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EVENT PREVIEW: METTET RX

The third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy – Kapaza Rallycross of Belgium – has a record-breaking entry of 49 Supercars, each equipped with 600bhp and the ability to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than two seconds.  Belgium will also form the first of five rounds in the 2016 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars where there are 23 permanent entries.

There has been little rest for the World RX crews who have travelled direct from round two at Hockenheim in Germany. Last weekend’s race saw Mattias Ekstrom take the overall win and after two rounds, the EKS driver is tied in the overall driver standings alongside reigning Champion, Petter Solberg.  Last year’s runner-up Timmy Hansen has had a difficult start to the season and will be looking to make amends this weekend.  Meanwhile, Finland’s Topi Heikkinen will be tough competition having won at Belgium’s Jules Tacheny circuit for the past two years. Crowd pleasers Sebastien Loeb and Ken Block will compete on the undulating track at Mettet for the first time.

Wildcard Francois Duval will be the home favourite and has a strong track record in rallycross after winning the Belgian round of the European Rallycross Championship when it was held at Maasmechelen back in 2010. At a press conference in Brussels recently, Duval admitted a spot in this year’s semi-finals and final was his aim. The local driver will pilot an Olsbergs MSE prepared Fiesta RX Supercar.

Norway’s Tommy Rustad heads the entry list in the FIA European Rallycross Championship Supercar category as reigning Champion, and will compete this year for Scottish team Albatec Racing. Also driving Peugeot 208s in Euro RX will be three of the sport’s rising stars: 2015 RX Lites Cup Champion Kevin Hansen, reigning Euro RX TouringCar Champion Fredrik Salsten and Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann, who won the opening round of the Euro RX Super1600 category in Portugal.

Polish Dakar Rally stars Krzysztof Holowczyc and Martin Kaczmarski graduate from RX Lites to make their first Supercar starts with the Lotto Team, while 2015 Euro RX contender Jerome Grosset-Janin will line up alongside Rustad and Andy Scott in the Albatec squad.

France’s 2016 Andros Trophy Champion Jean-Baptiste Dubourg will compete in his DA Racing prepared Citroen DS3, while Norway’s Alexander Hvaal and Finland’s Joni-Pekka Rajala will drive a pair of Volkswagen Beetles run by Eklund Motorsport. Former GP3 star Tamas Pal Kiss will race an ex-Team Peugeot-Hansen Peugeot 208, and World RX Team Austria owner Max Pucher will begin his Euro RX challenge in a third Ford Fiesta run by the World RX team.

Germany’s Andreas Steffen will race a Ford Fiesta Supercar for the first time, and former Super1600 and TouringCar champion Michael De Keersmaecker will return to the sport in a Ford Fiesta, while another former TouringCar champion, Ireland’s Derek Tohill, will also race a Ford Fiesta. 

The FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCar will also compete for the first time this year, in which Sweden’s Daniel Lundh is the only former Champion. Last year's Mettet RX winner Fredrik Magnussen will return in his Ford Fiesta.

Belgium will mark the second round of the highly-competitive RX Lites Cup, where Thomas Bryntesson leads after winning the opening round at Hockenheim last weekend. Belgian RX Lites Talent Search winner, Regis Gosselin, will also take part in the RX Lites Cup having beaten off stiff competition from a total of 180 applicants.

Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, commented: “It’s been a busy start to the World RX season - the first three rounds are in quick succession but we’ve already seen some exceptional races and we’re looking forward to even more bumper-to-bumper action at the Jules Tacheny circuit this weekend.  Our previous best Supercar entry was 44 at last year’s Norwegian RX event so to have 49 entered in Belgium demonstrates the sport’s rapid growth and increasing popularity. In the drivers’ standings, Petter and Mattias are both on equal points so it will be interesting to see what happens over the weekend and whether Topi is able to secure a hat-trick having already won twice at this event before.”

From a Cooper Tire point of view.

Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe commented: “The Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet in Belgium poses a few challenges for the Cooper control tyre. The circuit comprises of a couple of long straights taken at full throttle, then you have heavy braking zones to get round the tight hairpins. This can generate excessive heat in the specially designed rallycross tread compound.  However, the transition onto the gravel sections reduce load and increase wear which helps to dissipate this. Finally there is a jump thrown into the mix, but experience has shown that this tyre is tough, and the rims are more likely to fail under the impacts than the tyre.”

Key Info

The full World RX Supercar entry list can be found here and the full Euro RX Supercar and TouringCar entry lists can be viewed here

The public timetable for the weekend can be found here

Full TV listings can be found at the following link: http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/tv_listings

To register for the 2016 World RX press zone where copyright-free pictures are available from all 12 events can be found on the following link: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/media

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