The first non-European race of this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship at Trois-Rivières, Canada, has provided the Audi Sport-backed EKS RX team with a disappointing result, as none of their drivers has been able to claim a step on the podium.
In fact, only Finnish driver Toomas Heikkinen has been able to claim a place in the all-important final, although a slow puncture meant he would only finish fifth overall. On a rain-stricken day one, the Finn was fastest in Q1, while team owner as well as reigning World Champion, Sweden’s Mattias Ekström, entered the semi-final stage after qualifying fourth overall, only for his weekend to be cut short by a clutch failure that denied him any chances to compete any further.
“Saturday was a good start, even if we didn’t have the paces of the two Polos of Johan Kristoffersson and Petter Solberg,” said Ekström.
“Things also started very well on Sunday in the dry. A good weekend until the semi-final.
Despite being denied a podium finish, Heikkinen has appeared in the final for the fourth time in a row here in Canada, “Despite the setback in the final, I take a lot of positives with me from Canada. It’s always fantastic to race here,” said the Finn.
“The car ran perfectly and we are definitely working in the right direction. I certainly have a good feeling for the last four races of the season.”
But for the team’s third-car entry, Reinis Nitiss of Latvia, the Canadian weekend was already over after the qualifying. Transmission problems on day one meant he only was nineteenth overnight, and his best efforts to catch up on Sunday went unrewarded as he only closed sixteenth, thus only scoring one Championship point and not having any chances to advance to the semis.
“A big thank you to my mechanics, who did a fantastic job on Saturday so that I could actually line up on the start,” Nitiss said.
“Unfortunately I didn’t have luck on my side. I have to push Canada to the back of my mind quickly and look forwards. In France everything starts from zero again and I’ll prove that I can be better.”
EKS are currently third in the Teams’ Championship standings, the same position Ekström occupies in the Drivers’ classification.
World RX returns to Europe for round nine in Lohéac, France, on 2-3 September, right after the summer break.