The FIA World Rallycross Championship started its 2017 season this weekend at Barcelona, and with the high level of drama that culminated in the first season win for Mattias Ekström, rallycross has everything to even hold a place in the hearts of those used to asphalt-only competitions at the Ciurcuito da Catalunya-Barcelona.
The qualifiers were a lottery from Q1 to Q4, be it because of the rain on Saturday or the high competitiveness of Sunday, as it was hard to point a favorite. Timo Scheider in quite surprising fashion was the top qualifier, with former DTM rival Mattias Ekström coming in second and Johan Kristoffersson in third.
First semifinal is on and Johan Kristoffersson passes Timo Scheider on the first corner, while Scheider blocks Toomas Heikkinen advances to second place. On the bottom of the field, Kevin Hansen got a punt and spun in the gravel trap. The race wasn't giving margin for errors, and Heikkinen ruinde his weekend spinning in the gravel infield, being relegated to the back of the pack.
Scheider was leading until lap 5 but he still had the Joker to do, and this opened the way for Kristoffersson to get the lead, while Scheider held up Petter Solberg coming from an early Joker strategy to be third placed. Things kept like this as distance was big and no threats to the qualifiers appeared.
When semifinal 2 started Andreas Bakkerud was side by side with Mattias Ekström until the Swede get the lead. Timmy Hansen started to put pressure on Bakkerud for second place but lost contact on Lap 3.
With fourth placed Guy Wilks not even near of representing a threat to the top-3, Ekström, Bakkerud and Timmy Hansen took the Joker at the same lap and kept it going clean until the finish line.
The final couldn't be more unpredictable with the contenders that got into it, and at the start Kristoffersson stalled and Ekström had the lead all for himself, although followed closely by the rest of the field.
While Ekstöm and Scheider were still to Joker, hell broke loose from third place as Bakkerud had to hold Solberg, Hansen and Kristoffersson. He tried to close the gap to Scheider but it was too far when the German left the Joker. Scheider was close enough to attack Ekström but not even a single gap was available, so Ekström saw the checkered first. Bakkerud still finished third after the late attempt into second place and his troubled Saturday.
Ekström leads the standings with 29 points against 26 from Scheider, 22 from Bakkerud and 21 from Kristoffersson. EKS RX and PSRX Volkswagen Sweden share the teams lead with 40 points each, while Hoonigan Racing Division comes in third with 33 points.
Next World RX stop will be at Montalegre in Portugal, the former championship opener, on April 22nd-23rd.
PHOTO: EKS RX