WINNERS AND LOSERS: HELL RX
Sunday 23rd of June 2019
The FIA World Rallycross Championship visited Hell in Norway for five round of the season, where after a weekend of sunshine, rain drenched the circuit just ahead of the semi-finals and caused plenty of action.
On his return to World RX after missing the Belgian and British rounds through illness, Gronholm was on fire from the first Free Practice session in Norway, won three qualifiers and was top in the Intermediate Classification. He won the first semi-final from pole in wet conditions, but made a slow start in the final and finished third. He moved up to second when Kevin Hansen was given a penalty for pushing Gronholm’s car on lap one of the final, and won when Anton Marklund was excluded. He may have inherited victory, but from his performance over the weekend Gronholm deserved it anyway.
Like Gronholm, Baumanis also moved up a position in the final when Marklund was removed from the results, which put the Latvian drivers onto the podium for the first time. Although like Gronholm he would have liked to have taken the position in the race itself, Baumanis has worked long and hard together with Team STARD to score a podium and the Hell result was reward for that effort.
Experienced rally driver Kevin Abbring arrived at Hell RX with plenty of testing miles in the ESmotorsport Labas-GAS Skoda Fabia in his pocket, but no rallycross Supercar racing experience. That didn’t show though, he raced against some of the biggest names in the sport and even led the final, and was unlucky not to finish on the podium. With an event of experience under his belt, Abbring could be one to watch next time at Holjes.
With Gronholm taking maximum points from Hell RX and World RX Drivers’ Championship leader Timmy Hansen not making the final, along with strong points scored in qualifying by Timur Timerzyanov, GRX took the most Teams’ points in Norway and is just 18 behind in the Teams’ Championship.
Anton Marklund played his cards just right in the wet semi-finals and final at Hell RX and his first win, when Liam Doran ran into technical problems, was a reward for years of hard work. But his victory was short lived, the GC Kompetition driver getting excluded from the event for technical irregularity with the car at post race scrutineering.
Timmy Hansen received contact to his car in Q1, then got held in traffic in Q2, but set the quickest time in Q3. On paper it looked like Hansen was the only match for Gronholm in Hell, but a slow start in the wet conditions of the semi-finals put him out of the final positions. He still leads the points, but now is only one ahead of brother Kevin.
The ‘British Bomb’ Liam Doran’s luck was in when he made it onto the semi-finals by the skin of his teeth, getting promoted when GCK Academy’s Rokas Baciuska was disqualified from Q3. He then won semi-final two, and an early joker in the final meant he had closed on the leaders by lap five. A first World RX win was in his sights, but then a gear selection problem dropped him to last.
After impressive performances in the early races of the season, EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo couldn’t find the right rhythm on his first ever visit to the Hell circuit and he never looked like troubling the front of the time sheets. Surprisingly, given his obvious ability, he failed to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time this year.
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