18-year-old Reinis Nitiss put in a near-perfect performance this weekend to take victory in round three of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Norway ahead of Petter Solberg and Ken Block.
With over 13,000 spectators present for the race in Hell, the championship is proving popular in its inaugural year with Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud flying the Norwegian flag in the series.
“This is amazing – just amazing,” said Nitiss after the race. “I will not forget today – I was racing in front of two stars and finished ahead of a World Champion. Today is the 15 June and 15 is my racing car number – it is a number which brings me a lot of luck and this is the best feeling. My aim at the start of the season was to finish in the top 12, I really didn’t imagine I could win today!”
Round one winner Solberg was left to settle for second place but was impressed by the young driver who defeated him. “I am very impressed with Reinis – he is young and put a lot of pressure on me today. His really deserves this, he is very quick.”
Ken Block made his World RX debut in hell and by finishing third overall took the FIA European Rallycross Championship win. “I really couldn’t be happier,” said the Gymkhana star. “This is my first time on a proper rallycross track and to finish the event alongside two great guys [Nitiss and Solberg] on the podium is awesome. I struggled with the starts and haven’t quite figured it out yet but World RX is an awesome Championship and it’s been great for myself and the team to see how everything works.”
Team Peugeot-Hansen once again showed their pace but ultimately were left to suffer a wrong decision as they chose wet tyres on a drying track; Timur Timerzyanov would finish fourth with team-mate Timmy Hansen in sixth. Henning Solberg rounded off the top-five positions in his Saab 9-3.
Liam Doran was fast all weekend but suffered a puncture which meant he narrowly missed out on a spot in the final.
Marklund Motorsport didn’t make it through to the final but were pushing for the win throughout the weekend with Topi Hekkinen and Anton Marklund battling it out.
Jacques Villeneuve had an improved weekend for Albatec Racing and was lying in twelfth place overnight but an overall twenty-sixth place finish in heat four meant he missed out from the semi-finals. Ramona Karlsson looked set to make it through to the semis but two punctures saw her lose time and lose out on a pass through to the next round.
“What a sensational weekend – World RX just keeps getting better and better!” exlaimed Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsport. “The standard of our drivers in this Championship is exceptionally high and for Ken Block to finish on the podium on his debut is testament to how hard Ken and the whole Hoonigan Racing team have worked.
“However, my biggest praise this weekend must go to Reinis – at only 18 years old, Reinis has proved himself as a driver who is blisteringly quick behind the wheel but also with a mature head on his shoulders. To drive against two hugely experienced drivers, Petter and Ken, and to come out top is exceptional.”
World RX of Finland, round four of the season, will take place at Kouvola from 28-29 June.