SOLBERG EXTENDS CATALUNYA-BARCELONA ADVANTAGE IN Q3
Sunday 15th of April 2018
The wet conditions of day one have given way to bright sunshine and a drying track on day two in the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona, round one of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, where overnight TG (top qualifier) Petter Solberg again set the quickest time in Q3.
Solberg’s PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team-mate Johan Kristoffersson passed Andreas Bakkerud in the last race of the session and finished third on track behind Solberg and Team Peugeot Total’s Timmy Hansen, lifting the reigning champion to second in the Intermediate Classification.
The Barcelona circuit dried throughout the session, teams gambling on a mixture of wet and dry tyres, GRX’s Niclas Gronholm setting the best time in race three before Solberg was over 10 seconds faster by winning race four. Gronholm ended up fifth quickest, placing him ninth overall.
EKS Audi Sport’s Mattias Ekstrom used two wet and two dry tyres on his Audi S1 EKS quattro in race three and had a first lap battle with Olsbergs MSE’s Robin Larsson. He finished the four-lap session behind Gronholm and was 10th quickest, dropping the Swede to third in the Intermediate Classification.
Timur Timerzyanov made it a double race wins for GRX Taneco in race two, giving the team an excellent shot at getting both of its new Hyundai i20s in the semi-final, while GC Kompetition is also well placed with Jerome Grosset-Janin and Guerlain Chicherit seventh and 12th on the leaderboard.
Despite Timmy Hansen’s ascendance to fifth position in the Intermediate Classification after finshing second on the timesheets to Solberg, it was an otherwise disappointing start to the day for Team Peugeot Total. Kevin Hansen jumped the start in the final race – landing him the penalty of taking a second Joker Lap – only to then get away slowly off the line at the second attempt.
Worse still, Sebastien Loeb failed to finish at all after contact with OMSE’s Kevin Eriksson as he attempted an overtake for the lead at turn three damaged the left-rear suspension on his Peugeot 208 WRX.
It means Loeb and Eriksson – who could only manage the 12th fastest Q3 time - are currently outside the semi-final qualifying positions in 14th and 15th with work to do to recover the points necessary to reach the top 12 and secure a semi-final spot, only with Oliver Bennett, Gregoire Demoustier and Herve “Knapick” Lemonnier.
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