2016 FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekstrom set himself the target of beating rival Petter Solberg to second place in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Drivers Championship at the World RX of South Africa.
He fought hard all weekend, but the former DTM Champion achieved that goal. Ekstrom pushed his EKSRX Audi Quattro S1 hard during Qualifying at the Killarney International Circuit, which was playing host to a World RX event for the first time.
Despite not setting a fastest time in Qualifying, the Swedish driver stayed within the top ten and secured his place in the Semi-Finals before going on to the Final itself, showing off some impressive and dramatic moves on the way.
Having Qualified ahead of Solberg and then finishing ahead of him in the Final, Ekstrom sealed his position. Despite not winning the Supercar Final, Ekstrom reflected on a good weekend’s work in South Africa.
“That was a tremendous weekend obviously we always want to win, but unfortunately we weren’t fast enough in the final,” said Ekstrom.
“Second place in the overall standings is good, but at the end of the day also only the first loser. Even so I’ll celebrate this success with the team and look forward to the winter break after the long season.”
Whilst Ekstrom was mixed in the fight with Solberg, Topi Heikkinen’s task was to try and help the team score maximum points to take second place in the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Teams Championship.
However the Finn fell short of his goal, despite going on to finish sixth in Semi-Final One, taking his eleventh Semi-Final start of the year. Heikkinen ended the year seventh in the Drivers Championship as EKSRX finished in third place in the Teams Championship.
Heikkinen explained his thoughts on the year very clearly as he looked forward to 2018.
“It wasn’t a bad year, but it’s important for the future to make the final more often and then to fight for trophies.”
Reinis Nitiss had a weekend to forget in the third EKSRX Audi. Following a puncture on Saturday, Sunday saw the Latvian miss out on any hope of making the Semi-Finals after a collision during Qualifying. This left Nitiss finishing in eighteenth place in the final round of the year.
Looking back on his first year with the Audi Sport backed squad, Nitiss was not impressed with how the season had progressed after what was a positive start.
“That was a frustrating end to a mixed season,” explained Nitiss. “After a good start there were essentially no real highlights to report from the fourth round of the season onwards.”