A promising start to the sixth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship was prematurely ended for Albatec Racing in Belgium today. Placed just outside the crucial top 12 after yesterday’s two heats, Jacques Villeneuve was poised to power his two-litre 16v Peugeot 208 to his first ever World RX semi final in front of an estimated 25,000 spectators at the Circuit Jules Tacheny.
Another strong opening heat this morning netted third, and the 14th overall heat time to keep him in contention. But just ahead of the fourth heats, a heavy downpour saw the Supercar teams rushing to switch to wet weather tyres. In the race held in slippery wet conditions a number of cars collided, several of which made contact with the #25 Cyclops-backed 208 of the former F1 World Champion, causing steering damage and seriously hampering his progress.
Bidding for a third semi final place of the season after missing the last three rounds, team-mate and former British Rallycross Vice-Champion Andy Scott was left frustrated by a lack of pace that saw him unable to repeat his fine showing in Montalegre and Lydden Hill. Overnight repairs to the badly rutted track, located near Charleroi, resulted in an improvement in lap times, but that wasn’t enough to lift the Scot into the top 12.
The Dumfries businessman was further compromised when he was unable to select second gear off the start in heat four. Despite a storming drive into second place, Andy dropped around three seconds from his overall race time, and out of the running for the qualification places.
The team now faces a race against time to finish the necessary repair work to the cars ahead of being shipped to Canada, round seven of the 12-round global series at Trois Rivieres on August 7&8.
Andy Scott, Team Principal and Driver, Albatec Racing #26:
“This certainly wasn’t the result I was expecting here, not for myself or for Jacques. After the opening two rounds, I was hoping that at least one of us would reach the semi finals, and I fully believe that was possible had it not been for a combination of factors. It just wasn’t our weekend, despite a promising start for Jacques yesterday, which placed him just outside the top 12.
“I’ve struggled to find the pace here all weekend, for a variety of reasons, not entirely sure why. In the final heat today, I put the car into neutral while waiting for another car to line up alongside me, but then the marshals suddenly waved us on, the lights went out, and because of the conditions I was starting in second, but just couldn’t select it.”
Jacques Villeneuve, Driver, Albatec Racing #25:
“It’s a very disappointing end to a weekend that started off quite well. We had a pretty good pace yesterday, which allowed us to take two good results and put us in a strong position to qualify, however in the second heat today I got caught up in a first lap crash which caused damage to the steering. Without that I’m sure I could have qualified, as the track suited my driving style.”
“It’s frustrating after all our efforts and the hard work that’s gone into the cars over the last month, but looking ahead, I’m excited to be racing in front of my home crowd in Canada next month.”