Rustad fourth in Euro RX finale and Kalliokoski shows great race pace
Bikernieki, Riga (Latvia) – 18 September 2017; Albatec Racing finished fourth in the final round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship, with former champion Tommy leaving Latvia fifth in the championship. Euro RX rookie Jere Kalliokoski was on scintillating form across the weekend, fourth overall in the first two races, he was disqualified from Q2 for having the wrong wet tyres and just failed to make the cut but showed his potential with top five times across the races.
In Saturday’s opening qualifier the duo was drawn together, with Jere starting from pole and Tommy fifth aboard the team’s pair of Peugeot 208 RX Supercars. A good start for Jere allowed him to take the immediate lead, which he held to the flag, while Tommy came through to finish third after a well-timed joker.
Conditions in Q2 proved challenging, but Jere, with limited wet experience, drove a very mature race to take third. Tommy didn’t get the best start, fourth into turn one he elected to take the joker early but came out behind slower cars and in the very wet conditions was unable to find a way past.
Sunday dawned cold but dry, and saw Tommy top the times in the warm-up. After two races Jere was initially placed fourth overall, and Tommy 12th, however Jere was later disqualified from the Q2 results for using 2016-spec wet tyres, dropping him down the order. As a result, he lined up in the first race of Q3 and made a good start from the middle of the grid, and taking his joker on the final lap, he went on to win.
Tommy showed the form that earnt him the Euro RX title in 2015, overcoming a bad start from pole, he was challenging Ollie O’Donovan and the pair made contact on lap two, however the Norwegian was able to control his HTB Racing-backed Peugeot 208 and finish second.
Tommy lined up second for Q4 and a good start into turn one earnt the immediate lead, which he held to the finish. Jere started his fourth qualifying race from the middle of the grid, and narrowly avoided crashing at the start, recovering to finish third.
After four qualifying races, Tommy was placed eighth to secure a place in the semi-finals, but Jere was unable to progress, losing out by just three points. In the semi finals, a decent start from Tommy put him fourth and after the joker he crossed the line third to guarantee a place in the Final. In that Tommy was unable to get a clean run from the second row and finished fourth at the flag.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“We ended the last race of the European championship in Riga with some disappointing points and some positive. From Jere’s point of view, it’s obviously been an immensely disappointing weekend as the team made an error which led to him being disqualified from Q2 and undoubtedly robbed him of the opportunity of reaching the semi. On the pace he had this weekend, a place in the Final was easily within his reach. This was certainly the low point of the season and certainly this weekend. The positive is that it’s great to see Jere come along with no experience in European rallycross and in a very short season get his act together so that he can be setting top five times, which probably compounds the pain of him being disqualified. He’s matured as a driver through the year, he’s learnt from the team and from Tommy and it’s put him in a good position for next season.
“For Tommy, we’re naturally disappointed to be fifth in the championship. It’s been a difficult weekend. It’s so hard in the top five as the level is really high and we just didn’t have the starts when we needed them. He progressed to the final but it was really hard and he did a great job to finish fourth from the back row. This season we’ve had the speed, the car, the team, and the drivers and deserved to have had better results than we achieved, but lady luck didn’t always shine on us. We’ve demonstrated that Albatec is still a force to be reckoned with in European rallycross, with Tommy and Jere both setting top five times so overall we’re disappointed, but we’ll come back even stronger.”
Tommy Rustad, driver Albatec Racing:
“This was my second year with Albatec and I knew that Andy had upgraded the car over the winter so we had high expectations before the season and this weekend. The car was very good today but it all came together too late, the level in Euro RX is so high you need to start well to have any chance to succeed so I’m not entirely satisfied with the weekend as I think myself, the team and the car are all much better than the results we’ve had.
“Across the weekend we had a few issues with traffic, and some battles which naturally compromised my times. I also had a problem with my starts on Saturday, so overnight the team made some changes to improve that, which worked, but unfortunately the speed wasn’t as good as it could have been as I think the later races had better conditions, but that’s racing. Big thanks to all the mechanics though, in fact everyone in the team, who are all doing a very good job.”
Jere Kalliokoski, driver Albatec Racing:
“When we came here I was feeling good, and yesterday was an excellent day for me scoring fourth place in both qualifying races, so being disqualified from Q2 was naturally a big disappointment for me and the team. I tried my best today but the starting position in Q3 wasn’t ideal and the track was drying up. I scored good points in Q3 and Q4 but it wasn’t quite enough. I was just three points away from qualifying which was a disappointment, but I think I showed my ability to drive well.
“To summarise this season, I have mixed feelings. I’ve improved my speed and race times all season; in Barcelona for round one, my speed was between 15th and 20th and now I’m around the top five which shows that I have improved my driving. On the other hand, there have been some technical issues in every race which have hindered my pace and also my positions, but overall this has been a good learning year for me. The level of competition is really high so it’s been good experience for next season and my intention is to stay in the European championship and target podium finishes.”
Albatec duo primed for Euro RX grand finale in Latvia
Dumfries, Scotland (UK) — 13 September 2017; Albatec Racing returns to Riga this weekend determined to end the season with another FIA European Rallycross Championship victory at the Latvian track. The team fields a pair of Peugeot 208 RX Supercars for Tommy Rustad and Jere Kalliokoski, with former champion Tommy winner of the inaugural Eastern European event last year.
This year, Tommy heads into the final round in third place, 29 points adrift of leader Anton Marklund, and knows that claiming his second Euro RX crown is out of reach. However, there are just 11 points separating the Norwegian and the second placed driver Thomas Bryntesson, leaving the HTB Racing-backed ace eager to win to move him ahead in the title standings.
Joining Tommy in the Albatec line-up, 20 year-old Jere heads to the Baltic region for his first visit to the 1.295km track, in this his debut season. The reigning Finnish Rallycross Champion is dovetailing his Euro RX campaign with a season in the domestic championship where he’s currently challenging for second overall, and has an eye on a place in the Euro RX Final on Sunday.
The state-of-the-art Bikernieki National Sports Base is located close to the capital city, and features a tight and challenging first corner, three jumps within the gravel section, and the joker positioned at the end of the lap. Last year variable weather conditions added to the challenge, however collectively they allowed Albatec to shine, with overall race victory and the team’s second successive Euro RX runner-up position.
Albatec bids for Euro RX honours for the last time this season on 16&17 September, starting with open practice at 09:00 on Saturday, and the first of four qualifying races from 12:00. Sunday starts with warm-up at 08:30, immediately followed by qualifying three and four from 09:30 before the semi-finals at 13:30 and Final at 15:00. All times CEST. Live timing will be available across the weekend from http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/times.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“We go to Riga as winners of the first event there, so naturally we’re keen to leave Latvia with a second successive victory to our name. That victory last year didn’t come easily, it was a hard-fought race and I don’t expect anything different this weekend but I think we’ve proved at every race that we have the speed and reliability, and two very quick and competent drivers in Tommy and Jere. We’ve had some bad luck along the way so hopefully we can put that right this weekend and come away with a solid result across both cars. We’ve finished second in the drivers’ championship for the last two years; it would be great to win this year, but realistically our aim is to move up to the silver medal-winning position.”
Tommy Rustad, Driver Albatec Racing:
“I’m ready for Riga. I really like the circuit layout, but it’s tight in places with no room for error. The first corner is particularly tight, with many possibilities for incidents! The grip level is very good, even in the rain, but the weather switching between dry and wet adds additional complications, so I’m hoping for dry conditions for a change. The Peugeot 208 and Albatec are much better than our results indicate. The team is constantly developing the car, but this season has been incredibly strong and we’ve suffered some bad luck at the races where we should have won. In that strong entry, there are around eight to ten drivers all capable of race victory and we’re certainly among them, so we just need to pull it all together this weekend.”
Jere Kalliokoski, Driver Albatec Racing:
“I’m feeling excited to go to Riga as I know a lot of Finnish fans will be there. I haven’t raced there before but I did do some practice runs in the summer with my Group N rally car and took on-board videos to try and learn the characteristics of the track. I’m sure there will be a lot of good set up data from the team as they had a good result there last year, which can be applied to our car this weekend. I have to try to avoid errors and get some good starts. It’s vital to lead and win races in order to have good results time wise.”
Rustad secures sixth in Lohéac Euro RX thriller
Lohéac-Bretagne, France — 3 September 2017; Albatec Racing duo Tommy Rustad and Jere Kalliokoski headed to Bretagne World RX of France for round four of the FIA European Rallycross Championship. The Dumfries team fielded a pair of 600bhp Peugeot 208 RX Supercars among a 35-strong Euro RX entry and Tommy came away with sixth in a thrilling finale at the legendary French track. Challenging track conditions hampered the team’s aim to get both Peugeot 208 RX Supercars into the final after Jere was eliminated before the semi-final stage.
The event kicked off with the traditional parade into the village on Friday afternoon, with two practice sessions held across Friday evening and Saturday morning. The combined results put Tommy fourth and Jere 12th ahead of the first of three qualifying races later that day.
The duo was drawn together in race six, where a good start for Jere put him straight into the lead after the first corner, with Tommy moving into second at turn two. A three-car incident on lap two slowed the field across the remaining laps, but the former Euro RX champion made his experience count, passing Jere for the win on the Finn’s last lap joker putting Tommy third overall and Jere P15.
The day’s second race had Jere up in race five, where despite a good start he was forced to back off and take an early joker. Stuck behind a slower car, he held on to take third, and place 14th overall. Tommy’s Q2 race saw him start from the middle lane, and a good start put him second. A frantic battle with championship leader Anton Marklund and Thomas Bryntesson ensued, and he eventually finished third overall.
Jere overcame a poor start in Q3 to take the race win, and with it the 12th fastest overall time to keep his hopes of reaching the Final very much on track. Third after the first two corners, he jokered on lap three, rejoining in fourth, and a superb pass at the last corner earnt him his first race win of the weekend. Tommy used his experience to good effect in his third qualifying race, starting from the middle lane, a clever start meant Marklund ran wide, and allowed Tommy to take the lead into turn two. Another fierce battle with Marklund however cost time, and allowed two cars to pass Tommy at the joker, and dropped him to third, but elevated him to second in the Intermediate standings.
Sunday morning brought with it torrential rain and a very slippery track, making conditions difficult for the warm-up and subsequent qualifying races. Despite that, the pair were happy with their pace in the session, Tommy fourth fastest with Jere sixth.
In the final qualifying race Jere didn’t get the best start, and elected to joker on lap one, then had to defend his position when Joachim Hvaal came out of his joker. This resulted in a slower lap time, in third place, which dropped him out of the semi-final qualifying positions. The conditions were difficult for Tommy too, who was not able to get off the pole spot and ran third into the first corner. The grip levels were poor, and he ran wide at turn two on the second lap, losing a place, however a good recovery put him second in his race, but 12th overall. His previous results however put him fourth overall after the four qualifying races, and secured a front row start for the second semi-final.
After a decent start, Tommy was second into turn one but ran wide in the second corner dropping to fourth. Contact with Alexander Hvaal in turn one of the penultimate lap meant both retired in the gravel, but due to other collisions Tommy was classified third.
Heading into the Final, Tommy was immediately on the back foot, starting from the back row he made a decent start but in torrential rain was unable to capitalise on the 600bhp of the two litre, 16v Peugeot and dropped to fifth. Despite a determined effort from the Norwegian, a front left puncture sustained to the HTB Racing-backed 208 meant he could not get on terms with the leaders, and he finished sixth.
The series resumes with the final round at Riga, Latvia over the weekend of 16 & 17 September.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“I’m disappointed at the overall results for both Tommy and Jere, especially as we demonstrated early on with both cars and drivers that we had the overall pace. The third heats were comprised for Tommy with driving standards, and Jere had technical problems, which hampered his progress.
“In warm up in wet conditions we were P4 and P6 so it looked really good for us, but unfortunately, we didn’t seem to get the start procedure right for the conditions and neither Tommy or Jere could maximise their race pace. Jere was basically denied a semi final position because of technical issues and Tommy made a small mistake in the semi which probably cost him second. In the final from the back row our starts weren’t as good as they should have been in the wet and of course we collected a puncture which ruined any chance of a strong result. Across the weekend the cars and drivers both proved again they have the potential and we look forward to Latvia and the last chance to come away with a win.”
Tommy Rustad, Driver Albatec Racing:
“In the first heat, I got a good start and followed Jere for one lap and then went for the joker. Through the joker I overtook him but there was a wheel on the track so it cost me some time, although I managed to win and do the third fastest time. In Q2 and Q3 I had a big battle with Marklund, which compromised our speed. In Q4 on Sunday it was raining, I didn’t get the best start from P3 and in very difficult conditions, I wasn’t too happy with the balance of the car, it was a bit too stiff for the conditions so I could only manage 13th and I was a bit disappointed with that.
“In the semi-final I had a big battle with Alexander Hvaal, which ended up with a crash between us but as I was third we went through. In the final, I came out number five, fighting with Marklund, but after the joker I got a left front puncture and couldn’t do anything but get to the flag very slowly. It wasn’t the best weekend, but as I always say there’s a short space between heaven and hell. We’re third in the championship, and I’m very happy with the team, they’re doing a good job and everything is working right mechanically. Looking ahead to Riga, Anton is too far away so we need now to fight for silver or bronze in the championship battle.”
Jere Kalliokoski, Driver Albatec Racing:
“Practice went well before the first qualifying race, and I had a good feeling with the car and set up. In Q1 I made a good start but the driveshaft broke on the last lap and I nearly spun but luckily, I finished the race. In the other races on Saturday the outside start positions meant the races were challenging. On this track, you have to get a really good start, and even if you do there’s always traffic and it’s a case of managing the car. In order to win you need to be first into the first corner.
“Today it started to rain early morning, and in the final qualifying race I was a little bit late off the line and suffered with wheel spin. Due to that I was stuck behind another car and unfortunately was unable to qualify. After being 12th last night, and after Q4 dropping to P15, I’m disappointed as my aim was to reach the semi-finals. So now, looking forward to Latvia, my aim firstly is to qualify and then to reach the Final.”