of vibrant colours throughout the interior, its very cool place to be.

For everything else he’s wanted done the car has been taken of by performance car specialist Automek. They have handled the harder tasks the PS13 needed done including the rust proofing & repairs.


However here comes the bad news, the PS13 is unfortunately up for sale & I was fortunate enough to be able to get the shots you see here, a parting shoot to remember this one by.
It is making way for something else & I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to seeing what is next…

Spec List

Engine – SR20DET (320BHP)

Produced 320BHP at the Fly on (15/05/17) Graph Included
Nismo 555cc Injectors
GReddy Front Mount
GReddy Boost Gauge
GReddy Light Weight Pulley’s
Garrett GT2561 Roller Bearing Turbo (Fresh Rebuild)
Apexi Air Filter
Z32 Maf
Tubular Mani
All Engine Gaskets Replaced
D1 Spec Oil Catch Can
Exedy Clutch
Innovate AFR / Wide Band Gauge
Blitz Boost Controller
Unbranded Turbo Timer (Wired To Handbrake)
Front Mounted Oil Cooler
HKS Oil Filter
Titan 10/50 Race Oil
NGK Cooper Plugs
Japspeed Alloy Radiator
Silicon Hoses
Owens Development Wastegate
Kakimoto Racing Exhaust (Track Friendly)
De-Cat
Engine Damper
Digital GPS Speedometer (MPH & KPH)
Battery Relocated To Boot
ALWAYS ran on Shell V-Power (You can’t run it on anything less)

Chassis / Brakes / Wheels

Top Fuel Coilovers
Ikeya Formula Adjustable Rose Joints Front & Rear
Front & Rear Strut Braces
Japspeed Castor Arms
Kaaz 1.5 Way Diff
Cusco Half Cage
Zero Rust Underneath With A Fresh Underseal
Full 4 Wheel Alignment Carried Out Recently

Rota Grids 18 x 10 ET30 (Front & Back)
Yokohama Neova AD08R Tyres
265 / 35 / 18 (Rear)
235 / 40 / 18 (Front)
D1 Spec Nuts

D1 Spec 355mm 2 Piece Discs With 6 Pot Calipers (Front)
Stock Rears With Red Stuff Pads
Drift Button Handbrake
Cusco Master Cylinder Stopper

Interior

2 x Motamec Racing GP1 Bucket Seats (FIA – 2022)
2 x Driftworks Super Low Sidemount Seat Rails
2 x Genuine 4 Point Hardnesses With Seatbelt Buckle
350mm Neo Chrome / Dished Suede Steering Wheel
NRG Short Hub Boss Kit
Fire Extinguisher Installed In Glove Box
Custom Door Cards, Glovebox & Gear Knob Gaiter. (I still have all of the original parts untouched which will be included if the floral interior isn’t your thing).
Purple Bubble Long Gear Stick
Broadway Mirror
JVC KW-V20BT Double Din Unit With Bluetooth / Phone
Stripped Back (I Still Have The Seats & Plastics)

Body / Exterior

Nissan L42 Red Purple Paint With Flake (Glitters In Sun)
Origin Lab Rear 55mm Fenders
Origin Lab Side Skirts / Front & Rear Bumper
EPRacing 30mm Front Fenders
DMax Carbon Bonnet
DMax Roof Spoiler
Rocket Bunny Rear Spoiler
Carbon Boot Lid
Aero Catches with keys
Brick Headlights
GTR Grill
Rhino Lip Front & Side Splitters
Electric Folding Mirrors
Single Wiper Conversion
Rear Neon Lights With Controller
Rear Half Tinted Lights

Cutting Room Floor