Wednesday | 21 Sep 2022

Montalegre Maestros: Cooper Tires’ Fab Four from Portugal

The winners of the Cooper Tires ‘Racer of the Day’ and ‘Racer of the Weekend’ awards from Lusorecursos World RX of Portugal (17-18 September) were revealed yesterday evening, recognising some of the most outstanding displays around the Montalegre circuit. Each of the recipients will be rewarded with a free set of Cooper Tires for their efforts. Below, we take a look back at those standout performances...

World RX (Round 4): Ole Christian Veiby

Ole Christian Veiby’s first visit to Montalegre did not get off to the most auspicious of starts. After posting the second-quickest time in Saturday’s SuperPole session behind KMS team-mate Johan Kristoffersson, the Norwegian picked up a puncture from sideswiping the wall in the joker in heat one, sending him head-first into the barriers just after the chequered flag had fallen.

Veiby missed heat two and the progression race while his car was checked and repaired, before returning to the track for the semi-final, when – making full use of his new lease of life – he converted an outside starting spot into a comfortable win. In the final, he then played the perfect rear-gunner role to Kristoffersson, while fending off a charging Timmy Hansen behind to secure a third podium finish from four starts on his World RX comeback.

World RX (Round 5): Kevin Hansen

Anyone that can overtake Johan Kristoffersson once in a race is clearly doing something right; to do so twice is quite unprecedented, but that is what Kevin Hansen achieved on Sunday in Portugal, as he became the first driver to truly take the fight to the four-time world champion this season, triumphantly declaring after his progression race: “Anybody wondering if you can beat him, there you go!”

It was a performance that looked set to ignite a spectacular battle between the pair over the remainder of the day, but that duel unfortunately never materialised, as Hansen exited proceedings prematurely on the first lap of his semi-final following contact with Niclas Grönholm. Notwithstanding that disappointment, last weekend in Montalegre, the Hansen World RX Team star unquestionably laid down a marker...

Euro RX1: Ulrik Linnemann

If ever there was a David vs. Goliath story in rallycross, it would be Ulrik Linnemann consistently punching above his weight behind the wheel of his family-run Ford Fiesta – and in Portugal last weekend, the likeable Dane did it again.

Describing Montalegre as ‘like my home track’, Linnemann survived a disagreement with the barrier in heat one to end the opening day placed fourth overall in Euro RX1, before advancing to third after heat three. He then fought his way past a fast-starting Marcin Gagacki to win the third progression race, followed Jānis Baumanis home in his semi-final and successfully fended off the recovering Anton Marklund in the final to secure a second podium finish of the season. The celebratory donuts were more than deserved.

Euro RX3: Damian Litwinowicz

Following a hugely impressive rookie campaign in the European Championship last year, Damian Litwinowicz has struggled to maintain the momentum for much of 2022, but a rostrum finish in Norway suggested he was beginning to rediscover his form – and Portugal would be the Polish ace’s best weekend in Euro RX3 to-date.

After going third-quickest in heat one, he pipped champion-elect Kobe Pauwels to the second-fastest time in heat two, but a sudden loss of power as he was coasting to victory in his heat three race subsequently dropped him down the ranking to fifth. After safely navigating both the progression race and semi-final, the 24-year-old got the better of Portuguese pairing João Ribeiro and Nuno Miguel da Costa Araújo as well as Škoda star Jan Černý to seal the runner-up spoils in the final – the finest result of his burgeoning Euro RX3 career.