Travis Pastrana and Timmy Hansen will line up on the front row of the first Nitro Rallycross finale of the season after winning the opening heat races on Saturday.
With the winners of the first round of races getting a bye into the final, skipping the semifinals and Last Chance Qualifier races that followed, Pastrana and 2018 event winner Hansen have guaranteed them an easy route into the main event.
They will be joined by Oliver Eriksson and Steve Arpin who took second place in those first two heat races respectively, also giving them an express ticket to the final, while Scott Speed and Fraser McConnell, and Andreas Bakkerud and Tanner Foust’s top two finishing positions in their respective semis also means they advance.
The opening heat race of the day was a low-key affair, with Timmy Hansen taking an easy victory from Oliver Eriksson. It did however provide the blueprint for the rest of the day, with the second of the track’s two main lines – one that negates the gap jump in favor of a shorter tabletop jump – proving to be the faster line to take.
That meant that in the second race Pastrana, long a proponent of the dramatic leap, stuck to the less spectacular but faster route for the duration of the five lap contest. He was followed home by Arpin who kept him honest throughout, but was unable to find a way past.
At the semifinal stage Speed, reeling from contact with Kevin Eriksson in his heat race that put him out of contention, made a strong start, aggressively shutting the door on Fraser McConnell at the race start.
Once in the lead, he wasn’t to be moved, with McConnell solidifying second behind him. Robin Larsson charged to third, surviving a dramatic near-roll in the ‘Talladega’ banked turn, but a joker gaffe – choosing to take the slower route at the same time as the lead pair rather than attempting the undercut on both – meant that he finished one spot outside of the transfer positions.
Kevin Eriksson wasn’t able to challenge after pulling off with a puncture, while Oliver Bennett also dropped out of contention as a result of first lap contact.
Bakkerud made it a clean sweep for Subaru, winning the second semi after sweeping up the inside of the fast starting Foust on the opening lap.
Foust faced pressure late on from fellow Audi man Liam Doran, but a mistake from the Brit meant that he had to settle for third, ahead of Kevin Hansen – who thought back after opening lap contact took him out of contention for a better result – and Cabot Bigham.
After four races, eight of the final’s 10 spots have been decided with the final two berths being decided later by a three-lap LCQ that will feature Kevin Hansen, Bennett, Kevin Eriksson, Doran, Larsson, and Bigham.