In Sweden, the Special ONE Racing team reached the final of a World Rallycross Championship round for the third time in succession. The team’s first podium finish had to wait, as Guerlain Chicherit fell victim to a puncture at the worst possible moment. Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb won one of his four Heats, confirming the potential of the Delta Evo-e RX.
Tucked away deep in the forest, the motorsport mecca of Höljes has been invaded since Thursday by hordes of spectators. Faced with three Swedish teams and five Swedish drivers, Guerlain Chicherit and Sébastien Loeb played outside this weekend, although the popularity of the Delta Evo-e RX gave them, as elsewhere, a special status in the eyes of the fans.
Just as they had experienced at Hell a fortnight ago, the Special ONE Racing team suffered at the start of the meeting from a lack of driving, against competitors who had come to this circuit last year. “The switch to electric has had the effect of levelling out performance at the start,” explained Team Manager Sébastien Lesonneur on Saturday. “Nowadays, the difference between a good start and a bad start is measured by just one length of bonnet. Starting on the outside is therefore more penalising than it used to be, because the five cars systematically arrive abreast in a first corner where there isn’t place for everyone.” Guerlain Chicherit and Sébastien Loeb suffered from a poor grid position, both being ejected within the first few metres of their respective first Heats.
Qualifying for the final meant that both drivers had to take risks, and they also had to familiarise themselves with the handling of their machines on a track that had become wet on Sunday (conditions never encountered before). It paid off for Guerlain Chicherit who, in an exceptional semi-final, managed to overtake Klara Andersson in the first corner and then Niclas Grönholm in the parabolic, to take 3rd place synonymous with qualification. The long-awaited final race of the weekend unfortunately came to an abrupt end for the French driver, who suffered a puncture on the first lap at the landing of a jump.
A first podium finish will remain Special ONE Racing’s objective in three weeks’ time in England. There, all the teams will start on an equal footing, as the Lydden Hill circuit has not been visited by World RX since 2017.
I won a heat, which proves that we can be on the pace. Starting 3rd in my semi-final, I had a good chance of qualifying, but I made two small mistakes which cost me a place. The car doesn’t forgive mistakes and we need to find more confidence behind the wheel. We’ve learnt a few things this weekend.Sébastien Loeb, pilote de la Delta Evo-e RX #9
When I started 5th in my semi-final, I had to take all the risks. At the red light, I counted to three and then dropped everything… And miraculously, it worked! The euphoria of being in the final only lasted 500 metres. It’s a shame because I had a good rhythm on this muddy track. We still need to work on gaining confidence in our car, which is fast but very sensitive.Guerlain Chicherit, pilote de la Delta Evo-e RX #36