; WRX descends on Killarney – The Citizen

WRX descends on Killarney

Champion Johan Kristoffersson will be favourite in his Volkswagen.

For Western Cape enthusiasts, the highlight of 2019 will arrive at Killarney this weekend, with the venue’s WRX circuit hosting the final round of this year’s World Rallycross Championship.

Last year, the event drew a crowd of some 27 000 people over the three days, and that should again be the case.

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The awesome, violent, crazy spectacle of top international drivers in 400kW all-wheel drive cars thumping one another at speeds of up to 180km/h met with the South African fans’ full approval the last time out, and the show should be the same.

Here is roughly what spectators can expect at Killarney. Having successfully defended his World Rallycross Championship title this season, Volkswagen driver Johan Kristoffersson must start as the outright favourite for victory this weekend.

The 29-year-old Swede will lead a stellar field of 18 superstars in the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa, where a four-way fight for championship runner-up honours will play out in front of the fans.

With 10 victories from 11 events, Kristofferson will be hard to beat.

He will be supported by PSRX VW Sweden Polo R team owner, World Rally and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, fourth on the points ladder in an identical VW.

Former Rallycross and double DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom and his young Red Bull Audi S1 team-mate Andreas Bakkerud are second and third in the title standings.

The pair have been regular podium finishers, claiming second place in the team’s championship, and would like to close out Audi’s involvement as a factory team with a victory.

Team Peugeot Total’s Sebastian Loeb, the most successful rally driver in history with nine WRC titles to his name, has a mathematical chance of snatching second in the overall standings, after an up-and-down season.

He won the Belgian round, the only driver to beat Kristoffersson this year. Fellow Team Peugeot Total drivers, brothers Kevin and Timmy Hansen, hope to take their 208 WRX to a podium in what is also Peugeot’s final outing as a factory team.

Niclas Gronholm, the 21-yearold son of two-time WRC Champion Marcus, heads up GRX Taneco’s challenge with a pair of Hyundai i20 entries The second Hyundai will be driven by Russian Timur Timerzyanov, a double European Rallycross champion. The Hyundai has regularly qualified for the semifinals and finals in their first year of competition.

Frenchman Geurlain Chicherit will head up a two car team of Renault Megane RS entries, built by renowned engineering firm Prodrive. Chicherit will be joined by Anton Marklund, who won the European RX title in 2017 before stepping into the Renault this season.

Privateer entries include a pair of Ford Fiestas for Swede Kevin Ericson and Robin Larsson racing under the Olsbergs MSE banner, Latvian Janis Baumanis behind the wheel of another Ford Fiesta, Brit Oliver Bennet (Mini), double-DTM champion Timo Scheider (Seat Ibiza) and Rene Munnich (Ford Fiesta).

There will be four qualifying sessions, two each on Saturday and Sunday, with the fastest 12 cars going through to two, six lap semifinal races. The top three from each semi meet up for Sunday’s final race over six laps.

The Gumtree Rallycross of SA will also offer support races for RX2 cars, with South African Ashley Haigh Smith in one of the 240 kW cars.

Also in action will be SA rally cars, plus aerial displays by the Silver Falcons and WRX driver autograph sessions on both days.

The Killarney gates will open at 7am on both Saturday and Sunday.

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