Norway the next stop for round five of the 2018 World RX season
Former F1 and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz on 22-strong Supercar entry
Kristoffersson on top as local heroes Bakkerud and Solberg bid for home glory
The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy ventures into the Nordic heartlands this weekend (9-10 June) with a visit to the famed Hell circuit for Team Verksted World RX of Norway, round five of the 2018 season.
PSRX Volkswagen Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson leads the drivers’ standings after a third win from four events at World RX of Great Britain, extending his advantage to 14 points over Team Peugeot Total’s Sebastien Loeb. EKS Audi Sport’s Andreas Bakkerud makes it three manufacturers inside the top three overall, 22 points adrift of the top spot.
Held at Lankebanen, World RX of Norway is a mainstay of the schedule as one of six events that have featured on the calendar every year since the inaugural World RX season in 2014. Among the faster tracks in the championship, Lankebanen’s undulating layout and sweeping curves are a firm favourite among drivers.
Kristoffersson goes to Hell seeking a repeat of his commanding win twelve months ago when the Swedish driver denied local favourite Bakkerud a popular win.
Bakkerud enjoys a strong record on home soil having celebrated victory in 2016, scoring a remarkable 'clean sweep' of wins in all four qualifying races, his semi-final and the final. Moreover, he starts the Norwegian event on the back of a second-place finish at Silverstone, his best result since joining EKS Audi Sport.
By contrast, countryman Solberg is chasing a first podium in front of his adoring fans since 2014, as well as a timely strong result to haul himself back into contention following a semi-final exit at Silverstone.
The only driver to stand on the podium at each round this season, Loeb scored a top three result in Hell last year but has his sights set firmly on victory this time around. Similarly, Team Peugeot Total team-mate Timmy Hansen will seek a return to winning ways after triumphing in Norway in 2015.
This year’s event will see 22 Supercar entries take to the starting grid, including four Norwegian drivers – Solberg and Bakkerud, plus wild-card entries Tommy Rustad (HTB-Marklund Motorsport) and Kjetil Larsen, both driving Volkswagen Polos.
Team Verksted World RX of Norway will also see the much-anticipated international rallycross debut of former F1 driver Alex Wurz, who will compete in the MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta. One of motorsport’s most versatile racers, the McLaren, Williams and Benetton driver started 69 grands prix and recorded three podiums in an F1 career spanning ten years. He is also a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner.
Wurz lines up alongside team owner Max Pucher, who makes his first World RX start since 2015 as part of an all-Austrian assault.
Euro RX front runner Anton Marklund makes a second World RX appearance of the season in the Marklund Motorsport VW Polo, while Finnish racer Joni-Pekka Rajala takes on the second Team STARD Ford Fiesta alongside permanent entry Janis Baumanis.
Alex Wurz, MJP Racing Team Austria, said: “I grew up on rallycross tracks as my Dad is a three-time European champion and I’ve always loved the sport. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, so I thought where better than Hell to throw myself into the deep end with the big World RX dogs. I’m so pleased Max Pucher has given me this opportunity to compete and I’m really proud to be part of MJP Racing Team Austria. I’m definitely managing my expectations but I will enjoy every minute.”
World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy commented: “We always look forward to returning to the Nordic regions and Hell. There is no doubt the always-vocal and passionate Norwegian fans will be out in force to support Petter Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud around a circuit that produces fantastic action year-after-year. Moreover, it is a pleasure to welcome former F1 driver and Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Alex Wurz to the starting grid in Norway. Based on the classic World RX racing we have already seen this season, it is certainly no coincidence drivers of Alex’s calibre want to join the rallycross ranks. With stars of rallying, touring cars and single-seaters already competing in World RX, it once again serves to demonstrates the immense appeal of World RX across motorsport.”
From a Cooper Tires point of view
Paul Coates, General Manager - Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe, said: "This circuit is a favourite not just with fans, but drivers as well. The track is by no means easy and is more or less a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, with extreme forces being placed on the tyres throughout the course with the varying corners and elevation changes. The construction and materials used in the tyres help withstand the loads and the inevitable bangs and scrapes they will be subjected to here in Hell.”
Team Verksted World RX of Norway // Hell - Entry List Supercars
1 Johan Kristoffersson SWE PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Volkswagen Polo R
4 Robin Larsson SWE Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta
5 Mattias Ekstrom SWE EKS Audi Sport Audi S1
6 Janis Baumanis LVA Team Stard Ford Fiesta
7 Timur Timerzyanov RUS GRX Taneco Team Hyundai i20
9 Sebastien Loeb FRA Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 208
11 Petter Solberg NOR PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Volkswagen Polo R
13 Andreas Bakkerud NOR EKS Audi Sport Audi S1
21 Timmy Hansen SWE Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 208
24 Tommy Rustad NOR Marklund – HTB Racing Volkswagen Polo
31 Max Pucher AUT MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta
32 Alex Wurz AUT MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta
36 Guerlain Chicherit FRA GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS
42 Oliver Bennett GBR Oliver Bennett BMW MINI Cooper
60 Joni-Pekka Rajala FIN Team Stard Ford Fiesta
64 Kjetil Larsen NOR Kjetil Larsen Volkswagen Polo
66 Gregoire Demoustier BEL Sebastien Loeb Racing Peugeot 208
68 Niclas Gronholm FIN GRX Taneco Team Hyundai i20
71 Kevin Hansen SWE Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 208
74 Jerome Grosset-Janin FRA GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS
92 Anton Marklund SWE Marklund Motorsport Volkswagen Polo
96 Kevin Eriksson SWE Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta
RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires
The third round of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires begins with Oliver Eriksson – younger brother of World RX contender Kevin – bidding to retain his championship lead after victory at Silverstone. Vasiliy Gryazin sits in second position, two points behind Eriksson, followed by a trio of Norwegians; Sondre Evjen, Ben-Philip Gundersen and Henrik Krogstad. Only two finalists from last year's event – Glenn Haug and William Nilsson – return after finishing fourth and sixth respectively in 2017.
European Rallycross Championship - Super1600
A capacity entry of 25 drivers will line up for the third round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600, with points leader Artur Baumanis looking to build on his winning start to the season. The Latvian triumphed in Catalunya-Barcelona and Montalegre, but with Volland Racing team-mate Rokas Baciuska and Jimmy Terpereau only five and six points adrift respectively, there is all to play for in Norway.
European Rallycross Championship - TouringCar
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCar, 17 drivers will challenge for glory, led by former champion and round one winner Fredrik Salsten. Having moved to Euro RX Supercar for 2018 and qualified for the final at Mettet in Belgium last time out, former TouringCar title contender Anders Braten will return to the rear-wheel drive category for his home event driving a Ford Fiesta.