At least my driver wouldn’t be sh*t because I have noticed he likes rain. But the car is not usable too I’m a bad engeneer
Ahhh! So many crashes for Yuki, and getting some of the fastest times when not crashing unluckers.
a position higher than 30th
Tyrelli World RX of Canada, Day Two - Semi-Finals and Finals
The rains came as scheduled, and the second day of the Tyrelli World RX of Canada began under cool, rainy skies. In the overnight period, the remaining teams were able to get their cars into top shape mechanically, if still a bit bruised in the case of Pekka Heikkinen’s Pepperbomb.
Right off the line, Heikkinen burst off the line, getting a huge jump over the rest of the field, made worse by a traffic jam caused by Marika Kazan and Bandit Borgwarnerson bogging down at the line, which only served to increase Heikkinen’s advantage. Sylvester Landon burst through the field after the end of the first lap, overtaking Eric Meistermann and Maria Ramirez, slotting into second place behind a rapidly vanishing Heikkinen. Unfortunately, Landon’s car was damaged overtaking Ramirez, which severely affected his pace. By driving incredibly defensively, holding off Borgwarnerson from Lap 3 onwards, Landon was able to keep the stricken Isami at the front of the pack, barely holding off Borgwarnerson at the line.
Alexander John Sierra snuck past Eric Meistermann in the last sector of the very last lap, the Merciel drag racing the FAAL out of the last corner and to the line, with Sierra finishing ahead by a mere six-thousandths of a second, leaving Meistermann in the fifth berth for the final race. Maria Ramirez just missed out on the finals, with only one second between her and Meistermann ahead, while Einar Poogen’s difficulties carried over from yesterday, finishing eighth in the heat, behind the damaged car of Eino Vatanen, who ran wide and damaged his car on Lap 3.
The rain continued to soak the track before the second semi-final, and in spite of the efforts of the maintenance crews, the condition of the surface was tremendously degraded by the first race. Phornsawan Sirisuk blasted off the line to take the lead into the first lap, with Hsiu-Yinn Lim hot on their heels. Sirisuk opted for the joker lap right off the bat, freeing the track ahead for Lim to press on in the challenging conditions. This proved to be a fateful decision for Sirisuk, who misjudged the slipperiness of the joker section and ran wide, glancing the #55 SBA Rosales off the barriers. While the young Thai was able to recover somewhat, their pace was off for the rest of the race, finishing in fourth place behind Craig March in second and Mason Olsen in third for the last berth in the finals.
Miguel Gonzalez paid heavily for a very poor start, finding himself right at the back of the pack from the get-go, never fully recovering from it as the race went on. Timo Virtanen finished a respectable sixth place, LATOY’s highest finish of the season so far, beating out Ashlynn Morganstern’s Ars Eligos by a sound five seconds. Pablo Sanchez crashed on the start and damaged his Shromet, limping his car around to finish, just avoiding being lapped.
Pekka Heikkinen got the jump on everyone at the start of the final race, the Pepperbomb finding an incredible amount of traction off the line to leave the rest of the field behind. Heikkinen lapped faster and faster, the wet, slippery conditions seemingly not phasing the Finn as he pounded around the track, finishing a scarcely believeable seventeen seconds ahead of Bandit Borgwarnerson’s Flamarbol, who managed to overcome a very poor start to finish second. Eric Meistermann put many of the FAAL’s critics to bed, finishing within sight of Borgwarnerson in third place, while Tsiu-Yinn Lim held out against a very aggressive Phornsawan Sirisuk for fourth place, who managed to just barely hold off against Astelli Racing’s Craig March, who ended up only twenty-six thousandths behind the SBA Rosales.
Alexander John Sierra ran a cautious race, expecting to take advantage of trouble ahead that just didn’t materialise, while both Sylvester Landon and Mason Olsen damaged their cars in the early stages of the race, relegating them to the back of the field.
Pekka Heikkinen and Team Red Cock Energy Liquid continued their excellent string of results here in Canada, taking the most points and closing the gap between him and championship co-leaders Tsiu-Yinn Lim and Bandit Borgwarnerson, who leave Canada in a statistical tie, though Lim would take the championship today based on her two first-place finishes to Borgwarnerson’s one. The eighth round of the ARX League at Circuit Loheac in France should prove to be a very different experience indeed, with the series moving from the fastest to one of the slowest and most technical tracks in the series.
“Very good result in Canada; we did testing there and thought that we would be fast but there it is. I think that maybe we have chance at catching up in championship - we are faster with full ballast and other leaders cannot slow down too much to lose ballast or they lose points. With some luck maybe we will be OK. I would like to thank Team Red Cock Energy Liquid - now available with fewer pesticides.”
Air Trance RallyX de France, Day One - Qualifying
Round 8 of the ARX Championship began under cloudy and cool condtions at Circuit Loheac, though fortunately no rain materialised throughout the first day of the event. Quentin LeTheou of Flamers VitiaCo Racing started the day with a statement performance, winning the first heat easily and setting the best time of the qualifying session, beating Craig March’s Astelli Leopard by a sound four seconds. Yuki Fujishima and Eric Meistermann had a bit of a coming together on their first lap, bumping into each other and damaging their cars as Meistermann tried to defend his position, spoiling their races in Q1 but not damaging their cars enough that it should hurt the rest of their weekend appreciably.
Clive Baker took the top spot in the second heat, finishing two seconds clear of a wild battle for second place involving Hammond Hunter, Miguel Gonzalez and Alexander Krebs. Positions changed over and over between the three drivers, with Hunter holding the advantage over the first lap, but the Deer and Hunt ran wide on the challenging joker lap section, allowing Gonzalez and Krebs ahead of the American. Hunter made a late charge, making up quite a bit of ground on the other two, but in the end wasn’t able to get past the Likar driven by the crafty German.
Pekka Heikkinen took the top spot in the third heat, after an exciting battle with Joey Rogers in the Albatross. Mach Schnell’s William Cunningham finished within sight of Rogers ahead, two seconds off the leader, while championship co-leader Hsiu-Yinn Lim brought up the rear in the heat, finishing some six seconds off Heikkinen’s pace at the flag.
Maki Taninawa started strong and ran a nearly perfect race in the fourth heat, beating Bandit Borgwarnerson by five seconds at the line, the New Zealander struggling for grip and consistency in this first race. Rudolfs Jansons and Einar Poogen finished virtually neck and neck about a second behind Borgwarnerson, the Estonian driver outbraking himself into the first of the final lap to let his Latvian rival through to take third place.
Declan Slater took the top spot in the final heat, finishing well clear of second-place Marika Kazan’s JHW, while a curious incident between Jaimz Scooby and Phornsawan Sirisuk saw both drivers collide with one another on the long back straight, with Sirisuk seemingly driving right into the back of Scooby’s FMR Stadia with little or no apparent cause. Both drivers were called before the stewards for an explanation, but no penalties were handed out in the end.
Times tumbled in Q2 as the teams dialled their cars in for the the track, having got a good feel for the conditions in the first session. Eric Meistermann took the easy victory in the first heat, his battle-scarred FAAL Coupe posting a time ten seconds clear of second-pace Yuki Fujishima. Robert Field and Jorg Ambuhl followed close behind Fujishima in third and fourth, while LATOY’s Timo Virtanen had his luck run out in the start chute, getting squeezed off the track and into the barrier by Fujishima after the Finn got off to an incredibly good start; while it was an unfortunate incident that likely spoiled the rest of Virtanen’s weekend, the Finn was not fazed by it at all, calling it a “racing incident, nothing more”.
Pablo Sanchez put his Shromet Appalachian on the top of heat number two, running a nearly perfect race to beat Hsiu-Yinn Lim by five seconds. Alexander John Sierra and Sylvester Landon made it a tough race for the Armada driver, with the Merciel and the Isami finishing only a quarter second behind Lim and threatening to overtake at any time. Tom Powell held off a very aggressive overtaking attempt by Kevin Michaels in the KMC Racing machine, the American taking nearly half a second out of Powell’s Seydel-GNG to finish right on his rear bumper.
Maria Ramirez topped the third heat easily, finishing well ahead of what was arguably the most exciting battle for position in the session, with four other drivers pushing their cars and each other to the limit for the second-best time of the heat. Marika Kazan got off to an incredible start, leading the group into the first lap, but a couple of inconsistent laps by the JHW driver saw her fall back behind Mason Olsen, Einar Poogen and Eino Vatanen, and only a couple of car lengths ahead of Ashlynn Morganstern behind. Kazan drove very defensively through the last to laps to hold her position against Morganstern, while chipping away at Vatanen ahead of her, eventually passing the Finn on the last lap.
Bandit Borgwarnerson took the bit and absolutely ran with it in the fourth heat, demolishing the rest of the field and setting the fastest time of the session in the process. Miguel Gonzalez and Joey Rogers made their cars seemingly as wide as the track, driving very defensively between the both of them to prevent any and all overtaking attempts, it seems. Only at the last moment was Gonzalez able to press his advantage over the Albatross, making an aggressive move on the last lap to get ahead of Rogers and take the spot.
Pekka Heikkinen took the top spot in the fifth and final heat, showing just how fast the Pepperbomb is once again by finishing nearly ten seconds ahead of Quentin LeTheou and Declan Slater, who spent as much of their race holding off Craig March behind them as they did actually racing each other for position. LeTheou finally had enough of Slater’s games on the final lap, diving into the first corner aggressively and overtaking the Antti RX easily, leaving Slater nearly half a second behind by the finish line.
Whatever issues were slowing down Phornsawan Sirisuk were a thing of the past in Q3, with the SBA Boonigan driver running an absolute stonker of a race to take the win in the first heat, nearly ten seconds ahead of Timo Virtanen’s freshly repaired LATOY in second place. Virtanen had his hands full with Alexander Krebs and his Likar behind him, though the Finnish driver managed to keep his car ahead with a couple of solid laps to finish the heat.
As with Sirisuk in the first heat, the second heat was an exorcism of sorts for Yuki Fujishima, who started strong and never looked back the entire heat, fully eight seconds up on second-place Miguel Gonzalez when the flag dropped. Jorg Ambuhl and Joey Rogers put on an exciting battle, with Ambuhl capitalising on a mistake made by Rogers to slip past on the last lap, then managing to hold on to the spot even after a messy third sector saw Rogers slash into the lead that Ambuhl had built.
The third heat was a clean, if uneventful race, with Marika Kazan taking the top time over NPV’s Mason Olsen. Einar Poogen and Eino Vatanen scrapped more than a few times during the race, though in the fair and disciplined method that Poogen has built his name with over the years. Overcoming a difficult start and first lap, the Estonian driver chipped away at Vatanen’s lead, starting the final lap virtually side by side with each other, with Poogen slipping past as Vatanen missed a braking point in the second sector, causing the Delta Motorsports machine to run wide and opening the window for the Okul driver.
Craig March took the top spot in the fourth heat for Astelli Racing, finishing eight seconds clear of a major battle for second place between Alexander John Sierra’s Merciel , which prevailed in the end, along with Quentin LeTheou, Tom Powell and Sylvester Landon. Sierra was mixed up in this pack of drivers pushing each other for the first three laps, but he managed to pull ahead of Landon while the latter was on his joker lap, eking out a lead of a third of a second lead over the #21 Isami by the chequered flag.
Pekka Heikkinen once again took the top spot in the final heat, the Finn rolling over the field with seemingly little difficulty. Hsiu-Yinn Lim got the jump on championship co-leader Bandit Borgwarnerson over the first lap, but a missed braking point on Lap 2 allowed Borgwarnerson to overtake the Armada driver without contest, holding on to a three-quarter second lead at the finish line. Eric Meistermann just barely held on to fourth place in the heat, with Pablo Sanchez dipping into the forties for his final lap, sailing past Maria Ramirez’s Geschenk and taking a huge chunk out of the deficit to the Frenchman ahead.
Alexander Krebs took the top spot in the first heat of Q4, making easy work of the rest of the field and slotting the #35 Likar into P10 on the session, a very respectable time indeed. Ashlynn Morganstern’s recent struggles continued, finishing well back in third behind Robert Field’s TCC 1450. Laurent Faust brought the field home in last place in his home race, the Frenchman disappointed in the performance of his car once again. In spite of the dark cloud over Faust, he remains upbeat, as rumour has it that ZMD’s car for next year should remedy many of the shortcomings of the 2018 car.
Eino Vatanen took the top spot in the second heat, running free of traffic to put up an incredible time overall, fully seven seconds ahead of second-place Joey Rogers. Clive Baker and Timo Virtanen collided on the first lap, damaging both cars and spoiling what could have been rather good races for both teams, leaving both drivers to limp their cars home just on the outside of the semi-finals.
Maki Taninawa took yet another top time in heat number three, finishing three seconds clear of Mason Olsen, who finally managed to get the best of Declan Slater and Miguel Gonzalez. A decent start, followed by an excellent first lap propelled the #86 NPV into second place, and the New Zealander was able to hold on with a couple more strong laps to hold the position behind Slater, who challenged for a couple laps but fell off after costly mistake on the third lap.
Pablo Sanchez roared to the top time in the fourth heat, beating out Hsiu-Yinn Lim by a margin of nearly five seconds. Lim held her cool the whole race, even after Sylvester Landon passed and then shortly after relinquished the place back, the Isami driver missing his braking point and running wide into the hairpin on the last lap. This suddenly put him right on the front bumper of Eric Meistermann, who had his hands and mirrors full of Merciel and Geschenk in the closing sectors of the last lap.
Pekka Heikkinen made it three for four with his finish in the final heat, running three and a half seconds faster than Pablo Sanchez did in the fourth heat, and fully seven seconds ahead of Bandit Borgwarnerson’s Flamarbol Beryl. Phornsawan Sirisuk held off a late charge by Yuki Fujishima in the closing stages of the last lap, the Japanese driver taking a full half-second out of the deficit between the two and finishing only a bumper behind the young Thai for third place.
With three strong finishes, Pekka Heikkinen dominated the qualifying timesheets on the first day of the Air Trance RallyX de France, finishing well clear of championship co-leader Bandit Borgwarnerson and third-place Craig March. Hsiu-Yinn Lim’s lackadaisical driving style perhaps cost her a few championship points today, even though she still made the semi-finals with ease, but one has to wonder whether or not that will affect the results after tomorrow?
Air Trance RallyX de France, Day Two - Semi-Finals and Final
The rain that was predicted came and stayed here at Circuit Loheac, though it was very light at times. The damp track posed a pretty serious challenge to the remaining drivers, especially here in the first semi-final race. Maria Ramirez and Pekka Heikkinen lead the way from the start, but in nearly taking each other out going into the first corner, found themselves back behind a massive gaggle of traffic led by Sylvester Landon, with new leader Tom Powell pulling away in the Seydel-GNG. Hsiu Yinn-Lim decided to avoid the mess entirely by taking her joker lap early, getting clear track to run for the rest of the race. In the end, Powell held his position, winning the team’s third appearance in the final in the process. Lim managed to fight off a mistake on Lap 4, just barely holding on against Landon’s Isami behind her.
Mason Olsen and Craig March charged through the gaggle of close-running drivers on the final lap, taking advantage when Pekka Heikkinen lost control of his Pepperbomb, holding up Maria Ramirez and Alexander John Sierra in the process, sealing the last two final slots in the process. Quentin LeTheou stalled out on the starting line and never really recovered after that, the Flamers Iliythia looking very nervous indeed on the slippery surface.
Pablo Sanchez exploded out of the gate for an incredible start, pushing his Shromet past the slower traffic and getting his nose into the first corner before anyone else, an advantage he never let go of on his way to a dominant victory in the second semi-final round. Bandit Borgwarnerson in second place and Eric Meistermann in third were the only drivers even close to Sanchez this morning, and even then, five seconds separated Borgwarnerson from Sanchez at the finish line. Kitanishi’s Yuki Fujishima made things very difficult for themselves indeed, as two mistakes in the dying laps completely evaporated the Japanese driver’s lead over Delta Motorsports’ Eino Vatanen, only a sharp final sector saving Fujishima from a drag race to the finish line.
Maki Taninawa pushed her way past Declan Slater on the final lap, the latter having recovered from a very poor start to finish ahead of Marika Kazan, who struggled with consistency all race long to bring up the rear of the pack.
After a relatively clean qualifying and semi-finals, everyone in the paddock had the feeling that the potential for chaos was looming over the final race, and indeed chaos ensued. The start was clean and everyone got through their first lap without trouble, but on the second lap Bandit Borgwarnerson got upset by a bump from behind by Tom Powell, sending the #100 Flamarbol Beryl careening into the wall, gathering up Tsiu-Yinn Lim, Mason Olsen and Yuki Fujishima in the process, while the remaining drivers raced off into the distance. Lim and Powell got away more or less free of damage, but the two new Zealanders had to contend with damage for the rest of the race, though in the case of Mason Olsen it was largely remedied after the NPV deposited the remainder of its front bumper on the track on the third lap.
Far ahead, Sylvester Landon sped away from the pack, winning easily ahead of Pablo Sanchez, whose second-place finish earned the Shromet driver the largest number of points for the weekend. Sanchez thrilled the fans with a last-minute overtake of Craig March, after swapping places several times over the final three laps; March was faster through the first and last sectors, while Sanchez was faster through the critical second and third sectors. Eric Meistermann cruised home in a comfortable and safe fourth place finish, putting the Frenchman into sixth place for the weekend points standings.
Pekka Heikkinen’s championship bid was dealt a serious blow today, with the Finnish driver missing his third final of the season after a poor finish today. With four races remaining and his deficit standing at 53 points, Heikkinen’s chances now are dependent on poor finishes by both Bandit Borgwarnerson and Hsiu-Yinn Lim, the Armada driver now four points behind in what has become an epic battle for first place.
That does it. Clearly my strategy is the most relaxed up top and it’s not really working.
TIME TO TURN IT UP TO THE NINES
Boscc RallyX of Latvia, Day One - Qualifying
The ARX Championship moves to Latvia for the ninth round, to the Bikerniki National Autodrome just outside the capital city of Riga, under sunny skies on this fine, late summer day. With the weather forecast to be sunny, warm and dry all weekend, times are expected to tumble as the day wears on.
Team SAS-ANA RX’s Maki Taninawa took the top spot in the first heat of Q1, putting a spectacular pass on Astelli Racing’s Craig March on Lap 2 to take the lead, holding it to the end of the heat without difficulty. Yuki Fujishima continued to show strength after a good outing in France righted Team Kitanishi SPECTER RallyX’s fortunes, finishing in third and showing the potential for a lot more speed in the qualifying heats to come, beating Okul’s Einar Poogen in the process, the Estonian driver having made a very poor start and never fully recovering from it. Pablo Sanchez had a very poor start, the Shromet not looking particularly speedy or healthy at any time in the first heat, a suspicion confirmed as Sanchez wheeled the car straight into the service area right after the race.
Conditions on the starting chute deteriorated for the second heat, the dirt and dust kicked up by the first heat making the starting area very tricky indeed. Tom Powell lucked into a relatively clean slot to start from, but his luck ran out quickly as he damaged his car running hard over the curbs on the first lap, slowing the Seydel-GNG and ultimately relegating Powell to a fourth-place finish, just ahead of Timo Virtanen’s LATOY. In the end, Miguel Gonzalez put his NEMW on the top of the timesheets for the second heat, finishing well clear of NPV’s Mason Olsen in second, and Quentin LeTheou a distant third in the Flamers.
Joey Rogers overcame a poor start to top the timesheets in the third heat, blowing past Marika Kazan’s JHW on the third lap enroute to the American driver’s first heat win of the season. Sylvester Landon came third, well back of the two leaders, the Isami struggling for grip at times on this fast and sweeping circuit. Hometown hero Rudolfs Jansons put the Schwarzburg into fourth place, not entirely happy with the balance of the car, but still well ahead of Alexander Krebs’ Likar and Bandit Borgwarnerson’s Flamarbol.
Maria Ramirez took the top spot for Geschenk in heat number four, finishing well ahead of Eric Meistermann, who battled hard with Team WRT’s Clive Baker in the closing laps of the heat, the Frenchman ultimately prevailing by fifteen one-hundredths of a second. Hsiu-Yinn Lim overcame a poor start and a messy first lap to overtake Merciel’s Alexander John Sierra through the challenging third sector on the final lap, holding on to third place in the heat by a mere thirteen one-hundreths of a second.
Pekka Heikkinen found himself in familiar territory in the final heat, the Finnish driver keen to silence any doubters here in Latvia by finishing at the top of the timesheets for the heat as well as the session itself. Eino Vatanen blew past Hammond Hunter on the final lap after the American lost control of the #10 Deer and Hunt on his joker lap, allowing the Vatanen to zip past and secure second place in the heat. Phornsawan Sirisuk looked a little bit lost in this first heat, the usually quick Thai superstar finding himself well back in third place, just ahead of Kevin Michaels and Robert Field.
Ashlynn Morganstern absolutely dominated the first heat, after an unremarkable first qualifying session, putting the #77 Ars Eligos ARX on the top of the timesheets for the heat, and slotting into a very respectable P9 for the session, fully eight seconds ahead of Declan Slater in second place. Slater had an eventful race in the Antti RX, making up for a mediocre start with four excellent laps to overtake Kevin Michaels for second in the heat. Abula Motors’ Jorg Ambuhl stalled out on the starting line, losing precious time to the rest of the field, and even with four decent laps, was unable to climb out of the hole he dug himself.
Phornsawan Sirisuk rebounded from a very disappointing Q1, topping the charts in the second heat as he scampered away from Bandit Borgwarnerson’s Flamarbol, the SBA Rosales crossing the line nearly five seconds ahead of the New Zealander. Tom Powell started strong, but found himself struggling to run consistently for the rest of the race, having to settle for third place in the end, ahead of Quentin LeTheou and Mach Schnell’s William Cunningham.
The third heat was dominated by Pablo Sanchez, launching hard down the start chute and never looking back, the Shromet seven seconds clear of Hsiu-Yinn Lim’s Armada by the chequered flag. Eino Vatnanen ran a careful and uneventful race to third place, while Alexander John Sierra narrowly avoided catastrophe on the final lap, having run the Merciel Pixi wide and allowing Hammond Hunter behind him to close the gap almost completely. In the end, the Brit prevailed by a tenth of a second, the lighter Merciel able to outaccelerate the bulky pickup truck out of the last few corners. Alexander Krebs race was spoiled on the third lap, the Likar spearing off the track and smashing into the wall hard. While the driver was uninjured, the car was damaged severely and limped its way home for repair.
Yuki Fujishima took the top honours in the fourth heat, finishing well ahead of a thrilling three-way battle for second place between Sylvester Landon, Craig Marc and Eric Meistermann. Meistermann got the jump on the other two at the start, but a messy first lap by Meistermann combined with Landon lapping cleanly and consistently allowed the American to overtake Meistermann while he was on his joker lap, having just completed a bold overtake on Mason Olsen a lap before to slot the Isami right behind the FAAL. Einar Poogen finished fifth behind Olsen, struggling to put together consistent lap times in the Okul, while Clive Baker flubbed his start and never really recovered from his mistake.
Pekka Heikkinen once again topped the timesheets in the fifth heat, finishing well clear of the field both in the heat as well as the session. Miguel Gonzalez dug himself out after a very poor start, overtaking Marika Kazan’s JHW on Lap 2, then proceeding to hold off a series of very bold overtaking maneuvers by the Greek driver in her bid to recapture second place in the heat. Ultimately, Gonzalez prevailed, finishing nearly a third of a second ahead of Kazan. Maria Ramirez struggled for consistency in the heat, but still managed to finish well ahead of Joey Rogers and Maki Taninawa, who held one another up at various times in their attempts to keep the place away from the other driver.
Jaimz Scooby was the best of the field in the first heat of Q3, finishing well ahead of Alexander Krebs’ battle-scarred but otherwise fully functional Likar, the German driver feeling confident enough in his form that he was able to sail past Robert Field for second place with one lap to go. Jorg Ambuhl got spun out by William Cunningham on the first lap, though the Swiss driver got away far luckier than his counterpart, who very badly damaged his car in the ensuing accident, while Ambuhl was able to continue his race without incident after extricating the #42 Abula R4 from the runoff area.
Timo Virtanen was able to run nearly the perfect race in the second heat, topping the sheet and finishing nine seconds ahead of a wild furball involving the rest of the second heat field. Maki Taninawa got the jump on the rest of the field in the #545 Sakura, but squandered the lead after a mistake on Lap 2 caused contact with Rudolfs Jansons, allowing LeTheou, Michaels and Baker ahead of both drivers. Jansons’ car was damaged by the contact somewhat, spoiling his race to a degree, while Taninawa was able to continue without incident, closing the gap to Clive Baker to within two tenths by the finish line.
Alexander John Sierra got away cleanly and ran away with the third heat, finishing six seconds up on Maria Ramirez and Marika Kazan, who swapped places three times in a wild battle on the final lap of the race. In the end, Kazan pulled off the victory after a much faster final sector put allowed her to muscle her way past the Geschenk for second place. Tom Powell fought off a couple of late challenges from Joey Rogers to finish fourth, while Hammond Hunter avoided disaster after running wide on his joker lap to just barely hold out against Eino Vatanen, with only two one-hundreths of a second between the two drivers.
Eric Meistermann was the class of the field in the fourth heat, putting down a time that would not be equaled by any driver for the rest of the session in his FAAL Coupe, a full seven seconds ahead of Bandit Borgwarnerson, who struggled with consistency in his first couple laps, then having to fight off a late charge by Hsiu-Yinn Lim, who looked to be absolutely dialed in for this race against her championship rival. Mason Olsen finished within sight of the Armada ahead, though he was never really able to mount an effective challenge, and Miguel Gonzalez avoided trouble on his joker lap, running wide and losing time to a hard-charging Einar Poogen, but not enough that the Estonian driver would have any real opportunity to overtake in the final few corners.
Pablo Sanchez won a drag race with Pekka Heikkinen going into the first corner, the Shromet driver never looking back as he continued to push his car as hard as he dared to win the final heat of the session. Sylvester Landon found himself stuck behind Heikkinen a couple of times, but a mistake on his joker lap sent the Isami Vireo wide and out of contention for the spot, settling for third place ahead of Phornsawan Sirisuk. Sirisuk emerged from a messy battle with Craig March and Yuki Fujishima victorious, with a solid middle effort in the race bookended by a decent start and a joker lap that was just good enough to stay out of reach of March and Fujishima, the latter looking to spoil the former’s race in the third sector after a minor mistake closed the gap between the two cars to virtually nil.
Robert Field was the top of the sheets in the first heat of Q4, finishing well ahead of his rivals in spite of a couple of mistakes on Laps 2 and 3 cutting his lead considerably. Alexander Krebs finished second in the heat, while Rudolfs Jansons struggled to keep Laurent Faust and Jorg Ambuhl behind him until the final lap, where the Latvian driver pulled away from both easily as they were more concerned about battling each other than challenging the Schwarzburg driver ahead.
Eino Vatanen’s rollercoaster season continued in the second heat, taking the top spot and finishing a dominant twelve seconds ahead of Quentin LeTheou in second place. Maki Taninawa squandered a decent start with a mistake while trying to block LeTheou on the last lap, misjudging her braking point and running wide enough to let the Flamers driver through for the spot. Declan Slater ran an excellent joker lap to overtake both Kevin Michaels and Clive Baker, while Jaimz Scooby found himself struggling with inconsistency to bring up the rear of the second heat.
Marika Kazan continued to show how strong the combination of her and the JHW Lynx can be, putting the #15 car on the top of the pile for the third heat, and also into P3 for the session, a full ten seconds ahead of Maria Ramirez’s Geschenk. Einar Poogen bested Tom Powell with an excellent third lap, sailing past the Seydel-GNG with ease, while a lapse in attention by Ashlynn Morganstern on the last lap allowed Powell to get through and take fourth place away from her. The joker lap confounded Hammond Hunter once again, losing precious time to Joey Rogers, who never looked back after he slotted in ahead of Hunter when the laps rejoined each other.
Hsiu-Yinn Lim made it look easy in the fourth heat, running away with the lead from start to finish. Mason Olsen and Phornsawan Sirisuk engaged in a ferocious battle for second place in the heat, with Sirisuk cutting huge chunk out of Olsen’s lead on the second and third laps, but a tiny mistake on his joker lap saw Sirisuk rejoin the track wheel to wheel with Olsen, who was just barely able to outlast Sirisuk into the finish line, finishing a mere four-thousandths of a second ahead. Craig March struggled to hold off Olsen and Sirisuk all race, but a mistake on the final lap put the Astelli driver out of contention and right into Miguel Gonzalez’s sights. As for mistakes, none could be bigger than that of Hsiu-Yinn Lim’s, who ham-handedly tried to overtake Yuki Fujishima for the lead going into the second sector, only to spin the Kitanishi out and into the barriers, damaging the car heavily and forcing it to the back of the pack. Fortunately, Fujishima had already accumulated enough points to make a semi-final berth, but it spoiled an otherwise excellent first day.
The final heat once again saw Pekka Heikkinen storm out to a decisive victory in both heat and session, finishing ten seconds ahead of a rather lackadasical Bandit Borgwarnerson, who seemed to be more concerned with preserving his machine in a rather defensive race than challenging the Finn for the victory. Eric Meistermann finished third behind Borgwarnerson, not quite able to overtake at any time as the New Zealander cleanly and effectively shut the door each time. Sylvester Landon passed Pablo Sanchez on Lap 3 for fourth place with some ease, while Alexander John Sierra brought up the rear of the field in sixth, good for P9 in the session.
With his strong showing here today, Pekka Heikkinen is sitting pretty as the driver to beat going into tomorrow’s semi-finals and finals, but Eric Meistermann proved that he definitely has the speed to challenge the Finn for race wins. Given the forecast for another day of nearly perfect weather tomorrow, the balance tilts toward Meistermann in a lot of key areas, but at the same time, so too does Sylvester Landon and Pablo Sanchez, who are right up there with the other two in terms of pace. Interestingly, championship rivals Bandit Borgwarnerson and Hsiu-Yinn Lim find themselves well back in seventh and eighth places respectively; could it be that the rest of the field is going to catch up to the leaders, or will one or both of them break through for a strong finish tomorrow?
Particularly interesting that Hsiu-Yinn’s and Borgwarnerson’s fortunes appear to be fairly closely linked this day, and in some senses for the last few rounds as well (given how we appear to be only trading a few points over the course of the entire round). Is this coincidence, or is this an indication that barring severe driver errors, the course fortunes affected us equally?
Well it’s a bit of both really. You’re both very closely matched indeed, factoring in your drivers and whatnot. And yes, it does seem that your cars are affected in largely the same ways by course conditions and whatnot.
When this is over I’d be really interested in your analysis of where and how the various entries work and or don’t work.
Boscc RallyX of Latvia, Day Two - Semi-Finals and Finals
The weather and track conditions remained close to ideal on the second day of the Boscc RallyX of Latvia, and with the grandstands full, the first semi-final race got underway. Pekka Heikkinen exploded off the line with an excellent start, beating the rest of the field into the first corner. The Finn continued to expand his lead for the rest of the race, ending up with a commanding sixteen-second lead ahead of Armada’s Hsiu-Yinn Lim. Pablo Sanchez and Maria Ramirez battled for position into the first corner, virtually neck and neck with one another and holding an advantage over everyone save Heikkinen, but an incident where Ramirez missed her braking point and bumped the Shromet, sending both cars off-track; fortuntately for Sanchez his car was unscathed, but Ramirez’s Geschenk lost a bit of pace from the incident. In the end, Sanchez managed to claw his way back through the pack to finish third, while Ramirez languished in seventh place.
The midfield was especially competitive, with basically nothing between Sanchez in third and Ramirez in seventh place. Mason Olsen in the NPV and Marika Kazan in the JHW Lynx ran excellent races right up to the final lap, where both drivers overdrove into the joker section and went wide, letting pablo Sanchez slip past both drivers, with Kazan also allowing Mason Olsen and Alexander John Sierra slip past into the last final berth. Joey Rogers was in the thick of things right up until Lap 5, where he misjudged a braking point and slammed into the barriers, damaging his car and spoiling the rest of the race for him.
After a rough first day, Kitanishi’s Yuki Fujishima showed up with a point to prove in the second semi-final, and prove it they did, bursting out of the start gate and into the lead right off the bat. Six nearly-perfect laps followed to put the Japanese driver at the top of the timesheets, six seconds ahead of Flamarbol’s Bandit Borgwarnerson. Borgwarnerson started poorly, as it seems he does more often than not, but an excellent first lap saw him claw his way past the rest of the field, overtaking Eric Meistermann’s FAAL just crossing the start/finish line into Lap 2. From there, it was a battle for Borgwarnerson to keep Meistermann behind him, the Frenchman every bit a match for the championship leader. Hot on Meistermann’s tail was Sylvester Landon in the #21 Isami, just half a second behind at the line, showing that the combination of Landon and the Vireo have the pace to keep up with the very best on any given day.
Phornsawan Sirisuk ended his weekend in disappointment, a messy joker lap ultimately costing the Thai driver a slot in the finals. The same could be said for NEMW’s Miguel Gonzalez, who ran wide on Lap 2 while in third place, losing precious time against the leaders and also the rest of the pack, with the Puerto Rican driver slotting in again just behind Craig March’s Astelli and ahead of Einar Poogen. March too made a mistake on his final lap, adding yet another big name to the list of drivers confounded by the joker lap here at Bikerniki National Autodrome, ending up behind both Gonzalez and Poogen at the back of the pack.
Pekka Heikkinen shot off the starting line as though he were fired out of a gun, blowing the opposition out of the water even before the first lap began. His dominant pace only continued through the rest of the race, lapping as though he were in a completely different class to everyone else, putting two seconds a lap on second-place Eric Meistermann, who enjoyed his fourth podium finish of what has been a season of fits and starts for the Frenchman. Sylvester Landon finished in third place, a second and a half back of Meistermann, having snatched fourth place from Hsiu-Yinn Lim on Lap 3 after the Chinese driver took a suboptimal line through one of the unpaved sections and ended up getting upset in the loose, deep gravel. Bandit Borgwarnerson also made an uncharacteristic mistake on his last lap, running wide and losing time to both Landon and Lim, finishing an eighth of a second behind Lim for fifth place.
Alexander John Sierra nearly made it a race with Borgwarnerson on the final lap as well, drag racing his Merciel against the Flamarbol to the line, but missing out by a mere eight one-thousandths of a second. Pablo Sanchez looked a little out of form in the final, the Shromet looking more than a little skittish at times; this difficulty lost Sanchez quite a bit of time, relegating the American to a sixth-place finish ahead of Yuki Fujishima and Mason Olsen.
After a difficult race weekend in France, Pekka Heikkinen came roaring right back into contention, after both Bandit Borgwarnerson and Hsiu-Yinn Lim looked decidedly out of form here in Latvia, taking nearly twenty points out of both of the top two drivers and putting Team Red Cock Energy Liquid right back into the fight, with the deficit between Heikkinen and leader Borgwarnerson now only 36 points. As much as it is still anyone’s race at the top three, it’s even closer further down the field, with Landon, Meistermann and Sanchez leapfrogging Ramirez in the standings, and closing in rapidly on Craig March for fourth place in the standings. As the series heads to America, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen there, especially with the weather forecast to be hot and unsettled at Circuit of the Americas…
“Last event was a bit beep but this event was much better. There are lot of points between me and Borgwanerson but OK maybe we have shot. Maximum attack will be thing for last few races to try to win and get every point as there is no other way. I would like to thank Team Red Cock Energy Liquid for the chance at this - now available both in sugar free and double sugar version for some reason.”
We also reached out to Chad Takagawa regarding the results; his only comment was “Well, the Finn doesn’t really know how to go at less than 10/10ths so we just stopped telling him not to.”
A pointed riposte from Armada:
Lots of points between Pekka and Borgwarnerson perhaps, but very few between Borgwarnerson and Lim.
Don’t write your other rival off before you catch up to them
“Yes, consistency maybe is not great at start of season. On track pace… maybe the leaders should be worried about catching up to me.”
Conke-Cola RallyX of America, Day One - Qualifying
The stands were full here at Circuit of the Americas, for the first-ever top-class rallycross event in the United States. A strong contingent of American drivers and teams helped boost interest in the event, with several of the associated manufacturers making the event into a showcase of their model lineups outside their rallycross efforts.
The first race of the first qualifying session got off to a bang, with Clive Barker of Team WRT and Miguel Gonzalez of NEMW putting in the fastest laps of the entire session enroute to a thrilling one-two finish, not just in the heat, but also in all of Q1 as well; this, in spite of the fact that both drivers got slowed down on the start after Takumi Fujiwara stalled the #92 machine on the start line, causing chaos as drivers scattered to avoid the stopped car. Hsiu-Yinn Lim avoided most of the mess, but found herself behind Isami’s Sylvester Landon, until the Chinese driver put together a spectacularly quick joker lap and slotted in ahead of Landon right at the finish.
Pekka Heikkinen took the top spot in the second heat, though he too was challenged by the field, with both Maria Ramirez and Einar Poogen hot on the Pepperbomb’s tail. Maki Taninawa struggled with her joker lap, running wide and into the barrier, costing her some time but not damaging the Sakura Ronin significantly, while Jorg Ambuhl and Pablo Sanchez both came together on the start, damaging both cars and relegating both cars to the back of the pack.
Joey Rogers finished top of the heap in the third heat, the American driver feeling relaxed and rejuvenated being back in his home country, while just behind him Jaimz Scooby just barely held on to second place over Schwarzburg’s Rudolfs Jansons after a minor mistake on Scooby’s final lap closed the gap between the two drivers almost completely. Championship leader Bandit Borgwarnerson finished well back in fourth place, after a mistake on his first lap sent the car wide and into the runoff areas.
Likar’s Alexander Krebs took the top spot in the fourth heat, after an excellent start and four very consistent laps put the #35 Tixref three seconds clear of second-place Marika Kazan. Kazan had her hands full on the final lap, having had a bit of an off lap on her joker, allowing Yuki Fujishima to within a tenth of a second as the two drivers crossed the finish line.
Hammond Hunter looked in fine form this morning, taking the top spot in the fifth and final heat of Q1, two seconds clear of William Cunningham in second place. Eino Vatanen made things interesting for Tom Powell ahead of him, as the Finn was able to completely close the gap to the Brit ahead of him after Powell struggled with the very technical joker section on the final lap.
Pablo Sanchez came back with a vengeance in the first heat, monstering the field with a simply incredible performance to win the heat easily, nearly seven seconds ahead of Eric Meistermann in second place. ARxT’s Ashlynn Morganstern overcame a poor start to finish third in the heat, four seconds behind Meistermann, and ZMD’s Laurent Faust managed to pip OWR’s Robert Field with an excellent closing lap for fourth place.
The second heat saw Alexander John Sierra recover from his mediocre first-round effort, taking the top spot easily over SBA’s Phornsawan Sirisuk and Astelli’s Craig March, those two drivers virtually neck and neck from the start to the final lap, when March missed a braking point on the joker lap and opened the door to the young Thai to take the position. LATOY’s Timo Virtanen started strong and kept getting better, overtaking KMC’s Kevin Michaels on the third lap, followed shortly by Mason Olsen, then holding both drivers at bay as all three completed their jokers on the final lap.
Bandit Borgwarnerson took the top spot in heat number three, answering a rather mediocre start with three excellent laps to pip Seydel-GNG’s Tom Powell for the top spot in the heat. Marika Kazan finished third, four tenths behind Powell, but was unable to mount an effective challenge at any time during the race, while Quentin LeTheou ran a careful but uneventful race to finish ahead of Maki Taninawa.
Sylvester Landon was best of the rest in heat number four, putting up the second-best time of the session, beating second-place Hsiu-Yinn Lim by four seconds. Einar Poogen cruised to an easy third-place finish, ahead of a bruising scrap between Alexander Krebs, William Cunningham and Rudolfs Jansons, all three drivers trading paint and positions several times, their cars bashed and beat up crossing the finish line.
Pekka Heikkinen made it two for two with his finish in the second heat, cruising to an easy victory over Miguel Gonzalez after Maria Ramirez faltered at the start with a mechanical issue, while also pipping Landon’s time by a full two seconds to finish top of the charts in Q2. Joey Rogers somehow managed to hold off Hammond Hunter and Clive Baker behind him, putting on a clinic in defensive driving to keep both of his aggressive rivals behind him.
Jaimz Scooby took the easy victory in the first heat of Q3, finishing well clear of Declan Slater and the rest of the field. Maria Ramirez still struggled with the suspected gearbox issue that plagued the Geschenk in Q2, finishing a bit closer to the rest of the field, but with two sessions at the back of the pack, a sense of having squandered the race weekend had set in at the Geschenk paddock following this race.
Team WRT’s Clive Baker took the top spot in the second heat, running cleanly and strong as he has all weekend so far, two seconds clear of Maki Taninawa in second place. Rudolfs Jansons and Alexander Krebs followed in third and fourth, while Ashlynn Morganstern finished ahead of William Cunningham, the latter two drivers the latest to be confounded by the dry, dusty conditions at the starting line, making good, clean starts very difficult indeed.
Marika Kazan threw off the shackles in the third heat, beating Eino Vatanen into the first corner for the lead, and never looking back, the Greek driver putting together what was arguably the race of her season so far to finish second in the entire session, seven seconds ahead of Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez managed to squeeze past the Finn on their final lap, after Vatanen made a very rare error to open the door for the NEMW driver. Kevin Michaels ran wide coming out of the last corner of the race, allowing Quentin LeTheou to take the position in a drag race to the finish line.
Tom Powell was best in the fourth heat, running a very strong race to a one and a half second margin over Craig March in second place. Hsiu-Yinn Lim struggled with consistency in this heat, finishing half a second behind March in third place, while Phornsawan Sirisuk blew the doors off Eric Meistermann on the second lap and never looked back, though Meistermann did make himself much more of a threat after a very strong joker lap closed the gap between the two drivers.
Bandit Borgwarnerson was able to break Pekka Heikkinen’s stranglehold on the top spot in the final heat, taking the spot for himself after overtaking virtually the entire field, going from last in the group to first over the span of a lap and a half. Pekka Heikkinen opted to hang back behind Pablo Sanchez and Alexander John Sierra, the Finn cautious to insert himself into the frenzied battle for position ahead and instead taking the safe path to a fourth-place finish, comfortably ahead of both Sylvester Landon and Yuki Fujishima.
In spite of their struggles in the middle two qualifying sessions, Maria Ramirez rallied the Geschenk team before the final qualifying session with a rousing speech, pushing the team to try and finish their weekend on a high note. And finish strong they did, with Ramirez pushing the car as hard as she dared to take the top spot, and setting a time that would only be beat by Pekka Heikkinen in the final heat. Geschenk even sat briefly in a playoff berth, but unfortunately it was just not to be this weekend. Elsewhere in the first heat, Declan Slater was best of the rest, while Robert Field came third ahead of a tough battle between Jorg Ambuhl and Takumi Fujiwara.
Maki Taninawa took the top spot in the second heat, finishing four seconds ahead of Timo Virtanen, who in turn was half a second ahead of Alexander Krebs. Krebs managed to hold both Joey Rogers and Hammond Hunter at bay for the entire race, while Rogers snuck past Hunter for fourth place after the #10 Deer and Hunt wallowed out of the hairpin at the bottom of the course, struggling to get the power down while the Albatross sailed past.
Eino Vatanen blew past Mason Olsen on the final lap to take the lead of the third heat, after an excellent battle between the two drivers all race long. Miguel Gonzalez overcame a very poor start to beat Kevin Michaels for third place in the heat, while Jaimz Scooby cruised to an uneventful fourth-place finish in the heat, ahead of a scrappy battle between Quentin LeTheou and Clive Baker, with LeTheou’s poor start more than offset by a very poor joker lap by Baker.
Sylvester Landon took the top spot in the fourth heat, while Yuki Fujishima snatched second place away from Phornswan Sirisuk in the final two corners of the race after Sirisuk ran wide going into the final corner of the joker section, allowing Fujishima to simply outaccelerate past Sirisuk and into second place. This put the SBA Rosales into the sights of Hsiu-Yinn Lim behind, the Chinese driver having dispatched Eric Meistermann coming out of the hairpin prior.
Pekka Heikkinen once again found himself at the top of the timesheets, with a commanding performance in the final heat. Pablo Sanchez started strong and beat Bandit Borgwarnerson into the first corner, but even a poor joker lap by the Shromet driver wasn’t enough to shake his hold on second place, finishing a third of a second ahead of Borgwarnerson at the line. Alexander John Sierra struggled on the start, and a mistake on his joker lap nearly allowed Tom Powell to pass Sierra’s Merciel right at the line, but Sierra slammed the door shut on Powell, running the Seydel-GNG driver right to the wall on the start-finish straight to hold his position.
Pekka Heikkinen and Team Red Cock Energy Liquid find themselves once again sitting pretty atop the intermediate classification, avoiding much of the difficulty that championship rivals Bandit Borgwarnerson and Hsiu-Yinn Lim encountered in qualifying. With possibly stormy and unstable weather forecast for tomorrow’s semi-finals and finals, will Heikkinen be able to close the gap even further to championship leader Borgwarnerson, or will any of the other teams at the top of the tables have it in them to give Heikkinen a hard time?
Please rain. Please rain. Please rain. Please rain.
I should have gone 10 like everyone else
I, in fact, would prefer the opposite.
Conke-Cola RallyX of America, Day Two - Semi-Finals and Final
The stands were packed again this hot and muggy afternoon at Circuit of the Americas, the stormy, unstable weather forecast steering well clear of the track. Excitement began to build as the cars lined up for the first semi-final race, and with the drop of the flag, Alexander John Sierra shot into the lead going into the first corner, under a considerable amount of pressure from Pekka Heikkinen. Sierra was able to hold Heikkinen off for a couple of corners, but the Finn was just too fast and charged past before the end of the first sector. Heikkinen then continued to pull away from the rest of the pack, finishing nearly ten seconds ahead of Hsiu-Yinn Lim. Lim ran a solid and consistent race, taking advantage of every opportunity afforded to her. Sylvester Landon kept Lim honest all race, but a mistake on his joker lap allowed Lim to slip through into third place, and nearly allowed Astelli’s Craig March through into third place. Alexander John Sierra finished in the last final berth, unable to capitalise on their quality start to the race, but holding off JHW’s Marika Kazan to keep his berth.
Joey Rogers finished well back of Kazan in sixth, having struggled to match the pace of the rest of the field, with Eino Vatanen close behind. Miguel Gonzalez got forced into the barrier on the start, damaging his NEMW Nashoba and relegating the driver to a last-place finish, a moment of bad luck spoiling an otherwise excellent race weekend.
Bandit Borgwarnerson started poorly again, finding himself in fifth place as the field reached the start-finish line, but came roaring back with a tremendous first lap, putting the pass on everyone else and even pulling out a bit of a lead after the lap was over. Pushing ever harder still, the New Zealander finished the race a full eight seconds ahead of Yuki Fujishima in second place. Pablo Sanchez showed a great aptitude for the joker lap here at Circuit of the Americas, consistently putting together excellent jokers all weekend long, and this race was no different, with Sanchez making up a number of positions on his lap. However, it was not enough to get past Fujishima, and the Shromet driver ended up settling for third place. Phornsawan Sirisuk was in fine form in the SBA Rosales, cruising to an easy fourth-place finish and a spot in the final, with Eric Meistermann behind him never really able to challenge effectively.
Einar Poogen finished a second behind Meistermann in sixth place, well ahead of WRT’s Clive Baker, who tangled with Tom Powell in the start chute, damaging both cars. Unfortunately for Powell, he came out worse for wear and had to limp his stricken Seydel-GNG around the track to a last-place finish.
The start lights went out over the grid, and Pablo Sanchez exploded out of the gate, with Sylvester Landon and Pekka Heikkinen hot on his tail. Landon managed to inch ahead of Heikkinen by the first corner, then proceeded to drive the Isami absolutely as flawlessly as possible, putting on a clinic in defensive driving in keeping the Finn behind him. Overtaking Sanchez before the joker section of the first lap, Landon slipped past the Shromet and proceeded to use the slower traffic to cushion his lead. This also had the effect of letting Hsiu-Yinn Lim and Bandit Borgwarnerson to catch right up to Heikkinen as well, which forced the Finn to drive a more defensive style than usual. An aggressive late charge by Lim on the last lap unfortunately wasn’t enough to overcome Borgwarnerson’s advantage, with the Chinese driver finishing a third of a second behind Borgwarnerson in fourth place.
Sanchez came in fifth, struggling somewhat in the dusty conidtions, while Yuki Fujishima made a late but ultimately unsuccessful bid to overtake the Shromet. Craig March struggled to maintain consistent lap times in the final, while Phornsawan Sirisuk did not have the pace to challenge the frontrunners, in spite of an excellent start.
Sylvester Landon took his first win of the season here at Austin, the Isami driver jubilant on the podium as he celebrated in front of his home crowd, and finishing tied with Pekka Heikkinen for the most points on the day, slipped past Craig March for fourth place in the championship standings. At the front of the pack, Bandit Borgwarnerson extended his meager lead over Hsiu-Yinn Lim to seven points, while Heikkinen closed the gap slightly, needing to make up 41 points in the last two races to tie Borgwarnerson. As the ARX Championship heads into its final leg, with a race at the highly technical Estering in Germany, and the very fast and difficult Killarney Raceway in South Africa as the finale, the excitement and the drama is far from over…