Barcelona WRX: Scheider tops qualifying, Loeb out of contention
DTM convert Timo Scheider began his first full season in the World Rallycross Championship by qualifying top in the Intermediate standings in Barcelona, aboard an MJP Racing Team Austria Ford Fiesta for the first time.
Scheider showed strong pace on day one and benefited from running in some of the best conditions as others were slowed by heavy rain.
As the downpour made way for hot, dry conditions on Sunday morning, Scheider won his Q3 race to set the second fastest time to reigning champion Mattias Ekstrom.
Fifth overall time in Q4, as he finished behind Andreas Bakkerud and Mattias Ekstrom in the final qualifying race of the event, earned Scheider top stop.
While each of the other drivers has used at least two new tyres in the dry Sunday morning sessions, Schieder has brand new rubber saved for the latter stages of the event.
Ekstrom fought back from a slow time in Q2 due to the torrential rain with the fastest time in Q3 and may have been better than fourth overall in Q4 had he not followed race leader Andreas Bakkerud into the joker lap in their race.
Bakkerud has taken the lead of the race at the first corner, pulling off the move that cost him so badly on Saturday afternoon.
In Q2, Bakkerud moved across from the outside of the grid at turn one and a slight touch from Petter Solberg sent the Ford Focus into the barriers.
Overnight work from the Hoonigan Racing Division team repaired the car and Bakkerud set third fastest time in Q3 and was fastest of all in Q4 to be fourth overall at the end of the qualifying stages.
Having been third overnight, Solberg’s team mate Johan Kristoffersson remained in the position after Q4 despite a slow start in Q3 and getting held up behind Geurlain Chicherit, who had a problem with his Renault Clio and didn’t start Q4.
Solberg won the same race in Q3 to be fourth fastest, but ran wide onto the grass in the last race of Q4 after turn one and had a huge tank slapper.
Holding onto the new Volkswagen Motorsport-built Polo GTi, Solberg climbed from fourth at turn two to be second to Bakkerud at the finish and be fifth in the Intermediate standings.
Toomas Heikkinen dropped from leading overnight to seventh, while a pair of solid times for two-time British Rally champion Guy Wilks moved him into eighth ahead of the semi-finals.
Also making the semi-final cut were individual entrants Reinis Nitiss, Kevin Hansen and Jean-Baptiste Dubourg.
However, Kevin Eriksson just missed out. The Swede was caught in first corner contact in Q3 and then hit in the rear by Ken Block after passing the American following his joker lap. He won the race, but the time wasn’t quick enough to make the semis.
The biggest name not to make the semi-finals was nine-time World Rallycross Champion Sebastien Loeb, who spun in front of his team mate Timmy Hansen in Q3 with a broken driveshaft and lost further time through the race.
On track victory couldn’t salvage the Frenchman’s weekend as he missed out on the top 12 for the first time in his World RX career.
Barcelona WRX: Heikkinen leads after opening day
Barcelona WRX: Ekstrom wins from Scheider in season opener