Mattias Ekström topped qualifying for round six of the 2020 World Rallycross season in Latvia as championship leader Johan Kristoffersson failed to top a session for the first time this season.
Ekström was the pacesetter in Q1 and Q2, with JC Raceteknik team-mate Robin Larsson topping the table in Q3 to ensure an Audi lockout of the morning.
After being one of several drivers to forego morning warm-up, Ekström had a trouble-free run in the first heat race of the day. Meanwhile Kristoffersson, running in the final four-lap race of the round which is usually the fastest, was beaten on-track by reigning champion Timmy Hansen.
Ekström doubled up in Q2, despite suffering with a stuck throttle for a brief moment. Again, Kristoffersson missed out on the start, being passed by both Ekström and Larsson.
An issue in the joker in that Q2 race meant that Larsson’s overall time in that round was one of the slowest. That put him in the first heat race for Q3, which he won with the fastest cumulative time.
Kristoffersson finally bettered Ekström in the last heat, but despite a routing lights-to-flag win, it wasn’t fast enough to overhaul Larsson.
The double-champion finished the morning second overall, while Larsson took third – his Q3 win doing enough to make up for his poor Q2 run.
Timmy Hansen, who beat Kristoffersson on the road in Q1, was fourth overall, ahead of Niclas Grönholm who won his Q1 heat and was rapid in Q3, but was prevented from mounting a proper challenge to Kristoffersson because of traffic.
Andreas Bakkerud was sixth, despite a scare in Q3 where he was sent airborne at the first turn after contact with Timur Timerzyanov. The two were separated by Kevin Hansen and Timo Scheider in the final qualifying standings, with Anton Marklund completing the top-10.
The final two transfer spots went to Krisztián Szabó – who was able to return to the track in Q3 despite an engine fire in Q2 – and Liam Doran who makes the semifinals for the second round in a row after having his season blighted by technical woes.
Just missing out is local driver Reinis Nitišs, who is making his second start of the season in the ESmotorsport Škoda Fabia RX. René Münnich, Guerlain Chicherit, Rokas Baciuška, and Jani Paasonen also failed to advance.
The second round of this year’s European Rallycross Championship for Supercars also continued this morning, with points leader Oliver Eriksson climbing up the order after a difficult Saturday.
Overall wins in Q3 – which came despite another suspension failure – and Q4 meant that he finished the morning second, eight qualifying points adrift of Jean-Baptiste Dubourg.
Sondre Evjen, who came into today atop of the European qualifying standings, slipped to third, but remained ahead of the Audi duo of Ben-Philip Gundersen and Tamás Kárai.
Andrea Dubourg completed the top-six, ahead of Peter Hedström and Aleš Fučik, while Mikko Ikonen, Paulius Pleskovas, Mandie August, and Dan Öberg completed the semifinal lineup.
In Projekt E Cyril Raymond won twice more to give Citroën the top qualifier spot on its category debut. He beat Jānis Baumanis, who failed to finish Q3 after contact with the Frenchman, Svein Bjarte Holten, and Natalie Barratt.