The Circuit Jules Tacheny at Mettet in Belgium is the place for turnarounds in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, specially as carnage occurs from time to time at the famous Turn 1 drop and some tricky sections of the track. This was more than enough to give to Johan Kristoffersson his first World RX win in 2017, and also to avoid Mattias Ekström to get his fourth win out of four events.
PSRX Volkswagen finally confirmed its position as top team in qualifying with a 1-2 of Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg, while Timmy Hansen was third and Andreas Bakkerud did things right and qualified in fourth. Problems in Q4 put Mattias Ekström down to eighth, but at least he didn't miss the semifinals.
On semifinal 1Timmy Hansen took the lead ahead the Turn 1 dropoff with Kristoffersson and Kevin Eriksson taking second and third while Toomas Heikkinen went too wide and sideways and crashed in the barriers. Same fate went to Sébastien Loeb, but it was due to contact, although he still got back to the game.
Loeb somehow recovered to fourth place but succumbed to the problems in his Peugeot 208 WRX on Lap 4. Hansen kept it clean and won easily while Kristoffersson gave everyone a scare as he went wide in the Joker Lap but managed to be second, while Kevin Eriksson held Toomas Heikkinen to be third while Timo Scheider lost his position going to the Joker Lap.
Semifinal 2 had Andreas Bakkerud powering to the lead while Ken Block forced his way to second place while 3-wide with Mattias Ekström and Petter Solberg after Turn 1, although the Hoonigan owner lost ground to Petter Solberg after his Joker Lap.
Bakkerud was keeping the gap good but then a series of crazy incidents happened, with Niclas Grönholm smashing the tire barriers of Turn 3 and Block crashing nose first, which slowed down a bit the pace of the race. In the end both Bakkerud and Ekström had to Joker and were relegated to second and third as Petter Solberg's early move paid dividends into the semifinal victory.
Lots of skilled drivers can't guarantee a safe Turn 1 trip at Mettet, but things were pretty clean at the start of the Final as Solberg got first place while followed by Hansen and Kristoffersson.
Carnage then started on Lap 3 as Solberg lost the back of his Volkswagen Polo Gti and had Hansen side by side, and in an attempt to get first place back and he oversped and clipped the barriers while a bit behind Andreas Bakkerud also lost the rear by trying to avoid Solberg and ended in the Turn 1 barriers with a front end crash.
After Solberg's Joker, Ekström held the PSRX Volkswagen duo while Hansen had a good advantage, ruined by a puncture on Lap 5, as proved when he went to a late Joker Lap. Hansen still dashed to the finish and managed to stay ahead of Solberg by 0.011 seconds, but the winner of the day was Johan Kristoffersson as he kept it clean all the time and broke Ekström's streak, as the EKS owner finished just outside the podium.
And not only Ekström lost his streak but his qualifying performance also left him in a dangerous position even though he still in the lead with 101 points, as Kristoffersson follows him with 98 points and Petter Solberg comes in third with 87 points. PSRX Volkswagen still rules between the teams with 185 points thanks to EKS' poor showing, as they sit in second with 145 points and Team Peugeot-Hansen comes closer with 134 points.
On May 27th we will see the final edition of the World RX of Great Britain at the famous Lydden Hill Circuit as the event will move to Silverstone in 2018.
PHOTO: FIA World Rallycross Championship