Mattias Ekstrom took his second win of the season at the World RX of Portugal, but it wasn’t an easy win to secure as he faced pressure all the way.
Ekstrom was never outside the top six during Qualifying with his highest position being second in Q3 behind eventual Top Qualifier Petter Solberg. After Qualifying the EKSRX driver was on pole position in Semi-Final Two ahead of both the Team Peugeot-Hansen drivers Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen, who both chased him home in the race.
With all three making it to the Final, Ekstrom chose to take his joker on lap one and this would prove decisive when Solberg suffered his puncture on lap two. Once Johan Kristoffersson took his joker on the final lap, Ekstrom was in the lead with Loeb hunting him all the way to the Finish to take his second straight win of the year.
The Swedish driver admitted this was one of his more hard fought wins.
“We were not the quickest for a long time here this weekend,” admitted Ekström. “But we never give up. In the end is was one of the most hard fought wins in my rallycross career.”
As always the former DTM champion was full of praise for his team-mates with EKSRX expanding to three cars in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship. Reinis Nitiss qualified for the final in the third Audi S1 and was in second place before taking his joker on lap five, which led to Ekstrom taking the lead of the race.
Topi Heikkinen quailified inside the top twelve to get a spot in the Semi-Finals, however he just missed out on a place in the Supercar Final after coming home in fourth place in Semi-Final Two.
“A big compliment to Reinis,” said Ekström. “He did a great job again, but also Topi proved again what he and his car are capable of.”
Ekstrom will return to double duty at the next round of the series, the World RX of Hockenheim, where he will drive in both the World RX event and also the opening round of the 2017 DTM Series.