Friday 8 August will go down in history as the day the FIA World Rallycross Championship staged its first event outside of Europe as part of the annual Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres (GP3R) motorsport festival in Quebec, Canada. The GP3R, will host the seventh round of World RX at the Trois-Rivieres street circuit and will see all four heats, semi-final and final run over one day instead of its normal two-day format.
At 1.35 kilometers long, the Trois-Rivieres street circuit is comprised of 59% asphalt with the remaining 41% gravel/dirt section laid out within the local hippodrome.
Nineteen Supercars will battle it out in the headline Supercar category including the Championship’s six permanent two-car teams. A new manufacturer will also be represented in the Supercar field as Vermont-based Subaru Rally Team USA have entered three-time European Rallycross Champion Sverre Isachsen. “I’m very excited for Canada and to compete again against some of the same teams and under the same race format from my years in Europe,” explained Isachsen. “We have put so much effort into developing the Subaru from scratch into something very competitive now, I hope for a good result.”
VW Marklund Motorsport will have four cars taking part. Regular team-mates Topi Heikkinen and Anton Marklund will be joined by American Top Gear presenter Tanner Foust who makes his third World RX outing for the squad this year. Completing the line-up is former IndyCar and NASCAR star Patrick Carpentier who is a regular World RX commentator but will swap to the driver’s seat for his home event. “I already have butterflies and can’t wait to try the Supercar,” said the French-Canadian.
Leading the driver standings by three points is former WRC Champion Petter Solberg for the PSRX Team. “The rallycross is all happening in one day, when the track is being converted to include some dirt, just for us,” explained Solberg who went on to add: “The circuit is going to be really interesting with some tight corners – typical of the sort you find on street tracks. Like the last time in Belgium, we go off the line and through a couple of corners before the first chance to take the joker lap – this means the action will be fairly intense in the early part of the first circuit. There are three jumps on each lap, which means we’ll spend quite a while in the air. This kind of track won’t flow in the way others have, it’s really kind of stop-start, but by getting every braking point absolutely spot-on and not sliding too much, we can make some good time.”
After a sensational first half to the season, 18-year-old Reinis Nitiss is to be joined by regular team-mate Andreas Bakkerud. Also joining the team as a wildcard entry in Canada is 20-year-old Finn Joni Wiman who will pilot a third Ford Fiesta Supercar. Ford Olsbergs MSE continue to lead the teams’ standings, 19 points ahead of VW Marklund Motorsport.
Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve is yet to reach a semi-final in this year’s World RX and will be looking to rectify that on his home turf. “It’s always a pleasure to race in Quebec” explained Villeneuve. “Although it’s my home track, the rallycross configuration will be as new to me as will be to everyone else until the very first test on Thursday. I’m feeling quite confident ahead of the race and looking forward to driving in front of the enthusiastic home crowd.”