Mattias Ekstrom now leads the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship by 27 points and this is due to the former DTM two time champion taking a podium finish at the first ever World RX of Latvia.
The EKSRX driver was boosted by the news before the event that Audi have agreed to let him miss the DTM finale at Hockenheim on 15th – 16th October so that he can concentrate on winning the 2016 FIA World RX Drivers title and he has rewarded that decision by extending his points lead.
Ekstrom finished Qualifying in fourth place overall which led to him being in Semi-Final Two and he went on to win the race to confirm a front row spot for the final. During the race itself, Ekstrom remained in second place all the way to the flag as Sebastien Loeb went off into the distance to take the win.
“It was another incredible weekend. Saturday was for sure the most exciting day in my entire Rallycross career,” says Ekström. “Not only because of the battle with Petter Solberg, but also thanks to the awesome racing at this great track here in Riga. On Sunday, the conditions changed completely with the heavy rain in the morning, but I was happy with my pace.”
“The semi-final went really well and I secured pole position for the final. When you are starting from the top spot, you want to win the big trophy, but my start was not perfect and Sébastien Loeb had the better pace. Fair enough! P2 feels a bit like a victory. In the drivers’ standings, I increased the gap and we are also battling for every point in the teams’ championship. To sum it up in one sentence: Riga was a massive step forward.”
After a slow start in Q1, Topi Heikkinen remained inside the top nine places during the rest of Qualifying and this meant tat he would make it to Semi-Final One where he would finish in fourth place and miss out on a pace in the Supercar Final yet again. Heikkinen’s last appearance in the Supercar Final was back at the World RX of Canada and the Finn will be looking to change that soon.
“It was close, but not enough,” says Heikkinen. “My start from row three was nearly perfect, but I wasn’t able to stay in third position after turn one, but I leave Latvia with positives as well. Two race wins, good pace and also nice memories. It was one of the best-organized events ever and I liked the track from the very beginning. Really cool! In the end it’s a bit frustrating that I missed my fourth final of the season.”
Ekstrom can potentially wrap up the Drivers title at the World RX of Germany next time out, however nothing is ever easy in World RX and the Swedish driver is well aware of this. Meanwhile the team will be looking to score more points in Germany as Teams Championship title rivals Team Peugeot-Hansen closed the gap down to eight points.