RAYMOND MAINTAINS MOMENTUM DESPITE RARE ERROR
Cyril Raymond made it three qualifying race victories out of four in Hell today (10 June), as the reigning champion recovered from a rare error to top the intermediate table in the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires.
The Frenchman came a cropper in his first race of the day, as he attempted to wrest the lead away from William Nilsson – the best-placed of the sizeable Scandinavian contingent overnight. It is not, however, the young Swede who wound up closest to Raymond, with the Olsbergs MSE driver’s own team-mate Tanner Whitten enjoying an excellent run to place second.
Nilsson concluded the day third – seeing him comfortably through to the semi-finals – with Dan Rooke, home heroes Sondre Evjen and Glenn Haug, Guillaume De Ridder, Simon Olofsson, Andreas Bäckman, RX2 newcomer Marcus Höglund, Vasiliy Gryazin and Simon Syversen all similarly living to fight another day [see full classification below]. There was, however, a particularly hard-luck story for fellow Norwegian Thomas Holmen, whose scintillating turn-of-speed was matched only by his chronic ill-fortune.
R1: Pole-sitter Sondre Evjen led away as all three of his rivals – Jessica Bäckman, Tony Sormbroen and Sandra Hultgren – immediately jokered. In extremely wet and slippery conditions, the young Norwegian produced a textbook performance to speed clear to a commanding victory, and with it the fastest time of the heat. Bäckman, Sormbroen and Hultgren squabbled over second in his wake, but there was no change in the order before the chequered flag.
R2: Anders Michalak seized the initiative from fourth on the grid as practice pace-setter Thomas Holmen was pushed wide in Turn One, letting countryman Simon Syversen through into second. There was further drama as a half-spin for Michalak going down the hill gave Syversen the opportunity to attack and force his way through, while warm-up pace-setter Holmen also spun just behind. While they all battled, an early joker lap for Marcus Höglund paved the way to victory, with Michalak fighting hard to regain second from Syversen in a spectacular sideways scrap.
R3: Tanner Whitten and Andreas Bäckman both got the jump on pole-sitter Glenn Haug at the lights, as Dan Rooke opted for a first lap joker. Whitten would remain calmly in control to the end, while Rooke’s charge took him past both Haug and Bäckman – the latter struggling somewhat in the conditions – into second, with the Swede holding onto third.
R4: William Nilsson bolted away from the middle of the grid and leapt straight for the joker lap, as pole-sitter Cyril Raymond recovered from a tardy getaway to regain the lead entering Turn One, subsequently surviving a challenge from the pursuing Simon Olofsson who drew briefly alongside. Guillaume De Ridder fancied making it three for the lead before falling away slightly, but all eyes were on the front of the field as Raymond jokered on the last lap and rejoined just behind Nilsson. In his efforts to fight back, the Frenchman uncharacteristically spun, promoting Olofsson to second and De Ridder to third.
R1: Holmen made the best start and immediately darted for the joker, but a tap from Stein-Fredrik Akre delayed them both. Jonathan Walfridsson led on-track from Glenn Haug, although those positions would be reversed after both drivers had served their respective jokers. Holmen swiftly found a way back past Walfridsson, but a spin as he attacked for second dropped him to the back of the field again.
R2: Raymond displayed the fastest reactions at the lights and leapt straight for the joker, as Andreas Bäckman jumped the delayed De Ridder in his wake. On-track, Syversen led Vasiliy Gryazin but ran wide at the end of lap one, opening the door to his Russian rival, who needed no second invitation. The Norwegian subsequently fought back, and their battling allowed Raymond to catch up and demote them both in quick succession. Behind the flying Frenchman, Bäckman and De Ridder leapfrogged Gryazin and Syversen in the joker for second and third.
R3: Michalak was the man on the move at the start from the middle of the grid, shooting for the joker and taking Rooke with him. Sormbroen led Jessica Bäckman on the road, but the action was all taking place behind as Rooke and Michalak duelled fiercely and traded places twice on lap two. The Briton then out-dragged the Swede off the final corner on lap three, but contact pitched the latter into the wall and out of the race. Sormbroen motored on to a comfortable win from Rooke, with Bäckman holding off Hultgren for third.
R4: Whitten launched into the lead off the line, but a nudge from pole-sitter Evjen sent the American wide through Turn One and enabled the home hero to retake the top spot. Whitten looked set to repay the favour at the start of lap two but Evjen jokered, and the OMSE driver built up enough of a margin to remain in front after his own joker, with Höglund slotting in just behind fellow Scandinavian Evjen in third. Nilsson and Olofsson duelled energetically throughout, with the younger Swede looking to have the verdict only for a last corner error to let his older countryman past.
R1: Akre took the initial lead from Holmen, as Syversen and Michalak opted for the early joker. Holmen soon fought his way to the front, but the time he had lost would cost him the top spot to compatriot Syversen once the jokers had all played out, with the elder of the two Norwegians enjoying his finest drive of the weekend to-date to secure his first win. Holmen rejoined from the joker just ahead of Michalak and had to work hard to keep his rival at bay.
R2: Nilsson again anticipated the start perfectly and darted straight for the joker, as did Gryazin, leaving Hultgren leading on the road from Jessica Bäckman. Nilsson and Gryazin soon dispatched a struggling Walfridsson, with Hultgren’s joker promoting the youngest driver in the field back to first place. Gryazin narrowly stole second from Hultgren.
R3: Andreas Bäckman and Höglund hit the front as De Ridder, Olofsson and Sormbroen jokered, with Olofsson finding himself spun into the wall on the exit. Although De Ridder did his best to chase Bäckman down, the young Swede had just enough pace in the tank to stay ahead after his own joker lap, with Höglund a solid third.
R4: As Whitten, Rooke and Haug made an immediate beeline for the joker, Raymond held back and took the racing line to lead Evjen, inching away and establishing enough of an advantage to emerge from his own late joker still at the head of the pack, with Whitten snaring second. Evjen, however, emerged side-by-side with Rooke for third and contact pitched the Norwegian into a half-spin, dropping him down the field to fifth.
1. Cyril Raymond 181 points
2. Tanner Whitten 167 points
3. William Nilsson 155 points
4. Dan Rooke 153 points
5. Sondre Evjen 151 points
6. Glenn Haug 146 points
7. Guillaume De Ridder 146 points
8. Simon Olofsson 145 points
9. Andreas Bäckman 143 points
10. Marcus Höglund 137 points
11. Vasiliy Gryazin 136 points
12. Simon Syversen 127 points
13. Tony Sormbroen 127 points
14. Jessica Bäckman 125 points
15. Sandra Hultgren 120 points
16. Anders Michalak 118 points
17. Jonathan Walfridsson 118 points
18. Thomas Holmen 114 points
19. Stein-Fredrik Akre 89 points
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