WRX Round #1 – Barcelona, 14-15.04
The 12-round FIA World Rallycross Championship gets underway in Barcelona this weekend, and with it the latest chapter in PEUGEOT’s motorsport history.
Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport Director
« We’re a new team against some very strong and experienced opposition, with a growing level of manufacturer engagement. The first and biggest challenge we face in Barcelona is simply the one of preparing our own team – which has been largely formed from people whose most recent experience is in rally raids – for the very different demands of rallycross. There are plenty of new cars out there also, so the competition is tougher than it’s ever been. This weekend will be mainly a question of learning and training for the team. Then, as the year goes on, we are going to build up experience and improve, with the aim of winning races in the second part of the season.»
Kenneth Hansen, Team PEUGEOT Total Manager
« The feedback from the drivers is good and everyone is feeling positive. You can’t make a revolution over the winter, but you can get better and so we hope to fight. It’s sure that our rivals haven’t been standing still either, so it’s a difficult target and we have to be clever. There have been some big changes thanks to PEUGEOT coming in with some new people, but I see a huge eagerness and hunger from them for this fresh challenge, so Susann and myself are here to help them make this transition. Barcelona is a good track where you can really use the chassis and the engine. The new start section on the track is also a positive move I think, as it should lead to fewer incidents at the first corner.»
Sébastien Loeb #9 (French, born 26/2/74)
« Our shakedown was good, and it was useful for me to get back into the rhythm of driving a rallycross car again, even if in the end it’s quite different from a Dakar car or a World Rally Car, so I never have any big difficulty adapting from one car to another: it’s what I’ve always done. The test is also a good opportunity to try out different settings to see what works best, knowing also that we will consistently be bringing in new developments to the PEUGEOT 208 WRX throughout the year. I’m looking forward to Barcelona; it’s a nice place that I’ve always liked. In rallycross it’s always hard to set an objective in advance anyway, but especially at the first race of the season. So, I’m just going to do my best and see what happens. »
Timmy Hansen, #21 (Swedish, born 21/5/92)
« We are having a proper week-long build-up to the first race in Barcelona with a shakedown in France and then some testing. Obviously, you can’t make any big changes in just a few days, but you can join everything together and iron out any little things that aren’t perfect. The car feels quite familiar to me in a good way, as we’ve kept all the strengths from last year – with a really good balance and feel – but updated it in the areas where we wanted to find a bit more performance. Barcelona has always been a good track for me personally: I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad race there. The surface is high-grip and should suit our car well, but in the end, we have to treat it as a race like any other.” »
Kevin Hansen #71 (Sweden, born 28/5/98)
« I feel really excited to start the season! I tried my factory car during the shakedown we and it felt good. Our recent tests are all about confirming the work that has been done over the winter and making some small adjustments so that we are completely ready for Barcelona. At the beginning of the season I’ll be racing a 2017-specification PEUGEOT 208 WRX but I am confident in the work that the PEUGEOT Sport team is putting in for the future. Barcelona is a track I really love: I have driven there in RX2 as well as Supercars, and it’s where I took my European title in 2016, so I only have good memories. I’m feeling positive: this is a great place for us to start the season and I’m determined to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way. »
WHAT IS RALLYCROSS?
Rallycross was quite literally made for television. The first races were staged for British programme World of Sport at the Lydden Hill circuit in 1967. A European championship was formed during the following decade before the FIA World Rallycross Championship began in 2014. Rallycross consists of short races of 4 to 6 laps over circuits that feature a mix of asphalt and gravel, with events featuring heats, semi-finals and a final.
RACE & RULES
Each 2-day event begins with a lottery that determines the grid for the 1st of the 4 qualifying heats. Each car takes part in 1 race (lasting 4 laps) of each heat, with 3 to 5 cars starting together in a line. Based on the results from the 4 heats (given in points), the top 12 drivers proceed to the semi-finals. These are 2 races of 6 laps, with 6 cars in each. The top 3 cars from each semi-final move go through to the final, which also takes place over 6 laps. Championship points are awarded after the heats and in both the final and semi-finals. In every race, drivers are required to take the ‘joker lap’ once: an extra section of track that usually adds around two to three seconds to a lap time.