Portugal WRX: Hansen leads Gronholm after Saturday's running
World Rallycross Championship points leader Timmy Hansen set a brace of fastest times on the opening day of round seven at Montalegre in Portugal to head the overnight standings.
The Peugeot 208 campaigner lined up alongside main title rival Johan Kristoffersson for Q1, but as Hansen took the standard line, Kristoffersson dived straight into the extra-route joker lap at the first corner.
With British Rallycross Championship points leader Ollie O’Donovan opting to take the standard route on the opening tour, Kristoffersson had to overtake the Irishman on the uphill loose section towards the end of the lap and lost time, but worse was to come as the EKS JC Audi S1 picked up a front-right puncture later in the race and Kristoffersson dropped down the time order.
GRX SET driver Niclas Gronholm put a difficult weekend at Spa just seven days earlier behind him with a race win and second fastest time in Q2, a race in which he survived side-by-side contact with teammate Krisztian Szabo and Kevin Hansen, the result of which was Szabo spinning on the entry into the first corner.
Szabo was also in the thick of the battle in Q2, he ran deep into turn one allowing O’Donovan to get up the inside at the start of the race while Kristoffersson again took a first lap joker. While Szabo re-passed O’Donovan later on the opening tour, when he took his joker he ultimately lost out to a charging Kristoffersson, who took the second-best time of the session and climbed back to third overall on Saturday evening, behind Timmy Hansen and Gronholm.
Enzo Ide had arguably his strongest day of the season so far, third quickest in Q1, he then set a similar race time in Q2, which resulted with sixth in the session standings and fourth overnight.
Rain fell lightly during the Q2 run, but increased its intensity after the day’s running had concluded but could play a part in proceedings on the final day in Portugal in Sunday.
Following a difficult weekend in the Belgian round at Spa a week earlier, in which he was spun out of the lead of his semi-final race, Dutchman Kevin Abbring withdrew from the Portuguese round in the lead up to the Montalegre event.
The Unkorrupted team received a €10,000 fine from the FIA for being a permanent entry to not take the start, but the squad is expected to return to the season-finale double header at the Nurburgring next month.
Spa victory lifts Kristoffersson into World Rallycross title fight
Portugal WRX: Gronholm claims second win, Hansen extends points lead