World RX: Klara Andersson
Klara Andersson might have impressively reached the final on her World RX debut in Norway and made history by finishing on the podium in Portugal, but there was no question that this was her finest performance in the top flight to-date.
After settling into the weekend with the seventh and fifth-quickest times in the opening two heats, Andersson had the measure of her rivals in heat three, determinedly fending off Kevin Hansen all the way to the chequered flag for her maiden World RX race win. The third-fastest time overall – behind only world champions Johan Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen – duly secured her a season-high fifth in the intermediate ranking.
Sunday was better still. A nifty undercut at the start of her progression race enabled the Swede to take the lead. Holding firm under sustained pressure from Kristoffersson, she then lapped quickly enough after her countryman had taken his joker on lap three to emerge from her own joker on the last tour just three tenths-of-a-second in arrears.
Andersson lost out in the typical first corner shuffle in the semi-final, but Guerlain Chicherit’s kerb-hopping suspension breakage promoted her into the final. Ultimately, she did not take part after graciously allowing Construction Equipment Dealer Team stablemate Niclas Grönholm – who she had outpaced for the majority of the weekend – to take her place so he could fight for third in the championship, but she had certainly made her mark.
Euro RX3: Jens Hvaal
Ahead of his debut in the FIA European Rallycross Championship, Jens Hvaal said he was aiming for a top ten result – but he ended up doing rather better than that.
The younger cousin of former Euro RX event-winner Alexander Hvaal, the 18-year-old was on the pace from the outset at the Nürburgring in his borrowed Škoda Fabia. Going second-fastest to Jan Černý in both heats one and two and then third-fastest in heat three secured Hvaal second in the intermediate classification.
From there, the Norwegian confidently fended off championship runner-up Damian Litwinowicz in the pair’s progression race and kept Martin Kjaer at bay in the first semi-final. That earned the Norwegian pole position for the all-important final, and after conceding the lead to the fast-starting Černý, he boldly toughed it out with recently-crowned Euro RX3 champion Kobe Pauwels on the opening lap to retain second.
Whilst ultimately having to give best to the Belgian, Hvaal benefitted from Černý’s retirement to deservedly scoop the runner-up spoils. A star is born...