Nitro Rallycross’ 2022-23 season continued with a spectacular first trip to Canada – and first foray onto the snow and ice.
Keeping the ‘first’ theme going, Olsbergs MSE ended its win drought in the series, with Oliver Eriksson leading home brother and team-mate Kevin to claim his first round win, adding to his to top qualifier results from Strängnäs and the second Phoenix round earlier in the season.
But how did the round seven results affect our own rankings? Dominik Wilde once again takes us through the field.
10. Niclas Grönholm
Niclas Grönholm didn’t make the trip to Canada, so was unable to impact his ranking.
9. Conner Martell
It was a weekend to forget for Conner Martell who contended with driveshaft issues for much of the first half of the weekend, despite showing well in his ultimately unsuccessful early battle bracket race with Oliver Bennett. Being taken out by Kris Meeke in the last chance qualifier left him with not enough time to prepare for the final, where he had to put up with a lack of power as a result.
8. Oliver Bennett
Oliver Bennett showed well in the battle bracket early on, defeating Martell and putting up a strong fight against points leader Robin Larsson in the quarter finals. He made a better start, but contact soon dropped him out of contention.
On race day, he didn’t quite have the pace to match the frontrunners, but was able to take a strong fifth after battling through via the LCQ
7. Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke’s weekend started with not one but two gearbox problems that left him on the back foot and he had to get into the main via the LCQ.
However, a start line collision that he initiated wiped out himself, Xite Energy Racing team-mate Bennett, and Martell, with him being the lone retiree after the shunt.
6. Travis Pastrana
Pastrana certainly had the pace at GP3R, topping opening practice, but a scrappy weekend in which he made more than one brush with the track-lining snowbanks left him without much to show for the pace.
The reigning series champion looked set to win his heat race until his left rear tire vacated its rim, meaning he had to make the main by winning the first semi.
He was on course for a podium in the final too, in spite of his longer route there, until he spun and rejoined the track unsafely, collecting Andreas Bakkerud in the process. He was subsequently disqualified for his role in the incident.
5. Kevin Eriksson
At long last, things came good for Kevin Eriksson. A blinding start in the first heat reminiscent of his viral ‘round the outside’ move at Estering in 2016 locked him into the final, where he played the excellent team game, covering off Robin Larsson to cement a one-two finish for Olsbergs MSE.
4. Andreas Bakkerud
After making the final in qualifying, Bakkerud was on course for a strong race day. Wheelspin off the start halted a push for the race win in the opening heat, but he made up for that with a dominant display in the second semi.
With the OMSE drivers in a class of their own at the front of the field in the final, a podium would have been a good result for Bakkerud, but a shunt with Pastrana, in which he was an innocent party, left him on the sidelines.
3. Fraser McConnell
You wouldn’t have thought that Frazzz had never driven competitively on snow and ice before this weekend. A dash to Finland for some last-minute training ahead of the race certainly paid off as he topped qualifying for the second time this season, defeating Bakkerud in the final.
With pole position not providing the best grip on the multi-car grid, McConnell couldn’t benefit from his superb Friday performance, taking second in both his heat race and semifinal. An early joker in the final was supposed to help him overhaul those ahead of him, but the smart tactic didn’t quite pay off and he had to settle for fourth overall.
2. Oliver Eriksson
Nitro RX’s nearly man no more – after winning the qualifying battle bracket twice so far this season, Oliver Eriksson was finally an event winner.
The younger Eriksson brother was in the right place at the right time to snatch a heat win from the clutches of Pastrana when he sustained a puncture, and then dominated the final, only dropping out of the lead as he and his team-mate exchanged joker strategies.
The win was good in its own right, but when you consider he also had to contend with a broken propshaft for much of that final, it’s even more impressive.
1. Robin Larsson
No top qualifier sticker or race wins for Larsson this weekend, but despite not stealing any headlines, he did exactly what he needed to do to maintain his championship lead.
Third place in the final represented yet another podium – his sixth from seven starts this season – and keeps him atop of our rankings, and atop of the points standings, with a 58-point advantage over Bakkerud.