Sébastien Loeb and Special ONE Racing reached the final for the second time in a row at the Hell RX in Norway. A good level of performance, which the young team now hopes to convert into a podium finish in a fortnight’ time at Höljes in Sweden.
This weekend, the World Rallycross Championship celebrated its 100th event in Hell, Norway, a historic place for the discipline. Created in 2014, the World RX had made a small revolution for the 2021-2022 off-season by switching the cars to ‘all-electric’. The spectacle has lost nothing – on the contrary – as witnessed by the absolute lap record set on the Hell track last year by an RX1e, and broken again this year by more than a second by Johan Kristoffersson (36.859). This impressive performance can also be attributed to the excellent preparation of the Norwegian track, particularly the dirt section, which was stabilised using a natural product made from tree sap. The result? Maximum grip that only experience of the terrain could have allowed us to anticipate, as Sébastien Lesonneur, Team Manager of Special ONE Racing, explains: “We can’t test every circuit in the championship because the regulations limit us to three days of pre-season testing. We’re starting from a bit further back than our rivals who came here last year. That’s the game.”
Despite its relative youth, the French team quickly found its rhythm in Hell, with Sébastien Loeb setting the 3rd fastest time on Saturday in the revealing exercise of the qualifying lap alone on track. The same went for Guerlain Chicherit, who was driving towards 2nd place in his Heat 2 when he unwittingly activated the Delta’s ‘paddock’ mode on the final lap, which he completed in slow motion. This error, which had serious consequences, pushed him back to the last position on the grid for Heat 3. A difficult deficit to overcome, even more so with the ban on taking he Joker in the first lap (a rule newly introduced this year on circuits where this section is placed at the first corner). Unfortunately, Guerlain Chicherit didn’t manage to make up this deficit before the semi-finals, where his meeting came to an end.
Sébastien Loeb’s Sunday wasn’t all plain sailing either. Slightly trapped by the good team strategy of the Kristoffersson Motorsport drivers at the start of Heat 4, the French driver managed to snatch qualification for the final, but from the third row, a position that didn’t allow him to fight for the podium.
No matter, the main thing was elsewhere. We knew the Delta Evo-e RX was well born, but its performance level is now close to those of the best RX1e cars on the grid. With a little more consistency from Friday to Sunday, the podium shouldn’t be too far away.
We arrived here with a better level than in Portugal. But in rallycross, the success of a weekend can be decided by very little, and a single bad start often compromises what happens next. We’re still in the final once again… But starting from the third row isn’t easy. We’re continuing to understand things about the car and I’m getting more and more comfortable with its balance.Sébastien Loeb, driver of the #9 Delta Evo-e RX
The others don’t give us much time to learn! We did some very good runs this weekend. The braking is incredible with this car. On the other hand, we’re finding it harder to get traction coming out of corners. We spin a lot. We’ve tried different set-ups, but we haven’t really found the key. We’ve still got a bit of work to do if we want to get on the podium, but we’re working on it.Guerlain Chicherit, driver of the #36 Delta Evo-e RX