This weekend, the FIA World Rallycross Championship will visit the historic Lydden Hill Race Circuit in Kent, for the British round of the series.
The venue, widely known among fans as the home of rallycross, as the discipline was actually born there back in 1967, will be hosting the World Championship for the last time this year: from next season, and until further notice, the British WRX weekend will move to an all-new rallycross track at Silverstone, Northamptonshire.
Reigning World Rallycross Champion, Mattias Ekström of Sweden, believes the Lydden Hill circuit to be well suited to his driving style, a point he can prove with last year’s win.
“This year, we’ll be on the grid for the third time at Lydden Hill and the races have always been great fun,” says Ekström.
“Especially my duels with Petter Solberg are legendary.”
On last year’s edition, Ekström and Norwegian two-time World Rallycross Champion Solberg delighted fans with a display of absolutely masterful driving skills, all the way to the final, where the Swede won by a mere 1.142 seconds after a close-quarters battle with Solberg.
“We didn’t have an easy weekend,” Ekström says in retrospect. “In Q1, we had engine issues and in Q4, I had a puncture. We kept cool, took it easy on our tyres for the semi-finals and the final, and had the necessary amount of fortune to clinch victory.”
Thanks to its long tarmac sections, the southern English racetrack is very well suited to drivers with circuit racing backgrounds, like two-time DTM champion Ekström, whereas the loose sections have seen plenty of crazy overtaking manoeuvres throughout the years.
“I really like the circuit,” says Ekström’s team-mate, Finn Toomas Heikkinen. “Devil’s Elbow is one of the best turns on the whole World RX calendar.”
The EKS team will, of course, be fielding a third Audi S1 EKS RX quattro for young Latvian Reinis Nitiss, who reckons: “[Lydden Hill is]… a fantastic track! In 2015, I was in the final and came fifth. This time I want to be in contention at the very front.”
Action at Lydden Hill will start with the first free practice session on Saturday, 27 May.