1994 European Rallycross Championship

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Kenneth Hansen leads Martin SchancheThe 1994 championship was characterised by intense competition between Hansen (winner of the first two rounds); 1993 champion Jean-Luc Pailler (winner of the next two rounds) and Martin Schanche, who claimed the first of three victories in round five at Croft in June. That win came as a huge relief to the Norwegian as he had put his Escort on pole position in each of the previous two races and twice had been foiled by Pailler. At Croft too, the Frenchman led until a controversial clash i the second corner left the Citroen on its rook and Martin the winner from the restart. Hansen returned to the einners circle on home ground in Sweden where gross misfortune prevented Barry Squibb from breaking his European Rallycross Championship duck. Hansen was in the thick of the actio again in Finland where he finished second as Schanche won again, but despite two victories before Belgium, Martin was agitated with his inability to convert pole into an event win. He missed pole in the first two rounds but in the subsequent five events, he twice lost the advantage gained in qualifying. Another dose of somnambulism in Belgium left the Norwegian exasperated as Hansen notched up his 4th victory. Holland however, is home for Schanche and here his pole advanteg was not wasted as he racked up a record 11th ERC victory on the Euro circuit. Pailler and Hansen chased Schanche to the flag. In Norway, the Frenchman stayed home to wrap up his 4th consecutive French title. It was, therefore, a straight head-to-head between pole-sitter Schanche and Hansen, and while the Norwegian had to win to keep his title hopes alive, Hansen has to win in order to add anything to his score and in that position no one was terribly surprised when the race became overly agressive. At the end of the day, both Citroen and Ford sustained heavy wounds but Schanche's run was cut short by a puncture that left Hansen to collect the win and title. It was not a good wat to see the title decided and the pair were condemned in the Paddock. In marked contrast was the final round in Germany where, surprise surprise, Schanche again started from and was again leapfrogged in the dash to the first corner by Pailler. Jean-Luc's win really was quite easy and left the end of year win tally at five to Hansen and three apiece to himself and Schanche, no one else getting a sniff of victory. Behind the top three came Will Gollop, whose Peugeot 306 took a turn for the better with the July arrival of a 1900cc engine to replace the car's original 1760cc unit. Nine 'A' Finals, including three third places helped Gollop fend off Tommy Kristoffersson's Audi, Per Eklund's Subaru and Barry Squibb's Escort in the battle for 4th place. Jean-Luc Pailler partners Kenneth Hansen in the other monster Citroen Xantia TurboEklund started the year strongly but slipped out of contention as the year progressed and the Bi-Turbo Impreza developed an unhealthy, not to mention expensive, habit of trashing its engine at almost every opportunity. Squibb too had his share of mechanical problems, an exploding rear differential in Ireland and overheating at Croft being particularly costly in terms of preventing high scores on familiar tracks. Managing to bring his Escort home in 9th place was Michael Jernberg, who missed four events after a massive engine failure in France. In Division One, British fans had much to cheer about at that funky Essex dude, Richard Hutton, single-handedly took on the nasty vikings and the great white hope of Germany Bernd Leinemann, and won. It didn't look too good early in the year as Richard non-started in Austria and then in Portugal for round two he ended the qualifying heats with a position in the 'C' Final. Undeterred by this, Hutton went for it big time in the Finals, where he made mincemeat of the 'C' Finalists and dealt comtemptuously with the occupants of the 'B' Final. He then scythed through the 'A' Final pack with the determined edge of a hard-nosed racer and snatched the lead from Dutchman Jos Kuypers after four of the six laps in a truly outstanding performance. When Leinemann won in France, it set up what could become a year-long confrontation between them. In Ireland they fought tooth and nail to the death, the hard race resolved in the German's favour on the last corner. From there to England where Nick Jones gave them all the run around and Tony Bardy came home second. There was a win apiece in Sweden and Finland for the leading duo but neither had much luck in Belgium. Hutton's blown engine compounded the following weekend when he had a thoroughly miserable time in Holland and failed even to qualify for the finals. Picking himself up, Hutton chased 1993 champion Ludvig Hunsbedt to net second place in Norway and then, with the pressure on, drove a pluperfect race in Germany to end the year with an event win and the title. Per EklundDutchman Jos Kuypers had a hard time in the ERC this tear, althgouh second place to Hutton in Portugal and third place finishes in Sweden and Finland were nothing to be ashamed of. Hutton aside, there is still very little British activity in this class but it is indicative of the British competitors talent that Jones was able to achieve 11th place in the championship with just six appearances and Bardy reached 16th following from a mere three starts. Double British Champion Jones caused a sensation with a fourth place in Portugal and then reinforced his position as a class ERC runner as an 'A' Finalist in France. The high point in Jones' year came at Croft where he claimed a momentous maiden ERC win ahead of Bardy and in Germany this Yorkshireman was once again impressive with a fine fourth place.Tags:, ,