Marklund Motorsport driver Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen took his first win of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Season at Mettet in Belgium last weekend ahead of a hard charging Petter Solberg and the consistent Reinis Nitiss.
The win at Mettet is Heikkinen’s second at the circuit, having triumphed there in the 2014 event. The Finn was quick over the weekend, gaining speed from heat one to finish in second place overall behind Team Peugeot-Hansen‘s Timmy Hansen in heat two before taking third overall in heat three. Heikkinen finished heat four in seventh place which secured him a place in the Semi-Finals. A win in Semi-Final one led to Pole Position in the Final and he would go on to take the event win in his Volkswagen Polo.
Heikkinen was well aware of the work behind securing his first 2015 win.
“I’m really happy, Belgium is starting to feel like home!,” grinned Heikkinen who repeated his 2014 Mettet victory. “I’m feeling really comfortable in the car now – it suits my driving style but I have to say that I am not alone. There is a team of more than 20 people who helped me to win today, my team are amazing and I couldn’t have done this without them. The fight for the Championship is well and truly on and now we get ready for Lydden Hill next week and hope to repeat this all over again.”
SDRX driver Petter Solberg finished second in the Final after leading the standings at the end of day one. He qualified for Semi-Final two but a jump start meant that to progress through to the Final, he would need to complete two Joker Laps and finish in the top three. Solberg went on to give a masterful display of driving in his Citroen DS3 as he lowered the lap record during the Semi-Final and he went on to finish second behind P-G Andersson. The 2014 Champion pursued Heikkinen in the Final but would finish second in the end.
Solberg explained the challenge he faced ahead of him on Sunday.
“I took a gamble in the semi-final but it didn’t work out. After that, I had to really push to make up for the time I was going to lose from taking two Jokers. All I could think about was going as fast as I could. Then in the final, the plan was to aim for second but when my spotter told me I was only a second behind Topi, I tried to catch him but went into the Joker too fast. Last time we were here, we finished third, this time we came second – maybe next year we can win!”
Ford OlsbergsMSE‘s Reinis Nitiss scored his second consecutive third place of the season after what could be called a quiet weekend that led to qualifying for the Semi-Finals. Indeed, the Latvian driver remained outside of the top twelve until heat four, where he finished in 9th place overall. Nitiss would go on to finish the first Semi-Final in third place behind Heikkinen and team-mate Andreas Bakkerud and an early first lap Joker meant that he would come home in third place in his Ford Fiesta Supercar.
The Latvian driver feels there is more improvement needed however.
“Of course it’s good to be third for the second event in a row but I need to improve my driving,” said the 19-year-old. “The car feels really good but my times weren’t as good in the semis or the final so I want to work on that.”
Andreas Bakkerud improved on his previous Supercar Final performances to come home in fourth place whilst P-G Andersson followed him home in fifth position. Early heat leader Mattias Ekstrom in his EKSRX Audi S1 was one of the fastest drivers of the course of the weekend but damage sustained in the Final led to him retiring.
Portugal winner Johan Kristoffersson was quick enough on day two in his Volkswagen Team Sweden VW Polo to lead heats three and four, but a front puncture on lap four of the first Semi-Final meant he would go no further. It was a similar story for double podium finisher Timmy Hansen who also lost out on a spot in the final due to a front puncture on his Peugeot 208 WRX.
Solberg leads Kristoffersson by 22 points as the series heads to Lydden Hill this weekend for the WorldRX Of Great Britain.