Heikkinen holds off Solberg and wins the Mettet RX

The FIA World Rallycross Championship held its third round at the Circuit Jules Tacheny, in Mettet, Belgium, and what could have been a perfect run for Petter Solberg turned into the first win of the season for Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen, as well for Marklund Motorsport. This win is also the second in 2015 of the Volkswagen Polo RX, following Johan Kristoffersson’s triumph at Portugal.

During the heats, Solberg showed excellent performances, proving that he would be a favorite as always, almost the opposite of his team-mate, Liam Doran, whose Citroën DS3 abandoned the Heat 3, ruining any plans of a semifinal shot. Johan Kristoffersson had good runs and ended the heats in the lead, and Mattias Ekström would also be a threat to Solberg.

In the first semifinal, Kristoffersson and Toomas Heikkinen pulled ahead the group´, while Andreas Bakkerud made a risky move from the outside of the tight first corner to jump to third place. In the middle of the first lap mess, the Ford Fiesta of Manfred Stohl became a contact victim and ended in the barriers after two corners.

As Heikkinen made the Joker Lap, goes to second place, and right after goes to the lead after Kristoffersson’s Polo suffer a puncture. But then, luck betrays Hansen and his Peugeot 208 also suffers a puncture. He continues to race, but incapable of match Heikkinen’s pace, he loses the lead on lap five. Due to Swedish misfortune, Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss put their Olsbergs MSE Fords in the final, right after Heikkinen cross the finish line.

In the second semifinal, the interest was in the duel between Petter Solberg and Mattias Ekström, but Per-Gunnar Andersson proved that this was a three-way battle. Solberg jumped the first start and this meant that the World RX champion would need to make another Joker Lap. In the second start, Solberg got the lead with Andersson right behind, while Tord Linnerud tried a Bakkerud-style move, but failed to even make the first corner.

On Lap 3 all the positions were unaltered, but Solberg had the Joker Laps to make, while his opponents had already made it. Then Solberg and Andersson go for the Joker, with Solberg opening gap to Andersson. In the final lap, Solberg goes to his second Joker, and unable to holf off Andersson, loses the first spot. The SDRX driver still had to deal with Ekström right on his back, but the DTM ace was out of time to make an overtake.

Solberg didn’t seem to be nervous as final came, even though with his error in the semifinals, while Andersson wasn’t worried to share the first row with his Marklund Motorsport team-mate. Asked if it was a big responsibility to be side by side with Heikkinen, Andersson told that if it was hard for Heikkinen, it wasn’t for him.

At the start of the final, both Marklund Polos blocked Solberg, but Andersson’s misfortune started with a mistake in the first corner, going right down to last. Right after, Ekström’s Audi S1 appeared without the front bumper and with a destroyed hood, partially blocking his vision. He continued in the race but his suspension problem meant he needed to retire.

On Lap 3, Solberg was on pursuit of Heikkinen, when he went for the Joker, but makes a little mistake at the exit of the turn, losing some time. He was faster than Heikkinen due to a puncture on the VW of the Finnish driver, but Heikkinen had the guts to hold off Solberg until the finish line, celebrating his first win with donuts in front of the crowd present at the circuit. Reinis Nitiss got a third place finish enduring PG Andersson’s pressure.

With the results of this round, Solberg is still the leader, with 82 points, against the 60 of Johan Kristoffersson. Solberg's performances are keeping SDRX on top of the teams' championship, with 102, while Marklund Motorsport and Olsbergs MSE are still in close pursuit, with 100 and 99 points respectively.

The World RX action just stop during the weekdays, as on May 22nd they will compete at United Kingdom, more specifically at Lydden Hill, the birthplace of rallycross.

PHOTOS: FIA World Rallycross, Marklund Motorsport, PSRX, Team Peugeot-Hansen