Reigning Nitro Rallycross champion Travis Pastrana kick-started his season with a comprehensive victory in the final of round three at ERX Motor Park in Minnesota.
Starting on the front row of the grid, Pastrana started on an equal footing to polesitter Robin Larsson, but got by the RX Cartel driver on the jump between turns one and two.
From there, Pastrana wasn’t at all troubled, setting a stream of fastest laps to cross the finish line with a 3.793-second advantage.
Larsson maintained second ahead of Fraser McConnell, who capped off an impressive redemption to complete the podium. After crashing out of practice on Saturday, McConnell was running with an entirely different car on Sunday, and repaid the Dreyer & Reinbold JC team’s all-nighter by finishing on the rostrum and taking a semifinal win on the way there.
Fourth place went to Andreas Bakkerud, another driver competing on Sunday with a rebuilt car. He held off a charging Oliver Bennett, who completed the top-five in what was his first final appearance of the season.
Andrew Carlson and Conner Martell completed the final runners, with Oliver Eriksson classified eighth after retiring on lap three.
Pastrana and Larsson began the day winning their respective heats to lock in their place in the final, but the big event of the opening races was Kevin Eriksson’s roll out of the first heat.
After debeading his rear-right tire, Eriksson slid into a bank and flipped his FC1-X. While the incident didn’t totally write off the car, the elder Eriksson – making his first appearance of the season – opted to sit out of the remainder of the day in order for Olsbergs MSE to dedicate itself to Oliver Eriksson’s efforts.
Joining McConnell advancing from the first semifinal was the second Eriksson, while Martell headed home Bakkerud in the second. Bennett and Carlson got their spots in the final via the Last Chance Qualifier, with Jenson Button missing out on progressing after finishing that race in theird.
In NRX NEXT, Tommi Hallman wrapped up the European title – Minnesota replacing the scrapped Finland races on the Euro support series’ schedule – with his second win of the weekend.
Once again he headed home George Megennis, with Simon Olofsson completing the podium ahead of Casper Jansson in a reversal of those positions from Saturday’s action. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky, Eric Gordon and Lane Vacala completed the field.
Travis Pastrana also won the second Side-by-Side final of the weekend, but it was less straightforward than his victory in the headline category.
He prevailed after a thrilling battle with Gregoire Michaud who slipped to third after pitching up onto two wheels at the final corner while dicing with Pastrana. That allowed Ben Maier to sneak through and take second.
Saturday winner Brian Deegan was fourth, ahead of Robbie Maddison who dropped out of victory contention with a late joker.