As we reach the mid-point of the season, the next stop on the FIA World Rallycross calendar is surely one of, if not THE highlight of the year. Hell, Norway is most certainly the place to be as large crowds of motorsport fans flock to this iconic RX circuit for a taste of the World’s best RX action, surely it should be named Heaven?
Currently, it’s a Scandinavian lockout at the top of the standings heading into Round 5, with the Hansen brothers from the Neighbouring Sweden leading local hero Andreas Bakkerud, who will be looking for the win here at his home event.
Last time out at Silverstone current leader Timmy Hansen got the better of Bakkerud on the penultimate lap of the final to take the victory; at the same time removing brother Kevin from the top spot of the rankings.
There’s no doubt that Kevin had a disappointing result in GB when he failed to qualify for the final due to a mistake on the final lap when he jokered. Kevin will be expected to bounce back and be right on it, challenging along with Timmy for the win in Hell.
Parking the Hansen boys to one side, surely the favourite has to be Bakkerud for this one?
His clear disappointment from not winning in GB added with the home crowd spurring him on should make for a very determined drive; if he is not on the top spot of the podium in Norway it will be the wrong kind of Hell for him.
Winner of the 2016 event, Bakkerud heads home to Norway with high expectations, despite only finishing 6th here last year behind the two Hansen brothers. We know that the Audi can be strong at this track, Mattias Ekstrom powered it home for a 2nd on the podium here last year so there should be no reason why he can’t deliver.
In the GRX camp, it is hoped that young Niclas Gronhölm will return to the seat of the Hyundai i20, after unfortunately being hit by appendicitis. Having to sit out both Spa and Silverstone, he will no doubt be itching to get back in the hot seat to continue where he left off.
Missing out on two rounds has really hurt his championship campaign and it hurt, even more, considering he had such a promising start to the season. Hopefully, Gronhölm, who was a semi-finalist in Norway last year, won’t have been left behind too much and will be able to plant himself right in the thick of the battles.
The Skoda Fabia of ES Motorsport returns to the action in Norway; following the jumping ship of Rokas Baciuska to the GCK team they were without a pilot in GB. Throughout the development of the Fabia, they used Kevin Abbring (Ex WRC driver), who now steps up to drive at the top level of RX for the first time, so all eyes are on him to see what he can do.
And so Rokas Baciuska is welcomed into the GCK family as part of the Academy squad for his first taste of the Renault Megane RS RX. We know that this car has the performance as team mate Anton Marklund has clearly demonstrated that recently by putting in some fast times and landing the 3rd sport on the podium at Silverstone; so Baciuska now has the right tool for the job.
Marklund who raced a VW Polo in Norway last year couldn’t progress any further than the Semi’s but this time around however; he stands more than a good chance of making it to the final, could he even follow up his British podium?
So what is Hell when it comes to rallycross?
The well-loved circuit at 1019 meters in length (1119 including joker) with a 63/37% split of Asphalt/Gravel is perfectly placed; caved into the side of a quarry it forms its own little amphitheatre. It features a large rise and fall, almost a bit like a rollercoaster and the flying finish, with its jump, always makes for some entertainment.
Timmy Hansen holds the lap record which he set here last year in the Peugeot 208
Words By: Andy Cook – Xlerate