The championship picture is starting to look a lot clearer with just one round of the Nitro Rallycross season remaining, but what about the DirtFish Power Rankings?
Just like the on-track action at Glen Helen Raceway, there’s some familiar faces towards the top of our list, while tricky times in Southern California have left others moving around.
With four rounds in the books, here’s how our cumulative season-long rankings are looking.
10. Tanner Foust
This is one heck of a drop for one of rallycross’ all-time greats, but Tanner Foust had a horror weekend in his home state.
A blinding start against former team-mate and long-time rival Scott Speed in the battle bracket set his weekend off perfectly, but moments later a rogue rock tore the front off his car and ended his first day early. Still, he had pace, so better luck on day two was due, right?
Sadly not. An anonymous run in his heat race was compounded by mechanical failure and a subsequent non-start in the second last-chance qualifier.
Based on what we know so far, the Florida track coming up should suit the Audi, and boy does Foust (and indeed the rest of the Audi runners) need that sort of environment right now.
9. Robin Larsson
It was another trying weekend for RX Cartel, with Robin Larsson making the most of a tricky couple of days once again for the Audi squad.
His weekend high point was his mighty start from the second row of the grid to rocket into victory contention in the first semifinal.
Larsson had no answer to Andreas Bakkerud however, and had to settle for second. Still, that got him into the final for the second time this season. There he didn’t really feature, and retired with two laps to go.
8. Kevin Eriksson
If the season was to begin now, we’d be talking about Kevin Eriksson as a potential championship contender. Yes, we know he’s fast. Yes, we know the Honda Civic Coupe is a capable machine. But for whatever reason the Eriksson/Civic package hadn’t quite delivered – until now.
Saturday was headlined by yet another battle for the ages with old foe Scott Speed. He narrowly missed out this time around, but the groundwork for the rest of the weekend was laid. Another slender defeat to Speed in their heat prevented him from grabbing an automatic main event berth (which of course wouldn’t have been the case earlier in the year) but he quickly moved up with a semifinal win.
In the final, he was the only person to give the Subaru team any real trouble, and were it not for Andreas Bakkerud playing the team game by driving the widest rallycross car in existence a podium could’ve been on the cards, maybe even more.
7. Andreas Bakkerud
A little explainer to begin: with Andreas Bakkerud sitting out the last round he doesn’t have the benefit of building on last weekend like others in the list.
That being said, what an impressive weekend it was for the Subaru returnee. After a tricky two rounds earlier in the season, Bakkerud appeared to really up his game this weekend and perfectly complemented Subaru’s title challengers.
As anyone could see, Bakkerud could’ve easily been a threat for the victory, but that wasn’t his job. No, he was there to support Scott Speed and Travis Pastrana in their intense championship fight with the Hansens. It was a role he played to perfection, and he even snagged some hardware as well.
6. Fraser McConnell
‘Frazz’ breezed to a semifinal showdown with event winner Travis Pastrana in the battle bracket. He didn’t beat his childhood hero, but he was certainly more than a match for him.
Come Sunday, he’d learned his lessons from qualifying and launched into an early lead over Pastrana, only for a mechanical issue to rob him of a potential win.
That left him with an uphill battle for the rest of the day that he just couldn’t overcome. Once again, potential was married to rotten luck for McConnell.
5. Kevin Hansen
By the end of Saturday, Kevin Hansen was a shoe-in for the event win. He’d topped qualifying, beating all three Subarus that would go on to be so dominant on Sunday.
But that second day just wasn’t to be. Shuffled down the order to the LCQ, he engaged in a tense battle with Liam Doran that ended with him in the wall. Doran was given a penalty for the contact, but the damage was done – and not just from the contact with the wall.
Hansen was out of the event, missing a final for the first time, and dropping out of the title race as a result. It was a painful end to a weekend that had begun so promisingly.
4. Steve Arpin
The less said about Saturday, the better for Steve Arpin. After a bizarre procedural mix-up, he was given an unusual rematch against Kevin Hansen in which he was defeated, but only after sustaining a puncture. Before that he’d been taking chunks of time out of the Peugeot driver.
Come Sunday, he timed his joker to perfection to overhaul the mightily impressive Kevin Eriksson in the semifinals, and in the final he had the pace of the frontrunners until yet another puncture dropped him down the order. On any other day he might’ve emerged with a trophy this weekend but his tires had other ideas.
3. Timmy Hansen
An uncharacteristically early exit from qualifying left Timmy Hansen up against it come Sunday, so much so that he didn’t qualify for the final until the LCQ stage, where he had to overhaul a fast-starting Oliver Eriksson.
An early joker couldn’t help him beat the Subaru armada in the final but, after a rocky start to the weekend, a fifth-place finish was vital damage limitation.
He’s been knocked off the top spot in the points table, but he’s still more than in with a shout of the title.
2. Scott Speed
It might’ve been another missed final on qualifying day but come Sunday Scott Speed was back on song, winning his heat race easily, before being a central part of Subaru’s clique in the final.
He didn’t quite have an answer to Travis Pastrana when it came to racing head-to-head on the leap-heavy Glen Helen course, but his second-place finish keeps him right in the championship hunt as we head to a venue that, on paper, should absolutely play to his strengths.
1. Travis Pastrana
What’s that thing they say about buses? You wait ages for one then two come along at once…
Travis Pastrana’s Subaru WRX STI is definitely no bus, but after a nine-year wait he’s not only won again, but gone back-to-back, all while claiming a fourth-straight heat win that set him up perfectly to take a second consecutive event win and the championship lead.
The Nitro Circus ringleader is really hitting his stride, and right when it matters too. There’s no denying he’s absolutely the driver to beat right now but, with The Firm set to be asphalt heavy, Pastrana himself admits he’s going to be up against it going into the crucial title decider. Still, he’s set himself up nicely.