Sébastien Loeb takes the first factory win for Peugeot at the World RX of Belgium after an eventful second day in Mettet.
Loeb took his first win in the FIA World Rallycross Championship since Latvia in 2016 in what was an eventful race that he led from start to finish. Loeb made a good start from P2 on the grid to get in front of pole sitter Johan Kristoffersson.
Kristoffersson was squeezed into the wall that was on his inside by PSRX Volkswagen Sweden teammate, Petter Solberg, and took turn one on two wheels leaning on Solberg. Timmy Hansen made the most of this contact and moved up into second place from last on the grid, whilst Andreas Bakkerud was forced wide and hits the wall sideways on in turn one.
Solberg was the only one to take his joker lap on the first lap, dropping him down the order, he went onto set the two of the fastest laps putting him in a good position when those in front came to take their joker laps.
The two EKS Audi Sports of Bakkerud and Mattias Ekstrӧm had been running at the back of the order despite the fact that Ekstrӧm was the top qualifier going into the semi-finals, topping two of the weekends qualifying sessions. Ekstrӧm was having the better race of the two and was leading after the two Team Peugeot Total drivers took their joker laps. Setting the fastest laps once he was out in front wasn’t enough to keep him there once he took his own joker on the last lap of the race.
Despite a couple of mistakes in the race, Loeb went on to take the win ahead of Solberg who split the two Peugeots. Hansen held onto third from Ekstrӧm who came out from the joker just in front of Kristoffersson with Bakkerud finishing at the back.
The semi-finals were run on a drying track after the wet and greasy conditions of Q3 and Q4 with all drivers opting to run the slick tyres instead of wets. Both of these semi-finals set the tone for the final with hard-fought races.
Missing out on the final from the first of the semi-finals were Niclas Grӧnholm, Kevin Hansen and Robin Larsson. Larsson was running in a semi-final position when he hit the wall which threw him across the track into the tyre wall where he picked up too much damage to complete the race. The other two drivers weren’t able to make up the spaces on the grid and battled hard between the two of them.
In the second semi-final we lost Janis Baumanis, Guerlain Chicherit and Timur Timerzyanov in what could be argued as the race of the day after Timmy Hansen was spun out at the start and passed all three to secure his place in the final.
Just missing out of the semi-finals was the local man, François Duval who finished the qualifying in thirteenth place.
Jérôme Grosset-Janin’s weekend ended on his roof in Q4 after getting caught up on the start with Ekstrӧm. Grégoire Demoustier ended the weekend in fifteenth position. Kevin Eriksson didn’t take part in Q3 and Q4 after mechanical problems in the morning’s warm-up session ended his weekend.
Kristoffersson continues to lead the championship points ahead of Loeb and Solberg going into round 4 of the championship to be held at Silverstone for the first time on 26-27 May.