Chase for the crown intensifies in the Ardennes
The battle for glory in the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship is hotting up as the series speeds into Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (9-10 October), after the title fight was blown wide open in Riga last time out.
The first three rounds of the campaign all went the way of the Hansen brothers, but victories for Niclas Grönholm and Johan Kristoffersson in Latvia mean just 23 points blanket the leading four protagonists arriving in Belgium for Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps.
Spa joined the World Championship calendar in 2019 and instantly captured the hearts of competitors and fans, incorporating as it does significant elevation changes and one of the most iconic corners in international motorsport. The spectacular ascent of the Raidillon and its 15% gradient is followed by a tight hairpin bend, before cars hurtle back downhill towards Eau Rouge. There is also a stadium section that features an extra-wide, banked corner, and parallel jumps in the standard and ‘Joker’ laps.
TITLE FIGHT TIGHTENS UP IN BELGIUM
Having not finished lower than third so far this year, former world champion Timmy Hansen is still the man at the top of the table, holding a 17-point advantage over his younger brother, Kevin. The Hansen World RX Team siblings are also the only two of the title-chasing quartet to have previously raced at Spa; Kristoffersson was absent in 2019, while Grönholm was ruled out of participating by appendicitis.
It would be foolish, however, to dismiss either driver’s chances this weekend. KYB EKS JC star Kristoffersson is a three-time title-winner at the pinnacle of the discipline, and but for persistent ill-fortune, his current points total would be significantly greater. GRX-SET World RX Team’s Grönholm, meanwhile, was the highest scorer in Riga – form he is bidding to carry with him into the second half of the campaign.
There are a number of dark horses in the field, too. Grönholm’s team-mate Krisztián Szabó has been a model of consistency as one of just three competitors to progress through to the final in every round to-date in 2021, and Kevin Abbring has shown flashes of scintillating speed in Unkorrupted’s Renault Mégane. Hailing from Son en Breugel less than two hours away in the Netherlands, the flying Dutchman can count Spa as something of a ‘home’ circuit.
Enzo Ide in the second KYB EKS JC Audi S1 will carry Belgium’s hopes, while Timo Scheider is overdue a change of fortunes after proving to be on the pace but out of luck behind the wheel of his ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport SEAT Ibiza.
An intriguing addition to the World RX ‘regulars’, finally, is Anton Marklund. The 2017 FIA European Rallycross Champion rejoined the fray in Euro RX1 at Höljes and set the pace until he spectacularly rolled in Q4. The Swede returns this weekend in a Hedströms Motorsport Hyundai i20 and is sure to put up a fight.
HOME HEROES PRIMED TO SHINE IN SUPPORT SERIES
Former World RX ace Guillaume De Ridder arrives at Spa-Francorchamps sitting at the top of the table in the all-electric FIA RX2e Championship and the Belgian is determined to extend his advantage with a home soil celebration, as talented female racers Klara Andersson, Christine GZ and Laia Sanz make their debuts.
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s headlining Euro RX1 category, a sensational showdown is in prospect as the destiny of the coveted crown is finally decided – with French duo Fabien Pailler and Andréa Dubourg set to face off against Esmotorsport pairing Andreas Bakkerud and Jānis Baumanis for title glory.
In Euro RX3, meanwhile, Belgian teenage prodigy Kobe Pauwels will be aiming to maintain the momentum sparked by his Lohéac triumph as he strives to usurp Volland Racing stablemate Yury Belevskiy at the summit of the standings.
Racing is set to get underway at 12:15 CET on Saturday, 9 October. Entry tickets are still available to purchase here, or for those that can’t make it in person, all of the action across the board will be livestreamed in glorious HD quality via the cutting-edge RX+ broadcast platform. This premium production grants subscribers unparalleled and unprecedented access anytime, anywhere and on any device, offering a choice of viewing angles, in-depth expert analysis, special behind-the-scenes features and exclusive interviews.
The Full Season Pass is on offer for the special price of €19,99, representing a 60% discount on the regular price of €49,99 and guaranteeing access until the end of the year. The Event Pass for Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps is available for €7,99. For more information or to subscribe, click here
About Rallycross Promoter GmbH
Rallycross Promoter GmbH, a joint company of Red Bull GmbH and KW25 Beteiligungs GmbH, is responsible for all commercial aspects of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, including TV production and the marketing of global media and sponsorship rights. The Promoter also has responsibility to increase the field of participants and to propose the venues that form the calendars in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and supporting series.