Ekstrom wins home World RX event in front of record-breaking crowd | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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Ekstrom wins home World RX event in front of record-breaking crowd

Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom has become the fifth different winner in this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy after clinching the victory at the Volkswagen World RX of Sweden in an exhilarating final race.

Timmy Hansen was declared the initial winner but his victory was later revoked after a stewards’ enquiry confirmed the Swede was penalised for pushing in the final.  As a consequence, Hansen was demoted to second while Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud finished third.

Over 40,000 people attended this year’s Swedish RX round – up from 35,000 in 2014 – where reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg was top qualifier at the Intermediate Classification. The final didn’t fare so well for Solberg, however, as the Norwegian beached his Citroen DS3 in the gravel on the final lap and broke his steering. Despite the setback, Solberg continues to lead the overall drivers’ standings, 44 points ahead of Johan Kristoffersson.

“I’m happy for my guys and for myself, I feel this is a well deserved win,” confirmed Ekstrom, who has won at Holjes for the second year in a row.  “I have no hard feelings towards Timmy, he deserves P2.  He made a brave move passing me on the corner but everybody has to play by the rules of a World Championship.  I did feel like I was robbed of the win so I’m pleased that the stewards made the decision that they did – it sets the level of the bar of how we should race. I’m really pleased with how car the car has performed and of course it’s always amazing to take a win at my home race.”

Hansen was understandably disappointed following the stewards’ decision but the Team Peugeot-Hansen driver remained positive. “It was a very close call,” explained the 22 year-old whose team-mate Davy Jeanney finished eighth in the team’s second car.  “I saw a gap on the final corner after the jump, I didn’t hesitate and I just went for it.  I didn’t think I was pushing Mattias, there was some contact side by side but that is rallycross in my opinion.  I still feel like I won in front of my home crowd and I crossed the finish line first which was a dream feeling.”

Third-placed Bakkerud claimed his first podium of the year, despite having reached the final of each World RX race so far this season.  “It’s been a while since I’ve finished on the podium so this feels really great,” grinned Bakkerud who had a huge support network in Holjes this weekend with dozens of fans cheering on the popular Norwegian. 

Bakkerud continued: “This is my third podium in Holjes and it always feels good to finish in the top three in Holjes – especially with so many family and friends who are here with me this weekend.  The car was down on power in the final but my spotter on the radio just told me to keep pushing so that’s what I did! I’m even hungrier for a victory now and that’s what I’ll be aiming for in Canada and in the second half of the year.”

Fourth place was taken by Marklund Motorsport’s Topi Heikkinen after the Finn drove a mature race to finish just shy of a podium spot.  Latvian Reinis Nitiss rounded off the top five, scoring crucial points for the Ford Olsbergs MSE squad who has now extended its lead at the top of the Teams’ Championship by 17 points over Team Peugeot-Hansen.

Elsewhere, it was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Team Volkswagen Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson and Tord Linnerud.  Kristoffersson qualified for the semi-finals but ran wide in the Joker Lap during the first lap, which led to a puncture and denied the Swede a spot in the final. During the same race, Ole Christian Veiby showed good pace in a second VW Sweden run Polo.  The Euro RX front-runner finished the event in ninth position, one spot ahead of Eric Faren who had an impressive outing for the Hansen Development Team. 

Britain’s leading rallycross driver Liam Doran, who partners Solberg in the SDRX team, was placed 11th after heat three but a misfiring engine hindered his progress.

In the support categories, Latvia’s Janis Baumanis has extended his lead over Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo in the S1600 category after taking the win in Holjes.  Russia’s Nikita Misyulya and Norway’s Magnus Bergsjobrende finished second and third respectively.

Speaking about his win, Baumanis stated: “It is the best feeling to win in Holjes - the atmosphere is amazing. Myself and Reinis have had so many Latvian fans come to Holjes to support us both so I’d like to thank every single of them, my family and sponsors – it means so much to me.”

Fredrik Salsten took the win in TouringCar and now leads the rear-wheel drive category with just one round remaining. He is 17 points ahead of Sweden’s Magda Andersson who finished third in front of an elated home crowd. Fredrik Magnussen took the runners-up spot.

In the supporting RX Lites Cup, it was Thomas Bryntesson who took the victory in only his second outing in the Lites this year. He finished one second ahead of Kevin Hansen, while Kevin Eriksson clinched third.  

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “We’ve had a record crowd in Sweden this weekend with over 40,000 passionate rallycross fans and it’s been wonderful to see a Swedish one-two in the final. Once again we saw a great battle between the different car manufacturers with both man and machine pushing themselves to the limit. With the record crowds combined with mainstream media who visited this weekend, the sport of rallycross is clearly going from strength to strength in Sweden.  It’s fantastic to see such a surge of popularity in rallycross since we’ve become an FIA sanctioned World Championship.”

The World RX crews will now have a five-week break before they prepare to cross the Atlantic for World RX of Canada (7-8 August).

For the latest results and times, please visit www.fiaworldrallycross.com/results