Mattias Ekstrom must be wondering what he has to do to take the fight back to Petter Solberg after suffering a puncture for the second World RX event in a row which saw him miss the Supercar Final.
The EKSRX Team Principal came out of the starting blocks with impressive speed as he guided his Audi Quattro S1 Supercar to the fastest time in Q1 and again in Q2 to go Top Qualifier at the end of the first days action.
He kept up this impressive display as he went second fastest behind Johan Kristoffersson in Q3 before going third fastest overall in Q4 and securing the Top Qualifier spot overall to give him pole position for Semi-Final One.
However the former DTM Champion suffered a puncture on the penultimate corner and this dropped him out of the vital places for the Supercar Final.
Ekstrom took the positives from a sad ending to the weekend:
“I tried to survive, but Petter and Reinis passed me and I finished fourth,” says Ekström. “Very disappointing. We leave without the trophy we deserve. Today is a sad day, but tomorrow I will smile again. At least, we have some vital points for the standings in our bags.”
Ekstrom’s team-mate Toomas “Topi” Heikkinen suffered more bad luck as he looked for a place in the Final. The Flying Finn was looking good after Q1 and Q2 where he was in sixth position overall, however a hit in Q3 saw his Audi S1 suffer some serious damage and leaving the EKSRX outfit only 45 minutes to get the car ready for Q4.
The team excelled at this challenge and Heikkinen was out in Q4, however his time was not quick enough to see him go any further, as Heikkinen explains, “The guys did an amazing job and put the car back in shape in only 45 minutes, but I was not fast enough in my race.”
Ekstrom lies five points behind Championship leader Petter Solberg in the FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship whilst EKSRX maintain their lead in the Teams Championship as rivals Team Peugeot-Hansen closed the gap to 11 points whilst the series now moves on to Spain for its next event.