Thu 13 Oct 2022

Belgian brilliance: Cooper Tires’ standout stars from Spa

The recipients of the Cooper Tires ‘Racer of the Day’ and ‘Racer of the Weekend’ awards from Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps (8-9 October) were revealed yesterday, celebrating some of the most impressive displays at the legendary Belgian Grand Prix venue. Each of the award-winners will be presented with a free set of Cooper Tires. Below, we take a look back at their standout performances...

World RX (Round 6): Timmy Hansen

Timmy Hansen did not do very much wrong at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, but characteristic of his season to-date, the Swede did not come away with anything to show for his efforts. Hansen had the measure of eventual winner Johan Kristoffersson all day on Saturday at the iconic Ardennes venue, going second-quickest to Niclas Grönholm in heat one before setting the pace in heat two to top the intermediate ranking.

He subsequently fended off countryman Kristoffersson in the first of the day’s progression races and survived a Turn One clash in his semi-final to grab pole position for the all-important final. The Hansen World RX Team star duly led away and looked set to open his victory account for the year, until a concertina effect at the Raidillon hairpin sent him into a spin and dropped him to the tail of the field. The 2019 world champion was ill-rewarded in Belgium – but based on his pace in recent rounds, his day will unquestionably come.

World RX (Round 7): Gustav Bergström

Gustav Bergström had already impressed observers during the course of his maiden campaign in the World Championship prior to arriving at Spa, but last weekend would truly prove to be a breakthrough for the young Swedish rookie.

After keeping a cool head to reach the rostrum for the first time on Saturday behind the wheel of his Kristoffersson Motorsport-run Volkswagen RX1e, he overcame an electrical problem in heat one on Sunday to pip Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS stablemate Ole Christian Veiby to second in his progression race. He then benefitted from a suspension issue for Timmy Hansen in the semi-final to advance to the final once more.

From there, an assertive opening lap saw the 19-year-old dive boldly up the inside of Grönholm for second place through the long banked corner, and while ultimately unable to keep the Finn behind, another third-place finish was a sure sign that a star had been born...

RX2e: Pablo Suárez

Pablo Suárez may have snuck under the radar somewhat at Spa, but taking into account his level of rallycross experience compared to his rivals, his performance was every bit as impressive as those that finished ahead of him in the penultimate round of the FIA RX2e Championship campaign.

A competitive third-quickest in all three heats, the Spaniard wound up fourth in the intermediate ranking, prior to placing second to eventual event-winner Patrick O’Donovan in a physical progression race. Suárez subsequently got the better of top qualifier Isak Sjökvist in his semi-final to reach the final, in which he ran third throughout – in so doing, ascending the podium for the second time in his RX2e career.

Euro RX1: Juha Rytkönen

Making his seasonal debut, Juha Rytkönen looked like he had never been away from the World RX paddock as he settled seamlessly into the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Euro RX1 battle.

Behind the wheel of his Betomik Racing Hyundai i20, the Finn engaged in entertaining duels in his heat races with regular front-runners Jānis Baumanis and Sivert Svardal – pulling off a spectacular round-the-outside pass on the Latvian in heat one – to tally a trio of top five times and secure third spot in the intermediate ranking.

He then fought his way past a fast-starting Peter Hedström to win his progression race, comfortably outpaced Tamás Kárai and Svardal in the second semi-final and proved to be champion Anton Marklund’s closest competitor in the final. It was by any yardstick a triumphant return, and one that has seemingly whetted Rytkönen’s appetite for more...

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM