1st July, Holjes, Sweden
Round 6 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship saw 51,600 excited fans gather for one of the most anticipated rounds of the Rallycross season in Holjes, Sweden, to watch 17 supercars battle it out on a rollercoaster ride of a track that offers great viewing to fans and a technical challenge to drivers; big kerbs are a prominent feature that assist those who use them well and bite those, who don’t.
The fans weren’t to be disappointed, as this weekend in Sweden was filled with some of the most nail-bitingly exciting and explosive racing of the season so far, seeing some of the most experienced drivers finish the weekend early after strong contact with other drivers or the unforgiving track.
GC-Kompetition faced an emotional weekend of highs and lows that culminated in GCK driver Jérôme Grosset-Janin racing the GCK Mégane R.S. RX to his first and the team’s second final of the season, where he finished in 3rd.
Friday’s practice saw both GCK boys finish practice as the fastest privateer team, despite some technical issues on Jérôme’s car. With the mechanics working through the night to get both Mégane RS RX fit for Saturday, Guerlain started Q1 in the first race of the day on a fresh track, sandwiched in the middle in a three-man race. Coming off the start line at the back of the pack, he worked his way up to P2 and laid down a very strong race, finishing in P13 overall despite a broken driveshaft. A similar start for Jérôme saw him make a strategic decision to immediately take the joker lap. He finished race 3 in P3, and P11 overall.
Q2 saw both GCK drivers go head to head in the second race, with Jérôme on pole and Guerlain between Kevin Eriksson and Timo Scheider. After good starts for all of them, Guerlain found himself sandwiched between Eriksson and Scheider in a fight to get ahead, whilst Jérôme managed to steer clear of the commotion to take the lead. Whilst Guerlain’s trajectory following the contact shot him into the gravel resulting in a slow puncture, he took his joker lap in his second lap, fighting his way back into P3. Jérôme managed to race ahead keeping enough space between himself and the others to be able to take his joker lap in the last lap without any takeover, finishing the race in P1 whilst Guerlain held on to his spot and finished in P3.
With the team working hard overnight again to fix the mechanical issues that reared their heads following Saturday’s tumultuous racing, Sunday saw both GCK drivers geared up to fight for semi-final spots as the sun beat down on thousands of roaring fans.
Guerlain started in pole position of the first race of Q3 lining up against Grégoire Demoustier and Timo Scheider. After a strong start, he placed himself well in front of his opponents for a clean race on the fresh, thus sticky, morning track, finishing in P12 overall.
Race 3 of Q3 saw Jérôme line up against Sebastien Loeb, Kevin Hansen, Timur Timerzyanov and Janis Baumanis. Coming off the start line on the outside, he cut behind to take his joker lap thinking he’d have a clean run but found himself being blocked by Loeb’s spinning car after Loeb’s contact with Timur in turn 1. Jerome emerged out of the dust in front of Loeb and Kevin, but after a takeover by Hansen found himself in P4 and P13 overall following Q3.
Q4 saw both GCK drivers line up at the start line together again with Guerlain and Jérôme positioned on the outside of this three-man race with Niclas Grönholm in pole position. Following a strong start, Guerlain fought Grönholm into turn 1 and decided to take the joker to create space between them, leaving Jérôme to battle it out with Grönholm until his joker in the last lap. Unfortunately, another broken driveshaft saw Guerlain fall back, finishing in P3 and thus missing out on a semi-final spot whilst Jérôme managed to grab a strong P2, qualifying him for the semi-finals.
Semi-final 2 saw Jerome line up in sixth position on the inside next to Larsson. He immediately followed Timerzyanov into the joker lap, leaving Solberg, Hansen and Bakkerud to race ahead. The following laps saw Jerome battle it out with Timerzyanov until he successfully managed to take over, finishing in P3 and securing his first spot in the final this season.
Heading out to the final as the only private team against the factory teams, Jérôme lined up on the outside next to Ekström, from where he put down a strong start, heading straight for the joker lap. A mechanical issue for Kevin Hansen saw Jérôme move up to P5 and whilst repeated contact between Ekström and Timmy Hansen resulted in Timmy being pushed off the track, Jérôme drove cleanly to finish the race in P4 behind Ekström, who was hit with a time penalty, earning Jérôme the team’s first ever podium spot with a 3rd place.
Guerlain Chicherit, commented: «It was a bit of a frustrating weekend for me as a driver; I was quite unlucky a few times and the Mégane didn’t like the unforgiving Swedish track as much as I did, so we had some mechanical issues. As a result, I didn’t make it to the semi-finals this time but instead was able to cheer on Jérôme as he raced to his first final this season and ended up earning GCK’s first podium position in 3rd overall, which was really awesome to see and a proud moment for GCK in its first season. This track is absolutely incredible and we saw some super aggressive racing this weekend with a lot of the drivers experiencing the highs and lows we did. We’ve now got one month to really focus on Canada and prepare as best as we can to make it to another final.»
Jérôme Grosser-Janin, added: «I am so happy the weekend ended this way. Of course, I never imagined my first podium happening this way, but we were able to take advantage of all the opportunities that were presented to us today. It is the work of the entire team, and so many people, that has finally paid off. We can’t forget that only 3 months ago rallycross was a world totally unknown to GCK and Prodrive. Now, we just have to keep up our good work and continue to progress .»