The 2017 FIA European Super1600 Rallycross Championship got underway at the Montalegre circuit in Portugal with a mammoth entry of 30 cars taking part.
2016 Champion Krisztián Szabo began where he left off by going fastest in Qualifying after winning three out of the four sessions he took part in. In the Semi-Final stages, the Volland Racing driver led the first Semi-Final until he took his joker on the last lap, losing the lead to the returning Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme who won the race and took pole for the Super1600 Final.
2016 Championship runner up Ulrik Linnemann finished fourth after Qualifying, which secured him a place in Semi-Final Two. During the race the Danish driver managed to fend off a constant charge by Artis Baumanis in the second Volland Racing Skoda to take the win and get to the Final.
The Final itself was a frantic affair. With Leppihalme and Linnemann on the front row, Sazbo and Baumanis completed the middle row of the grid whilst Leppihalme’s SET Promotion team-mate Timur Shigaboutdinov started on the back row with fellow Skoda driver Kasparas Navickas.
The action started at turn one as both Szabo and Leppihalme headed for the joker, however contact between the two saw the Finnish driver lose a wheel from his Renault Twingo which led to retirement. Linnemann lept into the lead with Shigaboutdinov and Navickas in pursuit.
Linnemann took his joker on lap two and managed to hold off the Skoda of Szabo to keep second place. As the two rivals battled hard, Navickas took his joker on lap four and dropped to fifth place before Shigaboutdinov dropped out of the lead and took his joker on the final lap. As he joined the field, the Russian driver was in third and pushing Szabo hard.
The SET Promotion driver made his move on Szabo and took second on the road, however he was later penalised by the stewards and dropped to fifth place. An ecstatic Ulrik Linnemann took the race win ahead of Krisztián Szabo and Artis Baumanis.
Linnemann leads the Drivers championship in his Peugeot 208 as the next round of the series takes place at Mettet in Belgium on May 12 – 14.