It was a hellish end to Albatec Racing’s bid for a third successive semi final place in the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship in Norway yesterday, when Jacques Villeneuve collected a puncture in the final heat, dropping him out of contention for the top 12 places. Continuing the form that placed him in a qualifying position overnight, a strong pace and third place in heat three put him tenth going into the final four-lap qualifier that would determine the grids for the two six-car semi finals.
In the race he was looking good for another respectable race time, until a front right puncture on his two litre, 16v Peugeot 208 brought the hopes of a first semi final place for the former Indy 500 winner crashing down. With just the top 12 fastest drivers progressing through, Jacques was placed 15th, the former Indycar World Series Champion left frustrated to have just missed the chance of progressing through to a place in the six car final.
Stepping into the #26 car of 2011 British Rallycross Vice-Champion Andy Scott, after his own car sustained damage during a testing crash in Sweden on Wednesday, the French Canadian immediately proved his potential and that of the Albatec 208, and now heads to the next round of the series, in Kouvola, Finland in two weeks time determined to make it all the way to final.
Making his first trip to a World RX round was former F1 driver and BBC Sport commentator David Coulthard, in his role of Cooper Tire EU Ambassador, official tyre supplier to World RX. Taking time out of his busy schedule, DC joined the Albatec team for a visit to the pits, to get up close and personal with the 600bhp Peugeot 208 Supercar.
Andy Scott, Albatec Team Principal:
“Overall it’s been a fairly positive weekend, although after the opening two rounds our aim was to take a third semi final spot this weekend, so that is naturally disappointing. Jacques showed great pace yesterday, but a combination of factors today prevented him from converting his undoubted speed into an overall top 12 qualifying place. Hell is particularly punishing on tyres and suspension, and we were unfortunately one of the many who sustained a puncture, which unfortunately ended his hopes.
“Looking forward though, I think we can all take comfort from the development work we’ve carried out now reaping the benefits in terms of lap times and pace, now we need to transfer that across all the heats to ensure we’re always in with a shout of making it to the finals.”
Jacques Villeneuve, Albatec Racing Driver #25:
“I’m disappointed not to have made the semis, particularly as we know the car was very quick, but I guess that’s just the nature of rallycross. It’s not enough just to be quick, as we showed yesterday with the fastest lap in heat one and second fastest in heat two, we now need to concentrate on getting clean races, to get out in front and convert those quick laps into fast overall race times.
“Certainly the car is much improved though, we’ve developed it a lot over the last few days, so I’m looking forward to Finland with more confidence and determination to make it through to the finals.”