It was a Sunday with Audi dominance when Round 11 of this years FIA World Rallycross Championship was run at Estering, south of Hamburg in Germany.
Petter Solberg was a very surprising entrant, since he had an operation for his broken collarbone earlier the same week. Solberg competed in the weekend with a special harness to protect the shoulder. The PSRX Volkswagen Team Sweden had nominated guest driver Dieter Depping as the other point scoring driver for the team alongside the already crowned World Champion Johan Kristoffersson.
It wasn’t a slow Norwegian who showed up in Germany – in fact he was the best driver of all after the Qualification Heats – and was there in P1 for Semi 1, together with Timmy Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud, Toomas Heikkinen, Janis Baumanis and Reinis Nitiss.
Semifinal 2 had Mattias Ekström, who was in prime position for Semi 1 if he hadn’t made a jump start in Q1. Ekström still made it as first guy in Semi 2 together with Johan Kristoffersson, Kevin Hansen, Kevin Eriksson, Sebastien Loeb and Niclas Grönholm.
Local favourites Dieter Depping, Timo Scheider, Rene Münnich and Andreas Steffen didn’t make it into any of the semi finals, just like American Ken Block, who missed the Semis too.
Timmy Hansen got the best start towards turn one, but Solberg had the advantage of being on the inside. Hansen was briefly into the gravel, but rejoined in 4th position. Instead Heikkinen slotted into P2 ahead of Baumanis. Timmy Hansen managed to make it past Baumanis at the final meters, when the latter was a bit slower through his Joker Lap.
Ekström got the best start to Semi 2, while Eriksson tried to make it round the outside, but had to slot into P3 after Kevin Hansen. Kristoffersson was briefly onto two wheels only after contact with Loeb and Grönholm, and made it out of Turn 1 as last on the road. Eriksson spun on Lap 2 and Kristoffersson was caught up behind that. Loeb had a big damage to the front of his Peugeot 208 WRX. Meanwhile, Ekström could take home an easy victory ahead of Kevin Hansen while Grönholm just stuck his front bumper over the line right ahead of Loeb, who was exiting the Joker Lap. An incredible finish with only 0,2 of a second between the two cars.
Solberg got the better start in the final, but Ekström managed to squeeze through in Turn 1. Heikkinen tried to overtake the who field on the outside, but ran too wide and almost got stuck in the gravel. Solberg made a mistake on Lap 2, which saw both Kevin and Timmy Hansen jump ahead. Kevin Hansen had hit the barrier so his rear wheel was at an angle. He tried to continue but ended up spinning on the final lap.
But nobody could stop Mattias Ekström who won ahead of Timmy Hansen and Toomas Heikkinen. Petter Solberg finished 4th ahead of Niclas Grönholm and Kevin Hansen.
The results from the weekend means that Mattias Ekström is only one pont behind Petter Solberg in the fight for second in the Championship, while Sebastien Loeb has lost so many points due to missing the final, that he no longer can win a medal in the Championship.
Team EKS closes into Team Peugeot-Hansen in the Teams Championship in the fight for second.
The final of this years FIA World Rallycross Championship will be run on 10 November at the brand new event in South Africa.