After two events, Norway’s Petter Solberg is currently leading Johan Kristoffersson in the overall drivers’ standings by 15 points.
Round three of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will take place at Mettet in Belgium this weekend and will include a total of 83 cars (38 Supercars, 25 Super1600 entries and 20 TouringCars). Ladbrokes World RX of Belgium will also form the first of five rounds in this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (Euro RX). After two events, Norway’s Petter Solberg is currently leading Johan Kristoffersson in the overall drivers’ standings by 15 points.
A new addition to the rallycross calendar in 2014, the Circuit Jules Tacheny in Mettet is located 60 miles south of Brussels in the French-speaking region of Wallonia. Last year’s event was won by Finland’s Topi Heikkinen who was followed home by Swedes Timmy Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson who finished second and third respectively. Reigning Euro RX Champion Robin Larsson set the benchmark for the fastest lap time (38.74 seconds). The organisers have made some general improvements to this year’s route including a revised Joker Lap and additional gravel section.
We have improved the circuit this year and I believe we now have the perfect home for RX.
Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss, who finished runner-up in Hockenheim, explained the changes to this year’s circuit: “The end of the track has changed for this year; there’s a chicane and then uphill back onto asphalt into the last corner, which is now gravel at the entry. The exit is on asphalt up to the finish line.”
Flying the flag for Belgium for the second year in a row will be local driver Francois Duval who lives less than 30 miles from Mettet and will pilot a Ford Focus RX Supercar. “I’m really looking forward to returning to Mettet,” said Duval, who won a European Rallycross Championship event in his homeland in 2010. “It’s a form of motorsport that I’ve always loved. The cars are fantastic and with over 30 Supercars the racing will be close with some tough competition.”
Competing for World Championship points in Belgium will be the 18 permanent drivers plus Norway’s Ole Kristian Nottveit who has opted to compete for World points rather than European. There will be a further 19 Supercar drivers eligible to score points in the highly-competitive Euro RX. Most notable entries include Volkswagen Team Sweden’s Ole Christian Veiby who will drive a brand new Polo RX Supercar. Scottish-based team Albatec Racing will also field two Peugeot 208s which will be driven by former French Rallycross Champion Jerome Grosset-Janin and Britain’s James Grint, a budding motorsport star who has previously competed in the British Rally Championship.
Grint, who gained valuable seat-time at the third round of British Rallycross Championship in Pembrey last weekend, spoke confidently ahead of his debut in the FIA’s newest World Championship: “The car was fantastic in testing and at Pembrey, and I improved every session, so we’re certainly going in the right direction. I know it’s going to be tough, the competition is fierce, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got to gain a strong result, with a place in the semi-finals very much my aim.”
All 38 Supercars competing in Belgium will race together through the heat stages but after heat four, two separate Intermediate Classification tables will be issued. European and World Championship competitors will then race in their own separate semi-finals and finals. The new-for-2015 format will allow both European and World Championship competitors to race on track for victory in their respective championships.
Mettet will form the first round of this year’s supporting TouringCar category, which is a known development ground for Supercar drivers and will feature at five RX rounds in 2015. A total of 20 TouringCars will go head-to-head in Belgium including last year’s top TouringCar Champion Daniel Lundh.
Only five points separate the top five in the Super1600 category going into Belgium following the first S1600 race in Portugal. Latvia’s Janis Baumanis currently leads Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo and Frenchman Andrea Duborug who lie joint second.
Freddy Tacheny, Sporting President for RUMESM, commented: “We are really happy at Mettet to host Ladbrokes World RX of Belgium for the second time. We have improved the circuit this year and I believe we now have the perfect home for RX. Last year was a big show – but this year it will be even better!”
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “It’s been a busy start to the season with four races in five weeks and it’s an honour to return to Belgium which has attracted our biggest entry of the year so far. I’m also delighted to welcome 19 Euro RX entries – all of which are very talented drivers. The organisers have worked hard over the past few months to make a number of improvements to the track and I’m looking forward to watching the action at the notoriously tight hairpin at turn one which saw plenty of close racing last year. Our Belgian broadcaster [RTBF] will be onsite over the weekend and for the home fans who aren’t able to visit Mettet, they can watch the action live on TV this Sunday from 3pm. After Mettet, it will be a quick turnaround for the teams as everyone gets ready for the British RX round at Lydden Hill the following weekend.”
FIA World Rallycross