KRISTOFFERSSON WINS AS LOEB TAKES PODIUM
Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson took a lights-to-flag victory at this weekend’s Bretagne World RX of France, round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, at the wheel of his Volkswagen RX Sweden Polo RX Supercar. Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud finished second in his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS RX Supercar while Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Sebastien Loeb claimed the third step of the podium in front of an elated home crowd.
In the overall driver standings, reigning Champion Petter Solberg finished fourth and extended his lead over Mattias Ekstrom to a slender five points. Ekstrom was leading the Intermediate Classification after the event’s four qualifying sessions and but was slowed by a puncture in the first semi-final. As a result, Ekstrom did not qualify for the final and finished the event seventh overall.
Points leader Solberg commented: “Leaving a race weekend with a bigger lead than when we arrive at the track is what this year is all about for PSRX – so France has been a big success for us. There’s more good news though, the changes we made to the car before the race really worked and clearly we have more speed.”
Kristoffersson’s win this weekend makes him the fifth different winner in World RX so far this season. “It feels fantastic,” grinned the 27-year old Swede who also won the coveted Monster Energy Super Charge Award after beating the other finalists to the first corner of today’s final.
The weekend didn’t start so well for the Loheac RX event winner, however, as Kristoffersson explained: “We couldn’t get it right yesterday – I was P10 after Q2 and the car didn’t feel right. My team worked really hard on the car overnight and in the rain this morning, the car felt amazing. This car and my driving style work very well together in the wet conditions. In the final, I pushed really hard and made sure to avoid the kerbs so as not to get a puncture, and concentrated on a clean race. Similar to last year, Andreas [Bakkerud] and I are very close in the leader board and now I’m starting to catch up on Mattias and Petter who are not so far in front – I just hope to continue from where we left off when we got to Barcelona. We got a podium there last year so hopefully we can do the same in two weeks’ time.”
Runner-up Bakkerud commented: “It was great to have both myself and Ken [Block] in the final for Hoonigan Racing Division. I feel like we are making progress each round – I’ve had four podium finishes in the last four rounds so I must be doing something right! I struggled a bit in Canada with the starts and I had some similar issues here but the performance of the car on the track is fantastic. I’m really proud of the team – they’ve done a fantastic job with the car."
Loeb added: “I’m really happy with this result and I’ve had some amazing support from the crowd this weekend too. It’s been a tough battle to get here – we are always looking to find more speed and unlike Johan [Kristoffersson] we struggled in the wet conditions. For sure, we lost a few seconds in the rain which meant we didn’t have the position that we wanted for the semi-finals. It turned out to be a good semi for us and in the final I pushed hard. It feels really good to be here.”
ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Reinis Nitiss posted his best result of the year at the wheel of his Seat Ibiza RX Supercar finishing fifth. The 20-year-old Latvian was 11th at the Intermediate Classification and took advantage of Ekstrom’s puncture to qualify for today’s final – the first of the season for the German-based team. Loheac marks Nitiss’ final event with Muennich Motorsport – he will drive an Olsbergs MSE Fiesta for the upcoming Barcelona RX.
Ken Block put in a strong performance at the wheel of his Ford Focus RS RX Supercar, the American securing his best ever Intermediate Classification result after finishing fifth. Block then proceeded to the final but was forced to retire after contact with Nitiss during the final lap broke his car’s suspension. He finished the event sixth overall.
Last year’s Loheac RX winner Timmy Hansen finished eighth this weekend, the Swede denied a spot in today’s final due to a puncture. Frenchman Davy Jeanney and privateer Audi driver Robin Larsson were ninth and tenth respectively. Eleventh place was taken by Euro RX front-runner Kevin Hansen and Albatec Racing’s Andy Scott was 12th – the British driver having posted some impressive times during the qualification stages.
In the World RX teams’ championship, EKS continue to lead the standings – 19 points ahead of Team Peugeot-Hansen who lie second.
In the fourth round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600, Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo triumphed in his Skoda Fabia. Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann finished runner-up at the wheel of his Peugeot 208 and the Czech Republic’s Josef Susta was third in his Skoda Fabia. Szabo’s win this weekend has elevated him to the top of the standings where he is now seven points ahead of Linnemann with two rounds still remaining.
World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy, concluded: “We’ve had a record crowd at Loheac this weekend with 75,000 passionate motorsport fans passing through the gates. Today’s final contained five different manufacturers – Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroen, Ford and Seat – and of course the home crowd was delighted that Sebastien Loeb finished on the podium. Congratulations to Johan and Volkswagen RX Sweden for their victory, it has been a long time coming and the team thoroughly deserve the win – especially after Johan’s blisteringly quick times in Q3 and Q4. The Loheac organiser has worked hard over the past few months to make this year’s event the best yet and we have been impressed by a number of steps taken including track and paddock improvements. Over the weekend, we signed a new deal with Loheac which will guarantee that the French round of World RX remains at this circuit and in Brittany for a further five years. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Loheac and maintaining this signature event on our World Championship calendar.”
Round nine of the World RX Championship will take place at the home of the Spanish Formula One race, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, in just under two weeks’ time (16-18 September).
Full results from Bretagne World RX of France can be found on the following link: http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/result/fra/2016
Championship standings can be found at: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/standings
Copyright-free pictures for media purposes can be found here: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/media
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