|What||SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa Day 1 Report|
|Where||Killarney International Raceway, Cape Town|
|When||Saturday 9 November 2019|
World RX qualifying underway at Killarney
Cape Town’s sensational SABAT Rallycross of South Africa delivered on its expected great promise when Saturday’s qualifying heats not only thrilled the crowd at a sizzling Killarney International Raceway, but they served to prepare to tighten up what is already an ultra close title fight.
With two of the four qualifying heats completed Saturday afternoon, it’s Finn Niclas Gronholm and his Hyundai who tops the chase for qualifying points with a quickest and a third quickest time of the day, ahead of championship leader, Swede Timmy Hansen (Peugeot) looking good to tighten his tiny title single point advantage. Hansen proved quickest in the first round of qualifiers before Grönholm took the fastest time in the second run.
Hansen only being ninth quickest in the second heat while Grönholm was third, made for the points difference at the half-way qualifying mark, but Timmy’s championship rivals, brother and teammate Kevin Hansen and Norseman Andreas Bakkerud (Audi), sit fifth and sixth halfway through the qualifying phase, behind Finnish Ford driver Timur Timerzianov and German Timo Scheider (Seat), but it would be remiss to predict a qualifying winner at this point as quite literally, anything can happen.
Provisionally, Grönholm won both his qualifying heats, from Swede Anton Marklund (Renault) and Latvian Janis Baumanis (Ford) in the first and significantly, from Timmy and Kevin Hansen and Bakkerud in the second heat, while Timmy Hansen won his first heat from brother Kevin and Bakkerud took his first heat from Finn Jerre Kalioloski (Ford). For the rest, Timerzianov took his first heat win over Hungarian Kriztián Szabo (Audi), before Timerzianov made it a double in his second race over Scheider and Baumanis won his second race from Kalioloski.
“It’s a pity not to be part of the championship chase, because we are showing our real pace today,” Niclas Grönholm confessed. “We have shown that we have real pace to be with them — it would have been so cool to be fighting with them, now we are looking good for a great result this weekend."
“It’s the hardest thing with all this pressure,” Timmy Hansen admitted. “I am taking it race by race — we are two down and we have had a good run so far with good starts and keeping out of trouble, which I need to keep on doing."
“I have run back from the stewards,” Timur Timerzianov admitted. “They warned me for knocking a marker, but the result will stand, so it’s been a good start."
By way of explanation, the qualifying process may seem complicated, but it is in reality quite simple — each car competes in a group of four, in four four-lap races, four times through Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, but it’s the overall fastest time of all cars across the four groups that counts toward the qualifying points. Which means the man who is most consistently quickest over four heats, scores 16 World Championship points come lunchtime Sunday, with the man in 16th, scoring one.
Sunday afternoon’s Semi Finals will once again see the winners of each race scoring six world championship points, with the top three from each of those races going through to the Final shortly thereafter, which is scored on an 8-5-4-3-2-1 basis. By then we will know who is the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion.
The best way to experience Cape Town’s sensational SABAT Rallycross of South Africa is live at Killarney International Raceway on Sunday — with the final two qualifying races kicking off at 10am before the Semis and Finals kick off 3pm, an entry ticket could be the best R300 you will spend this year. Tickets are available at www.quicket.co.za or at the Killarney gate and if you are not able to be there, follow the action live from Cape Town at www.fiaworldrallycross.com/live.
Issued on behalf of SABAT World Rallycross SA
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