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World RX - Ekstrom claims dramatic Holjes victory


WorldRX - 2020 World RX of Sweden - 2nd Round

 Mattias Ekstrom scores victory at home circuit
•    KYB Team JC takes first ever World RX win
•    Kevin Hansen and Johan Kristoffersson complete round two podium
•    Oliver Eriksson wins Euro RX, Ken Block claims first Projekt E victory

KYB Team JC’s Mattias Ekstrom claimed a dramatic victory in the second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, the Swecon World RX of Sweden, in the second instalment of the Championship’s first ever double-header (August 23).

Sweden’s Ekstrom started from the second row of grid for the final at Holjes and took his joker on lap one. He then moved into second position when he overtook Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud at the end of lap one, before his team mate, Sweden’s Robin Larsson and ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider, from Germany, took the joker lap on lap two.

From there on, Ekstrom chased the race leader, Sweden’s Johan Kristoffersson – the round one winner. Setting very equal pace, and exchanging the fastest lap times of the whole weekend at Holjes, Ekstrom eventually closed the gap enough to take the lead when Kristoffersson Motorsport’s Kristoffersson took his joker on lap six.

Kristoffersson finished second on track, but was classified third following a track limits penalty. Team Hansen’s Kevin Hansen finished second to make it an all-Swedish podium. Scheider was fourth, Larsson was fifth with a puncture and Bakkerud was slowed by problems and finished sixth.

The result marked Ekstrom’s 11th career World Rallycross Championship victory. “It was an amazing weekend for me to come here and be competitive straight away. In the final it was by far the best it went. I had the gap [to Kristoffersson] over the radio in my ears, I knew how much I needed to push and when I really badly needed a lap I nailed one. I managed to come out in front which was fantastic. I really appreciate the effort that KYB has spent to develop our car’s dampers with EKS, and now that JC Raceteknik can profit from this is a nice feeling. To win and to beat Johan fair and square on pace is an outstanding feeling,” said Ekstrom.

Kevin Hansen’s podium marked the first top three finish of the season for Team Hansen. “We worked all weekend and really had to think and progress, which I think we were not pushed for as hard last year. It’s really nice to find new ways in the team and to understand what we need to do on the car and in the team to improve. We have great challengers now, we have to take the fight, keep calm and do the work. We learned a lot about the car in the wet and the dry in the changing conditions, we have to work hard in the next few days before Finland next weekend but we are up for it and I can’t wait for Saturday,” said Hansen. 

Kristoffersson’s third place ensured he retained the World RX Drivers’ Championship lead, and also won round two in the new-for-2020 Champion Fast Start Award. “It was a fantastic day, all day long. Robin had a very good start in the final, I had a bit of a wiggle with him in the beginning, then from there on just trying to get my head down and bang in the lap times. Mattias did the same, I got over the radio that it was super tight and at one point I had the gap to joker, I think if I had done the joker on the fifth lap it would have been enough, but he got me when I jokered. I gave everything I had in the joker and got a penalty, but anyway we are leading the championship and had a fantastic weekend and we’re looking forward to Kouvola,” said Kristoffersson.

Finland’s Niclas Gronholm, the GRX Taneco driver, was first reserve for the final, after finishing fourth in semi-final two, ahead of fellow Hyundai i20 driver, GRX SET’s Krisztian Szabo, from Hungary. Germany’s Rene Muennich made the semis but retired on the second lap. The battle for a place in the final during semi-final one was one of the most action-packed of the weekend. It included Team Hansen’s Timmy Hansen, GCK Bilstein’s Anton Marklund, both from Sweden, and GRX Taneco’s Timur Timerzyanov from Russia, behind Andreas Bakkerud. After contract between Hansen and the Bakkerud on lap five. Timerzaynov ended up fourth, Marklund fifth while Hansen was disqualified from the race.

France’s Guerlain Chicherit was 13th in the Intermediate Classification, one place ahead of his Unkorrupted team mate, Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska. Sweden’s Sebastien Eriksson, the winner of the World RX of Sweden in 2019, received a time penalty in Q2 for a track marker infringement and was 15th. Finland’s Jani Paasonen scored a championship point in 16th. For the second round of the weekend at Holjes, Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel’s Liam Doran, had a number of technical problems through qualifying and was classified 17th.

The first round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercar was won by Sweden’s Oliver Eriksson, the double RX2 International Series Champion. Eriksson made his debut in Euro RX in an Olsbergs MSE Ford Fiesta and took maximum championship points from the event. He was joined on the podium by France’s Andrea Dubourg (Peugeot 208) and Sweden’s Peter Hedstrom (Volkswagen Polo). Norway’s Ben-Philip Gundersen (Audi S1) was fourth on his debut in the series, ahead of France’s Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Peugeot 208) and Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand, who both suffered from technical problems in the final.

America’s Ken Block made history by becoming the first driver ever to win an international electric rallycross event in the new Projekt E category. Driving a Ford Fiesta ERX, Block took the TQ (top qualifier) position to claim pole position for the final, and led the race from start to finish. All three drivers on the podium drove Fiesta ERXs fitted with three motor, 450kW electric powertrains developed by Projekt E technical partner STARD. Great Britain’s Natalie Barratt finished second and Austria’s Hermann Neubauer was third. 

Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports Events at IMG, concluded: “Congratulations to Mattias and Johan for putting on an enthralling show in the final, and to Kevin for joining them on the podium in an intense weekend for all of the teams. Congratulations also to Ken for winning the first ever Projekt E final, and to Oliver for taking a debut Euro RX win. Thanks to the FIA, the Swedish promoter, our partners and competitors, the IMG team and television production team for putting together two World Championship rounds in two days in these challenging circumstances. 180 PCR tests will be done on-site for those personnel moving directly from Holjes to Kouvola for our next double-header and World RX’s return to Finland next weekend.”

World RX also launched the new ‘RX Aftertrack’ Fuelled by Monster Energy magazine show on its Facebook and YouTube channels after Sunday’s event.

The third and four rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship take place next weekend (August 29 – 30), at the CapitalBox World RX of Finland in Kouvola.