Making the switch from his normal mount, the Holden ZB Commodore for Triple Eight Race Engineering in the Australian Supercars series, New Zealand’s Shane van Gisbergen dominated the first round in a new series of virtual FIA World Rallycross Championship events at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to secure victory and take the points lead.
The Australian Supercars star took a clean-sweep of qualifying race wins in the World RX Esports Series where his rivals included drivers from World RX to Formula 1 and GT racing, the event run on DiRT Rally 2.0 in partnership with esports specialist Motorsport Games, and DiRT video game publisher Codemasters.
With the fastest time in every session Van Gisbergen took the TQ (top qualifier) position in the Intermediate Classification. He finished second to Great Britain’s Tom Blomqvist, another guest driver in the series, in an action-packed semi-final one but led the final from lights to flag to lead home reigning FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen for the win.
“That was so much fun racing with all those guys. There were a bunch of my friends from circuit racing but also on our chat we had the Hansen brothers and racing with them, and getting tips when to joker and things like that, was great. We were all pretty fast and had some really cool racing and also having Charles Leclerc racing was really cool. It was so fun to be a part of, I’m getting better and hopefully I can come back for the next races if the schedule allows and have a good time. It’s really awesome to do this racing,” says Van Gisbergen.
Hansen was best of the regular World RX drivers, and was joined on the podium by Norway’s Henrik Krogstad. The Yellow Squad driver hit the wall in the second chicane on lap one of the final and was collected by Blomqvist and Kevin Hansen, then rolled when following Blomqvist through the joker lap on lap one, but recovered to finish third.
GT racer Blomqvist took P4 on his virtual rallycross debut, and Team Hansen’s Kevin Hansen was P5. He was spun by contact at turn one then also lost time when Krogstad spun later on the same lap.
Event winner Van Gisbergen dropped down to fifth on lap one of semi-final one after an action-filled first few corners, which included a second roll of the event for Jamaica’s Fraser McConnell. South Africa’s Kelvin van der Linde finished one place ahead of McConnell in P4. In semi-final two, Kevin Hansen took the win in front of Krogstad, the second place finisher enjoying a race long battle with Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska, racing the GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS RX.
‘Fail Race’ also starred by making the competitive semi-finals and running as high as second. Norway’s Martin Enlund delivered a strong performance standing-in for Great Britain’s Oliver Bennett in the Xite Racing Mini Cooper.
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc was a star guest in the event, and on his rallycross debut he battled in traffic through each of the four qualifiers. He rolled his car in Q3 and continued, and took a race win in wet conditions in Q4, but was P12 in the Intermediate Classification and just missed a place in the semis.
Other drivers to miss out on the semi-finals included Australian Supercars star Scott Pye, Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud, ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider and Esteban Guerrieri and Monster Energy’s Tessa Whittock.
There were also semi-finals and final for the Sim category at Yas Marina Circuit, featuring 10 of world’s best DiRT 2.0 Esports racers. Victory was claimed by France’s Quentin Dall’olmo. Czech Republic’s Lukas Meteja was second and France’s Killian Dall’olmo third.
World RX Esports Series – Yas Marina Circuit, Sunday, 31 May
Relive all the action here
RESULTS – Pro Final
1. Shane van Gisbergen (NZL)
2. Timmy Hansen (SWE)
3. Henrik Krogstad (NOR)
4. Tom Blomqvist (GBR)
5. Kevin Hanssen (SWE)
1. Shane van Gisbergen (NZL) 29
2. Timmy Hansen (SWE) 23
3. Kevin Hanssen (SWE) 23
4. Henrik Krogstad (NOR) 20
5. Rokas Baciuska (LTU) 17
RESULTS – Sim Final
1.Quentin Dall’Olmo (FRA)
2. Lukas Meteja (CZE)
3. Killian Dall’olmo (FRA)
4. Jon Armstrong (GBR)
5. John Harris (GBR)