BAUMANIS AND KRISTOFFERSSON WINS FERRATUM WORLD RX OF RĪGA
Baumanis triumphs in Rīga, Ošs earns points in Euro RX, and Kristoffersson wins on day two of Ferratum World RX of Rīga
On Sunday, round five of the 2021 FIA World Rallycross Championship, Ferratum World RX of Rīga, was won by Johan Kristoffersson. In the European Championship classification Euro RX1, Latvia was represented by two drivers – Jānis Baumanis and Edijs Ošs. After two days of battles among 19 competitors, Baumanis demonstrated incredible pace, winning the intermediate classification, his semi-final, and getting his first victory in front of his home crowd. Meanwhile, Edijs Ošs completed the event in fifteenth position overall.
After breath taking battles on Saturday, the FIA World Rallycross Championship competitors had to start all over again, as this weekend the Biķernieki circuit hosted a double-header event, with both days taking place in cool, yet sunny and dry weather.
On the very first qualifying heat of the day, two fastest drivers from last season went head to head. Mattias Ekstrom had a better start and managed to get in front of Johan Kristoffersson, maintaining the lead all the way to the finish line. Despite being in the same heat, they set the two fastest times in Q1, while Saturday’s winner Niclas Gronholm lost some pace on the final lap and had to settle for sixth place. Second in the season standings coming into the event, Kevin Hansen lost out in a battle in the first corner and could only set the ninth quickest time.
The Ekstrom and Kristoffersson battle continued in Q2, with Ekstrom again getting the better start and moving into the lead. Ekstrom decided to do the joker section immediately, while Kristoffersson did it on the final lap, with both cars coming out of the final corner nearly side by side. At the end, it was Kristoffersson who came out on top by just 0.1 second, giving him second place in Q2 overall, behind Niclas Gronholm.
Ekstrom had to miss out on another exciting battle in Q3, as his Munnich Motorsport vehicle broke an axle at the start. By beating both Hansen brothers and Kristoffersson, day one winner Niclas Gronholm won not only Q3 but overall classification as well.
In semi-final 1, Gronholm had another great start and maintained his lead all the way to the finish. Timmy Hansen and Timo Scheider joined Gronholm in advancing to the final. Two time DTM champion Scheider had managed to get into second place after the start, but Hansen managed to get by with a different joker lap strategy.
Swedish drivers dominated semi-final 2. While Szabo and Rytkonen had an exciting battle at the rear end of the field, the heat was won by Johan Kristoffersson, who was followed by Mattias Ekstrom and Kevin Hansen.
Once more, the first row in the final was reserved for Kristoffersson and Gronholm, although today there was no contact on the way to the first corner, with Kristoffersson moving into the lead. Even though Niclas Gronholm kept close, he was not able to catch Johan, with the three-time WorldRX champion getting his fourth win here in Biķernieki. Third spot on the podium was earned by current championship leader Timmy Hansen, who was followed by Mattias Ekstrom, Kevin Hansen, and Krisztian Szabo. Szabo was a last minute replacement for Timo Scheider, whose power steering broke on the starting grid.
“We could feel the victory coming for some time now, and today it finally arrived. Even though we did not have the ideal starting position, finally everything came together. I am thrilled about that. The first corner was not as dramatic as yesterday. We made a few setup changes after Q3. It was great that the car can now do what is expected in important moments. The best strategy for the final was not clear, but we had a feeling that the race was won as soon as I got into the lead after the first corner,” says event winner Johan Kristoffersson.
“The atmosphere in Latvia is incredible. This is my fourth win here, and there were more spectators than last year. That is great to see both when driving and during the awards ceremony. You can really feel the presence of fans, they are not just sitting quietly. This also motivates the competitors. To be fast here, both the drivers and engineers have to be intelligent,” adds the three-time champion.
Timmy Hansen remains at the top of the season standings with 130 points. Kevin Hansen is second with 113 points, and is closely followed by both Ferratum World RX of Rīga winners, Kristoffersson having earned 110 points, and Gronholm sitting at 108 points after Latvia.
After Saturday’s qualifying heats, Jānis Baumanis was fifth overall. In Q3, he had an inside position for the start. There was contact with Pailler on the way to the first corner, and he managed to get by Ostreng before the first corner. With that, Baumanis got into the lead and showcased the pace of the ESMotorsport Škoda Fabia on a clear track, winning not just his head, but setting the quickest time in Q3 overall.
Edijs Ošs did not have the same luck. Despite a good reaction time at the start, the lack of power meant that he finished last in his heat, setting the sixteenth fastest time in Q3.
Racing on home soil helped Baumanis get another good result in Q4 – after losing out to Bryntesson in the start, Jānis finished second in the heat, which was good enough to be the overall leader in the Intermediate Classification.
Ošs did not get off to a good start in Q4, dropping behind his competitors. After a mistake by Topolewski, Pleskovas ran into him, and Ošs used this opportunity to get by Pleskovas and earn some valuable points. With that, Ošs was fifteenth overall after qualifying, earning him two points in the FIA European Rallycross Championship standings.
“The start in Q3 was very good, but we felt that there was not enough power on the straight. In Q4, the launch control did not work, however we managed to do our expected lap times, which is good. Of course, this is not enough against such a high level of competition, but we cannot just find 3-4 seconds. We managed to complete out programme and, thanks to a setup change, improved out pace by 2 seconds per lap,” says Edijs Ošs after the event.
“We beat four drivers thanks to the mistakes they made. The atmosphere was great, and it is really fun to compete in front of so many fans. We wanted to fight for a spot in the semi-final, but it is clear that the competitors are at least one second per lap quicker than last year – the level of driving is very high, almost the same as in World RX. If we all raced together, it would not be a walk in the park for the World RX guys, there are some very fast drivers here,” concludes Ošs.
Baumanis perfectly used his pole position in the semi-final to maintain his lead through the first corner. He was followed by Hedstrom, while teammate Bakkerud hit the inside barrier in the second corner and spun, thus losing out on a spot in the final. In the rest of the heat, Baumanis controlled the race and reached the finish in first position, giving him a first row start in the final.
The situation was similar in the final – Baumanis managed to get ahead of the second semi-final winner Pailler, and did not let the French driver spoil this celebration for Latvian fans, who cheered on Jānis each lap he passed by the grandstands, ultimately winning the final. Third place was earned by Hedstrom.
“It has been a while since we have heard the Latvian national anthem on a European or World championship podium. Finally, we have managed to win my home event, I am overjoyed with this result. Thank you to my family, supporters, team, fans, and everyone who supported me by coming here despite the conditions. This is the first victory for our team in Euro RX, which is fantastic,” Jānis Baumanis is clearly enjoying the win.
“On Saturday evening, we made all the necessary setup changes and did not have to do anything more on Sunday. There might have been a few minor details that we could have changed, but overall the setup was near perfect. Competing in front of the Latvian fans definitely gives an additional boost. We will see what happens in round four!” concludes the event winner.
Winning Ferratum World RX of Rīga let Baumanis move up to fourth place in the season standings, with 48 points. Pailler is the current leader with 62 points, having finished second here in Rīga. He is followed by Bakkerud with 60 points and Dubourg with 54 points.