World Rallycross – Belgium
Johan Kristoffersson delivered on the potential shown through the qualifying stages of the Belgian World Rallycross Championship round at Mettet to score a first victory for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team.
But the Swede’s win wasn’t as clear cut as his earlier pace had suggested it might be, and even on the fifth lap, the race looked to be heading the way of Team Peugeot-Hansen driver Timmy Hansen.
Kristoffersson started from pole position in semi-final one but with drizzle having fallen just before, the Volkswagen driver made a slow start and chased Hansen throughout the race to qualify for the second row in the final.
In the second semi-final, Kristoffersson’s teammate Petter Solberg also made a poor getaway, but fought back to win the race, passing Andreas Bakkerud when the Norwegian took his joker.
The double World RX Champion made the best start in the final to take the lead from Hansen at the first corner, where each of the six drivers made it through unscathed, Bakkerud and Kevin Eriksson taking the outside line.
Eriksson was first to take his joker on lap one, before Kristoffersson took the extra route on the second tour from third position.
While his younger teammate was in the joker section, Solberg ran wide in the final corner of lap two, allowing Hansen a run on the Volkswagen driver, the Swede making a move for the lead into turn one of lap three.
Solberg didn’t concede track position easily and tried to turn in alongside Hansen, but there wasn’t enough room, Solberg running wide and just avoiding the outside tyre wall.
As he rejoined, the front of his car made contact with Andreas Bakkerud’s at the entry to the jump, Bakkerud’s Ford being pushed into the tyre wall, sustaining damage from which he would retire.
Having started from the back row of the grid, after losing out at the start of his semi-final, points leader Ekstrom climbed to second as those ahead jokered, Hansen edging away.
Ekstrom maintained track position until the final lap, which helped Hansen’s victory cause, but the front-left tyre on the leader’s Peugeot punctured over the jump on the final lap, the Swede taking his joker around the outside of the final corner and losing the win to Kristoffersson in the closing stages.
Hansen ran neck-and-neck with Solberg to the finish line, claiming second position by 0.011s.
At the Motul Italian Round on Sunday it was Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Chaz Davies who took a superb victory in front of the fans at Imola, with the podium also featuring Kawasaki Racing Team pair Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.
In a restarted race – after a red flag in the first Race 2 start earlier in the afternoon – Davies produced a superb ride on the Ducati, overtaking provisional leader Sykes midrace and going on to win by just under four seconds from Rea.
Davies’ first double victory of 2017 was a repeat of his Imola result from 2016, the Ducati man having also picked up maximum points at the Italian track last year.
Sykes had led the race but was eventually unable to hold off his teammate Rea for second, as the Northern Irishman ultimately beat the Yorkshirman across the line by +0.603s.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and home rider Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) were engaged in a close fight for fourth, with Spaniard Fores finally coming out on top in that duel by less than two tenths of a second.
World Touring Cars – Hungary
Mehdi Bennani took his first WTCC victory of 2017 in the second race at the Hungaroring, as polesitter Rob Huff was handed a penalty for contact.
Sebastien Loeb Racing driver Bennani launched into the lead at the start of the race and while he relinquished that advantage to Huff after an early safety car, that proved to be inconsequential as Huff was forced to drive through the pits for his part in a first lap incident.
Bennani duly managed the gap back to Nicky Catsburg over the remainder of the race to snatch his first win since the Qatar season finale last year.
Huff tried to squeeze across to the right at the start of the race but could not prevent Bennani from taking the lead, while the Volvos of Catsburg and Nestor Girolami were also able to squirrel up the Briton’s inside on the run to Turn 1.
Munnich Motorsport man Huff then braked late into Turn 2 but ran into the back of Catsburg, forcing the Dutchman into the side of teammate Girolami who stopped on the outside of the corner as a result.
That necessitated the appearance of the safety car for two laps, but as the race resumed Huff was hit with a drive-through penalty for the Turn 2 incident and, despite briefly taking the lead back from Bennani with a fine move at Turn 9, was forced to dive into the pits at the end of lap four.
That left Catsburg chasing Bennani at the front, but despite initial warnings about his Citroen’s brakes the Moroccan gradually edged away at the front from the Volvo, laden with 80 kilograms of success ballast.
Catsburg did come back at the Sebastien Loeb Racing driver in the closing laps but could not offer a real challenge and eventually finished 0.654 seconds behind Bennani, who became the fifth different winner from six races at the start of the 2017 season.
Heavy rain, coupled with oil on the circuit, brought a premature end to the third round of the 2017 DEOD SuperGP Champions Trophy held at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 13 May. The first cold front of winter hit Gauteng late on Friday afternoon, bringing with it icy conditions and rain. While Saturday morning was dry, allowing the other classes to complete their first races, the SuperGP riders were not as lucky. Rain started falling just before they left the pits, and despite them changing onto wet tyres, a huge crash on the opening lap brought out the red flags and ultimately an end to the days racing
Cross Counrty – Dundee
Treacherous conditions faced the competitors when the action got underway on Friday for the short 46km qualifying loop, with heavy runs in the Dundee area resulting in extremely wet and muddy terrain becoming a defining feature of the entire weekend’s racing.
Nevertheless, the Ford NWM Puma Lubricants outfit came out on top, with Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable scoring their maiden Class T win of the year in the mighty V8-powered Ford Ranger. Team-mates Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer made it a Ford NWM Puma Lubricants one-two by securing their second consecutive runner-up finish.
In all likelihood, this was the first time brothers finished in the top two positions in the premier Production Vehicle category in a South African cross country race – with Lance and Gareth extending the Woolridge family’s impressive legacy in the sport, initiated by father and NWM team principal Neil.
Unfortunately, the tricky conditions caught out Henk Lategan and Barry White who failed to finish the race after an end-over-end roll during the second loop. Although battered and bruised, they were unhurt in the incident thanks to the exceptional strength of the NWM-built Ford Ranger.