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05 Jul 2015

WRX: Ekström at long last

Category: News, WRX Posted 05.07.15 23:00 by

Mattias Ekström, who crossed the finish line in second place, was eventually declared the winner of WorldRX of Sweden. Timmy Hansen has been made runner-up, after first getting a 5 seconds penalty (for pushing and driving outside the track) that would have dropped him from first to fourth place.

 

Sweden’s Mattias Ekström has become the fifth different winner in this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship 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.

 

The Hansen 1st and Ekström 2nd result did not last for long... © JKR/ERC24

The Hansen 1st and Ekström 2nd result did not last for long. © JKR/ERC24

 

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 Citroën 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 Ekström, who has won at Höljes 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 the car has performed and of course it’s always amazing to take a win at my home race.”

 

Timmy Hansen was over the moon with his Höljes victory... © JKR/ERC24

Timmy Hansen was over the moon with his Höljes victory… © JKR/ERC24

 

...but eventually lost it by decision of the Stewards of the Meeting to Mattias Ekström. © JKR/ERC24

…but eventually lost it by decision of the Stewards of the Meeting to Mattias Ekström. © JKR/ERC24

 

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 teammate 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.”

 

The 2014 champion and 2015 point standings leader Petter Solberg finished the Höljes Final in the kitty-litter. © JKR/ERC24

The 2014 champion and 2015 point standings leader Petter Solberg finished the Höljes Final in the kitty-litter. © JKR/ERC24

 

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 Höljes this weekend with dozens of fans cheering on the popular Norwegian.

Bakkerud continued: “This is my third podium in Höljes and it always feels good to finish in the top three in Höljes – 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.”

 

The Super1600 podium with from left: Runner-up Nikita Misyulya, winner Jānis Baumanis and third Magnus Bergsjøbrenden. © JKR/ERC24

The Super1600 podium with from left: Runner-up Nikita Misyulya, winner Jānis Baumanis and third Magnus Bergsjøbrenden. © JKR/ERC24

 

Ulrich Linnemann lost it all in Head 4 when he crashed his Super1600 Peugeot 208 badly. © JKR/ERC24

Ulrich Linnemann lost it all in Heat 4 when he crashed his Super1600 Peugeot 208 badly. © JKR/ERC24

 

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 Nitišs 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 Färén 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 3, but a misfiring engine hindered his progress.

 

The TouringCars rostrum with second Fredrik Magnussen, first Fredrik Salsten and third Magda Andersson. © JKR/ERC24

The TouringCars rostrum with second Fredrik Magnussen, first Fredrik Salsten and third Magda Andersson. © JKR/ERC24

 

The RX Lites podium was conquered by runner-up Kevin Hansen, winner Thomas Bryntesson and third Kevin Eriksson. © JKR/ERC24

The RX Lites podium was conquered by runner-up Kevin Hansen, winner Thomas Bryntesson and third Kevin Eriksson. © JKR/ERC24

 

In the support categories, Latvia’s JānisBaumanis has extended his lead over Hungary’s Krisztián Szabó in the S1600 category after taking the win in Höljes. Russia’s Nikita Misyulya and Norway’s Magnus Bergsjøbrenden finished second and third respectively.

Speaking about his win, Baumanis stated: “It is the best feeling to win in Höljes – the atmosphere is amazing. Myself and Reinis have had so many Latvian fans come to Höljes 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 TouringCars 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.

 

Final results of the WRX SuperCars to be found here.

Final results of the WRX SuperCar Teams to be found here.

Final results of the ERX Super1600s to be found here.

Final results of the ERX TouringCars to be found here.

Final results of the RX Lites to be found here.

 

More images from WorldRX of Sweden to be found here.

 

Top photo: Mattias Ekström claimed overall victory at his native Höljes, for the second year back to back. © JKR/ERC24