EVENT PREVIEW: MONTAELGRE RX
The picturesque Montalegre race circuit in north Portugal will host the second round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy this weekend (21-23 April). Reigning World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom [EKS] currently leads the drivers’ standings after taking the round one victory in Barcelona earlier this month.
Bompiso Rallycross of Portugal takes place in the scenic town of Montalegre and is located in the hills of the Vila region, close to the Spanish border. The circuit presents a unique challenge for both drivers and engineers: at 1800 metres above sea level it is the highest event on the World RX calendar and engines need to be finely tuned to deal with the higher altitude.
“The start couldn’t have gone better – now we have to up the ante at Montalegre,” explained Ekstrom, who has reached the final on every World RX circuit he has competed at besides Portugal. “I have good and bad memories of last year. Everything was going according to plan up until the semi-final, but then a mistake in turn one cost me the final.”
Joining Ekstrom in the headline Supercar category will be a further 21 entries including star names such as last year’s Montalegre RX winner Petter Solberg [PSRX Volkswagen Sweden], Sebastien Loeb [Team Peugeot-Hansen] and Ken Block [Hoonigan Racing Division]. One to watch will be MJP Racing Team Austria’s Timo Scheider who is competing in his first full World RX campaign in 2017 and finished runner-up in Barcelona.
The regular drivers will also be joined by Germany’s Rene Muennich, Poland’s Martin Kaczmarski, Belgium’s Gregoire Demoustier and Portugal’s Joaquim Santos. Muennich Motorsport driver Rene Muennich is racing in the full FIA European Rallycross Championship this season with his Seat Ibizia Supercar and will compete in a number of World RX events as a wildcard driver.
Kaczmarski, another Euro RX competitor, will step up to World RX for the Portuguese event with his ex-Olsbergs MSE Fiesta Supercar. Circuit racing driver Demoustier made his World RX debut in Barcelona, driving a DA Racing Peugeot 208 and will return for a second appearance in Portugal alongside Jean-Baptiste Dubourg. Santos is a regular starter in his native round of World RX – the experienced driver will be a firm favourite with the home fans.
The second round of World RX is also the inaugural round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600, where 30 drivers – including five Portuguese entries – will take part.
Reigning Champion, Hungary’s Kristian Szabo, will begin the defence of his title, now joined in the Volland Racing team by Latvia’s Artis Baumanis – driving a pair of Skoda Fabias. Former Super1600 race winner Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme returns to the Set Promotion team for a title challenge as team mate to Russia’s Timur Shigaboutdinov. Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann will once again compete in the front-wheel drive series in his self-run car.
Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “We’ve had tricky track conditions for the past few years in Portugal but it looks as if we will be blessed with excellent weather this weekend. A number of changes to the infrastructure of the circuit have been put in place for 2017 and we are sure that the event will once again be a sell-out due to the hard work and relentless promotion from the Portuguese event organisers. The Portuguese fans are some of the most passionate of the season and with six local drivers competing in front of the home crowd, the atmosphere in the grandstands will be electric.”
Find the full World RX Supercar entry list here.
And the full Euro RX S1600 entry list here.
Full 2017 TV listings can be found here
Monster Energy Super Charge Award
For the past three seasons, World RX drivers have been vying for the infamous Monster Energy Super Charge Award based on securing the race lead into turn one of the final. For 2017, however, the World Championship’s presenting sponsor is turning up the tension again by making the award all about reaction time – to win this year’s coveted award, it’ll be a case of fastest reaction to the lights.
From a Cooper Tires point of view
Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe, commented: “This is a challenging venue not just for the drivers, but also for the tyres. The 945 metre-long track starts with a long straight where the tyres take the full brunt of the acceleration provided by these 600bhp beasts. This is followed by a tight hairpin with the tyre now subjected to heavy braking, with each driver determined to get round the corner first. This is where the construction of the tyre really gets to work. A few more lefts and rights and we are into the soft loose sandy gravel part of the track, where the tyres need to work hard to provide the driver with controllable and predictable levels of traction to get round the long tightening right hander.”
World RX Media Office
Copyright free pictures and key media information can be downloaded via the World RX media office: www.fiaworldrallycross.com/media
The official Fantasy RX website is now live for the 2017 season. Make sure you register via http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/fantasyrx
Friday 21 April
1600 Pre-event press conference: Johan Kristoffersson, Timo Scheider, Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud
Saturday 22 April
0830 Media sign-on opens
0900 Photographers’ briefing
1000 Practice – all categories
1220 Stunt show and Racing Truck demo
1330 Q1: Super1600, World RX and support race
1430 Monster Energy Rig Riot
1500 Q2: Super1600, World RX and support race
1620 Press conference: top three World RX drivers after Q2
1630 Autograph session, paddock
Sunday 23 April
0800 Media sign-on opens
0830 Photographers’ briefing
0900 Warm-up, all categories
1030 Q3: World RX, Super1600 and support race
1135 Stunt Show and Racing Truck Demo
1200 Q4: World RX and Super1600
1300 Autograph session: paddock
1330 Monster Energy Rig Riot
1350 Final: support race
1400 LIVE WORLD RX TV SHOW BEGINS
1445 Stunt plane
Semi-finals: World RX
Final: World RX
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