Tommy Rustad proved that he had not lost any of his form after winning the 2015 FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars, by taking his first win of the season at the 2016 series finale at the Euro RX of Latvia.
The popular Norwegian was fast enough in the Albatec Racing Peugeot 208 RX to remain inside the top four during Qualifying to confirm himself a place inside the Semi-Finals alongside team-mate Jerome Grosset-Janin. With the Latvian circuit rewarding a consistent and accurate driving style, the Peugeot’s were at home at the new for 2016 circuit. Team Principal Andy Scott failed to make the cut after reaching the Semi-Final stages twice this season in the third Albatec machine.
In Semi-Final One, Grosset-Janin made the best of a poor start to take the lead and remain in front to win the race and take pole position for the Final whilst Rustad went on to win Semi-Final Two and join his team-mate on the front row.
In the Final itself, Rustad would fall in line behind leader Peter Hedstrom, however after he spun, Rustad took the lead as Grosset-Janin suffered with poor grip in the wet conditions. Rustad would go on to win the race despite a spin on the last lap ahead of 2016 champion Kevin Hansen. Grosset-Janin secured fourth place over the line and this was enough for him to confirm second place in the drivers standings for the second year in a row.
Rustad was very happy to end his season on a high note:
“I’m very, very happy for Albatec Racing, all the mechanics, everybody in the team, HTB and my sponsors in fact everyone that has worked hard this year to get a victory. I’m so proud and so happy to be a part of Albatec,” explained the 2015 Euro RX Champion.
“Into the Final I started in the first row alongside Jérôme, and I had a better start than him. Peter Hedstrom took the lead and was in front of me, he braked a bit earlier than I expected and I hit him from behind.
“I was pushed also from behind from some other cars so I couldn’t do anything but wait and I was sure I was going out of the track but for some reason Hedstrom spun and the track was open and I could take the lead at the first corner, so I was a bit lucky there.
“I pushed as hard as I could and the car was working excellently and took the joker on the penultimate lap. In the last corner I made a mistake and nearly spun but managed to survive and take the win.”
Grosset-Janin was happy to secure 2nd place in the Drivers Championship, but he is already looking to 2017.
“Thanks to the amazing job by the team we performed well in tricky conditions so I’m very happy with that. I’m very happy to retain my vice-champion title with Albatec because that was the target this weekend and we did it against Tord Linnerud who was a very hard player with us. That was the most important thing for me this weekend,” explained the Frenchman.
“We discovered a very beautiful event with the Latvian organisation, the track was very good, even when it was raining cats and dogs this morning, so I am very happy with this. Congratulations to Tommy on winning the event for the team, I will now enjoy my result and start to prepare for 2017 because next season will be another fight.”
Andy Scott summed up how proud he was of the teams performance during the 2016 season:
“From a team perspective everybody worked incredibly hard all weekend and it’s fantastic to see Jérôme secure second in the championship for the second year running, and an amazing victory for Tommy which the whole team worked really hard for all weekend after the damage sustained in Barcelona. Certainly the victory didn’t come easy, it was really hard fought,” explained Scott.
“Tommy drove a brilliant race, he made one mistake on the last corner, which had everyone going crazy thinking he was going to lose the lead but he had more than 200 yards advantage, so he could recover from a spin and still win the race.
“It was a fantastic job from Tommy, a fantastic job from Jérôme, and for Albatec second and fourth in the championship is great – we’ve shown that although we were behind the factory teams at the start of the season, we caught up in the last two races – in Barcelona and Latvia – we’re not afraid of the factory cars.”