Day one of European Rallycross Championship round seven has been action packed throughout at Loheac in France.
Timmy Hansen shares the head of the table with local wildcard Fabien Pailler, both drivers setting a fastest and second fastest time respectively. Hansen won his first heat after a close fight with Petter Solberg, and just lost out to Pailler himself in heat two.
Star of the event in France is unquestionably WRC legend Sebastien Loeb, thousands of French fans eagerly await his every appearance, both on track and in the paddock. Driving a Citroen DS3, Loeb had a hard race in heat one, finishing fourth with small mechanical problems, but fought back in heat two, winning his race and setting fifth fastest time to put himself ninth at the end of day one.
“For sure I am enjoying myself. It’s a nice atmosphere. It’s always nice to drive in France for me, in front of my fans. The second time was ok, but I had a problem with the diff in the first one.
If you want to go to the semi-final you need to set some very consistent heats. I know it’s important to be consistent, and that I am not allowed to do any more mistakes. I was happy with the setting of the car in heat two.”
Championship leader Timur Timerzyanov sits in third place overnight, the Russian driver has had a couple of tough races, and has had to fight hard to make it to third overall.
Winner of round six in Sweden Andreas Bakkerud made a poor start in heat one but made amends in heat two setting fourth fastest time to be fourth after the first two heats. European Rallycross Championship Permanent French competitor Davy Jeanney has hopes for great things from this event. The ever consistent Citroen man got in more on-track battles than usual and is fifth after two heats.
Tanner Foust is sixth overnight. The American had never seen Loheac before Friday afternoon and is trying hard to win three out of three Rallycross events he has contested this year. Both Liam Doran and Petter Solberg stalled on the line of heat two, the pair both needing to restart their cars long after the lights had gone green. Doran is tenth, just behind Loeb, while Solberg is 12th.
British WRC driver Kris Meeke makes his rallycross debut in Loheac driving a Peugeot 208. He just lost out to fellow Doran in heat one, before picking up a puncture through first corner contact in heat two. He finished the race, but with a slow time and as a result is sixteenth overall.
Peter Hedstrom is making up for a poor event in Sweden and is eleventh. His highlight of the day was beating Loeb in a side-by-side race to the first corner in their first heat race. Alexander Hvaal is thirteenth, the unlucky Norwegian spent two races getting held up by slower cars. Anton Marklund is just behind Hvaal, the young Swede finished just behind Hvaal in their heat two encounter. Andy Scott is having a better time in France, and won his heat one race on a track that his French-build Peugeot will feel quite at home.
Jermone Grosset-Janin suffered transmission problems on the start line of the first heat and didn’t reappear for heat two, while Jean Luc Pailler made contact with son Fabien in heat one before encountering transmission problems before heat two. He too was unable to make it out.
Super1600 is once again topped by Latvian Set Promotion driver Reinis Nitiss who won both of his heat races. Second fastest in both heats was Steven Bossard who makes a one off appearance here. 2011 French Super1600 champion David Olivier lies third and may have been higher had he not had to fight his way past slower cars in his heats. Timur Shigaboutinov had a great drive in heat two to beat his more experienced team mate Ildar Rakhmatullin, and is one place ahead of him overnight. Regular Citroen driver Eric Faren is eight, slowed in heat two after contact with Ulrik Linnemann, the Dane was blacked flagged and dropped to 22nd in the overall results.
TouringCar is topped by championship leader Derek Tohill, although he did have a first corner spin alongside Robin Larsson in heat one, Larsson is fifth as a result of that and a third place time in heat two. Koen Pauwels is having another good event here and sits in second place heading into day two.
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