Well the championship for this season’s FIA World RX has been sewn up – spoiler alert, it was Mattias Ekström. But You probably knew that didn’t you? It was yet again a great weekend of action, spills and thrills, Germany was the venue for the penultimate round of World Rallycross. So how did it unfold?
The qualifying didn’t throw up too many surprises although Russian driver Timur Timerzyanov struggled throughout which was a surprise as he had been in decent form up until late. Janis Baumanis set the best time in Q1 but Solberg struggled and found himself in 12th. He was able to make some ground back in Q2 but it was Ekström who was top qualifier overnight.
Peugeot-Hansen really nailed the starts in Q3 with their drivers getting lightening starts of the line, which allowed the Hansen brothers to win their races with Timmy achieving a time of 2:50.982 and Kevin beating that with a time of 2:48.445. Current champ at the time Petter Solberg won Q3 after putting in a good shift to win race 6 with a time of 2:46.188.
The Norwegian carried this good run in to Q4, wining it in the process but that is not the main story from Q4. No, this has to go to Hoonigan driver Andreas Bakkerud who put in an absolute blinder after one of his rear wheels was severely damaged after contact. Not only did he finish the race but somehow he managed to win. You have to see the drive to believe and truly appreciate the skill on show.
Ken Block had bad luck again as his Focus RS RX had mechanical problems which saw him bow out of semi final 2. His counterpart, Bakkerud had better luck in semi final one after his wheel had been fixed and was able to take third place behind Petter Solberg and Kevin Hansen. Ekström won the second semi final but his pace wasn’t brilliant despite having a set of brand new tyres on his Audi S1.
Kevin Eriksson was close behind him but had to settle for a well-deserved second place with Johan Kristofferson taking third place after setting the fastest lap of the day at that point – 37.198 seconds. Mathematically Ekström could have been crowned champ after the semi finals if things had gone his way but his rivals were able to get to the final meaning he had to wait a little longer.
Where did he come from?
Kevin Eriksson must have been buzzing to get in to the final but what he did in the first corner was brazen to say the least. Solberg had made it to turn one first, but he could not have anticipated what would happen next. Eriksson came out wide and got this Fiesta ST completely sideways and the Swede somehow managed to pass everyone to get himself in to first.
Things weren’t so great for the potential champion Ekström though, his pace was slower than the rest and he soon found himself at the back of the pack. It looked as if he would not be getting his hands on the championship trophy but title rival Kristoffersson got a puncture which saw him come stone dead last. Eriksson amazingly held on to win his first ever World RX final with Solberg having to settle for second.
This meant Ekström was able to secure his title of champion despite finishing second to last. Bakkerud took third place but at a price – smoke had filled his car and he had inhaled it, meaning he had to see the medics after the race to be checked over. Kevin Hansen completed the race in fourth having just missed out on the podium.
So there we have it, Mattias Ekström is the new World Rallycross champion! The season is not over yet though – the team championship still needs to be decided which looks like it’s between EKS (385 points) and Team Peugeot-Hansen (348 points). The finale takes place in Argentina towards the end of November, who will take the team championship win?