Robin Larsson backed up his top qualifier performance at Lydden Hill to take the first-round win of Nitro Rallycross’s new Group E electric era.
The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver led the eight-car, six-lap, final from start to finish, avoiding the chaos behind him to lead home team-mate Andreas Bakkerud.
Larsson, whose previous best result in Nitro Rallycross was a fifth in last season’s North Florida finale, made a clean getaway while fellow heat winner and front-row starter Kris Meeke was immediately swamped by Bakkerud and Travis Pastrana.
Pastrana looked to have made the most of his rocket-like start from the second row of the grid, momentarily passing Larsson round the outside of the first corner. He couldn’t keep the momentum though, and soon dropped back, collecting Fraser McConnell, another fast starter, as he merged back onto the racing line.
Behind them, Kris Meeke and Ole Christian Veiby had nowhere to go, both sustaining heavy front-end damage in the coming together.
The multi-car incident forced Meeke to retire on the spot, while Pastrana pulled off a lap later. McConnell and Veiby soldered on, but with suspension damage. McConnell was slowed and faced stiff pressure from Oliver Eriksson.
Formation flying up front, the RX Cartel duo split joker strategies, with Bakkerud taking the longer route on the second tour, and Larsson going in a lap later. The moves dropped Bakkerud behind Eriksson, but Larsson was able to hold his position.
It was to be of little hindrance to Bakkerud, however, who got by Eriksson on the inside of the first corner on the penultimate lap. Eriksson and McConnell, still in podium contention at this point, both jokered with one to go.
Behind the victorious RX Cartel pair Niclas Grönholm, who along with Olsbergs MSE team-mate Oliver Eriksson won his semifinal, kept his head down to take an understated third place. McConnell took fourth in front of Eriksson, despite receiving a three-second penalty for clipping a track marker.
Veiby was the last of the finishers, coming home sixth in his battle-scarred FC1-X, though he gained a place to fifth when Eriksson also got a three-second penalty for hitting a track marker. Pastrana and Meeke were classified seventh and eighth respectively after their early exits.
Missing out on the final altogether were Conner Martell and Oliver Bennett. Martell had been on course to win the Last Chance Qualifier before an inverter failure dropped him out of contention, while Bennett was excluded from the same race after hitting a track marker and then getting an infraction for “pushing and overtaking”.
1 Robin Larsson (DRR JC) 4m34.808s
2 Andreas Bakkerud (DRR JC) +0.875s
3 Niclas Grönholm (Olsbergs MSE) +2.805s
4 Fraser McConnell (DRR JC) +6.267s
5 Ole Christian Veiby (DRR JC) +10.258s
6 Oliver Eriksson (Olsbergs MSE) +10.752s
7 Travis Pastrana (Vermont SportsCar) -5 laps
8 Kris Meeke (Xite Energy Racing) -6 laps
In Supercars, McConnell made up for missing out on the podium in Group E to win ahead of Yuri Belevskiy and Patrick O’Donovan, British championship regulars Tristan Ovenden and Dom Flitney completing that field.
Simon Olofsson bounced back from rolling early on Saturday to dominate a Chaotic NRX NEXT final, leading home Tommi Hallman and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky.
Kyle Schwartz was the only other finisher in the development class’s final race of the weekend – Lane Vacala wasn’t allowed to take the restart due to damage, the restart coming after a red flag caused by a stopped George Megennis.
Megennis and Casper Jansson were fighting hard in the podium places early on, and made contact on the second lap of the first running of the race, resulting in suspension damage to both.
Both drivers attempted to continue at first, hoping to salvage points, but Megennis stopped on the outside of the first turn a lap later, with Jansson’s retirement also confirmed by the subsequent red flag.
Finally, Sebastian Enholm won the second CrossCar final of the weekend, leading home sister Fida, with Jimmie Österberg third.