Mattias Ekström prevailed in a thrilling round two final at Holjes against Johan Kristofferson in a race that will be remembered as one of the best finals in World Rallycross history.
Ekström had been Johan Kristoffersson’s biggest challenger all weekend and the six-lap main event was a straight fight on pure pace between both drivers.
The JC Raceteknik driver started the final from the second row of the grid after being beaten by team-mate Robin Larsson in the semi-finals, while Kristoffersson had the pole as a result of his top qualifying performance and his own semi-final win.
At the start it was Larsson that made the best getaway, but was pushed hard by Kristoffersson going into the first corner. Ekström, anticipating the drama ahead of him, dived into the joker to gain some clear air.
By lap two, everyone except Kristoffersson had taken the longer route, with a strong first lap from Ekström cycling him out into second place. From there he charged down the round one winner, cutting the gap down to 2.2 seconds by the end of the third lap.
The gap continued to fall until lap five when Kristoffersson responded, setting the fastest lap of the day and extending the gap to 2.7 seconds – which should have been enough to maintain the lead once he eventually took the joker.
Ekström followed that by bettering Kristoffersson best lap time, and cutting the gap back down to 2.3 seconds.
That gap wasn’t enough when Kristoffersson jokered on the final lap, with him emerging just behind Ekström. Kristofferson was in attack mode, having a look up the inside of the final corner, but it wasn’t enough.
The pair crossed the line separated by just a tenth of a second, but Kristoffersson was handed a five second penalty immediately following the race after he was judged to have hit two track markers in the joker lap as he pushed hard to match Ekström. He was able to remain on the podium however, falling one spot to third.
Kristoffersson’s penalty promoted Kevin Hansen to second. Hansen passed Larsson on the penultimate lap, with the JC Raceteknik driver slowing after being set for a podium. Timo Scheider also got by for fourth, with Larsson limping home in fifth.
Andreas Bakkerud completed the final field a distant sixth after slowing on the first lap.
Ekstom’s win brings an end to a 10-race winning streak for Kristoffersson. Discounting his year away from the series, the last time Kristoffersson failed to win a World RX race was Belgium 2018, when overall honors went to Sébastien Loeb.
Ahead of the final there were a number of big-name casualties who failed to advance. In the first semi-final reigning champion Timmy Hansen finished fifth after a hard-fought battle for the final transfer spot between the advancing Bakkerud, Timur Timerzyanov, and Anton Marklund.
In the second semi, pre-season championship favorite Niclas Grönholm missed out after being passed by Scheider in the joker on the first lap of the race. A post-race penalty for team-mate Krisztián Szabó elevated him to fourth, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the final.
Eriksson triumphs in Euro RX
Oliver Eriksson won the European Rallycross final on his debut in fine fashion, comfortably beating Andrea Dubourg.
The multiple Lites champion – who is also competing in RallyX Nordic this year – scooped three out of four qualifying rounds, as well as his semi-final en route to the main event.
There he had to fight with Jean-Baptiste Dubourg off the line; the pair coming into contact as they battled for the first corner. The position soon went the way of Eriksson though, with Andréa Dubourg and Pontus Tidemand also finding a way past JB Dubourg as he wrestled to control his Peugeot 208.
Once out in front, Eriksson began to build a lead never truly looked under threat. Andrea Dubourg however faced pressure from Tidemand until lap five when Tidemand spun at the high-speed section of the track, just before the final jump.
That handed third to JB Dubourg, although he had yet to joker, unlike Peter Hedström and Ben-Philip Gundersen who were both hunting him down. The pair didn’t need to wait for him to joker to get by however, with JB Dubourg slowed with a mechanical issue halfway round the penultimate lap.
Eriksson and Andrea Dubourg jokered on the final lap to comfortably finished first and second, separated by just under two seconds. Hedstrom took the final podium spot in third ahead of Gundersen in fourth.
Despite slowing, JB Dubourg finished fifth, with Tidemand rounding out the field.