BAKKERUD BANKS A WIN

Nor­we­gian pre­vails, but has to set­tle for third in the points. By Hal Ridge

Motor Sport News - - World Rallycross: Argentina - RE­SULTS FIA World Rallycross Cham­pi­onship pre­sented by Mon­ster En­ergy, round 12/12 Where: Rosario, Ar­gentina When: Novem­ber 26/27 Pho­tos: mck­lein-imag­database.com, Hal Ridge

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wo years ago at the fi­nal round of the FIA World Rallycross Cham­pi­onship in Ar­gentina, Pet­ter Sol­berg ar­rived hav­ing al­ready se­cured the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship ti­tle and dom­i­nated the event.

With the Ar­gen­tine round now held in Rosario rather than San Luis, Sol­berg en­tered the sea­son fi­nale hav­ing al­ready lost the ti­tle to DTM star Mat­tias Ek­strom and was with­out the pres­sure of hav­ing to fight for his third suc­ces­sive crown.

With yet more up­dates to his Citroen DS3, which he was rac­ing for the 37th and fi­nal time last week­end, the Nor­we­gian was at his con­fi­dent best and dom­i­nated the open­ing qual­i­fy­ing race on Satur­day. Af­ter that, the heav­ens opened and Q2 had to be moved from Satur­day af­ter­noon to Sun­day morn­ing due to tor­ren­tial con­di­tions and a sub­merged cir­cuit.

Dou­ble cham­pion Sol­berg con­tin­ued his dom­i­nance in Q2 with an­other fastest time, be­fore also stop­ping the clocks first in Q3 and Q4 to qual­ify on pole po­si­tion in semi-fi­nal one. But Sol­berg’s event would ef­fec­tively be over two cor­ners later. A slower start than Ek­strom meant Sol­berg slot­ted into sec­ond at the start of his semi as World RX Team Austria driver Ja­nis Bau­ma­nis at­tempted a move around the out­side into the first chi­cane, sim­i­lar to a move that Euro­pean cham­pion Kevin Hansen suc­cess­fully pulled off 12 months ear­lier on his Su­per­car de­but.

There was mi­nor con­tact be­tween Bau­ma­nis and Sol­berg, which be­came ma­jor when Bau­ma­nis’ team-mate Timur Timerzyanov drove into the back of his col­league, caus­ing dam­age to Bau­ma­nis’ Fi­esta’s left-rear and the steer­ing on the left-front of Sol­berg’s DS3.

Five laps later, with bro­ken steer­ing Sol­berg spun into a tyre wall, de­stroy­ing the front of his car. He crawled to the fin­ish.

Ek­strom had ini­tially jumped the start in the semi-fi­nal but sur­vived the first cor­ner melee and made it into the fi­nal.

Jo­han Kristof­fers­son won the race and was joined by semi-fi­nal two win­ner An­dreas Bakkerud on the front row for the fi­nal.

Head­ing into the event, Kristof­fers­son, Bakkerud, Sol­berg and Se­bastien Loeb were em­broiled in a fight for sec­ond in the points, but as both Loeb and Sol­berg failed to make it into the fi­nal, it was left to Kristof­fers­son and Bakkerud to play the fi­nal cards. Bakkerud se­cured pole hav­ing won the sec­ond semi-fi­nal and fin­ished as the higher driver at the In­ter­me­di­ate Clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The Hooni­gan Rac­ing Di­vi­sion driver made the best start, Kristof­fers­son hold­ing a high line on the banked first cor­ner be­fore div­ing into the apex to be sec­ond as Toomas Heikki­nen climbed to third at turn one, pass­ing EKS team owner Ek­strom, Timo

Points (af­ter 12/12 rounds): 1 Mat­tias Ek­strom 272pts; 2 Kristof­fers­son 240; 3 Bakkerud 239; 4 Pet­ter Sol­berg 239; 5 Se­bastien Loeb 209; 6 Timmy Hansen 178. Teams Cham­pi­onship: 1 EKS 422; 2 Team Peugeot-hansen 387; 3 Volk­swa­gen RX Swe­den 316; 4 Hooni­gan Rac­ing Di­vi­sion 302; 5 World RX Team Austria 226; 6 Ols­bergsmse 132.

Schei­der and Robin Lars­son.

Bakkerud and Kristof­fers­son ran their own race out front, Bakkerud set­ting fastest laps while Kristof­fers­son fol­lowed at a dis­tance to se­cure the top two po­si­tions, tak­ing their jok­ers on the fi­nal lap.

Kristof­fers­son’s sec­ond place moved him to sec­ond in the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship points, just one point ahead of Bakkerud and Sol­berg, who tied for third place but Bakkerud claimed the po­si­tion on wins’ count­back.

Ek­strom took his joker on lap two, with Heikki­nen fol­low­ing suit two laps later, the pair run­ning side-by­side into the early part of the fifth tour be­fore Ek­strom was forced to con­cede into the chi­cane.

Heikki­nen main­tained the po­si­tion. Ek­strom then ran wide at the next cor­ner while still pres­sur­ing his younger col­league and lost track po­si­tion to his fel­low dou­ble DTM cham­pion Schei­der.

The po­si­tions re­mained the same to the fin­ish, with Lars­son sixth. Heikki­nen’s first podium fin­ish since round two at Hock­en­hiem and Ek­strom’s points haul con­firmed EKS as 2016 Teams’ Cham­pi­ons, hav­ing led the stand­ings for the en­tire year.

The 2015 cham­pi­ons Team Peu­geotHansen was the only squad ca­pa­ble of beat­ing EKS in the fi­nal round, but Loeb’s re­tire­ment from the semi-fi­nals and an off-form week­end for Timmy Hansen meant he didn’t even make it into the semi-fi­nals, and the team could do noth­ing to re­tain its crown.

Kevin Eriks­son also didn’t make the semis, ad­mit­ting that mis­takes in the slip­pery con­di­tions of Q1 had se­ri­ously ham­pered his chances of qual­i­fy­ing.

For­mer Bri­tish Rallycross Group N cham­pion Nick Jones made his World RX de­but for the JRM Rac­ing team, but re­tired in Q1 ( see sep­a­rate story).

ap­proved by Merton Coun­cil.

More than 13,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion against those plans, pro­tes­tors in­clude some high pro­file fig­ures such as for­mer For­mula 1 driver and short oval racer Derek War­wick.

Cam­paigner Peter Gray said: “Our con­stant re­quests by our ac­tion group for meet­ings with Merton Coun­cil and in­deed the foot­ball club have fallen on deaf ears, which is an im­mense shame.”

The pe­ti­tion be­ing pre­sented to Down­ing Street also raises con­cerns about the trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, on­go­ing flood­ing on the site, traf­fic con­ges­tion in the area, and the plans for polic­ing large crowd num­bers on match days, sev­eral points that the lo­cal res­i­dents are con­cerned about.

Bakkerud won 2016 fi­nale Bakkerud was supreme in the fi­nal

Jones was de­lighted af­ter his first Mini out­ing driv­ing for the JRM team

Sol­berg: semi-fi­nal in­ci­dent

Fans are en­joy­ing the last few race meet­ings at Wim­ble­don

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