GCK debut in Latvia

As round 8 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship saw 29,000 fans gather in Riga, Latvia, 20 supercars battled it out on the picturesque, technical, sold-out track close to Riga Old Town, and GC KOMPETITION celebrated the debut of the team and the GCK Megane R.S. RX in the Baltics and the 2nd race of British driver Liam Doran for GCK with both cars reaching the semi-finals, showcasing some of the strongest, most determined and improved racing seen this season.

With the free practice and first learnings on the Latvian track on Saturday behind GCK, the team worked on both Megane R.S. RX to adjust technically to this demanding track, ready for what promised to be some fast, difficult racing in Q1.

Sunshine and a dry track welcomed Guerlain Chicherit as he found himself sandwiched between Grégoire Demoustier, Sébastien Loeb, Timur Timerzyanov and Kevin Eriksson for race 1 of Q1.

Putting down a good start, Guerlain managed to fight Timerzyanov into the first corner. While Loeb took the lead, Chicherit continued behind him with Timerzyanov hot on his heels. He took the joker strategically in lap 2, coming out in 3rd from where he carefully managed the distance to Timerzyanov in front of him to finish the race in 2nd having managed to push ahead of Timur when the Russian jokered.

Race 4 of Q1 saw Liam sandwiched between Niclas Grönholm, Robin Larsson, Johan Kristofferson and Kevin Hansen. Following a good start, Liam managed to safely come out of a first corner squeeze with significant contact from Hansen. As Grönholm returned to the track having been pushed into the dirt, he drove straight into Liam’s side at high speed, damaging the rear suspension of the Megane R.S. RX. Incredibly, and to the delight of the fans, Doran managed to keep the car straight and continued ahead of Gronhölm, only losing position to him to finish 3rd when he jokered in the last lap. Following Q1, Chicherit sat in P9 overall with Doran in P13.

As the crowds filled up the grandstands in the glorious sunshine, race 2 of Q2 had Doran line up to the start line between Toomas Heikkinen, Janis Baumanis and Grégoire Demoustier & Kevin Hansen.

The first corner continued to provide some of the most controversial race action seen this season, as contact with Hansen saw Doran pushed into the dirt losing traction and ending up last of the pack, where he was stuck in traffic before being able to overtake Demoustier. In 4th position, Liam strategically took the joker in lap 2, overtaking Kevin Hansen in the process and proceeded to finish in 3rd behind Heikkinen and Baumanis, 11th overall at the end of day 1.

Race 3 of Q2 saw Guerlain line up at the start line with Andreas Bakkerud, Nico Müller, Niclas Grönholm and Timur Timerzyanov.

Chicherit put down a good start; As the pack descended into corner 1, a massive brawl ensued and Chicherit got spun around before being able to find his line again and pushing on as 4th in the pack, finishing 4th behind Bakkerud, Grönholm and Timerzyanov, 10th overall at the end of day 1, leaving both GCK drivers within the Top 12 following Saturday’s racing.

Following rain throughout the night, a drying track welcomed the teams on Sunday morning.

Race 2 of Q3 saw Guerlain line up between Sébastien Loeb as well as Kevin Eriksson, Robin Larsson and Alex Wurz. Able to avoid first corner mayhem, Chicherit got tapped by Eriksson and Larson but managed to escape to tuck in behind fellow frenchman Loeb, and raced cleanly to finish in 2nd, putting him 8th overall following Q3.

Doran started in race 3 of Q3 on the far outside next to Timur Timerzyanov, Baumanis, Scheider and Grönholm. While Liam managed to avoid the ensuing race carnage into turn 1 putting him into 2nd out of the 1st corner, he was then pushed out by Baumanis into the dirt leaving him last of the pack and forced to joker in the first lap and stuck in traffic for the remainder of the lap, finishing 15th overall following Q3.

Packed grandstands witnessed Liam line up for Q4 between Demoustier and Wurz with Larsson and Bennett on the outside. A fantastic start saw him head first into the corner, leading the race and finishing 1st. He spectacularly managed to race back the time he needed to finish in 12th overall, bagging a semi-final spot.

Guerlain started his Q4 between Kevin Hansen and Timo Scheider with Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Grönholm on the outside. Another great start by Chicherit saw him tuck in second behind Hansen with him losing one position to Grönholm after he jokered, finishing in 3rd and putting him in 9th overall following Q4.

Guerlain lined up for semi final 1 on the 3rd row next to Timerzyanov, behind Grönholm, Solberg, Ekstrom, Kristofferson. A tough race saw him avoid first corner contact and ensuing battles with Grönholm and Timerzyanov saw him finish 4th ahead of Solberg and Timerzyanov. A 5 second penalty for early contact had Guerlain finish the weekend in 5th in the end.

Semi-final 2 saw Liam line up on the 3rd row next to Kevin Hansen, Nico Mueller, Bakkerud, Timmy Hansen and Loeb. While he managed to escape the first corner contact unscathed, a close battle between Liam, Bakkerud and Kevin Hansen ensued.

Doran decided to joker on the 2nd lap and squeezed over the finishing line in 4th ahead of Bakkerud and Müller. Doran also received a 5-second penalty, with both GCK Megane R.S. RX finishing 5th in their respective semi-finals in Latvia.

Liam commented: “A weekend of learning for us as we arrived at a track new to me and the rest of the team. We had to make some additional changes and it was some tough racing but throughout the qualifiers, we gained confidence and speed and were able to hold our own. It was a positive weekend and we really did ourselves proud, adapting quickly and showing competitive speed in the semi-finals compared to the factory teams that have years of experience here. I’m happy and satisfied with the great improvements and changes we’re making and super stoked to be part of the team.”

Guerlain added: “A difficult weekend for us as we tried to learn the track, adapt the cars and not get caught up in too much of the first corner craziness. We lacked pace at the beginning as we tried to adapt but quickly found our way back and worked together as a team to improve where necessary. The semi-finals had both Liam and I fight hard and we gave it our all. I’m proud of team GCK today and really looking forward to how much more we can improve and achieve over the next few races. In the meantime, team G-FORS had their last EuroRX race today and both of our drivers made it into the semi-finals there as well, having shown incredible resilience, determination and skill throughout the season developing the Clios with us. I’ve got a great team around me and I’m excited to see what we can achieve over the coming months.”

GCK Media: Nini Mikolajski

September 18, 2018
FIA World RX Championship 2018 / Round 09, Riga 15/16-September, 2018 // Photo: Worldwide Copyright:GCKRX/McKlein

Leave a Comment