Ekström keeps winning streak after Hockenheim RX triumph


Rain fell on Sunday at Hockenheim for the third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, but the factor that normally shuffles things in rallycross didn't stop Mattias Ekström from taking another win this season as he had his Audi S1 Quattro RX in control all the time.

Qualifying was all over for Team Peugeot-Hansen as Sébastien Loeb dominated it with Timmy Hansen coming in second, with both drivers winning Q1, Q2 and Q4. After them, Johan Kristoffersson had Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg behind him, with the World RX double champion recovering from pretty bad rund in Q1 and Q2.

Cloudy weather was indicating some signs of rain, with a bit of a drizzle falling before semifinal 1, but it would be troublesome specially in the main straight. The race started with Loeb and Kristoffersson shutting the door for everyone and then Kevin Hansen loses the front end, almost sends Loeb off track but still catches Kevin Eriksson as he spins, Eriksson gets beached for a while and Reinis Nitiss also spins.

The battle for the lead kept until Lap 3 when Loeb opted to brake to deep into the corner and had a brief off, which opened the way for PSRX Volkswagen domination as Kristoffersson won it and Petter Solberg came in second. Loeb still had good gap to Eriksson so he finished third and qualified to the final.

Semifinal 2 had also the wet track factor into account and Toomas Heikkinen got a good start but was too wide at Turn 1, and the mess helped Timmy Hansen to secure the lead. Behind Hansen and Ekström, Ken Block, Timo Scheider, Timur Timerzyanov and Toomas Heikkinen were fighting for third when Timerzyanov spun, Block crashed into the tire barriers and locked Scheider's way, which put Heikkinen in third then.

With Hansen still to Joker, Ekström just had to wait behind him and then take the lead, but on Lap 5 Hansen locked up his tires like Loeb and lost the lead earlier, so Ekström just had free way to win it, with Hansen in second and Heikkinen in third.

It was hard to bet in any of the six candidates in the final, and add it the wet track to make it more random, but Ekström took the lead and Heikkinen tried to cover him but faced the block from Solberg and Loeb while Kristoffersson and Hansen chased the EKS owner. His lap times were quicker than Kristoffersson, and as the Volkswagen Polo Gti RX struggled for grip, the Audi S1 just had to be driven until Ekström's third victory out of three events this season.



Ekström now holds a solid lead in the standings with 85 points against 69 of Kristoffersson and 62 of Solberg. Chasing the current champion hasits merit for PSRX Volkswagen, leader between the teams with 131 points against 114 of EKS while Team Peugeot-Hansen is the outsider in third with 95 points. The next event is the World RX of Belgium next week at the Circuit Jules Tacheny, Mettet, on May 12th.

PHOTO: EKS