Nelson Piquet won the opening session at Lydden Hill after winning the second race. It was a relatively simple race from pole and despite running wide at the devil’s elbow kept clear of the field. Grosset-Janin almost stalled at the start but after passing Perry McCarthy, Abbie Eaton and Dan Rooke, he would go 5th in the standings.
”It’s been so long. I mean 15 years away from racing so yeah kind of coming back to this and coming into rallycross. It’s amazing these cars.”
Kevin and Timmy Hansen won their races and went 2nd and 3rd in the standings respectively. Andrew Jordan tried to challenge Kevin but couldn’t pass and was followed by Tamara Molinaro ahead of rookie Oliver Webb and Reini Sampl who spun off into the gravel on the final lap. In the other race Topi Heikkinen finished 2nd on the road after passing CsuCsu with Ronncy C’Rock and Andreas Steffen bringing up the rear.
“It’s such a different thing to what I’m used to. Everything is different to what we have in a downforce prototype Le Mans car.”
Ronny C’Rock and Topi won their races after passing McCarthy and CsuCsu respectively. Perry would slip back behind Eaton and Steffen with Sampl again last while CsuCsu received a 30 second penalty for cutting across the field at the start. Rooke passed Tamara on track while Webb was ahead of both of them until he spun to last. After CsuCsu’s penalty they finished 2nd through 4th.
Piquet again won the session after Timmy ran wide at the final corner on the first lap. With clear air the Brazilian pulled away. Behind Grosset-Janin almost spun Timmy but the Swede bounced off the wall to finish second. Jordan passed Jerome round the outside of the Devil’s Elbow to finish 3rd.
Kevin Hansen had tried to pass Jerome into the devil’s elbow on the first lap but made heavy contact and got a puncture which slowed him to last.
“I love it. Any chance to drive the car. A lot of people know I’ve been sat out for a while. To get a chance to get back in at this sort of level is a fantastic opportunity and I’m enjoying every minute.”
Kevin Hansen won Q3 after passing Rooke on lap 2. The Brit tried to get back past but spun on the brakes at turn 1 and dropped to last. Ronny came through to 2nd with Tamara 3rd and Eaton 4th. CsuCsu lead his race from start to finish with Webb passing Sampl and Steffen to grab 2nd. McCarthy crashed on the final lap and didn’t qualify for the semi-finals.
“Just imagine for me it’s the World Rallycross experience and for Topi and for Kevin which I could at least follow it is business in years and for that I’m quite happy in total that I’m able to keep it up to be close at least.”
Topi pulled clear of the field and soaked up heavy pressure from Timmy to win. Behind him at the start Jerome cut across the field, spun and was given a penalty for the aggressive behaviour. Piquet came out of turn 1 behind Jordan but Andrew slowed with an engine issue on the final lap. This meant the Brazilian tied with Topi in the standings but after winning two sessions was the winner of qualifying. Timmy was 3rd with Kevin 4th while Steffen and Sampl didn’t make the semi’s.
“When we were battling for the lead up there I thought this is getting really fun then it died. That’s the way it goes.”
Rain fell heavily in the run up to the semi-finals which meant large puddles and some rivers on the circuit. Without even a warm up lap every driver was going in blind.
At the first start Timmy got the hold shot but second place-man Piquet locked up into the Devil’s Elbow and crashed into the tyres bringing out the red flag. Upon seeing the red flag Abbie Eaton hit the wall and meant she couldn’t take the restart either due to damage.
Alone on the front row, Timmy made the best start and with no spray in front of him, he pulled clear. However, on the third lap he locked up and ran into the gravel and let second place close up.
He proceeded to slow down which let Webb close in. The Brit was in 4th on lap 1 but had passed Ronny and Tamara and closed up on Hansen to finish just half a second behind. Ronny would crash off into the gravel to give Molinaro the last spot in the final.
“Literally can’t see anything out there. I think even if we could see out the windscreen this would still be on the edge of whether we should still race or not. I was teetering on the edge of should we do the final or not. Obviously if the Hansen brothers say we’re not racing then I think I should take the experience from them, it’s probably not safe to.”
At the start Topi pulled clear but into the Devil’s Elbow CsuCsu tried to pass Grosset-Janin, spun, stalled and brought out the red flag.
Topi made use of clear air at the restart to win the race and start from pole position for the final. He was the fastest driver every lap and won from Kevin Hansen. Rooke soaked up the pressure from Steffen to nab the last spot in the final while Jerome had to retire with a technical issue.
Topi took the lead into turn 1 and was never challenged. Webb tried to go round Kevin and Timmy to take second but ran wide out of turn 1 and gave the Hansen brothers second and third. Webb tried to pass Kevin for the final spot on the podium but couldn’t find a way by.
After 5 long laps, reduced from 7 due to timetable constraints, Topi became the first repeat winner of Titans RX and extended his championship lead. In their first finals, Rooke finished 5th with Tamara 6th.
In race 1 Steffen took the lead at turn 1 with CsuCsu and Piquet passing Eaton. Jordan stalled at the start and set about overtaking the field. CsuCsu took the lead into the fast sweeping right of turn 4 on lap 2 and pulled away to win.
At the same time Jordan overtook Eaton. On the next lap Jordan dived up the inside of Piquet into the hairpin to take 3rd and passed Steffen into the devil’s elbow with Piquet taking 3rd coming onto the final lap. Jordan couldn’t find a way past CsuCsu and finished just 4 tenths behind the Hungarian.
Again the Hansen brothers won their races after making the best start. Rooke finished second as did Topi in third after passing McCarthy and Ronny. Tamara was overtaken by Webb for 3rd but the Brit was penalised for the move while Sampl finished last and Grosset-Janin retired from his race
“I’m feeling a lot more relaxed today, a lot more comfortable in the car and the package as a whole means you can find the speed when you need it”
Grosset-Janin made the best start and cut across the field to take the lead from poleman, Webb. Behind Eaton, Sampl and McCarthy came together which fired Eaton into the water filled track marker and Sampl spun and tapped the wall on the outside.
Eaton’s wheel rim broke and she limped back to the paddock but Sampl continued to a last place finish. At the Devil’s Elbow Webb ran wide into the gravel but powered out of it to hold position in second. The leader and the only person clear of the incidents, Grosset-Janin then spun on his own at turn 1 gifting Webb the lead. The Frenchman then retired with overheating putting McCarthy in 2nd and Sampl in 3rd.
“I don’t even know if I can make the semi-finals now. I’m just going to go out and try and win this one.”
Andrew Jordan and Ronny were side by side into turn 1 and with the Brit on the inside, Jordan took the lead. Piquet also dived up the inside of Ronny to take second with Tamara 4th and Andreas 5th. Piquet closed on the local driver but was met with a very robust defence from Jordan for the last 3 laps.
The pair were side by side multiple times and also made some contact but the Brazilian couldn’t find a way past and finished 3 tenths behind.
“It’s nice to get a win. Defensive race and good points so that should put us up to the sharp end for Q3.”
Timmy edged clear of the field into turn 1 with Kevin slotting into second. Rooke looked to go round the outside but lost out when CsuCsu dived up his inside and Topi was in last. On the second lap Topi dived up the inside of Dan into the hairpin to take 4th. Out front, the Hansen brothers went side by side into the hairpin 2 laps in a row but held their position each time.
On the final lap Kevin tapped the rear bumper of his brother but couldn’t find a way past and was just 0.141 seconds behind at the line. The pair finished with the 2 fastest times and jumped to first and second in the points standings.
“That’s how you want to fight. Me and Kevin haven’t done it so much cos it’s only now we’re starting to race properly together.”
“It was really good. I think I tried everything I could. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in Timmy’s position because if I had him like that I would have been very nervous.”
In the final session Molinaro made the best start to lead the field with Steffen in 2nd while Eaton made the worst start. At the Devil’s Elbow Reini Sampl dived up the inside of Grosset-Janin but made contact and was pitched off into the wall.
With Jerome held up Abbie made her way to 3rd. Both Eaton and Grosset-Janin passed Steffen within a lap.
The top 3 closed up with the female racers coming very close to touching and on the final lap Abbie made her way past to take the win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to qualify for the semi-finals as she finished 13th in the standings.
“We get some few issues coming one to another. It’s been difficult to go through everything. The thing is that the car feels good. I had good pace driving it. It was difficult to go out with this. I will prepare for Portugal.”
CsuCsu used pole position to hold off C’Rock and Rooke with Webb attempting to go round the outside but instead lost out to McCarthy. Ronny tried to go round the outside of CsuCsu in the hairpin and bottom bend but the pair made contact and Ronny ran wide giving Rooke 2nd. On the next lap into the tight left hander Dan made contact with the Hungarian and forced CsuCsu wide with Ronny also finding a way past.
However, CsuCsu immediately dived back past to retake 2nd with Webb also getting past the German. McCarthy overtook Ronny on the final lap to gain 4th and a spot in the semi-finals.
“I got pushed out once in a big way and a second time in a big way. From the second hit my engine power reduced so I could not keep the pace. Because my previous heats have worked out well enough I think I’m not in a bad position in the semi-finals.”
In the final race Timmy and Kevin went side by side into turn 1 with Timmy taking the lead while Jordan slipped into 3rd closely followed by Topi and Piquet. At the hairpin Piquet went round the outside of Jordan and Topi to take 3rd and looked to dive up the inside of Kevin into bottom bend but backed out. Behind Topi braked late and went round Jordan into the fast right hander. On the next lap Topi dived up the inside of Nelson. Heikkinen, Piquet and Jordan stayed nose to tail the whole race and finished less than a second apart.
“Yeah, we’re starting the semi-final second on the outside of the front row. We’ll see what we can do. Hopefully have a good race and get through to the final is the aim.”
With another session win Timmy topped the standings from his brother Kevin with Topi 3rd and Jordan in 4th. Missing the top 12 were Eaton, Sampl and Grosset-Janin with each one or two failures to finish costing them too many points.
Poleman Timmy Hansen led the field into turn 1 with Topi and Rooke right behind. Webb tried to go round the outside of Rooke but ran wide and had to settle for 5th behind Molinaro with McCarthy in last. Halfway through the race Webb dived up the inside of Tamara into the Devil’s Elbow and gained 4th. Out front Heikkinen put increasing pressure on Timmy until he passed him up the inside into the hairpin. On the final lap Timmy tried to retake first but couldn’t pass round the outside. Behind Rooke, Webb and McCarthy all had technical issues which let Tamara through to the final with McCarthy on 4th, Webb 5th and Dan retired.
“I think it was lap 5 the car went into limp mode as I came across the start finish and that was my race over. The oil temperature got too hot and the management system makes you go into limp mode”
“Well we had power steering failure in the semi-finals so the car became almost impossible to turn the steering wheel. 15 years outside a car on a race track. So it’s been great to say, hey I can still do this.”
Kevin Hansen copied his brother to take the lead with Jordan holding on round the outside of Piquet to keep 2nd. Behind, CsuCsu spun which slowed Ronny and Steffen. Piquet went side by side with Jordan for half a lap but couldn’t find a way past. On lap 4 the Brazilian’s rear suspension broke and he retired from the semi-final again. This released the pressure from Jordan and gave C’Rock the last spot in the final.
From pole, Kevin took the lead with his brother and Jordan following him up the inside of Topi to take 2nd and 3rd. Ronny clipped the inside of turn 1 and jumped in the air but stayed ahead of Tamara.
Into the left hander Topi pushed Andrew and found a gap. Jordan tried to repass the Fin with some contact but had to settle for 4th. Ronny tried to pressure Andrew into a mistake but couldn’t pass. Kevin started to pull a gap as Timmy fell back towards Topi. On the final lap Heikkinen dived past Timmy into turn 1 as the pair made contact. Coming out of the Devil’s Elbow Topi slowed which held up Timmy a bit and Jordan hit the rear of Timmy.
With the extra speed up the hill Timmy went took the outside line and cut back on Topi coming down to the final sequence of corners. With the inside Timmy pushed Heikkinen wide allowing Jordan to slot into third just before the final chicane with Ronny right behind and 2nd through 5th covered by a second. Tamara brought up the rear.
“I had a really good launch. And seeing Timmy behind he had some small technical problems and I thought okay I can build the gap. So enjoyable to grab the win here at Lydden where it all started for me.”
“At the end I thought I at least need to attack him soon because I had some alarm on my dash that said the car getting too warm to follow so I need to make some move to stay in the front. But it was a bit late. I was losing so much power at the end that I couldn’t keep him behind and lost it at the end.”
Kevin became the third ever winner of Titans RX and with it took the championship lead by 1 point over Toomas Heikkinen with Timmy a further point back. In 2 weeks the championship heads to Montalegre in Portugal for the 5th and 6th rounds of the championship where Alexander Wurz and Tom Coronel will make their series debut.
“We take it each round. So much can change especially in this championship.”
Word & Photos By Callum House – Xlerate