As the only driver to have beaten New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen at Yas Marina, Britain’s Tom Blomqvist still came in as the dark horse for the final of round two of FIA World Rallycross Championship’s Esports Series at Hell-Norway.
Expecting a robust encounter for the title between Van Gisbergen and pole-sitter Timmy Hansen, the final saw Van Gisbergen take the Joker on Lap 1 with Hansen trying to cover by taking his on Lap 2 – and Blomqvist outsmarting both of them, capitalising when it mattered to claim victory in the event run on DiRT Rally 2.0 in partnership with esports specialist Motorsport Games, and DiRT video game publisher Codemasters.
Reigning FIA World RX Drivers’ Champion Timmy Hansen was quickest in Q1 and Q2, but dry track conditions turned to rain for Q3 and Q4, where Van Gisbergen was quickest in both remaining sessions.
Hansen took the TQ (top qualifier) position in the Intermediate Classification and pole position for semi-final one, which he won to secure pole for the final. Van Gisbergen won semi-final two, to join Hansen on the inside of the grid for the final, but P3 on the grid was Blomqvist, who had finished in P5 in semi-final one but was moved to P2 when Team Hansen’s Kevin Hansen, Olsbergs MSE’s Martin Enlund and Norway’s Sivert Svardal were all given five second penalties for contact.
Van Gisbergen took his joker on lap one of the final before Hansen then tried to cover him off by taking his joker on lap two from the lead, but Australian V8 star Van Gisbergen overtook Sweden’s Hansen into the second turn and gained track position. Hansen’s joker allowed Blomqvist into the lead.
Hansen spent the rest of the race battling with Yellow Squad’s Henrik Krogstad and Tedak Racing’s Marius Bermingrud, both from Norway, and finished P3. Even though he made a mistake in the joker on lap six, Blomqvist held on to take his maiden World RX Esports win. The result moved him to third in the standings behind points’ leader Van Gisbergen and Timmy Hansen.
“I was struggling in the wet to be honest. I’ve been practicing and I knew I had really good pace in the dry, so when I got a decent position at the start of the final and Timmy went for the joker straight away, I knew if I got some clean air and just pumped out some good laps I should be in with a shot. I knew Shane was going to be strong, but I did a few of the fastest laps I’ve done and it all came together. I nearly messed up the joker lap, but other than that it worked out well. The guys put on a great event and it’s really cool to be a part of,” said Blomqvist who was competing from New Zealand.
Krogstad finished P4 in the final and is P4 in the standings, and Bermingrud was P5 in Hell-Norway. Russia’s Matvey Furahzkin and Britain’s Fail Race had a coming together in the joker on lap one of semi-final two and didn’t progress.
Australian Supercars star Scott Pye was the first of the drivers to miss out on a place in the semi-finals, P11 at the Intermediate Classification, just one qualifying point behind Furahzkin.
Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska represented the GC Kompetition team and was P12 after some hard-fought races in the qualifying stages. New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon, the FIA World Rally Championship event winner, also had a difficult series of qualifying races and ended up P13.
Turkey’s Orhan Avcioglu, South Africa’s Kelvin Van Der Linde, Sweden’s Niklas Aneklev and Italy’s Tamara Molinaro completed the list of finishers after Q4.
There were also semi-finals and final for the Sim category at Hell-Norway, featuring 10 of world’s best DiRT 2.0 Esports racers. France’s Killian Dall’olmo claimed victory for the SET Esports team, in front of round one winner Quentin Dall’olmo and Great Britain’s John Harris.
Round three of the World RX Esports series will be at Holjes-Sweden on Sunday 28 June.
World RX Esports Series Round 2 – Hell-Norway
RESULTS – Pro Final
1. Tom Blomqvist (GBR)
2. Shane Van Gisbergen (NZL)
3. Timmy Hansen (SWE)
4. Henrik Krogstad (NOR)
5. Marius Bermingrud (NOR)
1. Shane Van Gisbergen (NZL) 55
2. Timmy Hansen (SWE) 49
3. Tom Blomqvist (GBR) 40
4. Henrik Krogstad (NOR) 39
5. Kevin Hanssen (SWE) 39
RESULTS – Sim Final
1. Killian Dall’olmo (FRA)
2. Quentin Dall’Olmo (FRA)
3. John Harris (GBR)
4. Lukas Meteja (CZE)
5. Tommi Hallman (FIN)
1. Quentin Dll’olmo (FRA) 25
2. Killian Dall’olmo (FRA) 23
3. Lukas Mateja (CZE) 18
4. Daniel Johansson (SWE) 15
5. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 8