Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen has made a head start over 36 other Supercar drivers competing at World RX of France after winning the opening two heats in Loheac. Current Championship leader Petter Solberg holds second overnight in his PSRX run Citroen DS3 with EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand third in an Audi S1 Quattro Supercar.
A total of 79 drivers across Supercar, TouringCar and the Super1600 categories are taking part in round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, which is being staged at Loheac in Brittany. The original home of rallycross in France, the small town of Loheac has hosted 39 rallycross events dating back to 1976 and last year attracted a sell-out crowd of more than 70,000 people to watch the RX action.
American Gymkhana star Ken Block set the quickest time during the morning’s free practice but incurred a 30 second penalty after failing to take the joker lap during heat one. Block and his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta quickly fought back to finish heat two second fastest and currently lies 13th at the intermediate points stage. Block explained: “I made a dumb mistake not taking the joker in the first heat but I honestly thought I had one more lap to go. I came here to win so I will come back tomorrow and do the best I can.”
One driver who shone from start to finish today was Sweden’s Timmy Hansen. The 21-year-old was a model of consistency as he stormed to two consecutive heat wins in the Peugeot 208 Supercar. “It’s been an incredible day – to be leading for Peugeot on its home event in front of all these passionate fans feels amazing,” explained Hansen. “To do well in Loheac it’s really important to be quick off the line and fortunately we had good starts on both of our heats. The track also allows me to go flat out in a lot of places which I love doing. What is even better is that my brother [Kevin Hansen] won the Swedish national championship back home and he did it at exactly the same time as I was winning heat two, it’s been a perfect day.”
Another driver in high spirits was EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand. “This is the best day I’ve had in RX so far,” grinned the reigning Junior World Rally Champion. “The competition is very tough with a lot of local drivers but I’m come here feeling confident after my WRC2 win at Rallye Deutschland last month and feeling good with the car. Now our aim is to be on the podium and to be back in the press conference tomorrow.”
Fourth in the standings is Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss who was full of praise for the French RX round. “I love the Loheac circuit – it’s just like a karting circuit and it suits me really well. I won here last year in the Super1600s and want to do well again this year. Today we got stuck in a bit of traffic, especially in turn one but we made it through and now we will make some small changes to the car’s set-up and suspension before we get back in the game again tomorrow.”
Jerome Grosset-Janin leads out of the 16 French Supercar drivers competing on home soil as the reigning French Rallycross Championship rounds off the top five. Fellow countryman Gaetan Serazin is ninth and Fabien Pailler – who is currently leading the French national championship – lies 10th.
Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for Monster Energy World RX Team. Frenchman Davy Jeanney was excluded from heat one due to a technical infringement with his Citroen DS3 Supercar but recovered in heat two to post the third quickest time. Volkswagen Marklund’s Anton Marklund and Topi Heikkinen are sixth and 16th respectively, with both drivers reporting that the team will work on the car’s set-up overnight. Andy Scott lies inside the top 12 for Albatec Racing as a race win in heat two sees him finish today 11th overall.
After a day of close racing in the Super1600 and TouringCar FIA European Rallycross Championship categories, Ulrik Linnemann and David Nordgaard lead their classes respectively.
Sunday’s World RX action will continue at 0915 local time with two more heats across the Supercar, TouringCar and Super1600 categories. The semi-finals and all-important final will commence at 1500 with the RX podium scheduled at 1550.