RIGA RX BUILD UP: LOEB WINS IN LATVIA
Thursday 3rd of September 2020
The dust is settling after the most intense week ever in the history of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, the teams and drivers are taking a breather, working on what they have learned from the first four races of the season and will be back for rounds five at six at the NESTE World RX of Riga-Latvia on September 19-20.
For the next three Thursdays, we’re throwing back previous World RX races in Latvia.
The first World RX event at the Bikernieki National Sports Base was held in 2016, and it was France’s Sebastien Loeb – the World Rally Championship legend – that claimed victory, his first in the sport. Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Loeb didn’t manage a quickest time in the qualifiers, but he was P3 twice. Team mate, Sweden’s Timmy Hansen, was the quickest driver in Q1, but disaster struck for the team in wet conditions on Sunday morning in Q3, when Hansen aquaplaned into the braking area for turn 3 and collided with Loeb. Both Peugeot 208s spun onto the grass and were P3 (Hansen) and P5 (Loeb) after Q4.
Volkswagen RX Sweden’s Johan Kristofferson was P1 in Q2 and Q3 and held TQ (top qualifier) in the Intermediate Classification, but he was beaten to victory in semi-final one by Loeb’s superior joker lap strategy, and Loeb took a front row start for the final, next to semi-final two winner, Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom on pole. Kristoffersson, Timur Timerzyanov, from Russia, Hansen and Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud completed the final grid. Timerzyanov’s final ended in the barrier on the outside at turn 1, and it was Loeb that took the lead. Hansen took an early joker lap and was P5, but Kristoffersson and Bakkerud lost time battling and Hansen was able to capitalise to join winner Loeb, who celebrated with donuts after the finish line, and Ekstrom on the podium.
The 2016 Latvia RX event might best be remembered however for the action that involved the fight for the Drivers’ Championship. Contact between Ekstrom and Norway’s Petter Solberg in Q2 had meant disqualification from the session for double champion Solberg. The next day he crashed with poor visibility on Sunday morning in Q3 and didn’t make the semi-finals. Ekstrom won the championship at the next round in Germany.
Watch Latvia RX 2016 here.
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