08.02.13

2013 FIA OFFROAD Champions honoured at Modena

At the invitation of the ACI (Automobile Club of Italy) and accompanied by the organisers of the Italian autocross event of Maggiora, the FIA honoured its 2012 Off-Road Champions in Modena on the occasion of the prize-giving for its European Rallycross and Autocross Championships.

For the first time in its history, the most coveted title in Rallycross, that of the flagship category "SuperCars", was won by a Russian driver. The 2012 European Champion's trophy was handed to Timur Timerzyanov by the President of the ACI and Vice-President of the FIA, Angelo Sticchi Damiani, and the President of the FIA Off-Road Commission, Andy Lasure.

Originally from Tatarstan, the man they call "TT" (his initials) has been a regular participant in the FIA European Rallycross Championship since 2009. After serving his apprenticeship in the Super1600 division (ex-Division 1A) and winning a first European crown in that category in 2010, Timerzyanov joined the discipline's elite category in 2011, finishing his first season "with the big boys" in third place. He was the undisputed strong man of the 2012 season, with six victories in nine races at the wheel of his Citroën DS3 T16 4X4 of over 550 hp. He will fight for the title again in 2013 and will remain faithful to the Swedish team Kenneth Hansen Motorsport, managed by the man who, as a driver, holds the highest number of European titles (13!) in the history of Rallycross. Britain's Liam Doran, in a similar car, and the American Tanner Foust (Ford Fiesta Mk7 T16 4X4) came second and third respectively.

With the titles of Norway's Andreas Bakkerud (Renault Twingo) in Super1600 and Sweden's Anton Marklund (Ford Fiesta Mk7 RWD), aged 21 and 20 respectively, Rallycross has been well and truly rejuvenated. Other very young drivers have excelled in these two categories, including the Vice-Champion in Super1600, Poland's Krzysztof Skoriupski (21).

The other Off-Road discipline honoured in Modena was Autocross, with a healthy European Championship and events fielding an average of 85 participants, the most popular being the Italian event at Maggiora (124 starters in 2012). The most prominent category is SuperBuggy, won for the second year running by the German Bernd Stubbe. As the winner of 7 of the 9 rounds comprising the Championship, he finished the 2012 season with a comfortable lead over the Czech Petr Turek and the German Andre Hinnenkamp. The outcome in the Buggy1600 division was far more uncertain, since less than ten points separated the first and fourth places at the end of the European tour. The title went to the young Frenchman Thomas Anacleto, ahead of Luxembourg's John Lagodny, France's Florent Tafani and the Czech Republic's Ondrej Musil. At the wheel of a Skoda Fabia 4X4, the Czech Vaclav Fejfar triumphed over the Ford Focus 4X4 of the Russian Valentin Korshunov and another Skoda Fabia, driven by the Hungarian Tamás Karai. Within the framework of all the rounds of the European Championship, the JuniorBuggy Cup, reserved for young drivers aged 13 to 21, was clearly dominated by the Czechs, with Jakub Kubicek ahead of Jiri Formanek and Radek Franc.

The event in Modena was also the occasion for awarding some special prizes, for the best organisers and the best nations. The trophy for best 2012 Autocross event was awarded to the organisers of the French event at Saint Igny de Vers, while the Hungarian organisers of the Nyirád event won the same prize in Rallycross. To nobody's great surprise, the Czech Republic received the 2012 Autocross Nations Cup, thanks to the outstanding performance of all of its drivers, present at the forefront in all four of the categories that comprise the discipline. In Rallycross, this same Nations Cup was won by Norway, ahead of Sweden and Russia.

With the 2012 championships consigned to the past, all eyes are now turned towards the coming 2013 season. In Autocross, stability is the word, with a 2013 calendar that is nearly identical to that of 2012 and few changes to the regulations. Rallycross, however, is on the threshold of a new era, with the arrival of the company IMG as promoter of the European Championship and thanks to the expected high media exposure, which will raise the discipline to the level it deserves on account of the spectacular nature of its 600 hp cars and its thrilling races.