Yet another new name has clawed its way to top of the FIA World Rallycross Championship’s Esports Series with France’s Jonathan Pailler scoring a debut win in round three of the at Holjes-Sweden as Timmy Hansen moved into the points lead.
Pailler, the European Rallycross Championship driver, joined the World RX Esports event run on DiRT Rally 2.0 in partnership with Esports specialist Motorsport Games, and DiRT video game publisher Codemasters, for the first time in the Swedish round and delivered fast pace throughout qualifying.
Missing from this round due to ‘real’ racing commitments in Australia was Shane van Gisjbergen.
He qualified for the final by finishing P3 in semi-final one, then stayed out of trouble in a rain-hit, action-packed final with a lap one joker lap to claim victory in a Peugeot 208 WRX.
Three different drivers took a fastest time in qualifying; Norway’s Sivert Svardal, Sweden’s Timmy Hansen and Great Britain’s Tom Blomqvist, round two winner Blomqvist fastest in Q3 and Q4 to take the TQ (top qualifier) position for the semi-finals. By taking the TQ, Blomqvist also moved into the series points lead, and he won semi-final one from pole position to take pole for the final.
The endurance racing star made a great start from pole position in the final, but he clipped the infamous turn one kerb at the Holjes circuit, which forced his Peugeot 208 into the path of brothers Timmy and Kevin Hansen, and Svardal, all four cars going off the circuit. Pailler, starting from P5 on the grid, was able to dive into the joker while Timmy Hansen took the lead.
Pailler climbed to P2 when Svardal took his joker on lap three, then into the lead when Timmy Hansen took his joker on lap four. Hansen dropped back into the chasing pack, battling with Svardal, Kevin Hansen and Blomqvist for the final two laps, with positions changing at every corner. Blomqvist finished P2 with Timmy Hansen P3, Kevin Hansen P4 and Svardal P5.
“This first World RX Esports race was a big learning curve for me to learn about the car characteristics, compared to what Fabien and I usually race online. I started driving on Thursday evening with the Dall’olmo brothers and it really wasn’t easy but lap after lap I managed to get closer to their times,” says Pailler.
“When I saw the Hansen brothers’ and Blomqvist’s lap times I really wasn’t confident, but the two first qualifiers went really well with a clean track. In Q4 I managed to stay with Timmy and get into his rhythm. With nothing to lose in the final I managed an undercut in turn one to take the joker and come out third. I then realised that in the wet I could keep up with them and go faster. I focused on driving clean and making no mistakes and it paid off. I really didn’t expect to win but it’s a great surprise, especially given the level.”
FIA World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon, from New Zealand, returned for his second World RX Esports series round and made the semi-finals but fell just short of a place in the final, driving an Audi S1. He finished ahead of Fabien Pailler, from France and Norway’s Henrik Krogstad in semi-final two. In semi-final one, Failrace (Audi S1) was unable to capitalise on a strong start after contact from Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska. The GCK Renault Megane driver was later handed a five second penalty for the incident.
Russia’s Matvey Furahzkin (Peugeot 208), Great Britain’s Max Coates (BMW Mini) and Monster Energy’s Tessa Whittock missed out on a place in the semis.
There were also semi-finals and a final for the Sim category at Holjes-Sweden, with France’s Killian Dall’olmo delivering a strong fight-back performance in the wet final to climb through the field after a slow start and claim his second victory in a row, in front of his older brother Quentin Dall’olmo and Great Britain’s John Harris.
The final round of the World RX Esports series will be at Cape Town-South Africa on Sunday 12 July.
World RX Esports Series Round 3
RESULTS – Pro Final
1. Jonathan Pailler (FRA)
2. Tom Blomqvist (GBR)
3. Timmy Hansen (SWE)
4. Kevin Hansen (SWE)
5. Sivert Svardal (NOR)
1. Timmy Hansen (SWE) 73
2. Tom Blomqvist (GBR) 67
3. Kevin Hanssen (SWE) 61
4. Shane van Gisbergen (NZL) 55
5. Henrik Krogstad (NOR) 52
RESULTS – Sim Final
1. Killian Dall’olmo (FRA)
2. Quentin Dall’Olmo (FRA)
3. John Harris (GBR)
4. Daniel Johansson (SWE)
5. Lukas Meteja (CZE)
1. Killian Dall’olmo (FRA) 37
2. Quentin Dall’olmo (FRA) 36
3. Lukas Mateja (CZE) 25
4. John Harris (GBR) 23
5. Daniel Johansson (SWE) 11