Inaugural World RX champion could be crowned in Italy
With only three rounds remaining and after a record-breaking Supercar entry and the sport’s closest ever finish in Germany, the FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to Italy this weekend where Norwegian driver Petter Solberg could potentially take the championship title. Cooper Tire Europe is the sole tyre supplier and an Associate Partner of the World Rallycross Championship.
Having claimed his fourth win of the season – and third in succession – in an ultra-close finish with DTM star Mattias Ekstrom in Germany, Solberg heads to Italy now 51 points clear of his nearest rival. If Solberg manages to stretch his lead to 60 points or more this weekend, he will be lifting the trophy this Sunday as champion of the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship.
In the battle for the World RX title, Marklund Motorsport’s Topi Heikkinen is currently second in the championship standings behind Solberg, with Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss in third and his teammate Andreas Bakkerud rounding off the top four. Ford Olsbergs MSE leads a three-horse race in the teams’ championship.
Franciacorta International Circuit will play host to the tenth World RX round of the season. Based in north-west Italy it consists of approximately 60% asphalt and 40% gravel surface, and is well known for its two fast jumps in the gravel section and a fast downhill tarmac straight.
Joining permanent drivers Bakkerud and Nitiss in the Ford Olsbergs MSE squad as a wildcard entry will be former World Rally Championship star Gigi Galli, an Italian known for his spectacular driving style, with Swedish Touring Car Champion Richard Goransson in a fourth Olsbergs MSE prepared car.
Team Peugeot-Hansen will be looking for a strong points haul again following a solid performance in Germany, the highlight of which was an inspired tyre choice in heat four to run on wet tyres in changeable conditions.
Meanwhile and after a two-race absence, former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will be returning to World Rallycross this weekend in the Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 Supercar, driving alongside Team Principal Andy Scott.
Marketing Communications Manager for Cooper Tire Europe, Sarah McRoberts, commented: “We’re very excited about this weekend. With a chance of the drivers’ title potentially being decided here and with only three rounds left to go this race weekend is a pivotal one.
“In addition, this World Rallycross round in Italy will be broadcast live on Mediaset Italia 1, one of the main national TV channels in Italy. With the sport gaining more and more attention across Europe, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of it.”
On-track action in Italy will get underway at 10:00hrs on Saturday (27 September), followed by the first two qualifying heats at 12:30hrs. Sunday (28 September) will resume with morning warm-up at 08:00hrs, ahead of the final two qualifying heats at 09:15hrs, with the semi-finals and final starting from 15:00hrs.