ROOKE WEATHERS THE CHALLENGES ON DAY ONE IN CANADA
The weather might have thrown a curve ball on the opening day of action in the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires at Trois-Rivières in Canada today (5 August) as heavy rain made for treacherous conditions, but it was the usual suspects at the top of the pecking order after Q1 and Q2, as title duellists Dan Rooke and Cyril Raymond continued their absorbing battle for glory.
R1: Guerlain Chicherit converted pole position into the lead at lights-out, until a mistake further around the opening lap allowed Simon Olofsson to sneak past as third-placed Tanner Whitten immediately played his ‘joker’. Olofsson swiped the barriers on lap two to let RX2 new boy Chicherit back through, and whilst those positions would subsequently be reversed in the joker lap, the pair’s duelling paved the way for Whitten to take a comfortable win.
R2: Guillaume De Ridder leapt away from the lights to take the lead from the similarly fast-starting Glenn Haug, although the Norwegian would cede the place to Jessica Bäckman, who got a better run out of the first corner. As the flying De Ridder made good his escape and ultimately went on to triumph by almost seven seconds, Bäckman looked to have the beating of Haug and her brother Andreas for second until a last lap error dropped her to the tail of the field.
R3: Pole-sitter Vasiliy Gryazin led away from Dan Rooke, with an early joker lap paying dividends for Thomas Holmen as he leapfrogged both William Nilsson and Cole Keatts for third. With Rooke unable to make any discernible impression on Gryazin, Holmen was beginning to close on the Briton until a stuck throttle compounded a luckless day for the young Norwegian. Gryazin and Rooke remained in front to take the chequered flag well clear of Nilsson and newcomer Keatts.
R4: Cyril Raymond took the lead at the start from Sondre Evjen, with an early mistake by the Norwegian enabling the championship leader to scamper clear. With the top two retaining their positions to the flag, early jokers Sandra Hultgren and Simon Syversen set about hassling Anders Michalak for third place, with both jumping the Swede during his last lap joker. Neither, however, could hold a candle to the imperious Raymond, who motored on to set the fastest time of Q1.
R1: With the track now fully dry, Andreas Bäckman secured a straightforward win ahead of sister Jessica, although Holmen’s rotten luck continued as the Norwegian teenager suffered driveshaft failure at the start, leaving him to tackle the entire race with only front wheel-drive and some way off the pace.
R2: Michalak anticipated the lights best to storm into the lead from the outside line, but Haug’s efforts to preserve his pole position advantage saw him, tag the rear of the Swede’s car, sending the Norwegian briefly airbound and both cars – along with Chicherit – into a spin. Keatts sailed through the chaos into a comfortable lead that he would not relinquish, with Michalak giving chase but ultimately finding that the gap was too great to bridge.
R3: Pole-sitter Rooke withstood an early attack from Olofsson, with Hultgren slotting into third and Nilsson and Syversen taking first lap jokers. The latter’s challenge, however, would soon come to an end with a damaged rear wheel. At the front, Rooke successfully repelled Olofsson’s advances to prevail, with Nilsson overhauling Hultgren for third beginning the last lap.
R4: The heavens opened with a vengeance for the final RX2 race of the day in Québec, making conditions particularly challenging for the five slick-shod starters. De Ridder braved it out around the outside to snatch the lead from Gryazin, as contact between Raymond and Evjen into the first corner delayed both. As the rain intensified, De Ridder found Raymond closing in but he kept his composure and fishtailed across the finish line ahead, with Gryazin narrowly holding off Evjen for third.
1. Dan Rooke 88 points
2. Cyril Raymond 83 points
3. Simon Olofsson 81 points
4. Guillaume De Ridder 79 points
5. Sandra Hultgren 75 points
6. William Nilsson 74 points
7. Vasiliy Gryazin 74 points
8. Andreas Bäckman 71 points
9. Cole Keatts 71 points
10. Sondre Evjen 70 points
11. Tanner Whitten 68 points
12. Anders Michalak 66 points
13. Guerlain Chicherit 66 points
14. Jessica Bäckman 65 points
15. Glenn Haug 64 points
16. Simon Syversen 61 points
17. Thomas Holmen 54 points
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