Suspension failure shatters Rustad’s hopes of ERX home podium

Tommy Rustad qualified well in Norway - Photo credit: Albatec Racing

This weekend’s round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, at the Lankebanen in Hell, Norway, benefited from the support of the second round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars. In the continental championship, Scottish team Albatec Racing was well represented by 2015 EuroRX champion, Norwegian Tommy Rustad.

Rustad entered his home race with his confidence boosted by the presence of the numerous local fans, as well as his sponsors. Despite the bad weather, the Norwegian immediately put his Peugeot 208 on his rivals’ pace, second-fastest in Q1. Fourth in Q2 and second in Q3 took him further up the event’s intermediate standings, and his eleventh-fastest time in the last qualifier didn’t affect his performance, as he only trailed round one winner, Anton Marklund of Sweden, in the lead-up to the semi-finals.

Shortly after, the Norwegian turned his semi-final pole position into a win, and with it a front-row start in the final, alongside 2014 European Champion Robin Larsson.

As the final started, though, a typical first-corner collision between Rustad and Marklund pushed the Norwegian off the line, meaning he dropped a position. He soldiered on for two more laps, until severe suspension damage forced him to retire on lap three.

“Saturday was very wet, but we had a good balance with the car although the conditions were difficult, Rustad says.

 In the first race, I was happy with the win, and speed, in Q2 I was a bit disappointed to end in P4 but could see the conditions were changing across the races and happy to lead overnight. I led Q3 from start to finish, and was second overall which kept me top. In Q4 I didn’t get the best start and was last off the start line, so dropped to second but with pole for my semi-final. I made a perfect start, had a good battle with [Thomas] Bryntesson, but managed to win with a good margin.

“In the final, I made a very good start but at the first corner [Anton] Marklund made a pass, very tough, but no more than I would expect, and in the fight with him I lost a place to [Tamas] Pal Kiss.

I could feel there was something wrong with the car, I went to the joker on lap two, and coming out behind [Robin] Larsson in P4 I could feel the rear suspension was broken, so that was it, game over. But the Albatec guys did a brilliant job all weekend, we’ve shown we have the speed to win races, and we’ll be coming back even stronger in Höljes.”

Rustad’s next challenge, the EuroRX of Sweden, comes at the beginning of next month, 1-2 July at Höljes.