UPDATED: Timmy Hansen leads Nitro Rallycross after first day of racing

by Dominik Wilde

Timmy Hansen will head into the final day of the inaugural Nitro Rallycross event in first place, ahead of Scott Speed and Chris Atkinson.

The FIA World Rallycross regular finished second to Atkinson in both qualifying and heat A, but won his second round race following the Subaru driver’s retirement and an intense final lap battle with fellow Swede Mattias Ekstrom.

Despite missing out on top spot, Speed was arguably the strongest driver of the day. The three-time Global Rallycross champion and current Americas Rallycross points leader started on the back-foot after receiving a penalty for clipping a track marker tyre in qualifying which left him down in eighth.

The ex-Formula 1 driver then won both of his heat races, taking overall top spot in both rounds after setting the fastest race times in the nine car field.

Chris Atkinson topped qualifying but his heat B retirement kept him out first place – Credit: Matt Stryker/Subaru Rally Team USA

Atkinson was knocked out of first place after he suffered suspension failure in his second heat race.

Hansen, Speed, and Atkinsom now immediately advance to the competition’s semi-final stage. Sandell, Tanner Foust, Ekstrom, Steve Arpin, and Travis Pastrana will go through another series of heat races tomorrow to determine which other three drivers will advance.

Ken Block’s participation for the rest of the event is in doubt after the ARX regular retired from the first day of competition.

Block finished the day second from bottom in the points table, ahead of just Pastrana, but like team mate Arpin, he had been struggling with suspension issues on his Ford Focus RS RX.

With the ARX season finale at Circuit of the Americas, Block chose to not risk injury of further damage to his car. Unlike the rest of the field, Loenbro Hoonigan are using the same cars they compete regularly with.

Pastrana was another big name to struggle. The creator of the event – and designer of the extreme motocross-inspired track built specifically for Nitro Rallycross at the Utah Motorsports Campus – suffered with clutch issues throughout the day and was shuffled to third in his three-car heat race after hitting a tyre. In his second heat, the Subaru driver was forced to retire with a flat tyre.

Pastrana (top) struggled to get going in the event he created – Credit: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

UPDATE: We originally reported Chris Atkinson as the points leader. This was due to a mistake on the live feed which scored him zero points for his retirement. As the lowest score tops the table, this was incorrect.

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