January 25, 2022

Rallycross: Kristoffersson and Belevskiy shine this Saturday at the Nürburgring! – Le Mag Sport Auto

Here we are: this is the last (double) round of the World Rallycross Championship in thermal version. Head to the legendary Nürburgring circuit for this ultimate performance. At the start only 14 pilots and many big names of the “thermal” WorldRX absent (Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, Andreas Bakkerud, Timur Timerzyanov, Timo Scheider…). However, the snow was invited to the party to disrupt this last weekend.

Rallycross at the Nürburgring: Kristoffersson nibbles, Belevskiy impresses!

This morning the paddoack had the (unpleasant?) Surprise to discover the Nürburgring circuit under the snow. A magnificent spectacle which brought its share of disturbance. First of all, the track was frozen and very slippery for free practice. Then, this considerably impacts the behavior of the cars whereas in front of the pilots wanted to “give everything” for this. latest thermal representation of WorldRX. The trail was also getting much trickier.

Unfortunately, it was Hervé Knapick who paid the price during Q1. The 74-year-old French pilot flew through the fence. A spectacular accident which marks the end of the world adventure of the dean of French Rallycross. Hervé was taken to hospital. His family has been posting their news on social media and luckily “Knapick” is nothing serious. However, the driver of the DS3 WRX tested positive for COVID-19, so the entire paddock is on high alert.

On the race side, the Q1 was marked by a poor start from Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai i20) while in front of Johan Kristoffersson (Audi S1) achieved the best time ahead of Yuriy Belevksiy (Audi S1) for which this is the first WorldRX race! Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208) is third while his brother is ninth. In Q2 Niclas Grönholm recovered and took the best time ahead of Belevskiy! Kristoffersson is third ahead of Krisztián Szabo (Hyundai i20) and Timmy Hansen.

Faced with the delay following the capricious weather and especially the big crash of Hervé Knapick the Q3 is canceled towards the semi-finals with a Johan Kristoffersson “top qualifier” ahead of Belevkiy and Timmy Hansen. During the first semi-final, the Audi driver performed a superb performance in front of the Hyundai i20s of the GRX. Guerlain Chicherit (Renault Mégane) finished fourth and first unqualified. In delicate conditions, the Frenchman showed great things for his comeback in the world. Like last weekend in the USA Kevin Hansen does not manage to qualify for the final (stalling at the start).

In the other semi-final Yuriy Belevskiy had a better start against Timmy Hansen. The latter fought with Enzo Ide for second place. A fight a little too aggressive since Timmy was penalized by 5 seconds (and therefore a place) at the end of the semi-final. He therefore starts from the last row in the Final.

A Final where the first corner was quite chaotic. Kristoffersson and Belevskiy take off well ahead of the GRX Hyundai i20s. Behind, Timmy Hansen sneaks in but hits Grönholm at the first corner and pushes his rival. In front, Kristoffersson takes off while his teammate Enzo Ide is forced to retire. Belevskiy had a solid race but made a small mistake on the last lap which allowed Timmy Hansen to reclaim second place. The 2021 EuroRX3 champion nevertheless won his first podium ahead of Krisztián Szabo and Niclas Grönholm. At this point Kristoffersson halved his lead over Timmy Hansen in the championship. However, with 9pts late it seems complicated for the three-time world champion to go for a new crown.

But, after the race, the race marshals have decided to disqualify Timmy Hansen following his maneuver on Grönholm at the first corner! The situation is reversed and here is the Hansen deprived of a certain “immunity” vis-à-vis the commissioners. Immunity which would have also pushed Kevin Abbring to end his season prematurely. With this decision Kristoffersson is only four small points behind Hansen! Everything will be decided tomorrow during “race 2” on this new circuit of Rallycross at the Nürburgring. We sincerely hope that the 2021 title will be played on the track and not on the decisions of the marshals as was already the case in 2019. It should be noted that Enzo Ide was also disqualified following the contacts of the first corner. The Belgian just loses his points from his sixth place (retirement).

Rallycross, exclusive interview with Arne Dirks, Executive Director of WorldRX

Article published on November 27, 2021 at 6:20 p.m.