Robin Larsson took the top qualifier spot for the second time this Nitro Rallycross season after leaving it late to beat Kevin Eriksson in the final battle bracket encounter at ERX Motor Park.
Eriksson made the better start from the drying starting grid to lead into the first corner with Larsson hounding him for the first lap. The close fight continued during the second, with Larsson tapping the leader’s rear at the final turn.
That set up a tense final lap where Larsson took an alternate line when the track split, then carried that momentum through to the penultimate corner where he robustly got by up the inside.
En route to the final, Larsson comfortably beat rallycross debutant Jenson Button by 10 seconds in their opening race, before capitalizing on a puncture for Oliver Eriksson at the semifinal stage to earn a shot at the top spot.
Kevin Eriksson’s route to the final began with the intriguing head-to-head against Andrew Carlsson – the most experienced FC1-X driver vs the most experienced driver at ERX Motor Park which is owned by the Carlson family.
Carlson couldn’t make the most of his local knowledge, however, with the elder Eriksson resisting a late charge from Carlsson to win. Eriksson then disposed of practice pacesetter Travis Pastrana in their semifinal duel; Pastrana clipping a wall on the second lap and damaging his suspension.
Prior to those head-to-heads, the first bracket seeding heat was won by Pastrana ahead of Kevin Eriksson, Carlson, and Oliver Eriksson, who challenged Pastrana for the win early on before dropping back after losing a tire.
Conner Martell secured a VSC sweep in the opening heats winning the second race from Larsson, Button, and Bennett who also suffered a debead. Martell’s bracket charge went on unravel early with a spin in the first turn while trying to hold off Oliver Eriksson. While he was able to close a six second gap down to two by race end, he was unable to advance any further.
Andreas Bakkerud and Fraser McConnell took no part in qualifying after their respective practice crashes; their absences resulting in a slimmed-down eight-car field and the bracket subsequently beginning at the quarter final stage.
After a brief trip to a local hospital for precautionary checks, both returned to the track in the afternoon having not sustained any serious injury.
Tommi Hallman won the first NRX Next final of the weekend, surviving a late puncture to head home George Megennis by 1.120s.
The first side-by-side final of the weekend was dominated by Brian Deegan who fended off the double duty-pulling Pastrana into the first corner to grab a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.