The Estering racetrack in northern Germany seems to be a lucky place for Swedish FIA World Rallycross driver Mattias Ekström: not only is that the place where he wrapped up his World Championship title last year, but he also scored there his fourth win of the 2017 season. Team-mate Toomas Heikkinen at the Audi-backed EKS RX team, closed third overall, returning to the podium for the first time since last year’s season finale in Argentina. Ekström’s win moved him even closer to current second in the championship, Petter Solberg, with his gap now reduced to just one point behind the Norwegian double champion.
“That was a fantastic weekend for us,” said Ekström.
“After we won the title last year we celebrated by having a really big party, but we also have every reason to be satisfied this time. I’m especially happy for Topi, who has had so much bad luck this season, and was finally rewarded with third place.”
Heikkinen was also very happy with his long-awaited podium finish, “That was a heck of a long time, but thank God it happened here at the Estering,” said the Finn.
“A big thank you to the team. I just have the best guys around me and am delighted that after all the bad luck over the last few months I was finally able to give them something back.”
EKS RX’s third driver, Latvia’s Reinis Nitiss, had to make do with his sixth-place semi-final finish, as a result of the usual contact on the Estering’s infamous turn one, effectively preventing him from achieving the final.
“Disappointing, simply disappointing,” summarized Nitišs.
“It’s clear after looking at the lap times that the final was possible, but it wasn’t to be once again. Now I still have the season finale in South Africa where I’ll be at maximum attack.”
The season finale in South Africa is Ekström’s only chance to overtake Solberg in the overall standings, and it comes after a month-long break on 10-12 November at the Killarney racetrack in Cape Town.