World Rallycross champion crowned after controvertial Cape Town race
CAPE TOWN - Motorsport fans were treated to a spectacular Sabat World Rallycross finale at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday, where Timmy Hansen won the 2019 championship after a count-back of wins over Andreas Bakkerud.
The two ended on even points with Bakkerud second in the race behind winner Niclas Grönholm and Hansen in fourth behind Timur Timerzianov after 60 races in ten countries on four continents through 2019.
Swede Timmy Hansen (Peugeot) arrived in Cape Town just a single world championship point clear of Norwegian title rival Bakkerud (Audi) and younger Hansen brother and teammate Kevin another five points back in third and Saturday and Sunday’s qualifying heats did little to shake things up.
The mightily determined Finn Niclas Grönholm (Hyundai) was in scintillating form as he pipped Timmy, Bakkerud and Kevin Hansen to second third and fourth in the points paying qualifying heats. That meant Timmy Hansen’s world championship advantage was up to two points over Bakkerud with Kevin Hansen a further six points behind as the top twelve lined up in two six-car Semi Finals with championship points also set to be awarded both races.
Grönholm faced off against Bakkerud and Russian Timur Timerzianov in the second Hyundai, with Latvian Janis Baumanis (Ford), Hungarian Kriztián Szabo (Audi) and Swede Anton Marklund (Renault) behind them in the First Semi Final, but Bakkerud made a perfect start and made off to win, in spite of intense pressure from Hyundai teammates Grönholm and Timerzianov.
The second Semi Final saw the Hansen brothers safely on the front row ahead of German Timo Scheider (Seat), Renault duo, Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and Belgian Guillame de Ridder, and Brit Oliver Bennett (Mini) as Timmy made off to the win with Kevin on guard and Scheider third.
All of which meant Timmy Hansen was leading the championship by just two points, with just the final left to race and eight points on the table. Hansen started the final from pole position from Bakkerud, Grönholm, Kevin Hansen, Timerzianov and Scheider as the top six lined up two-by-two to decide the world championship over six scintillating laps in sweltering heat to the backdrop of Table Mountain.
Bakkerud made a perfect start to lead from a combative Timmy Hansen, but the three world championship contenders became embroiled in a controversial incident, when Timmy Hansen made a move on Bakkerud and the two tangled and went off as Kevin Hansen also went off in avoidance at the bottom hairpin.
The upshot was that Grönholm led the way from the recovered Bakkerud, Timerzianov and the similarly recovered Timmy Hansen, who had made quick work of a struggling Scheider to take a vital fourth place. Kevin Hansen then had a second spectacular incident at the same corner where he, his brother and Bakkerud had collided on the opening lap, as Grönholm led a disgruntled Bakkerud, Timerzianov and a limping Kevin Hansen home after Scheider ground to a halt.
“It sounds fantastic - almost unreal that you call me world champion,” Timmy Hansen responded to a question on his taking the title. "I am super happy for the sport - the last race with everything on the line was nerve wracking, but I kept focussing and delivered a strong performance race by race through the weekend - there was no room for error - not the smallest mistake.
“I know Andreas is upset,” Hansen referred to the final race incident. "I went for the inside, it was a hard move and it still needs to be investigated.
"But this season is the best in my career with four race wins and now the title - it's a dream come true and I am so happy for the team - we are first and third in the drivers title with Kevin and me and we are makers champions too - the car has been brilliant every race. “I still can’t yet take it in!”
“I am proud of myself - I won the battle today - the best reaction at the start to lead away,” Andreas Bakkerud admitted. “But unfortunately I will not comment more after what happened and I just want to say huge thanks to my team and our sponsor and to everyone else - especially Cape Town - it was fantastic as always - Thank you South Africa. “For the rest, right now I don’t really care."
So Timmy Hansen - barring any protests - has won the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship in most controversial fashion over Andreas Bakkerud, Kevin Hansen and Grönholm at Cape Town's spectacular SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa.
In other Sabat World Rallycross action, Swede Oliver Eriksson delivered a dominant RX2 victory over Jamaican Fraser McConnell and Sami-Matti Trogen, to wrap up that title over Ben-Philip Gundersen, who pipped Jesse Kallio to the title second, while Zak Groenewald took local BMW E36 Cup Honours, Shaun Cope won the Front Wheel Drive class in his VW Golf and rally lass Megan Verlaque took Speedcar buggy honours to wrap up a truly stunning weekend.