Andy Scott relished his return to the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Belgium on August 4th and 5th, despite a challenging weekend at the Duivelsberg circuit. Contesting his first ERC round in three months, Scott recovered from a disappointing qualifying session to take his fourth heat win of the season but was denied a place in the A Final when a first corner incident forced him to retire from the B Final.
Receiving a warm welcome back to the ERC paddock, Scott was immediately on the pace during his first run in the Tony Bardy Motorsport Ford Focus ST since the second series round in France, clocking-in ninth and 15th fastest among the elite field during the Saturday morning practice sessions.
Hopes were high for another strong performance in Official Timed Practice but time lost through the rutted Mountain section, which proved an issue for many competitors, put Scott on the back foot ahead of the heats as he tried to battle back from 17th place.
And battle back he did. Soon recovering from wheel-spin off his pole start in heat one, Scott stormed into the lead on the last lap to take the chequered flag two seconds clear. A repeat result almost followed in heat two with the Scott-Trawlers-backed machine taking the lead from the outset, but a slightly wide line heading into the joker on lap four allowed Peter Hedstrom to slip in front, yet Scott still managed to salvage second.
Showing improved pace in every session as he became re-acquainted with his 2011 ERC podium-winning car, the reigning MSA British Rallycross Vice-Champion fought hard to move up from fifth to third in the final heat, setting his fastest lap time of the event in the process.
Lying 11th overall in the Supercar category, the Scotsman from Dumfries lined-up fifth on the outside of the second row for the B Final. With a field of eight cars all hunting for a top two result to graduate to the all-important A Final, competition was unsurprisingly fierce.
Conscious of the hefty task in hand, Scott was confident of making the cut but his race campaign had no chance of getting underway. Despite powering his 550bhp, two litre machine off to a fantastic start he was hit from behind at the first turn. Tipped into a spin he was hit again and the resulting damage and right rear puncture left him no option but to retire.
Although a challenging weekend, the round seven show-down helped progress invaluable development of the 16v Ford Focus ST T16 4x4 ahead of next weekend’s round eight in the Netherlands, where Scott will be aiming to repeat his 2011 ERC debut success of a podium finish at Valkenswaard.
Andy Scott, Scott-Eklund Racing Team Principal & Driver:
“It’s been a bit of a challenging weekend, but I have really enjoyed my return to the ERC. Everyone in the paddock, not to mention the record crowds, has been amazing and we’ve had a lot of fun, even if the results aren’t what we had hoped for.
“I was disappointed with our pace early on Saturday but, on balance, I haven’t touched the Ford Focus ST since France in April and I’m up against drivers that have raced four rounds since, with the car development to prove it. The pleasing thing is that we got quicker with every session. It would have been nice to have got through to the A Final but it’s just one of those things.
“We made some really positive developments with the car this weekend. Although we had fixed the issues we had at Dreux, we’ve been able to iron-out some final niggles to get the car really on-song and we were in good shape heading into the B Final.
“What happened at the first turn was just a racing incident, as everyone had to get in the fight for those two places. We just need to assess the damage and work out whether we need to take the car back to the Tony Bardy Motorsport base to make repairs. Either way we’ll be back next weekend and I’ll be aiming to defend my podium record in Holland.”
Source: Scott-Eklund Racing