World RX warriors primed for action in Portugal
The chase for the crown in the FIA World Rallycross Championship races into Portugal this weekend (16-17 October), with a thrilling fight in prospect at Cooper Tires World RX of Montalegre – round seven of the 2021 season.
Montalegre hosted the very first World Championship event during the series’ inaugural campaign back in 2014, and following a three-year hiatus, World RX returns to the undulating and challenging Vila Real track this weekend.
With six rounds in the books so far in 2021, the hunt for honours is hotting up nicely. After a troubled start to his title defence, three-time world champion Johan Kristoffersson (KYB EKS JC) has closed to just 12 points adrift of the top of the table courtesy of back-to-back victories in Latvia and Belgium, and the Swede – the most successful driver in rallycross’ modern era – has twice reached the highest step of the rostrum at the Circuito Internacional de Montalegre.
It is Kristoffersson’s countryman Timmy Hansen, however, who continues to lead the way. The 2019 title-holder came out of the blocks flying with two wins and a second-place finish from the opening three outings, and he is confident his Peugeot 208 will be a potent package in Portugal.
Younger brother Kevin Hansen is similarly firmly in contention. Since winning the Catalunya curtain-raiser back in July, the 23-year-old has been a consistent front-runner and podium-finisher, and second place at Spa-Francorchamps kept his title bid on-track.
Niclas Grönholm opened his 2021 victory account in Riga, but a disappointing weekend in Belgium means the flying Finn needs a big score if he is to maintain his championship aspirations. Grönholm’s GRX-SET World RX Team stablemate Krisztián Szabó, by contrast, celebrated his maiden rostrum finish last time out and is one of only three drivers to have progressed through to the final at every event to-date this season, so he is sure to be a leading protagonist once more.
Unkorrupted’s Kevin Abbring had the hardest luck story to tell at Spa, topping the intermediate classification only to find himself tipped out of the lead of the first semi-final, while ex-GT racer Enzo Ide in the second KYB EKS JC Audi S1 is going from strength-to-strength in his first full campaign of World RX competition and will have been buoyed by a fifth-place finish on home soil. Former British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan completes the Montalegre entry list, and is certain to put on a show in his distinctively-liveried Ford Fiesta.
CHAMPION TO BE CROWNED IN EURO RX3
The FIA European Rallycross Championship’s fiercely-disputed Euro RX3 class has been the proving ground for a number of future World Championship stars, and this weekend, the series’ 2021 champion will be crowned at Montalegre.
Having won three of the opening four rounds, last year’s highest scorer Yury Belevskiy arrives holding a 23-point advantage at the summit of the standings – but the Russian will face stiff opposition, not least from his own Volland Racing team-mates.
Kobe Pauwels turned the tables on Belevskiy to triumph at Lohéac in his maiden campaign of car racing competition, and the talented Belgian teenager has given the championship leader a real run for his money this season. Similarly, Marat Knyazev in another Audi A1 pushed Belevskiy right to the chequered flag last time out at Spa-Francorchamps to close in on second position in the title chase.
In order to spray the champagne, however, the Euro RX3 regulars will need to get the better of an eight-strong contingent of local specialists, spearheaded by national championship pace-setter João Ribeiro – raising hopes of a home celebration this weekend.
Racing is set to get underway at 12:00 CET on Saturday, 16 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 just €10,99 and guarantees access until the end of the year. The Event Pass for Cooper Tires World RX of Montalegre 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.