Buxtehude, Germany plays host to the penultimate round of the WRX this weekend – alongside FIA European Rallycross support classes Super1600s and TouringCars – at the well-know European track the Estering.
As the season reaches its final stages, EKS driver Mattias Ekstrom’s consistency over the last few rounds has put him in pole position to gain the 2016 title – with a clean sweep this weekend almost guaranteeing him the crown.
The Estering circuit in Buxtehude – a town with a population of around 40,000 people is located approximately 25 miles [about 40 km] south-west of Hamburg. The Estering circuit itself is in fact one of the shortest tracks of the season at 952 metres in length but with top speeds of up to 150mph [about 240 km/h…], the back straight makes the Germany RX event one of the fastest events of the year.
In the WRX, 30 Supercars are confirmed. Despite Ekstrom’s edge – the battle for the remaining five places is on. Team Peugeot-Hansen are showing that they are as resilient as ever after 9 time FIA WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb took his first ever victory in the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the 2016 World RX of Latvia. After his win in Latvia, Loeb say he is confident of a repeat performance in Germany, “For once, I have prior knowledge of the track because I was able to test there earlier in the year. There aren’t many corners but they aren’t easy. The first turn – a tight hairpin – is especially delicate. There’s a bit of asphalt on the inside and it’s quite hard to position the car to optimise exit traction for the long straight that comes afterwards. It’s a corner which has the potential to generate some big gaps,” explained the French driver. Reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg was in a reflective mood post-Latvia, having been struck with difficulties in Riga. But the Norwegian is clear on the task ahead in Germany. “Two races left of the season: now it’s all about the medals and who gets what colour,” stated the Norwegian.
Other notable entries in Germany include the Euro RX driver Tommy Rustad who will drive for the Muennich Motorsport team in a Seat Ibiza Supercar. The Swede Peter Hedstrom will compete in the WRX in a VW Polo Mk5, with Italian 2015 competitor, and Rally favourite Gigi Galli returning in his Kia Rio. Belgian Michael de Keersmaecker will drive a Ford Fiesta Mk7. Alongside the Europeans – Germany will also see a return to the WRX for American Tanner Foust – Foust will compete for VW RX Sweden.
With the season at its latter stages – some junior drivers look to test their skills in faster machines. Frenchman Cyril Raymond – the RX Lites competitor will drive for OMSE in a Fiesta.