Englishman joins back-to-front club. Tohill and Bakkerud take class wins
After two long days in the rain, wind, cold and mud, the sun shone on a thrilling set of finals that were capped by three closely fought and hard won A finals, the last race of the day providing a fairy tale maiden win for Kevin Procter who had progressed from the C final to the main event, and then delivered a battling drive to land the win.
Initially disappointed not have qualified for the B final, Procter led the C final all the way, French veteran “Knapick” going with him to the back of the B final. The first couple of laps of the B final were like open warfare, and when things settled, Timur Timerzyanov led with Procter having made his way up to second place. Tanner Foust’s tough run in France came to an end a couple of laps in, the round one winner parking his Fiesta for the second time in a day. Procter was now content to follow Timerzyanov and book a place in the A final. “I was happy with that, I’ve never been in an A final before so just to get there was a great result for me,” said Procter. The A final too had its incidents, Marc Laboulle running into Jerome Grosset-Janin’s leading Renault half way through the first lap while Liam Doran was out of the running in the first corner, where the rub and squeeze had broken the steering on his DS3.
Davy Jeanney took the lead but when he ran into trouble, it was Procter, who had worked his way through from the back of the grid, who went ahead. Laboulle was still very much in the hunt and regained the lead when Procter took his Joker Lap. Rejoining just behind Laboulle, Procter now had the bit between his teeth. “Marc made a mistake in the second corner and I had to have a go. It worked and I got past him,” said Procter who seemed quite surprised to have won. Only the third driver, after Olle Arnesson and Richard Hutton, ever to go from the C final to the win the A final, Procter achieved his first win in memorable style.
Norwegian teenager Alexander Hvaal put down his marker for the year with a splendid second place ahead of Laboulle, Timerzyanov, French championship star Gaetan Serazin and the seething Grosset-Janin who had an exchange of views with Laboulle at the end of the race.
Andres Bakkerud outbraked himself in the first corner of the Super1600 A final, which left the door open for Vadim Makarov to pass on the inside and take a clear lead. Bakkerud immediately ducked into the Joker Lap and then set about lapping quickly and cleanly, digging himself out of trouble with a fine recovery drive to take the win over team mate Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme and Makarov.
The TouringCar championship already looks like being a battle between round one winner Anton Marklund and 2010 title holder Derek Tohill. The Irishman qualified second for the A final but led the race all the way, judging things to perfection and keeping a cool head when Marklund piled on the pressure after both had been through the Joker Lap and Tohill had retained his leading position on the track. Roman Castoral took third place ahead of the impressive Pedro Bonnet.
While the racing on the Circuit de l’Ouest Parisien at Dreux provided the hardy souls that occupied the spectator areas with plenty of action, the way in which the event was run did little to enhance the impression of Rallycross in France which has been tarnished with events of debatable quality over the last few years. The weather conditions were not favourable, and running in the rain will always present a greater challenge to organisers than dry weather. The forecasts for this weekend, however, had consistently predicted rain and, even if this was only the second wet event the host Ecurie de Thymerais has experienced in 14 years of running Rallycross at Dreux, there is no excuse for not being prepared for a wet event and the added difficulties it brings. A wet event always runs more slowly than a dry one, so there is even more reason to make sure that things start on time. This event ran behind timetable all weekend and even on the second day, by which time it was abundantly clear to any observer just how precious time was, the first race started 14 minutes late. The third heat started late, was further delayed by problems with the jump start detectors and eventually ended 20 minutes after the finals were due to have started, at which point competitors were summoned to the appear on the grid for the drivers presentation…
Add to this, power failures in the paddock, internet connection failings in the media marquee on both days, embarrassingly slow recovery of broken down vehicles (again in France), the muddy and partially flooded paddock, etc. and it’s easy to see why the mood in the paddock was one of resignation and just wanting to get through this and get out.