We’re into the business end of the World Rallycross season now, with just two rounds still to go of what is turning out to be a classic season.
After a relatively tame weekend in Riga last month, World RX’s return to Barcelona wasn’t short on drama – and it resulted in some sizeable shifts in our ongoing assessment of the 2020 field.
Once again, DirtFish’s rallycross editor Dominik Wilde and contributing writer Stephen Brunsdon are here to take you through their top-10 drivers of the 2020 season.
10. Timo Scheider (=)
A car failure at the end of the opening race of Q1 on Saturday meant things got off on the wrong foot for Scheider, but he made a great fightback to make it into the semifinals.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as the Ibiza would on both days. The performance surge from the other brands was possibly a bit too steep to be in the hunt for the finals. – SB
9. Liam Doran (=)
One of these days Liam Doran is going to get to the end of a weekend after having a trouble-free run. Sadly that weekend wasn’t in Barcelona.
Once again, Doran had bags of speed, but was let down by mechanical gremlins with his Mégane R.S. RX.
Doran can definitely take solace in the fact that, like team-mate Andreas Bakkerud, when things are going right, he’s right in the thick of things. He just needs that little bit of luck to get him over the line now – literally. – DW
8. Anton Marklund (re-entry)
GCK’s struggles with the Mégane R.S. RX has meant that Anton Marklund hasn’t featured in our list since his impressive display in the season opener in Sweden.
But with the big Renault making a notable step up in performance in Barcelona following a pre-event testing program, Marklund was not only back in the final for the first time since the very first round of the season, but he was back on the podium.
Marklund is more than good enough to be fighting for wins on a regular basis, now it looks like he’s got the tools once again to do that. – DW
7. Niclas Grönholm (-4)
The Hyundai was not on song last weekend for Grönholm unfortunately, which is a shame because the Finn is arguably one of the fastest drivers in the World RX field. Both he and team-mate Timur Timerzyanov failed to make Sunday’s final, while Grönholm struggled in Saturday’s.
The intentions were good: a wide line into Turn 1, possibly in the hope of others’ contact, didn’t come to anything, while despite being second of those who had jokered, he couldn’t keep pace and spent more time defending from Mattias Ekström and Bakkerud, which ultimately cost him a podium. – SB
6. Robin Larsson (-1)
What else is there to say about Robin Larsson’s weekend? In his own words post-weekend, the Audi driver lamented a forgettable Barcelona meeting in which he suffered a puncture after landing heavily over a jump, the same clutch issues as team-mate Ekström, capped off by an unavoidable collision with a stationary Andreas Bakkerud at the start of Sunday’s final.
The Audi was sluggish off the line most of the weekend but when it was going, it went well. A less than favorable draw for Sunday’s round meant Larsson was in the first race of Q1 needing a good time. He showed great poise to navigate his way through chaos in front to ultimately make it to the semis. – SB
5. Kevin Hansen (+2)
As brother Timmy showcased with his victory and second place, the Peugeot is firmly back in the mix after a difficult start to its 2020 campaign. The Hansens clearly hadn’t lost any of their speed or determination but were left frustrated with a lack of performance relative to the other cars.
But a pre-event test which unlocked new-found pace seemed to do the trick for Team Hansen, and Kevin backed up Timmy’s win with a fine third on Saturday. Such was the competition all weekend, he was unlucky to miss out on the final after finishing fourth in the first semifinal. Nevertheless, a promising weekend on which to build even further. – SB
4. Andreas Bakkerud (+2)
Whatever it was that was missing for RX Cartel so far this season, they’ve found it. Andreas Bakkerud was finally able to remind us all exactly why he’s a championship-caliber driver with strong speed across both days.
A brace of qualifying round victories and a semifinal win were clear high points, the first-corner clash with Johan Kristoffersson in Sunday’s final a clear low, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the popular Norwegian’s spirits. As he put it to me when we spoke on Sunday, “great to be back on pace”, and it’s great to see him properly fighting at the sharp end once again. – DW
3. Mattias Ekström (-1)
Clutch issues hampered Ekström for much of Saturday, which probably robbed the 2016 champion of a decent result.
Despite this and a jump-start in Q1, he still made both finals and bagged points, although Kristoffersson still managed to extend his points lead and then some. It just wasn’t Audi’s weekend as it appeared to slip behind the Volkswagen and Peugeot.
Two rounds to go means that Audi and Ekström need to hit the ground running. The S1 has typically shone in wet conditions this season and Spa-Francorchamps in November may just give the car and driver the boost it needs to keep their title hopes alive. – SB
2. Timmy Hansen (+2)
At long last Timmy Hansen had the tools at his disposal to remind us all just why he won the World RX championship last year.
Timmy’s been decent all season, but the 208’s deficit to Johan Kristoffersson’s Polo and the Audi S1s has let him down on more than one occasion. Plenty of pre-event testing finally brought the car back onto their level.
It was a fine round victory on Saturday, that could have very well been matched on Sunday if he wasn’t slowed by the first corner pileup in the final. If every weekend so far had been as strong as his Barcelona one, we’d be talking of a chance of Timmy Hansen going back-to-back this year. Alas, it’s a little too late for that now. – DW
1. Johan Kristoffersson (=)
If Johan Kristoffersson wasn’t already head and shoulders above the rest of the World RX field, we could have been looking at a slip down the rankings for the two-time champion.
This was an uncharacteristically scrappy weekend for the Swede, but the fact that he still managed to top qualifying on Saturday, and bag a pair of semifinal wins as well as a round win on Sunday shows just how good he is – anyone else would kill for a performance like that.
He might’ve got in one too many scrapes over the two days in Barcelona, and started the Sunday slowly thanks to an unfavorable qualifying draw, but he’s still the top driver in World RX this season, of that there is no doubt. – DW