WORLD RX TEAMS’ TITLE TO BE DECIDED IN ARGENTINA
The three-way battle for the Teams’ Trophy in the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will be concluded at Total Rallycross of Argentina later this week (28-29 November) with Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport, Ford Olsbergs MSE and Team Peugeot-Hansen all vying for the title. The runners-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship will also be decided with three pilots – Topi Heikkinen, Reinis Nitiss and Timmy Hansen – all still capable of winning the accolade.
Argentina will be the fifth all-new RX venue in 2014 and will also mark the first time a rallycross event has been held in South America. Staged in San Luis in the Cuyo region, the final round of World RX will be held at the Rosendo Hernandez circuit and will also form part of an annual Speed Week, which includes a Super TC2000 competition and a Pikes Peak style hillclimb. The asphalt section of the RX track uses the existing circuit but the remaining 40% gravel section - including the joker which features half way through the lap - has only recently been constructed. At 1357 metres long, the track in San Luis will be one of the longest of the season and will challenge drivers with three separate gravel sections.
A total of 17 Supercars will travel to San Luis, including local favourite and former Argentine Rally Champion Miguel Baldoni who makes his RX debut in a Hedstroms prepared Skoda Fabia Supercar.
Also adding to the increasing number of rally drivers trying their hand at World RX will be Austria’s Manfred Stohl who joins Petter Solberg in a second PSRX-run Citroen DS3 Supercar. Despite having no time to test the Citroen, Stohl is one of the only competitors familiar with the region: “I have lots of friends in Argentina from my rallying days and it will be nice to go back to San Luis where I competed in national rallies and got to know the area well,” Stohl explained.
Currently leading the Teams’ Championship by a slender four points is VW Marklund Motorsport, which is fronted by young guns Topi Heikkinen and Anton Marklund. With eyes firmly on the Teams’ Trophy, the Swedish-based squad has undergone a gruelling fitness regime over the past month with help from professional BodyFitness athlete, Hanna Saario. Heikkinen stated: “My target is to keep second place in the drivers’ standings and help Marklund Motorsport achieve the teams’ title. We’re leading that competition outright for the first time this season and we’re not looking to give it away now.”
Also hungry for silverware is Ford Olsbergs MSE and its team drivers Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss, who have amassed a total of three victories between them this season. “I’m hungry for another victory,” declared Bakkerud who was recently awarded a ‘Sportsperson of the Year’ award back in his native Norway. “Petter Solberg has four wins and since IMG took the championship over, I have had four wins too. I won two times with LD Motorsport last season, so I need to win one more to be in front. It has been a hard season, with so many different winners. Six different winners from the first six races shows the level of the championship. It has been a good season for the sport, the level is getting higher all the time.”
With a point deficit of 38, Team Peugeot-Hansen will start its bid for the Teams’ Championship title as the underdogs. However, with a total of 56 points available in San Luis, team drivers Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov are still capable of snatching the trophy. Hansen is also in the running for third place in the Drivers’ Championship and the 21-year-old Swede will be eager to repeat his performance from round 10 in Italy where he clinched his first World RX victory.
Monster Energy World RX Team will also compete in Argentina with British driver Liam Doran’s highly-anticipated return to the Championship. Joining Doran in the British line-up for Argentina will be Albatec Racing’s Andy Scott and Ollie O’Donovan – the latter replacing Jacques Villeneuve in the Peugeot 208 Supercar. Other entrants include Irishman Derek Tohill and Kevin Eriksson who will race an Olsbergs MSE prepared Ford Fiesta RX Supercar as a reward for winning this year’s RX Lites Cup.