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22 Sep 2014

WRX: Five milliseconds margin

Category: News, WRX Posted 22.09.14 01:30 by

Championship leader Petter Solberg has won the FIA World Rallycross Championship round of Buxtehude in Germany by beating runner-up Mattias Ekström with an advantage of just five milliseconds.

 

2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg is getting closer to his dream of becoming the first World Rallycross Champion in motorsports history. The Citroën DS3 SuperCar campaigner claimed his fourth victory of the season at Buxtehude in Germany by winning the Final with possibly the narrowest of margins ever in Rallycross, an almost unbelievable 0.005 seconds. So far Kenneth Hansen’s 1995 Swedish ERC round victory over Martin Schanche [4:02.51m vs 4:02.52m] has been rated as the closest win ever, but back in the days the time-keepers at Arvika were only prepared to measure times up to one-hundreds of a second…

According to the organising Automobil Club Niederelbe (ACN) more than 10,000 spectators travelled to the Estering event for to watch an action-packed Day 2 in mixed weather conditions. Amongst the 76 cars entered to compete in the three categories SuperCars, Super1600s and TouringCars there were 8 local drivers including the likes of six-time Guinness World Record Holder ‘Ronny C’Rock’ and World Touring Car Championship regular René Münnich. As well as the WorldRX regulars there were also 26 starters in the penultimate round of this year’s FIA European Rallycross Championship (EuroRX), which was eventually won by Mattias Ekström. EuroRX points leader Robin Larsson took second place while Tommy Rustad finished third.

 

The fourth overall victory of the season brings Petter Solberg closer to the WRX title. © JKR/ERC24

The fourth overall victory of the season brings Petter Solberg closer to the WRX title. © JKR/ERC24

 

The Buxtehude winners rostrum with (from left) runner-up Mattias Ekström, winner Petter Solberg and third Robin Larsson. © JKR/ERC24

The Buxtehude winners rostrum with (from left) runner-up Mattias Ekström, winner Petter Solberg and third Robin Larsson. © JKR/ERC24

 

"It was really that close," said Mattias Ekström to the members of the press. © JKR/ERC24

“It was really that close,” said Mattias Ekström to the members of the press. © JKR/ERC24

 

“Wow, I don’t know what to say – I don’t think I have seen anything so close in my whole life,” grinned WorldRX Germany winner Petter Solberg who has now extended his WorldRX Championship lead to 52 points with just three rounds remaining. “The plan today was not necessarily to win, but when I saw Robin’s [Larsson] mistake I knew I had a chance. Then on the second last lap I made a mistake myself – I couldn’t remember if there was one more lap to go so I hesitated at the Joker and lost some of the time I had gained. I then heard on the radio that I needed to go flat out to the finish so I really pushed on the last lap. I didn’t even know if I had won when I crossed the line, it was a really incredible moment.”

Despite the really close win, two-time DTM Champion Ekström was satisfied with his runner-up result. “If you are going to lose, then to lose by five thousandths of a second is not a bad way to do it,” joked the Swede whose team-mate and compatriot Pontus Tidemand finished fourth after reaching his third Final this season. “Of course I really wanted a victory for Audi here, but we have two on the podium and three made it to the Final with Pontus which is a great result for Audi on its home event. Congratulations to Petter on his win! You can’t buy a victory, you need to work hard and he certainly did that. I’m happy with my second place!”

 

The Estering has good spots for fine pictures. © JKR/ERC24

The Estering has good spots for fine pictures of our snapper, often copied by his colleagues… © JKR/ERC24

 

Finishing in 13th place Per-Gunnar 'P-G' Andersson just missed the Semi-Finals. © JKR/ERC24

Finishing in 13th place former WRC ace Per-Gunnar ‘P-G’ Andersson just missed the Semi-Finals. © JKR/ERC24

 

Also bad luck for Henning Solberg in Germany, the stand-in for the suspended Liam Doran finished 15th. © JKR/ERC24

Also bad luck for Henning Solberg in Germany, the stand-in for the suspended Liam Doran finished 15th. © JKR/ERC24

 

One driver who looked likely to become WorldRX’s seventh different event winner this year was Robin Larsson, whose rapid launch earned the 21-year-old Swede the Monster Energy Super Charge Award. However, a mistake by Larsson on lap three gave Solberg the opportunity to move in front. Larsson took up the story: “If you have Petter Solberg behind you, it’s really scary I can tell you. I was nervous and I made a mistake and of course Petter jumped on this and went ahead, but I’m really happy to be on the podium for the second time this year.”

Proving that points really do win prizes, Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport’s Topi Heikkinen was catapulted to second in the overall driver standings after finishing fifth overall. The Finn steadily gathered points throughout the four heats before qualifying for the Semi-Finals and reaching the all-important Final. Heikkinen’s move up the standings knocked Ford-OlsbergsMSE driver Reinis Nitišs back into third after the 18-year-old Latvian suffered a setback when his car’s turbo failed during Heat 3. Despite failing to reach the Semis, Nitišs was feeling upbeat: “I have to be happy with the pace even if I didn’t make it past the heats – there were a lot of gravel sections here and I was happy with the driving. There are still three events left so the Championship title chase isn’t over, but Petter is so fast and of course the gap is bigger than before we came here. We’re leading the Teams’ Championship and to win that title is our ultimate aim.”

Team Peugeot-Hansen was unable to continue the team’s string of podium successes this weekend despite an impressive run in all four heats. Both drivers were stuck in traffic at turn one of the Semis, but only Timmy Hansen progressed to the Final. The 21-year-old Swede was running fourth for the majority of the race, but after taking the Joker on the final lap, Hansen dropped back to finish the event as sixth overall.

Monster Energy WorldRX Team’s Henning Solberg was sitting third overnight in the Intermediate Classifications, but a broken right steering arm during Heat 4 knocked the Norwegian out of a chance in the Semis. Elsewhere, successful Rally driver Ramona Karlsson had a difficult time on her return to WorldRX. Despite demonstrating raw pace in the Albatec Racing prepared Peugeot 208 SuperCar, Karlsson was eventually forced to retire after breaking her car’s steering during the final heat. “I didn’t get the best start, dropping a few places, but then took a hit on lap two which broke the steering,” explained Karlsson who is also an ‘FIA Women in Motorsport Commission’ member. “Coming into turn two I just couldn’t steer and went off into the gravel, out on the spot. It was a disappointing end to the day, as I desperately wanted to reach the semi finals this weekend, but that’s Rallycross. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving the car and working with the entire team, it’s the most fun I’ve had for a long time.”

 

The winners podium of the Super1600 drivers: (from left) Ernestas Staponkus, Jānis Baumanis and Ulrik Linnemann. © JKR/ERC24

The winners podium of the Super1600 drivers: (from left) Ernestas Staponkus, Jānis Baumanis and Ulrik Linnemann. © JKR/ERC24

 

TouringCars: Norwegian Camilla Antonsen (centre) wrote history for being the first woman ever to win a Rallycross event fully recognised by the FIA. © JKR/ERC24

TCs: Camilla Antonsen wrote history for being the first woman ever to win a Rallycross event fully recognised by the FIA. © JKR/ERC24

 

In the penultimate round of the Super1600 FIA European Rallycross Championship category Latvia’s Jānis Baumanis took his third category victory of the season despite an ongoing issue with his Renault Twingo’s gearbox. Lithuania’s Ernestas Staponkus and Denmark’s Ulrik Linnemann finished second and third respectively. Russian Sergey Zagumennov finished fourth and remains at the top of the S1600 standings.

Norway’s Camilla Antonsen entered the record books in Buxtehude as she became the first female driver ever to win a round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship [when Susann Bergvall, nowadays Susann Hansen, won three ERA 1400 Cup events in 1994 the championship wasn’t recognised by FIA]. “This is only my second time on the track, but the car was perfect and the guys in my team did a great job. It’s been a brilliant weekend!” Second place was awarded to Norway’s Torleif Lona and Anders Bråten took the final podium spot. Swede Daniel Lundh remains the TouringCar series leader, 14 points ahead of Lona with just one round remaining.

 

Final results of the SuperCars to be found here.

Final results of the SuperCars to be found here.

Final results of the SuperCars to be found here.

 

For more images please visit our Flickr gallery here.

 

Top photo: Coming out of the Joker Lap detour Solberg was side by side with Ekström on the main track. © JKR/ERC24

 

While our first picture shows Solberg closer to the finish line... © JKR/ERC24

While our first picture shows Solberg closer to the finish line… © JKR/ERC24

 

...the second picture gives the impression that Ekström had won... © JKR/ERC24

…the second picture gives the impression that Ekström had won… © JKR/ERC24