South Africa World RX: Loeb leads after Saturday
Sebastien Loeb topped the order on the opening day of the South African World Rallycross finale, a month after winning his first WRC event in six years.
Competing in Peugeot’s final World RX round as a works effort, Loeb was fastest in Q1 on the Killarney circuit to take top spot.
He remained at the head of the standings at the close of the day despite dropping positions from pole position in Q2 following a first-corner battle and only setting the sixth best time.
Petter Solberg was best of the Volkswagen-backed drivers in Q1 with fourth, then completed a one-two behind teammate Johan Kristoffersson in Q2 to take second at the end of the day.
Kristoffersson meanwhile suffered a technical problem in the opening session that caused a spin on the second lap of his race. Although he did finish the encounter, he was 16th and last of those that chalked up a time.
But in Q2 meant Kristoffersson cleared Munnich Motorsport drivers Timo Scheider and Rene Munnich by the first corner of his race and ran in clean air to stop the clocks first and climb 10 places up to sixth.
The two PSRX drivers were in danger of not starting the event when the team's cars and equipment were delayed in transit, with the kit delivered late on Friday afternoon.
A mistake in the joker lap section on the final lap of his Q1 race meant Peugeot driver Timmy Hansen was unable to better his colleague Loeb’s time in Q1, and like Loeb was then beaten to the first corner by a fast-starting Solberg in Q2.
Following Solberg for the opening laps, Hansen took his joker on the third tour but couldn’t overhaul the triple FIA World Champion when the Norwegian took his joker on lap four and was fourth fastest. Hansen is third overnight.
Mattias Ekstrom was fastest in Free Practice but had to battle in traffic in the opening corners of both of his races and wound up fifth at the end of the day.
His teammate Andreas Bakkerud ended up one place better. Bakkerud was third in Q1 thanks to gaining positions at turn one and then beat Loeb as the joker laps played out in Q2.
Driving for Manfred Stohl’s STARD team, Janis Baumanis was fifth in Q1 and ended the day eighth overall, sandwiched between Peugeot driver Kevin Hansen and Anton Marklund, making his third appearance for the GCK squad.
Solberg's team in danger of missing South Africa RX finale
South Africa World RX: Kristoffersson topples Loeb in qualifying