Ford Olsbergs MSE Team driver Andreas Bakkerud leads after the opening two heats of AUTOSPORT World RX of Great Britain, round two of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Last year’s winner Tanner Foust - who is a wildcard entry with the Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport outfit - is second after a polished performance on his return to the British race circuit, with VW’s Topi Heikinnen sitting third.
A record number of 37 Supercars descended on the Kent-based circuit yesterday as World RX moved to the original home of rallycross, 47 years after the inaugural race was first held at Lydden Hill. A star-studded line-up of drivers were on show for the British fans including former WRC Champion Petter Solberg, as well as reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Timur Timerzyanov and rallycross champions from France, Sweden and Britain. Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr also made his debut in World RX as part of the RX Lites Cup.
Bakkerud got off to a flying start on the opening heat setting a time of 2m59s, while Solberg stalled his Citroen DS3 Supercar on the start line. He eventually recovered to finish his race second and the heat 12th overall. Heikkinen was second quickest, with Team Peugeot Hansen driver Timur Timerzyanov third in his Peugeot 208 Supercar.
“I’m very happy to be in this press conference, it’s always a good start to the weekend,” beamed 23-year-old Bakkerud at the end of day press conference. “My win in the first heat was a result of a good start off the line, mixed with a very good car and some luck thrown in. Now I want to be flat out tomorrow, and my aim is to be in this press conference at the same time tomorrow but with an even bigger smile on my face!”
Heat two saw a comeback from Solberg as the PSRX driver pipped Foust to the post to clinch the quickest time. Third fastest was Audi A1 Supercar driver Robin Larsson who impressed after making the transition from TouringCar to Supercar in 2014. The Swede is currently fifth overall and leads the FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX).
"We have good speed but there is still more to come tomorrow,” explained Foust, who is also a presenter on the US based version of Top Gear. “In all four heats you need a top five to get a good starting position in the final. You can't make any mistakes and you need to be lucky. Weather wise, it's always like this at Lydden and we have been fortunate to have dry conditions for all of our heats."
Britain’s Andrew Jordan, reigning BTCC Champion and wildcard entry for Ford Olsbergs MSE, had an impressive opening day to finish heat two fourth and lies eighth overall going into day two.
“The first heat was really disappointing as I’m sure we could have been in the top six but the puncture dropped us to 11th,” explained Jordan who is also celebrating his 25th birthday today. “The second heat though was a good race. My target was always to make the top 12 and thus qualify for the semi finals – so overall it’s so far, so good.”
All four heats were run in the TouringCar and Super1600 categories today with the all-important semi-finals and finals set to take place tomorrow. In the TouringCar class, Kjetil Larsen is leading the standings with Daniel Lundh second after winning heats two and four. Sergej Zagumennov has claimed top championship points at the intermediate classification in the Super1600 class and will start on pole position for the first semi-final.
Elsewhere, Sebastian Eriksson leads the RX Lites Cup after a strong opening day while Nelson Piquet Jr admitted difficulties adapting to the Lites: "It's a harder transition than I thought it would be from Supercars to Lites,” explained the Brazilian. “I've been having to adapt. In terms of learning, it's a good thing. When you have a car with more power, it's easier to mask things. With these cars, you have to drive perfectly and you can't make a mistake or you lose a lot of time."
Today’s World RX action will commence at 1130 GMT with two more heats across the Supercar class, as well as the support RX Lites category followed by the TouringCar and S1600 semi-finals. The remaining semi-finals and finals will commence from 1500, with the finish podium scheduled for 1700.