Thu 23 Nov 2023

Scheider: We had the speed to win in Hong Kong

Timo Scheider was pleased to sign off his most successful season to-date in World RX with another rostrum result in Hong Kong – although the German reckoned he could have been standing on the highest step...

Timo Scheider was pleased to sign off his most successful season to-date in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with another rostrum result in Hong Kong earlier this month – although the German reckoned had things played out differently, he could have been standing on the highest step.

Scheider was arguably World RX’s in-form driver heading to Hong Kong, after racing to his breakthrough victory in Cape Town – a result that catapulted him up the order in the championship classification.

The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport star hit the ground running again around the Central Harbourfront circuit – the first city-centre track in the series’ history – as he lapped the best part of four tenths of-a-second quicker than any of his rivals in free practice on the Saturday morning, before placing a competitive fourth in qualifying practice.

Broken suspension from hitting the wall in heat one halted his momentum, but Scheider showed good speed to chase 2019 world champion Timmy Hansen to the chequered flag in heat two. He then climbed from the back of the grid to finish second in the first of the semi-finals, comfortably outpacing six-time title-winner Johan Kristoffersson in the process as he kept the pressure on leader Kevin Hansen throughout.

There was, however, a subsequent sting in the tail as the 45-year-old found himself penalised for first corner contact, demoting him to the rear of the grid once more for the final. Undeterred, a bright start around the outside elevated him immediately to fourth and he went on to overhaul Ole Christian Veiby on the last lap to cement a third consecutive podium finish, posting the race’s fastest lap along the way.

Scheider was similarly firmly in the mix in morning warm-up the next day, but a disadvantageous starting position for heat one would thereafter compromise his bid. Close duels with Patrick O’Donovan in each of the opening two heats preceded a battle-scarred run in heat three as the double DTM champion narrowly got the better of Saturday winner Kevin Hansen. Sixth in the intermediate ranking, he ultimately missed out on another final appearance by less than half-a-second.

“First of all, I have to say, I really love racing in city centres,” Scheider enthused. “Hong Kong is such a special and iconic city, and I felt super-pumped to be there. I think generally, that’s the way to go moving forward, to really take the sport to the fans. For me, this was the season finale that World RX truly deserved.

“I enjoy the challenge of learning new tracks, when everybody is starting from zero in a way and it’s a level playing field, and I’ve always been strong in situations like that. We had great pace all weekend and it was brilliant to finish on the podium on the Saturday. That was a fantastic reward for the team for everybody’s hard work, but honestly, on pure performance, I think we could have won.

“The car felt great and I was super-confident. We had Johan [Kristoffersson] well under control in the semi-final and it was super-frustrating to receive a penalty for something that was completely unintentional. That relegated us to the back of the grid for the final and while it was satisfying to convert it into a top three finish, I knew we could have had more.

“We were quick again on the Sunday, but going fifth-fastest in SuperPole put me in the worst possible position – up against four really fast drivers in heat one and on the far side of the grid. That meant we were on the back foot from the word ‘go’. I tried to throw it around the outside at the start and even if it didn’t come off, I certainly gave it everything I had.

“Overall, it was a good feeling to prove – to both the paddock and to myself – what I’m capable of in the same car and same conditions as everybody else. I think I showed in Cape Town and Hong Kong that when the package is right, you need to count me in to fight for the win!”

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