World RX travels to Portugal for round two in Montalegre
2017 World RX of Portugal - Preview
The picturesque Montalegre race circuit in north Portugal will host the second round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship this weekend (21-23 April). Reigning World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom [EKS] currently leads the drivers’ standings after taking the round one victory in Barcelona earlier this month.
Bompiso Rallycross of Portugal takes place in the scenic town of Montalegre and is located in the hills of the Vila region, close to the Spanish border. The circuit presents a unique challenge for both drivers and engineers: at 1800 metres above sea level it is the highest event on the World RX calendar and engines need to be finely tuned to deal with the higher altitude.
“The start couldn’t have gone better – now we have to up the ante at Montalegre,” explained Ekstrom, who has reached the final on every World RX circuit he has competed at besides Portugal. “I have good and bad memories of last year. Everything was going according to plan up until the semi-final, but then a mistake in turn one cost me the final.”
Joining Ekstrom in the headline Supercar category will be a further 21 entries including star names such as last year’s Montalegre RX winner Petter Solberg [PSRX Volkswagen Sweden], Sebastien Loeb [Team Peugeot-Hansen] and Ken Block [Hoonigan Racing Division]. One to watch will be MJP Racing Team Austria’s Timo Scheider who is competing in his first full World RX campaign in 2017 and finished runner-up in Barcelona.
The regular drivers will also be joined by Germany’s Rene Muennich, Poland’s Martin Kaczmarski, Belgium’s Gregoire Demoustier and Portugal’s Joaquim Santos. Muennich Motorsport driver Rene Muennich is racing in the full FIA European Rallycross Championship this season with his Seat Ibizia Supercar and will compete in a number of World RX events as a wildcard driver.
Kaczmarski, another Euro RX competitor, will step up to World RX for the Portuguese event with his ex-Olsbergs MSE Fiesta Supercar. Circuit racing driver Demoustier made his World RX debut in Barcelona, driving a DA Racing Peugeot 208 and will return for a second appearance in Portugal alongside Jean-Baptiste Dubourg. Santos is a regular starter in his native round of World RX – the experienced driver will be a firm favourite with the home fans.
The second round of World RX is also the inaugural round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600, where 30 drivers – including five Portuguese entries – will take part.
Reigning Champion, Hungary’s Kristian Szabo, will begin the defence of his title, now joined in the Volland Racing team by Latvia’s Artis Baumanis – driving a pair of Skoda Fabias. Former Super1600 race winner Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme returns to the Set Promotion team for a title challenge as team mate to Russia’s Timur Shigaboutdinov. Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann will once again compete in the front-wheel drive series in his self-run car.
Paul Bellamy, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “We’ve had tricky track conditions for the past few years in Portugal but it looks as if we will be blessed with excellent weather this weekend. A number of changes to the infrastructure of the circuit have been put in place for 2017 and we are sure that the event will once again be a sell-out due to the hard work and relentless promotion from the Portuguese event organisers. The Portuguese fans are some of the most passionate of the season and with six local drivers competing in front of the home crowd, the atmosphere in the grandstands will be electric.”
Find the full World RX Supercar entry list here.
And the full Euro RX S1600 entry list here.