Twelve months ago, Yury Belevskiy was the highest scorer in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Euro RX3 (then Super1600) class, but he was not awarded the title due to the Covid-shortened season. Last weekend in Portugal (16/17 October), he was not to be denied a second time.
Belevskiy arrived at Cooper Tires World RX of Montalegre holding a 23-point margin over his closest competitor, Volland Racing stablemate Kobe Pauwels – the only driver to have defeated him in 2021, by a scant two tenths-of-a-second at Lohéac last month.
It has been a commanding campaign by the Russian, and by dint of winning three of the four qualifiers in Portugal, he maintained his unbroken record of claiming Top Qualifier honours at every event this season, in so doing putting the coveted crown beyond the reach of any of his rivals.
From there, Belevskiy dominated both his semi-final and the final, with his seventh career victory – and fourth from five rounds in 2021 – seeing him tally a total of 147 points out of a possible 150, ultimately winding up 32 points clear of teenage rookie Pauwels. As he prepares to step up from Euro RX3 level next year, he was left to reflect upon a job well done while simultaneously paying tribute to the team-mates who have kept him honest throughout.
“To be honest, it still doesn’t feel real,” confessed the 26-year-old Moscow native, who competes under a Swiss racing licence. “What a perfect weekend.
“I felt pretty relaxed going into it as I had a fairly big lead, although I still felt a little bit of pressure on Saturday because I didn’t know how things would turn out, especially after receiving a hefty hit from behind in Q2 and seeing Timur [Shigabutdinov]’s crash. I realised that if I wasn’t careful, things might go wrong and I may lose my advantage, so I tried to stay out of trouble and not risk anything and that approach paid off.
“It was really great to drive with the pressure off in the semi-final and final. I would say that’s the biggest reward of all – it’s not the trophy, it’s not the champagne, it’s not even the title itself. To be able to enjoy my last two Euro RX3 races with a fantastic car, on such a beautiful track and with the championship already secured was an amazing feeling, and to then win the event too was just the cherry on top.
“It’s been a fun battle all season. Kobe and Marat [Knyazev] have been extremely fast and have done a brilliant job. Every time I looked in my mirrors, Kobe was there and there were several occasions when it was me staring at his rear bumper, while after a difficult start, Marat showed some really strong pace in the last few events.
“To achieve a Volland Racing one-two-three in the championship is testament to the quality and calibre of this team and just feels awesome! I couldn’t be happier.”