WRX: HANSEN GRABS THE SPOILS IN SPEEDMACHINE FINALE
Timmy Hansen claimed victory in a gripping final of the Dayinsure World RX of Great Britain at the SpeedMachine Festival, the fourth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy. Hansen thus became the first double winner of the 2019 season, following victory in Barcelona in round two in his Team Hansen MJP Peugeot 208.
The Swede engaged in a titanic battle with Monster Energy RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud who got the better of the start in Sunday’s final. Timmy eventually hunted the Norwegian down and there was only a car-length between them at the flag.
“Today Andreas (Bakkerud) found some more pace and he was able to win both qualifying sessions,” Hansen said. “In the final, he had about a half a car better launch than me, it was tight going in to the first corner. Coming out second I knew I had to stay super close. I was absolutely on his bumper just before my joker lap which was a perfect lap.
“I kept on pushing, he went in to the joker a lap later, and when we merged I saw that I had a bit more speed and seeing him behind as we hit the finish line was a great feeling. I definitely had to work very hard to day to get this result.”
Timmy also usurped his brother Kevin at the top of the drivers’ standings with today’s win. He sits on 88 points to Kevin’s 84 after the younger Hansen made contact with the tyre barrier on the last lap of his semi-final, meaning he missed the final.
From a family perspective, Timmy admitted to mixed emotions after the race. “The semi-final was good for me but going over the line in the semi I was checking for Kevin and I saw that he was gone and then I heard on the radio that he was stuck in the joker section.
“So it was a shame for him as I had a perfect run in the semi and for him to miss out was tough. It was also difficult to keep my head down between the semi and the final because I had to keep focussed on my own race while feeling for him.”
Bakkerud, desperately seeking his first win of the season, after being so close last time out in Spa-Francorchamps, was disappointed not to have reached the top step this time when the win was within his grasp.
He also revealed that all was not well with the Audi S1. “We had some issues with the handbrake. Every time I pulled it the car stalled so I ended up driving without the handbrake in the semi and the final,” he said.
“Belgium was OK because I didn’t feel I had the speed to win but this weekend I definitely felt I could. I tried to use every trick I had in the book so the final result does not feel good.
“This is four podiums in a row for the RX Cartel, we had both cars in the final here but just didn’t get the job done. It hurts a bit to sip champagne and not be happy. I almost had it in my pocket today. All I can do is keep on pushing and hopefully the win is nearby.”
GCK Kompetition’s Anton Marklund claimed third in the Renault Megane RS RX, the Swede’s first World RX podium place of 2019 and his second overall after a second-place finish in Canada in 2014.
“Since Abu Dhabi we have shown good pace and in Spa where we ran top three pace. It was nice to get the starts working in the semi-final and final today and to get some clear air,” he said. “I am very satisfied with a P3 and very happy for the team.”
Timo Scheider in the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport team Seat Ibiza was fourth in the final just ahead of Hungarian Krisztian Szabo’s EKS Sport Audi S1.
Unfortunately for British fans, Liam Doran, Bakkerud’s team-mate in the Monster Energy RX Cartel finished sixth in the final after an eventful home event.
Fellow-Briton Oliver Bennett provided plenty of cheer for home fans by making his first ever World RX semi-final only for his Mini Cooper to catch fire on the final lap and end his race. Silverstone’s notorious jump was the culprit, the Mini bottoming out on landing and a broken oil seal sparking the blaze.
The second semi-final was red flagged after Joni Wiman, standing in for Niclas Gronholm in the GRX Taneco Hyundai i20 contacted the tyre barrier soon after the jump with the car rolling on its side. The resultant suspension damage to the front right-hand corner meant he did not make the semi-final re-run.
“It was a late call for me to step in for Niclas and I tried to do my best, but struggled with a rhythm and set-up for this track,” Wiman said.
“Front row for the semi-final was a satisfying result. In the semi-final it all got very messy, very fast. (Janis) Baumanis and (Liam) Doran were fighting hard for the position and after the big jump I saw an opportunity and went for it. Unfortunately I got squeezed on to the tyre barrier and rolled the car.”
Timur Timerzyanov, in the sister GRX Taneco Hyundai i20, went from the high of a maiden World RX win in Spa-Francorchamps to the low of missing the final at Silverstone. “I was concentrating on my own race, but this weekend my result was not entirely decided by me. Next-up is race in Hell, Norway, and that is one of my favourite tacks in the championship so we need to focus on that now,” the Russian said.
Latvia’s Janis Baumanis was the only man to have reached all three World RX finals prior to Silverstone. However, that sequence was broken when he finished fourth in semi-final two with a battered Team STARD Ford Fiesta, after being caught up in the Wiman incident.
Jani Paasonen in the second STARD Fiesta car finished well down the pecking order as did British wildcard Mark Higgins in his Peugeot 208.
Apart from Marklund’s third place, Silverstone produced mixed fortunes for the GC Kompetition squad.
Team boss Guerlain Chicherit finished fourth in semi-final one while Cyril Raymond narrowly missed out – ending 13th overall despite a win in Q4 in the GCK Academy Renault Clio RS.
It was a torrid weekend for Guillaume De Ridder. The Belgium was the victim of contact from Doran who got out of shape over the jump in Q3. The Briton collected De Ridder’s Renault Megane on landing forcing him to retire with suspension damage.
The team worked feverishly to get him out for Q4 but missed pre-grid by seconds, ending any hopes of advancing to the semi-finals. It was a bitter end after he had taken a race win in Q1 on Saturday.
On a good news note, the French team announced that they were adding 19-year-old Rokas Baciuska to their driver roster from the World RX of Norway (June 15-16) onwards. The Lithuanian had parted company with ESmotorsport prior to the weekend.
Frenchman Herve Knapick had issues as early as Q1 when he failed to make the start line – a consequence of gearbox issues in the Citroen DS3.
The World RX final rounded out two action-packed days of the SpeedMachine Festival – combining non-stop track activity, world-class entertainment with headline acts Sean Paul and Jax Jones and the best of British street food.
World RX now moves to Hell in Norway for round five from June 15-16.