Timo Scheider celebrates 1st WRX win in Cape Town and postpones title decision until season finale
Best career result set, first victory celebrated less than 24 hours later: That's how Timo Scheider's weekend at the World Rallycross Championship in Cape Town, South Africa could be summed up. In Saturday's race, he finished third behind World Champion Johan Kristoffersson and Kevin Hansen, repeating his best result in WRX. On Sunday, he relegated the two Swedes to the other podium places and celebrated his first victory in the series. The championship will thus not be decided until the season finale.
One potentially beneficial aspect of the race weekend was that all drivers contested the races with identical cars. Following a fire in Special ONE Racing's garage at the Lydden Hill race, the series had switched to the cars of the electric supporting series RX2e for the remaining rounds for safety reasons. In order to promote young racers and keep costs low, all the vehicles are identical in construction, making it a race weekend with equal machinery for everyone.
This did not diminish the racing action - on the contrary. Already on Saturday, three different heat winners showed that the field was more balanced. In the semi-final and final, however, reigning World Champion Johan Kristoffersson was unstoppable, consistently turning his laps while the competition behind him battled for podium places. A group of four consisting of Ole Christian Veiby, Timmy Hansen, Timo Scheider and Kevin Hansen went through the first corners behind and alongside each other. As so much dust swirled up that it was not possible to follow on screen what was going on. What is certain, however, is that they clashed, as the cars of Scheider and Timmy Hansen sustained some damage to the front of the vehicle.
On lap 3, Veiby, who had been second until then, jumped over a bump and lost control of his car. Returning to the racing line, he had to defend against Timmy Hansen and pushed both cars off the track. He had to park his car a few metres later with a defect, Hansen was able to continue. However, Timo Scheider had managed to squeeze past in the scrum. Kevin Hansen, who had already completed his joker lap before, was able to catch up. When the two drivers in front of him started their Joker Laps, he went past and secured second place, while Timo Scheider secured third against the other Hansen brother.
Scheider: "Long way in WRX to first win"
Sunday's race day began with technical problems for Scheider: In Super Pole the rear engine failed, in Heat 1 he had a puncture. But from then on he dominated the heat sessions like Kristoffersson usually does and accordingly started the race from pole. The World Championship leader next to him had "completely slept through" the start and therefore had to let Kevin Hansen go, who thus drove into second place. Further back, Timmy Hansen was pushed into the wall by Klara Andersson and fell behind the Swede with a damaged car. After the race, however, the positions were swapped again thanks to a penalty.
The leading three went into the Joker Lap in reverse order between laps 2 and 4 - but the positions did not change. Kevin Hansen and Kristoffersson only slid closer together and had an interesting battle for second place, which Hansen was able to defend. In front, Scheider drove home his victory.
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"It’s pretty difficult to describe this right now,” Scheider reflected. “I feel quite emotional. I’ve been chasing this win for some time; it hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve kept fighting and I always try to squeeze the most out of what I have. We all know how difficult it is to beat Johan [Kristoffersson], so I’m super-proud for both myself and the ALL-INKL.COM team – they put so much energy into this project and have kept believing in me. It’s quite overwhelming, to be honest. I want to dedicate this victory to my dad, who passed away last year."
After this impressive weekend, he is third overall in the championship behind the aforementioned Kristoffersson and Kevin Hansen. The title decision has officially been postponed to Hong Kong, even though the Swede has nothing to fear with a 36-point lead. The race will take place in a month's time.