Ekstrom wins home RX round in front of sell-out crowd

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Double DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom has clinched his first-ever FIA World Rallycross Championship victory after a flawless drive in the Audi S1 Supercar at the fifth round of the World Championship presented by Monster Energy. 

Ekstrom is the fifth different winner and fourth different manufacturer to win in this year’s World RX.  The EKS RX Team driver is also the first this season to score maximum points after being placed highest in the intermediate classifications and winning both the semi-final and final. Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud and Petter Solberg were second and third, despite both drivers incurring punctures in a dramatic final race.

A record-breaking crowd of 34,900 spectators attended the legendary Volkswagen World RX of Sweden this weekend which is arguably the best known rallycross event in the world.  Thousands of vehicles lined the Varmland forest surrounding the circuit as a sell-out crowd descended on Holjes to watch 107 races across the Supercar, Super1600, TouringCar and supporting RX Lites Cup.  Rallycross is hugely popular in Sweden: it was the first of the Nordic countries to embrace the sport back in 1973.

“If I could write a book and create my dream story I would pretty much write what happened here in Holjes today.  This is the best story of my life,” grinned Ekstrom, who finished runner-up in Sweden last year. “In December we didn’t have anything in terms of a rallycross team and we have been late to enter this year but everything has fallen into place.  Our ultimate goal is to become World Champions but obviously because of my full-time career in DTM right now that is difficult… but I could definitely be part of a World Championship winning team as the team boss!  I’ve never actually been to a FIA prizegiving and I would certainly love to do that.”

Ford Olsbergs MSE successfully extended its lead at the top of the team standings after team-mates Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss finished second and fourth in their Ford Fiesta Supercars. “That was an unbelievable race – absolutely unbelievable!,” explained Bakkerud, who drops to third in the overall drivers’ standings after losing out on points during the heats. “I was pushing so hard in that race, probably to my limit, but Mattias was driving so well. On lap three I got a puncture but then I saw that Petter and Sebastian had punctures too so I started to really push at that point. This is my fourth podium this year so I’m pretty happy.”

Solberg once again put on a fantastic show for the World RX fans, winning two heats and moving ahead of Bakkerud in the drivers’ standings thanks to a healthy points haul. “That was very exciting,” beamed the former World Rally Champion.  “I tried everything I could in that race but I had a knock from Andreas in the final lap and I couldn’t get ahead.  He is a tough young driver!”

Bakkerud’s team-mate Reinis Nitiss finished fourth this weekend and remains the only World RX driver this season to reach the semi-final of every event.  The 18-year-old Latvian now sits nine points ahead of Solberg in the standings.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsport, concluded: “What a sensational weekend it’s been in Holjes, it’s certainly one that will go down in history as one of the most action-packed.  We’ve had everything we could have hoped for: over 100 entries, a sell-out crowd, excellent weather and bumper-to-bumper racing.  It was the icing on the cake to have Mattias win in front of a home crowd – and I’m certain that the action would have made for excellent viewing for our broadcasters around the world too.  Last year we had just over 29,000 fans in Holjes but this year we’ve had nearly 35,000 which is testament to just how quickly our Championship is growing at the moment. It’s good for the Championship to have five different winners in five rounds and it’s fantastic to see Audi on the top step of the podium for the first time too – many congratulations to the EKS RX Team for their tremendous efforts.”

Round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at Mettet in Belgium next weekend, 12-13 July, as the Championship has its fourth race in five weeks.