Red-hot WRX action excites fans

2019-11-12 06:00
Kevin Hansen (left), Timmy Hansen and Krisztian Szabo all jockey for the lead at the start of their Q3 race at the World Rallycross Championship at Killarney on Sunday 10 November. Timmy Hansen would eventually win the roundPHOTO: Rashied Isaacs

Kevin Hansen (left), Timmy Hansen and Krisztian Szabo all jockey for the lead at the start of their Q3 race at the World Rallycross Championship at Killarney on Sunday 10 November. Timmy Hansen would eventually win the roundPHOTO: Rashied Isaacs

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Red-hot action filled the track at the Killarney International Speedway at the weekend with the final and deciding round of the World Rallycross (World RX) championship.

In the end, Sweden’s Timmy Hansen was crowned as champion on account of a count-back of wins over Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud.

The Cape Town crowd was treated to a spectacular and bruising season finale as the two ended on even points, with Bakkerud second in the race behind winner Niclas Grönholm and Hansen in fourth behind Timur Timerzianov after 60 races in 10 countries on four continents throughout the year.

Timmy (Peugeot) arrived in Cape Town just a single world championship point clear of title rival Bakkerud (Audi) and younger Hansen brother and teammate Kevin another five points back in third.

After the qualifying rounds and semi-finals, Timmy’s championship lead was only two points, with just the final left to race and eight points on the table.

Timmy started the final from pole position from Bakkerud, Grönholm, Kevin, Timur Timerzianov and Timo Scheider as the top six lined up two-by-two to decide the world championship over six scintillating laps in sweltering heat to the backdrop of Table Mountain.

Bakkerud made a perfect start to lead from a combative Timmy, but the three world championship contenders became embroiled in a controversial incident, when Timmy made a move on Bakkerud and the two tangled and went off as Kevin also went off in avoidance at the bottom hairpin.

The upshot was that Grönholm led the way from the recovered Bakkerud, Timerzianov and the similarly recovered Timmy, who had made quick work of a struggling Scheider to take a vital fourth place.

Kevin then had a second spectacular incident at the same corner where he, his brother and Bakkerud had collided on the opening lap, as Grönholm led a disgruntled Bakkerud, Timerzianov and a limping Kevin home after Scheider ground to a halt.

“It sounds fantastic — almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy responded to a question on his taking the title.

“I am super happy for the sport - the last race with everything on the line was nerve-wrecking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend — there was no room for error — not the smallest mistake.

“I know Andreas is upset,” said Timmy. referring to the final race incident.

“I went for the inside, it was a hard move and it still needs to be investigated, but this season is the best in my career with four race wins and now the title — it’s a dream come true and I am so happy for the team — we are first and third in the drivers title with Kevin and me and we are makers champions too — the car has been brilliant every race. I still can’t yet take it in!”

“I am proud of myself — I won the battle today — the best reaction at the start to lead away,” Bakkerud admitted.

“But unfortunately I will not comment more after what happened and I just want to say huge thanks to my team and our sponsor and to everyone else — especially Cape Town — it was fantastic as always — Thank you South Africa. For the rest, right now I don’t really care.”

In other action, Swede Oliver Eriksson delivered a dominant RX2 victory over Jamaican Fraser McConnell and Sami-Matti Trogen, to wrap up that title over Ben-Philip Gundersen, who pipped Jesse Kallio to the title second, while Zak Groenewald took local BMW E36 Cup honours.

Also Shaun Cope won the front-wheel drive class in his VW Golf and rally lass Megan Verlaque took Speedcar buggy honours.Locals like Saadiqah Alexander of Belgravia lapped up the action.

“The family is all into drifting, that’s how we grew up. My father has a Honda S2000 and a Nissan 350Z, so we are into cars. We always come watch. So we have been here a couple of times.

We just watched all the rallies, we liked the BMWs,” she said.

South African motorsport legend Sarel van der Merwe was also in attendance:

“It is wonderful having a world championship in South Africa in motorsport. I think it is the most exciting form of motorsport anyway, because there are so many good drivers,” he said, adding that he wished World RX was around during his competitive racing days, and implored locals to keep supporting the event in the future.

“They should just know that it is one of the most exciting events in the country, so I don’t know why they just don’t pitch up.”

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