Irish rallycross team PFCRX and driver Derek Tohill finished 12th overall from 22 finishers in the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship at Mettet in Belgium (May 15).
The double FIA European Championship winning outfit made its first international start with its 600bhp Ford Fiesta Supercar and set eighth and ninth fastest qualifying times on the first day of competition in Belgium.
A pair of strong times in Q3 and Q4 on day two secured a place in the semi-finals, where Tohill was fighting for a starting position in the final until a broken suspension component during the race ended his final hopes, but still netted 12th overall.
The OlsbergsMSE built car had undergone a number of updates leading up to the event and the PFCRX spent time starting to hone it to Tohill’s style. The team are treating the 2016 season as a development and testing exercise as part of a multi-year programme with the target of winning events and the Euro RX Supercar title.
The Belgian round was a strong start in that process, the pace of Tohill and the car improving throughout the weekend as the team returned to full-time rallycross competition. PFCRX will compete in a range of events this season, the next of which will be the fourth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in two weeks time, at Lydden Hill in the UK (May 27 – 29).
Derek Tohill | Driver | Ford Fiesta #111
“It’s great to be back in the European Championship. The team did a superb job. Objective number one was to be here and ready, which we achieved. Objective number two, which we knew we would be delighted with was a semi-final, and we achieved too. It’s a very competitive championship and we almost achieved objective number three – to make the final – much earlier than we expected. We’ve work to do, but we have a great starting point here.
We tried to up our pace in the semi-final but I jumped too long on the jump and broke a suspension wishbone, so we dropped from fourth to sixth. This year is to put in the good foundations for year two and three and the likes of Albatec Racing and Hansen are top teams, they’ve been at this a good while now so we know it’s not going to happen overnight for us. Having our own setup and our own little team racing against works-funded programmes like the Peugeots is deadly.
We need to stick at it, as we get to know the car better, life will be easier for us. Hopefully we’ve done enough here to secure a start at the next Euro RX round in Norway. We’re going to Lydden for seat time primarily but we know the track so that’s a good starting point.”
FIA European Rallycross Championship Result | May 15
1 Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208)
2 Jerome Grosset-Janin (Peugeot 208)
3 Tord Linnerud (Volkswagen Polo)
4 “Csucsu” (Ford Focus)
5 Tommy Rustad (Peugeot 208)
6 Joni-Pekka Rajala (Volkswagen Beetle)
12 Derek Tohill (Ford Fiesta)
FIA European Rallycross Championship Points | After round 1
1 Kevin Hansen 27
2 Jerome Grosset-Janin 27
3 Tord Linnerud 23
4 Joni-Pekka Rajala 21
5 “Csucsu” 16
6 Tommy Rustad 16
12 Derek Tohill 7