Spa-Francorchamps is renowned for producing spectacular action, and the opening day of Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps today (9 October) certainly did not disappoint, with high drama in every class.
In the headlining World Championship battle, Johan Kristoffersson continued his recovery from a troubled start to the season. The Swede emerged on top from a physical contest with title rivals Timmy Hansen and Niclas Grönholm in Q1 – a session won by Unkorrupted’s Kevin Abbring at the Dutchman’s ‘home’ track – before setting the pace in Q2 to head the overnight order.
“I felt pretty comfortable in the car right from the first free practice session,” Kristoffersson acknowledged. “I was a bit lucky at the start of Q2; I also had a pretty big impact with the wall, so I was afraid I had damaged the car but thankfully it was all fine. From that point on, the track came towards us slightly and I kept pushing and was able to come out on top. In the end, it was a very good day for us.”
Championship leader Hansen is Kristoffersson’s closest pursuer after surviving contact with Grönholm at the beginning of the second session, with Abbring third despite being sent into a spin by Kevin Hansen in his own Q2 race.
Timo Scheider had a strong day in fourth for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport ahead of GRX-SET World RX Team’s Krisztián Szabó and home hero Enzo Ide (KYB EKS JC). Kevin Hansen slipped to seventh after picking up a penalty for the contact with namesake Abbring, with Grönholm a frustrated 11th.
KALLIO TURNS UP THE WICK IN RX2e
On his chief rival’s home turf, Jesse Kallio turned the screw in the FIA RX2e Championship title duel as he leads the standings overnight courtesy of a second-quickest time in Q1 and a dominant run in Q2.
The increasingly impressive Isak Sjökvist – fastest in the opening session – sits second, with newcomer Klara Andersson turning heads and spearheading the female charge in third. Championship leader Guillaume De Ridder found himself caught up in battles in both qualifiers, leaving him with work to do tomorrow from fifth place overall.
BAKKERUD IN CHARGE AS TITLE RIVALS FALTER
It is advantage Andreas Bakkerud in the chase for the Euro RX1 crown, as the Norwegian took a clean sweep of fastest times and disaster struck his three main competitors.
Bakkerud was on commanding form at Spa today to top the overnight order for ESmotorsport, with Marcin Gagacki and Jonathan Pailler a surprise second and third. Championship leader Fabien Pailler sits seventh, with Riga winner Jānis Baumanis down in 11th and Andréa Dubourg a lowly 14th after all three were involved in first corner contact that has compromised their championship chances.
HOME HERO PAUWELS BOOSTS TITLE BID
Kobe Pauwels gave his championship hopes a boost in Euro RX3 by topping the classification at the end of Saturday at Spa, but it was far from plain sailing for the Belgian teenager. After winning Q2, he then found himself sideswiped at the start of Q3, dropping him well down the order – but fortunately for the Volland Racing ace, his rivals were also in the wars.
Marat Knyazev occupies second spot after clinching Q1 honours before literally flying at the start of Q2 following contact with team-mate Yury Belevskiy, with the pair both penalised for the incident. Championship leader Belevskiy recovered to third overall by dint of victory in Q3.
Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps continues tomorrow (10 October), with the remaining qualifiers, semi-finals and all-important finals – and the eagerly-anticipated coronation of the 2021 Euro RX1 Champion.
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