Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson took a green light to flag victory at the Bretagne World RX of France in round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud finished second in his Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS RX Supercar while Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Sebastien Loeb claimed the third step of the podium in front of an elated home crowd.
In the overall driver standings, reigning Champion Petter Solberg finished fourth and extended his lead over Mattias Ekstrom to a slender five points. Ekstrom led after the event’s four qualifying sessions and but was slowed by a puncture in the first semi-final consequently Ekstrom did not qualify for the final and finished the event seventh overall.
Championship leader Solberg commented: “Leaving a race weekend with a bigger lead than when we arrive at the track is what this year is all about for PSRX – so France has been a big success for us. There’s more good news though, the changes we made to the car before the race really worked and clearly we have more speed.”
Kristoffersson’s win this weekend makes him the fifth different winner in World RX so far in the 2016 season. “It feels fantastic!”
The weekend didn’t start so well for the Loheac RX event winner, however, as Kristoffersson explained: “We couldn’t get it right yesterday – I was P10 after Q2 and the car didn’t feel right. My team worked really hard on the car overnight and in the rain this morning, the car felt amazing. This car and my driving style work very well together in the wet conditions. In the final, I pushed really hard and made sure to avoid the kerbs so as not to get a puncture, and concentrated on a clean race. Similar to last year, Andreas [Bakkerud] and I are very close in the leader board and now I’m starting to catch up on Mattias and Petter who are not so far in front – I just hope to continue from where we left off when we got to Barcelona. We got a podium there last year so hopefully we can do the same in two weeks’ time.”
Runner-up Bakkerud commented: “It was great to have both myself and Ken [Block] in the final for Hoonigan Racing Division. I feel like we are making progress each round – I’ve had four podium finishes in the last four rounds so I must be doing something right! I struggled a bit in Canada with the starts and I had some similar issues here but the performance of the car on the track is fantastic. I’m really proud of the team – they’ve done a fantastic job with the car.”
Loeb added: “I’m really happy with this result and I’ve had some amazing support from the crowd this weekend too. It’s been a tough battle to get here – we are always looking to find more speed and unlike Johan [Kristoffersson] we struggled in the wet conditions. For sure, we lost a few seconds in the rain which meant we didn’t have the position that we wanted for the semi-finals. It turned out to be a good semi for us and in the final I pushed hard. It feels really good to be here.”
ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Reinis Nitiss posted his best result of the year at the wheel of his Seat Ibiza RX Supercar finishing fifth. The 20-year-old Latvian was 11th at the Intermediate Classification and took advantage of Ekstrom’s puncture to qualify for the final – the first of the season for the German-based team. Loheac marks Nitiss’ final event with Muennich Motorsport as he will make the switch to an Olsbergs MSE Fiesta for the upcoming Barcelona RX.
Ken Block put in a strong performance at the wheel of his Ford Focus RS RX Supercar, the American secured his best ever Intermediate Classification result after finishing fifth. Block then proceeded to the final but was forced to retire after contact with Nitiss during the final lap broke his car’s suspension finishing the event sixth overall.
Last year’s Loheac RX winner Timmy Hansen finished eighth, the Swede denied a spot in the final due to a puncture. Frenchman Davy Jeanney and privateer Audi driver Robin Larsson were ninth and tenth respectively. Eleventh place was taken by Euro RX front-runner Kevin Hansen and Albatec Racing’s Andy Scott was 12th – the British driver having posted some impressive times during the qualification stages.
In the World RX teams’ championship, EKS continue to lead the standings – 19 points ahead of Team Peugeot-Hansen in second place.
World RX Loheac – France Results
1. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo)
2. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS)
3. Sebastien Loeb (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX)
4. Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World RX Team, Citroën DS3)
5. Reinis Nitiss
6. Ken Block (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS)
FIA World Rallycross Championship for Drivers Championship Positions after 8 rounds
1. Petter Solberg (Peter Solberg World RX Team, Citroën DS3), 181 pts
2. Mattias Ekström (EKS, Audi S1), 176 pts
3. Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen RX Sweden, Volkswagen Polo), 158 pts
4. Andreas Bakkerud (Hoonigan Racing Division, Ford Focus RS), 157 points
5. Sebastien Loeb (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 141 pts
6. Timmy Hansen (Team Peugeot Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 117 pts
7. Toomas Heikkinen (EKS, Audi S1), 101 pts
8. Robin Larsson (Robin Larsson, Audi A1), 71 pts
9. Timur Timerzyanov (World RX Team Austria, Ford Fiesta), 67 pts
10. Davy Jeanney (Peugeot-Hansen Academy, PEUGEOT 208 WRX), 60 pts
FIA World Rallycross Championship for Teams
1. EKS, 277 pts
2. Team Peugeot Hansen, 258 pts
3. Volkswagen RX Sweden, 217 pts