Returning to home is always a good thing. Lydden Hill is like this to rallycross as the sport was born there, so the British round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is always special, as everybody wants to win in the temple of the rallycross. It wasn’t different for Mattias Ekström, as the Swede now has 3 wins out of 4 events of the 2016 season, placing him as a confirmed favorite for the World RX crown.
The qualifying heats would suggest that Petter Solberg was on a straight route to the second win of the season, as outside the fourth heat, there was no mistake, with dominating performances. The same wasn’t possible to say about the wildcard entries Tanner Foust, Guy Wilks and Julian Godfrey, as unlike François Duval at Mettet, they weren’t anywhere near the semifinal promotion. Godfrey also had a spectacular roll beyond the guardrail, but he was OK after what happened.
Strong grids were in both semifinals, and the first one Solberg left everybody behind right from the start, bringing Kevin Eriksson and Anton Marklund with him through the normal route with the trend going until the final lap, when they finally went to the Joker Lap. Solberg was way ahead of the competition, so he just had to manage his pace to the finish. Behind him, Timmy Hansen too second place in the last lap while Kevin Hansen left the late Joker with the third place.
In the second semifinal, Andreas Bakkerud did the same as Solberg, even delaying the Joker Lap too. On lap 4, the fight behind Bakkerud between Timur Timerzyanov and Johan Kristoffersson ended up with the Polo RX of the Swede missing the point. Using the curb as a ramp and going to the grass.
To Bakkerud it was a question of opening enough distance to keep the lead, but a charging Mattias Ekström was decided to ruin his strategy, and so he did in the last lap, leaving Bakkerud and Timerzyanov behind him when both Fords were out of the Joker Lap.
Again the final would be around the Solberg-Ekström battle, and it was Solberg the one in the lead after the first corner, trying to open the gap to keep the lead. In the end, it wasn’t close of be enough to hold Ekström, so the EKSRX driver/owner was leading.
As Timmy Hansen was in a provisional lead but with good distance to hold Ekström, and as the EKSRX driver was on maximum attack, there was no chance for Solberg to take the lead back, and the third victory of the Swede in an Audi was a reality. Timmy Hansen was still able to get a third place finish, leaving Kevin Hansen behind after the Joker.
Ekström is still the leader with 105 points, but the almost perfect weekend of Solberg leaves him with 100 points, leaving the title battle wide open between them. Behind them with a long way to go is Johan Kristoffersson, as he only has 70 points. The teams’ championship presents a more comfortable situation for EKSRX, as they have 165 points against 109 of the Team Peugeot-Hansen, relegating Volkswagen RX Sweden to third place with 102.
In two weeks the action is back to World RX, as Hell, on Norway, will the venue of the fifth round of the 2016 season. In 2015, Timmy Hansen won it as Solberg and Ekström fell in the semifinals, but history in World RX hardly repeats itself, so it’s even harder to point a winner.