2nd September, Lohéac, France
As round 8 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship saw 80,000 fans gather in Lohéac, France, for what is one of the biggest, most anticipated events of the season, 25 supercars battled it out on tarmac and the gravel dirt section in blazing sunshine and GC KOMPETITION celebrated its “home race” and the re-introduction of British driver Liam Doran after his 2-year Rallycross hiatus with both GCK Mégane R.S. RX reaching the semi-finals.
Following two days of testing for both Guerlain Chicherit and GCK’s newly announced driver, Liam Doran, in France, both boys put down promising speed in Friday’s practice session with Liam turning heads posting the 5th fastest time while Guerlain finished Friday’s practice in 12th, moving up to 9th in Saturday morning’s practice.
Things heated up quickly as Guerlain lined up on the grid for race 3 of Q1, sandwiched between Ekström and Baumanis. Following a good start, Chicherit was squeezed into turn 1 pushing him to the back of the pack from where he fought back to finish in P4.
Liam’s Q1 race followed, with him lining up 5th on the grid on the far outside. Putting down a good start, he spectacularly pushed around the outside to beat Kristofferson into the first corner taking the lead of the race to the delight of the roaring crowd.
Kristofferson managed to overtake Doran on the exit of turn 3, who in turn continued to chase Johan down until he crossed the finish line in 2nd, putting him in 8th overall on his first race following his return to Rallycross.
Q2 saw Guerlain get off the line quick and he continued to race strongly avoiding some first corner contact, tucking in behind Eriksson and racing away from the pack, putting down the 4th fastest time of the day to finish 2nd behind Eriksson and 11th overall.
Liam’s Q2 saw him get pushed out wide into the gravel, losing time, but catching up again quickly to joker in the first lap behind Kevin Hansen, from where he continued to push to catch up with the rest of the pack overtaking Baumanis to finish 4th, putting him in 10th overall with both GCK Mégane R.S. RX part of the top 12 drivers after day 1.
Sunday saw both GCK drivers determined to put down even more competitive speed, which Liam quickly achieved, winning his Q3 and putting down a new fastest lap of the day in the process. Some super strong, fast and fearless racing, that saw him avoid contact and collision behind him, left Liam in a strong 4th place overall following Q3.
Guerlain put down a great start in Q3 but contact into the first corner saw him squeezed into the dirt, from where he
managed to fight back to finish 3rd behind Timmy Hansen and Petter Solberg. Smooth, aggressive driving throughout saw him take the chequered flag ahead of Loeb and Kevin Hansen putting Chicherit in 8th overall following Q3.
Q4 saw GC finish in 3rd ahead of Baumanis and Eriksson, having put down a good start, fighting into the first corner and continuing to push throughout the race, finishing behind Timmy Hansen and Petter Solberg.
Liam put down a good start in race 5 of Q4, tucking in behind Kristofferson, but impact from one of the Audis into turn 2 took him backwards into the gravel, from where he continued to hunt the others down to finish the race in p5 with a good time . With Liam in 6th overall and Guerlain in 11th overall following Q4, both GCK Mégane R.S. RX made it into the semi-finals.
Race 1 of the semi-finals saw Guerlain take on Ekström, Kristofferson, Timmy and Kevin Hansen as well as Grönholm while Liam took on Bakkerud, Solberg, Timerzyanov, Eriksson and Loeb.
While Guerlain lost some time into the first corner, he put down some strong, impressive race pace and finished 5th ahead of Grönholm, a great showcase of a weekend of huge improvements with the car and a big stepping stone for this new team.
Liam put down a strong start in his semi-final, however, initial contact resulted in him having a flat tire which ended the race for him with a finish in 6th.
Guerlain Chicherit commented : “What a great weekend. It’s been a crazy few weeks and months for us and the entire team has been working so hard and has been fully committed to continuously developing our GCK Mégane R.S. RX further and trying new things to make it truly competitive. Having Liam come onboard for Lohéac and testing with him beforehand was awesome – his experience and input was not only helpful with the Mégane but also for me and my driving. Racing in front of my home crowd and seeing the incredible support was the best and I’m so glad we were able to provide them with a strong racing performance and give them a feel of what the Mégane is capable of.”
Liam Doran a ajouté : “I absolutely loved this weekend – I’m so stoked to have been given this opportunity to return to Rallycross. The car is awesome, the team is awesome and it’s just such a professional environment to be in! This was probably the best ever race weekend for me, even just because it allowed me to really come in and just focus on racing and getting the most out of the car – of course, the result isn’t quite what I wanted but that’s racing. To work with the team on improving the car further and being able to support Guerlain as well was hugely satisfying! I’m ecstatic that I’ve been given this opportunity to race and I think the decision to give me this chance and for me to take it, was definitely the right one. The GCK Mégane R.S. RX has huge potential and it’s been great to be able show that to the fans and fellow drivers this weekend.”