Speed and Pastrana seal Subaru 1-2 in Nitro RX thriller

Result in round two at ERX Motor Park brings Hansen's unbeaten Nitro Rallycross run to an end

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Scott Speed held off a charging Travis Pastrana to win the second round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross series, ending the Hansen brothers’ stranglehold of wins in the category.

Locking out the front row after a controversial qualifying on Saturday and pair of heat wins earlier on Sunday, Speed and Pastrana made a good getaway, with Speed leading into Turn 1.

Pastrana faced more of a challenge, with Andreas Bakkerud in the third Subaru looking up the inside of Kevin Hansen and forcing him and Pastrana wide.

The move looked to have put Pastrana out of podium contention, but while his team-mate’s charge arguably caused him to drop back, Bakkerud would also aid Patrana’s recovery after hitting the wall in the first split section of the track, causing a logjam while Pastran gained time through the alternate route.

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Out in front, Kevin Hansen had caught up to Speed, but Pastrana was shadowing the pair. He then made use of the alternate routes again to get by Hansen and restore Subaru’s 1-2.

From then on the blue WRX STIs checked out. Pastrana took his joker on lap four, with Speed and Hansen going in a lap later – Speed emerging marginally ahead of Pastrana.

Team orders were not on the cards at Subaru, leaving Pastrana free to battle Speed for the win on the final lap of the six-lap contest. But despite his best efforts, he was unable to get by.

Hansen kept hold of third, ahead of round one winner and brother Timmy Hansen, who also won the second semifinal.

Fraser McConnell rounded out the top five ahead of Robin Larsson, who was the highest-finishing Audi in sixth despite competing without a wing after losing it in his semifinal.

Bakkerud eventually finished a disappointing seventh having been in the fight for the podium places early on. Tanner Foust, first semifinal winner Steve Arpin, and last chance qualifier victor Oliver Eriksson completed the final field.

Speed’s win moves him up to second in the standings, equal on 87 points with round one winner and leader Timmy Hansen, who is not confirmed for the remainder of the season.

Kevin Hansen remains third, now two points off the overall lead, while Pastrana moves up to fourth from sixth, dropping McConnell down to fifth.

Arpin’s lowly final finishing position in Minnesota means that he drops from second down to sixth, 28 points adrift of the joint leaders.

Final result

1. Scott Speed, Subaru( 5m25.965s
2. Travis Pastrana, (Subaru) +0.367s
3. Kevin Hansen, (Peugeot) +4.176s
4. Timmy Hansen, (Peugeot) +5.594s
5. Fraser McConnell (Ford) +12.863s
6. Robin Larsson (Audi) +14.875s
7. Andreas Bakkerud (Subaru) +15.277s
8. Tanner Foust (Audi) +16.223s
9. Steve Arpin (Hyundai) +51.324s
10. OliverEriksson (Ford) +1m02.832s

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Ahead of the final, a hugely attritional last chance qualifier resulted in a spectacular flip for Cabot Bigham that spoiled his chances of making the final for the second week in a row.

After qualifying for the final in Utah, he was unable to take the start due to crash damage sustained in the LCQ. This weekend, he initially qualified for the main event by finishing second on the road in the first semifinal, only to be relegated to third after a penalty for contact with Oliver Bennett.

That meant he had to get the the main event via the last chance race once again. Going into Turn 2 on the final lap, his car dug into the dirt on corner entry, sending him into a violent end-over-end flip.

He wasn’t the only driver to get unintentionally airborne in that race, with Kevin Eriksson also having a half-roll through one of the track’s tight split route sections. Liam Doran also retired from that race – his second such result in as many rounds.

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Sage Karam pulled off an almighty upset in the second Nitro RX Next final of the weekend, fighting back from last place to win as all of the other victory challengers also hit trouble.

Martin Enlund started from pole and led early on, but contact with Karam over the first jump caused a puncture that left him susceptible to George Megennis behind. The incident left Karam spinning into the wall and seemingly out of contention.

Despite the puncture, Enlund did not make it easy for Megennis to take the lead, but soon the YellowSquad driver was met with the same fate as he too picked up a puncture. With two three-wheelers at the fore John Holtger, who made his rallycross debut in Saturday’s round, closed in.

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Once past Megennis and Enlund, Holtger appeared on course for a routine win until he pulled up with an engine fire on the penultimate lap.

That opened the door once again for the wounded Megennis and Enlund but, with both yet to take their joker, they were again under threat. Karam, who had jokered on the first lap after his spin, had taken advantage of the clear air afforded to him by his lap-one spin to set a string of fast lap times. Once he had caught the pack he picked them off with ease to take a comfortable win, crossing the line exactly nine seconds ahead of second-placed Megennis.

Remarkably, Enlund held on for third ahead of Lane Vacala, who he repassed on the final lap. Eric Gordon was fifth, the final lead-lap finisher ahead of round one winner Casper Jansson and Holtger.

Karam’s win is the second of his rallycross career after winning the second part of Americas Rallycross’ Mid-Ohio season finale in 2019.

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In the second side-by-side final of the weekend, Tanner Foust fended off former team-mate and rallycross rival Brian Deegan to win.

Saturday winner Kyle Chaney led from pole as Deegan climbed up to second early on. Andrew Carlson had battled Deegan for second into Turn 2 but contact between the pair left him with a cut tire and out of the race.

That promoted Foust to third, right on the tail of Deegan, but at the midway point of the six-lap race the complexion of the contest changed once again.

Leader Chaney stopped with a mechanical failure, while Foust took the joker. Deegan took his a lap later, but emerged behind Foust, who would hold on to win from Deegan and Scottie Lawrence.

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Corry Weller was fourth, with Jason Luburgh fifth and Andy Ives sixth. Last chance qualifier winner Catie Munnings was the final finisher in seventh, with Mia Chapman joining Chaney and Carlson in making an early exit.

Following his crash early on on Saturday, Travis Pastrana was unable to participate in any of the SxS racing on Sunday, his Can-Am unable to be properly repaired in time.

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