Double FIA European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill set some of the fastest lap times of the entire event but endured a frustrating weekend at the biggest rallycross round in the world, at Loheac in France (September 2).
Racing in the fourth round of the European Rallycross Championship in front of 80,000 spectators, Irish Rallycross Champion Tohill and the PFCRX team set out their intentions early in the weekend at the event known as the ‘temple of rallycross’, with fourth fastest lap time in Free Practice two, competing against a number of current and former manufacturer-backed drivers and cars.
But, a series of slow starts hampered the Irish team’s cause with its 600 horsepower Ford Fiesta Supercar, leaving Tohill work to do during the races. Caught in the inevitable traffic and first corner melée without being able to immediately make a break for the front of the pack, Tohill’s weekend was compounded by getting hit by another competitor in Q4, causing significant damage to the Fiesta. Despite setting top lap times in all conditions throughout the event, Ireland’s first and so far only FIA rallycross champion qualified 13thoverall and just missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
But, having extracted more pace from the four-wheel drive machine, the PFCRX team now heads to the season finale at Riga in Latvia (September 15 – 16), a circuit that the squad has good experience of from previous test days and races. The PFCRX engineers, led by preparation experts C-Sport, are working hard to get on top of the start line issues and are hoping to end the 2018 season on a high, to close on the top 10 overall points scorers with a final appearance.
Derek Tohill | Driver | Ford Fiesta #111
“Whatever conditions were thrown at us in France, our lap times were really good so we absolutely deserved to be at least in the semi-finals and the final. We were between fourth and seventh on lap times all weekend, so being first reserve for the semi-finals is even more frustrating. It’s the worse place to qualify, to be so close but to miss out.
We’ve definitely moved forward with overall pace from the car, but we have had problems with the starts, and that’s caused us to be in the position we’re in now. Ending up last at the first corner and having to fight back makes life very hard work, with only four laps in the qualifying races the start is critical in rallycross. The guys have done a really good job with the car to extract that pace and it’s just a shame that where we would have qualified seventh, which would have put us in the middle row of the semis, we were actually been playing catch up. My reaction times have been good, if we can sort the starts, which we are working hard to do, we have the pace to race with the fastest guys and that would put us in a good place. We’re aiming for the final in Latvia. We were hoping to sneak into the final a Loheac, but it wasn’t to be. There’s a big jump in Latvia so we’ll try some different dampers for there and if we have a good setup, I think we can go there with a lot of confidence.”
France Final Result:
1 Cyril Raymond (FRA)
2 Krisztian Szabo (HUN)
3 Anton Marklund (SWE)
4 Thomas Bryntesson (NOR)
5 Jerre Kalliokoski (FIN)
6 Reinis Nitiss (LVA)
13 Derek Tohill (IRL)
FIA European Rallycross Championship Points:
1 Reinis Nitiss (LVA) 106
2 Cyril Raymond (FRA) 80
3 Anton Marklund (SWE) 76
4 Thomas Bryntesson (NOR) 53
5 Ulrik Linnemann (DK) 51
6 Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (FRA) 46
14 Derek Tohill (IRL) 21