Albatec begins Rallycross France bid with Maloigne in Essay
Dumfries, Scotland (UK) — Thursday 27 April: This weekend (29-30 April) Albatec Racing begins its bid for Rallycross France honours in Essay, with Philippe Maloigne at the wheel of the team’s #21 SamShield-backed Peugeot 208 RX Supercar. The former motocross racer enjoyed a successful 2016 with the Dumfries team, taking two outright wins and numerous heat victories, alongside several outright fastest laps.
On his Albatec debut at this event last year, Philippe was quickly up to speed against a quality entry and reached the final where he finished sixth, and set the third fastest race lap. This year Philippe goes head-to-head with a further 17 Supercars in this the opening round, but expectations are for a grid of 25 cars for the later races.
Essay is among Philippe’s favourite tracks, but with overtaking difficult, a good start aboard his 600bhp two-litre 16v Peugeot 208, and grid position across the qualifying races is critical.
Philippe has been in action already this season, when he contested the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Barcelona, to get himself race-ready for the first of ten rounds of Rallycross France. For Albatec a successful winter development programme and test schedule has brought the car firmly up to spec ahead of what looks like being another close-fought season.
Track action in Essay commences with practice at 09.45 on Saturday, with the opening two qualifying heats at 13.30 and 18.30. On Sunday warm-up starts at 08.00, followed by the third and fourth heats at 09.00 and 12.00 and the semi finals getting underway from 13.45.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“We began our 2016 Rallycross France campaign at Essay and came away very pleased with sixth place last year, against incredibly tough competition. Now with a season in the Peugeot under his belt, two outright wins, and several guest appearances in Euro RX, I’m confident that Phillipe starts this weekend as strong contender for race victory. We’ve worked hard over the winter with a development programme and test schedule which we believe will reap benefits for Philippe in his full season assault on the championship.
“We can’t underestimate the quality of the entry though, Rallycross France is always incredibly competitive with a lot of very talented drivers, so as always it will be a tough season. However, with the work we’ve done, and Philippe’s experience in the car, we now head to the opening round feeling confident of a good result.”
Philippe Maloigne, Driver Albatec Racing:
“I’m very excited to be racing in Essay this weekend. It’s always fun to drive but is one of the hardest tracks on which to overtake, so a good start and grid position is important. The team has done a great job with the car over the off-season, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we go against the competition in France.
“Aside from testing, we’ve already raced in Spain this year – which served as a warm-up for the season which is always the best training you can do. We sadly didn’t get the best out of the experience, but the car was great, and I have even more confidence in it and feel more able to learn the limits.”
François Duval confirmed entry with Albatec Peugeot 208 in Mettet World RX
Dumfries, Scotland (UK) — Monday 24 April: Former World Rally Championship driver François Duval will drive an Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 RX Supercar in Coyote World RX of Belgium, round four of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, at Mettet on 12-14 May.
François remains the only Belgian to take victory in the European Rallycross Championship (Maasmechelen 2010) and is also one of only two to win a round of the World Rally Championship (Rally Australia 2005). He made his World RX debut in 2014 at Mettet where he finished 16th. In 2015, he contested the European championship round and took victory in his semi-final, but failed to finish the Final. Last year he qualified fifth for the World RX Final but was side-lined with a puncture and finished fifth.
He will have his first test aboard the team’s 600bhp two-litre 16v Peugeot 208 at Chateauroux on 9 May. For the Albatec team the weekend sees a return to the track on which they took their first International victory in 2015 in the FIA European Rallycross Championship, and where they secured second in last year’s Euro RX round.
World RX of Belgium marks a rare departure for the Dumfries team from its 2017 campaigns, which include the FIA European Rallycross Championship with Tommy Rustad and Jere Kalliokoski, and Rallycross France with Philippe Maloigne.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“I’m delighted to welcome François to Albatec for the Mettet World RX event and very much look forward to working with him. François is without doubt a very talented driver, I’ve watched him race successfully in rallycross many times with the highlight being his performance in the European championship in 2010. I’m really pleased to have this opportunity to work with him in Belgium, where he has a fanatical following.
“We believe we have made a big step forward in the development of our Peugeot 208 and that the car is comparable with the factory cars. I’m confident that this will allow us to offer a package capable of producing a shock result in Belgium. The track is one where we’ve had success over the past few years, notably winning the Euro RX round in 2015, and finishing second last year. As always we will do everything we can to help him deliver a strong result.”
François Duval, Driver Albatec Racing:
“I am very happy to drive for Albatec Racing at my home event. Albatec is a serious team; the infrastructure is very good and they are also very sympathetic, which I appreciate a lot. They have shown that they have the motivation. This is a car I very much look forward to discovering and will have my first test in early May.
“We will race effectively the same car as Sebastien Loeb, this is great! I have seen the Albatec car in competition and I am very confident that the work they have undertaken over the winter will put us in a strong position to challenge for a good result. It will be the first time ever that I drive a Peugeot, so it’s again something new for me. Big thanks to Gordon, Valvoline and Jardipark, without them it would not be possible. I can’t wait to race at Mettet!”
Mixed results for Albatec in Euro RX opener in Barcelona
Barcelona (Spain) — Sunday 2 April: Albatec Racing launched its bid for Euro RX honours in Spain this weekend, with the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship in Barcelona. After the four qualifying races, a place in the semi-finals was assured for 2015 champion Tommy Rustad, who then steered his HTB Racing Peugeot 208 RX Supercar to fourth place. Both Jere Kalliokoski and Philippe Maloigne narrowly missed progressing; Jere just three points away from qualifying on his Euro RX debut. Philippe suffered front end damage and a puncture in Q3, which severely hampered his lap times and dropped him out of contention.
2015 champion Tommy put his experience to good use with a determined performance across qualifying, although changeable weather conditions played their part in the outcome of the results. Sudden rain just ahead of both Q1 & Q2 races on Saturday resulted in a hurried discussion on tyre choice and set-up. Contact with another car in his opening wet race then saw the Norwegian spinning off into the gravel, his early bid to retake his title hindered by a lowly P16 finish. He bounced back in Q2 with the ninth fastest overall time, despite not getting the best start and subsequent heats being held in drier conditions.
Philippe started his weekend with a solid performance that netted a race win, and the 11th overall fastest time, but was hampered in Q2 by close contact on either side of him, squeezing him out and consequently affecting his overall race time. Jere had a good clean run to the 15th fastest overall time in his first Euro RX race, and in Q2 drove a mature race to finish second, in his SMA-backed motor.
Sunday morning dawned with much better and brighter conditions and race action resumed with Q3 in which Tommy claimed second in his race, and finished ninth fastest overall. An excellent start from fourth allowed him to leap into first place into turn one in Q4 and a good clean race saw him stretch his advantage and claim the second fastest overall heat time to guarantee a place in the semi-finals.
Philippe suffered a hit in his Q3 race, which caused damage to the front of his SamShield-backed 208, and resulted in a puncture severely slowing his lap times. A clean start from the inside position in Q4 allowed him to maintain a good position and a well-executed joker on lap three saw him take second, but brought his weekend to an early finish. Jere equally had issues in his opening race of the day, after a good start he was sandwiched in and pushed off track. He recovered in Q4, making a great start from second, to take the lead into turn one which he held to the flag.
Tommy’s ambition to reach the Final looked to be on the cards, after running third until two laps for home. He took a hit from behind while taking avoiding action when Robin Larsson slowed. This damaged the steering on the #24 Peugeot 208 and dropped him just outside the podium positions.
The Euro RX team now has a lengthy break ahead of round two in Hell, Norway over the weekend of 9/10 June, but ahead of that Philippe gets his Rallycross France campaign underway in Ducs over the weekend of 29/30 April.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“It’s been a weekend of mixed results in Barcelona with the weather on Saturday making it a complete lottery as the weather was changing so much across the races. However, all three drivers showed good pace and it was only really the weather which stopped them from being higher in the overnight standings.
“On Sunday, the weather was much better, consistently dry and therefore much easier to manage. Both Philippe and Jere had problems with different, separate incidents off the start which hampered their progress, which is disappointing as they both had the pace to make the finals.
“Tommy had a fantastic fourth heat being the fastest Peugeot on track, which was his first clean race and showed the potential of both him and the car so I’m disappointed that didn’t result in a place in the final. But due to the contact with another car which bent the steering it was impossible for him to progress. However, we take with us to Norway the fact that we’ve shown we have good cars, and good drivers, and with Tommy particularly I’m sure there we can challenge for victory.”
Tommy Rustad, Driver Albatec Racing #24:
“The first day didn’t work out as we’d planned. The rain fell just before Q1 and it was hectic with a last-minute decision regarding set-up and tyres. I had a good start but got into a battle with Ollie O’Donovan, We touched at the first corner which sent me spinning off and into the barrier. For Q2 the track had almost dried but just before the start the rain fell again. I didn’t get the best start, getting away third, but thankfully it was drier and I managed to fight my way through into second. Unfortunately, the following races were drier and I as a result I was ninth overall.
“We had good speed on Sunday, in Q3 I made a good start but [Derek] Tohill got the jump on the inside line and I stayed behind him for too long so the race time was not so good. I know I had better speed but I wasn’t able to pass him. In Q4 I had a very good start and managed to take the lead, and set some good lap times. Overall I was expecting a better weekend but a lot of other top drivers were also struggling this weekend. Albatec has upgraded the Peugeot very well, so I’m very happy with both the team and the car.”
Jere Kalliokoski, Driver Albatec Racing #14:
“I’m quite satisfied with the weekend. We had good, clean races except for the third qualifying race after a collision with other cars. It was good to have a first win in my Q4 race, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to advance to the semi-finals, and I missed out by just three points. But overall the weekend was a good experience for me.”
Philippe Maloigne, Driver Albatec Racing #21:
“It’s not been as good a weekend as I’d hoped as we’ve been a little unlucky, but it’s been a good warm-up for the French championship. We were unlucky with the timing of the shower yesterday because we had our race just after it, and then after the track was drying so they could switch to slicks, so it wasn’t too easy to get some fast times.
“In both races on Sunday I made a good start, but I got hit at the second turn in Q3, and suffered a puncture. But over the weekend we were able to have many good starts, I learnt a lot from Tommy and how to improve my driving in places. The Albatec Peugeot 208 was really good all weekend, we’d already felt that in testing, and now we can see from the results, particularly with Tommy’s car which is the same as mine, that it’s very, very good. I now feel we can just keep getting faster and faster. Of course, I’m a bit disappointed with the result and not being able to get many clean, clear laps, but despite this there were many, many positives from the weekend.”