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World Rallycross Montalegre: Petter Solberg wins opener

Petter Solberg wins Montalegre World Rallycross 2014

Petter Solberg scored an emphatic victory at the first round of the World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre in Portugal, ahead of OlsbergsMSE pair Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss.

Solberg qualified on pole position and led into the first corner, despite making a slightly slower getaway than fellow Norwegian Bakkerud, who drew alongside Solberg before heading straight into the joker lap, side-by-side with Nitiss.

Bakkerud returned to the main circuit ahead of his team-mate, followed by Belgian driver Koen Pauwels.

Up front, Solberg led ahead of Marklund Motorsport duo Toomas Heikkinen and Anton Marklund.

As Solberg progressively increased his lead, the OlsbergsMSE pair closed in on Heikkinen and Marklund, the Fords and VWs exchanging places on lap five when Heikkinen and Marklund both took their joker lap.

Solberg saved his joker lap until the final tour, easily returning to the lead. Pauwels finished sixth.

"It's unbelievable," said the 2003 World Rally champion at the finish. "It's been such a long time waiting for another world championship victory, but it feels amazing.

"Every single person in the team has worked so hard for this, it feels like winning my first rally again."

Reigning European Rallycross champion Timur Timerzyanov qualified top of the Intermediate Classification in his new Peugeot 208, but could only finish fourth in his semi-final, missing out on a place in the final.

Jacques Villeneuve had a hard first weekend in rallycross. The Canadian picked up a puncture in heat two and missed heat three altogether when his Peugeot 208 developed a water leak in the paddock.

He did race in heat four, but got held up in traffic and was unable to finish inside the top 12 to earn a place in the semi-finals.

The next round of the World Rallycross Championship is the AUTOSPORT World RX of Great Britain at Lydden Hill on May 24-25, click here to buy tickets

Final result:

Pos Driver               Car               Time/Gap
 1. Petter Solberg       Solberg Citroen   4m02.081s
 2. Andreas Bakkerud     Olsbergs Ford     +2.358s
 3. Reinis Nitiss        Olsbergs Ford     +3.048s
 4. Topi Heikkinen       Marklund VW       +5.025s
 5. Anton Marklund       Marklund VW       +5.901s
 6. Koen Pauwels         Pauwels Ford      +10.790s

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