Eventful penultimate 2018 FIA World Rallycross round showdown at Germany RX

As round 11 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship saw 22,500 fans gather at Estering, a traditional Rallycross track near Hamburg, Germany, and 20 supercars battled it out on the tricky, mixed-surface track, GC KOMPETITION made their team debut with 3 GCK Megane R.S. RX driven by Frenchman and team owner Guerlain Chicherit, “British bomb” Liam Doran and Swede, Anton Marklund.

Glorious sunshine welcomed team GCK on Saturday morning ready for the free practice and 2 qualifiers of the day, with the two drivers familiar with the track putting down promising pace in practice – a P3 for Anton and P8 for Liam, while Guerlain used practice to familiarise himself with the very specific track layout.

Race 1 of Q1 went underway with Anton having lined up on the outside next to Andreas Bakkerud, René Münnich, Kjetil Larsen and Johan Kristofferson. Marklund put down a good start and managed to race across from the outside to tuck in behind Kristofferson and Bakkerud into the first corner, where her remains for the following laps, crossing the finish line behind Kristofferson and Bakkerud in 3rd.

The draw saw Liam and Guerlain line up together on the grid for race 4 of Q1 sandwiched between Sébastien Loeb, Niclas GrÖnholm and Kevin Hansen. Guerlain put down a great start but got squeezed from both sides by Loeb and Gronholm to sit in 4th into the first corner with Liam behind him having had to go wide to tuck in and grazing the wall in the process. Guerlain strategised to take the joker in the first lap, coming out behind Liam, with Liam jokering the following lap coming out behind Chicherit and finishing the race in 5th and 4th respectively.

Following Q1, Anton is in 9th, Guerlain in 11th and Liam in 14th overall.

Blinding amounts of dust on the ever-drying track make for exciting race action for the fans, as Liam and Guerlain lined up together again for race 2 of Q2, with Guerlain on pole and Liam sandwiched between Janis Baumanis, Robin Larsson and Timur Timerzyanov. Both got off the line well but huge contact into the first corner saw Liam forced to go far outside with the car coming to a stop before Liam regained control and continued on. Guerlain outraced Timur to tuck in behind Baumanis, holding this position until he crossed the finish line in 2nd with Liam in 4th.

Anton lined up for race 3 of Q2 in 4th position with Kevin Eriksson on his left and Andreas Bakkerud, Timmy Hansen and Sébastien Loeb to his right. A delayed start saw Anton head into the first corner in 4th position ahead of Eriksson. He managed to overtake Loeb when the Frenchman jokered but crossed the finish line in 4th having dropped behind Loeb following his own joker in the last lap.

Following Q2, Anton is in 10th, Guerlain in 11th and Liam in 14th overall.

Another dry, warm morning welcomed day 2 of the race action and Liam Doran and Anton Marklund lined up for race 2 of Q3 with Marklund on pole and Doran on the far outside with Kevin Eriksson, Robin Larsson and Oliver Bennett. Liam put down a spectacular move pushing hard to go far outside around the pack while Anton stayed on the inside finding space where Eriksson went wide and power ahead of Bennett to tuck in behind Eriksson into 2nd with Doran behind him in 3rd. Liam jokered on the 2nd lap losing some time through corner 2, with Anton jokering on the 3rd lap, pushing to come out ahead of Liam, finishing in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Guerlain lined up on the outside alongside Mattias EkstrÖm, Niclas GrÖnholm, Janis Baumanis and Sébastien Loeb. A missed start saw Guerlain miss valuable seconds that he then tried to gain back fighting his way from the back of the pack. He jokered in the first lap and finished in 5th, having gained back enough time to still be in the top 12.

Following Q3, Anton is in 10th, Guerlain in 12th and Liam in 13th.

Following Q3, GCK are informed that the decision was taken to disqualify Doran from Q1 on Saturday for a technical infringement which pushes him into 20th overall and changes race strategy completely as it takes away any chance of a semi-final spot for Liam. The final qualifier of the last European round in Estering, Germany, saw Liam Doran on pole for race 2 with Timur Timerzyanov, Janis Baumanis, Robin Larsson and Guerlain Chicherit on the far outside.

Both GCK drivers put down good starts allowing Liam to go tight on the inside and then far wide taking the lead, while Guerlain dropped back to take the inside line but contact with Baumanis saw them spin and stop, pushing Guerlain back into 5th place. Both positions are maintained until they cross the finish line, putting Guerlain in 13th overall following Q4, missing out on the semi-final by one point.

Race 3 of Q4 had Marklund sandwiched between Johan Kristofferson, Kevin Eriksson, Kevin Hansen and Sébastien Loeb. Marklund managed to stay out of the first corner contact, dropping behind the pack. He jokered on the first lap, racing cleanly and managing to overtake Eriksson across the finish line to finish in 4th, putting him in 9th overall securing a good semi-final spot.

As the crowds gathered for semi-final 1, Anton lined up on the grid on the 3rd line next to Janis Baumanis and behind Johan Kristofferson, Timmy Hansen, Petter Solberg and Kevin Hansen. Anton hung back slightly following the start to avoid considerable contact in the first corner and turned to take the inside line squeezing past Timmy Hansen, who in turn drove into the rear of Marklund’s Renault Megane R.S. RX twice, turning him around and causing significant mechanical damage to the car, which means the end of the race for Anton. Timmy is later disqualified for his racing behaviour, resulting in Anton finishing his race weekend at Estering with a 5th position in the semi-final.

Liam commented: “It’s an interesting one: This has actually been the most positive race this year for me although the final result looks the opposite. The car has been great, we’ve put down increasingly competitive, mostly top 4, lap times, but just had some bad luck and a few unfortunate starts which at Estering have significant impact as getting to the first corner and out of that corner decides the rest of the race. The disqualification is unfortunate as it was done by pure accident and added to us just being on the back foot. I genuinely feel that this weekend I had the best chance of grabbing a spot in the final, we put down top times, and I know the track so felt safe and comfortable to push and get those lap times. The track suits me and my style of driving and I felt comfortable pushing for this level of speed with plenty of scope for more – the team have done a great job on the car and while the final result this weekend is the worst I’ve had this season, I’m actually taking the most positives from it with the car having felt the best yet, which clearly shows we’re making significant progress.”

Anton added: “We went into weekend with the primary target being to reach the semi-finals, which we knew would be tough as it’s a very specific, tricky track and a lot of good drivers here. I initially played it safe which resulted in sometimes getting stuck in traffic but pushing for consistent enough lap times to make it safely to the semi-finals, so I’m very happy with that – we’ve made clear improvements on the car, especially since Austin, and I’ve never felt this confident in a car going into a race, so I was really looking forward to the semi-finals. The semi-final race ended quicker than expected for me, which is a shame and really disappointing; I could feel a lot of impact on the car and now looking back on the video, it explains the significant damage to the car which will be tough to repair ahead of South Africa. The team have been working super hard and will continue to do so, so we can race the final event this season and push for the best possible result that hopefully reflects the considerable improvements in performance we’ve seen over the last months.”

Guerlain added: “Estering proved a tough race weekend for GCK. It’s super exciting to see us put down these top 10 lap times and fight it out with the best of the sport but of course frustrating when we then can’t follow through consistently and get the results we are aiming for. It was a weekend full of spectacular racing and lots of contact, which was great for the thousands of fans who came in droves to watch us battle it out in the sun – I’m really thankful for their unwavering support throughout this very first season for GCK and I’m super excited to see us having progressed so significantly over the past year. Now it’s all hands on deck to get the GCK Megane R.S. RX fixed and ready for the season clincher in Cape Town, where we hope to be able to get the results to reflect this massive development of our team in our debut year.”








GCK Media: Nini Mikolajski

FIA World RX Championship 2018 / Round 10, COTA, USA / September 28-30, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright:GCKRX/McKlein

18 October 2018

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