After a well-timed late joker lap, SDRX‘s Petter Solberg managed to finish the final of the 2015 WorldRX of Great Britain at Lydden Hill ahead of Mattias Ekström, with Johan Kristofferson rounding out the top three.
Petter Solberg had a fantastic start to the weekend, coming top in both of his Saturday heat races. After the first round of heats, Johan Kristofferson and Timmy Hansen completed the top three, behind Solberg.
Heat two saw Solberg and Kristofferson 1st and 2nd again, but with Mattias Ekström in third.
Sunday morning’s sessions had heat three being won by BTCC ace Andrew Jordan, ahead of Andreas Bakkerud and Davy Jeanney. Solberg was down in 13th, but this wasn’t a problem for the Norwegian thanks to his strong Saturday performances.
Heat four saw Ekström set the fastest time, followed by Hansen and Bakkerud. The overall heat results saw Petter Solberg on top, followed by Mattias Ekström and Johan Kristofferson. Andrew Jordan made 6th position due to his heat 3 result. Guy Wilks finished 8th and was the 2nd Brit to go through to the semi-final.
Some surprising omissions from the semi-finals were Per-Gunnar Andersson, who was 13th in the intermediate standings, Toomas Heikkinen in 15th, and Tanner Foust in 16th.
Semi-final 1 saw an incredible drive from Solberg, who decided to do his joker lap on the last lap, along with Reinis Nitiss. This proved to be a wise move for the 2014 champion, with the four other drivers having jokered on either lap 1 or 2. A fierce battle took place between Nitiss and Hansen for the all-important 3rd position on the final lap, with Nitiss finishing ahead. Solberg, Kristofferson and Nitiss went through to the final, with Hansen, Linnerud and Larson ending their weekend earlier than they would have preferred.
It was Mattias Ekström who would be victorious in semi-final 2. The Swede had contact with Andreas Bakkerud who was challenging him for the lead at the first turn. Soon, Andrew Jordan was able to close the gap to Bakkerud, but couldn’t make his way past, and so remained in P3. Wilks and Jeanney decided to take their joker lap on lap 1, with Manfred Stohl doing so a lap later. On lap 5, Bakkerud took his joker lap, and came out ahead of Wilks. Ekström and Jordan had to do their joker lap on the last lap, and whilst this worked for Mattias, the same couldn’t be said for Andrew Jordan who fell back to P5. Ekström, Bakkerud and Wilks progressed to the final, but Jeanney, Jordan and Stohl were unable to.
Before the final started, rain began to fall on the grid, but all drivers decided to take slick tyres. The grid was as follows: Solberg, Ekström, Kristofferson, Bakkerud, Nitiss and Wilks.
Ekström, Bakkerud and Wilks took their joker lap straight away, and by the end of the opening lap, Solberg led Kristofferson and Nitiss. Ekström was the most successful of the drivers who took the early jokers. Unfortunately for the home crowd, Guy Wilks had to retire after lap two due to his front left tyre coming off the rim.
On lap 4, Nitiss took his joker lap and came out in P5, leaving just Solberg and Kristofferson out in front. These both did their joker lap on the final lap (L6), and Solberg came out in the lead, but only just ahead of Ekström. The Audi driver attempted on many occasions throughout the last lap to pass and take the lead, but was unable to pass Petter. Despite a puncture on the rear left, Solberg defended his position and became the first driver of 2015 to win two rounds.
The race results of the final were: Petter Solberg, Mattias Ekström, Johan Kristofferson, Andreas Bakkerud, Reinis Nitiss and Guy Wilks. Solberg completed his race in 4:25.064, just 0.341 seconds in the lead.
The next round of the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship will be held at Germany’s Estering on June 20/21.