Solberg wins German World RX round after closest finish in sport’s history
The FIA World Rallycross Championship crossed over the border from France to Germany for the ninth round of the season (20-21 September), boasting the largest Supercar entry of the year.
With no fewer than 41 Supercars going head-to-head at the Estering circuit in Buxtehude, close to Hamburg, championship frontrunner and former World Rally Championship titleholder Petter Solberg took a dramatic win to retain and extend his lead at the top of the driver standings.
In what has been described as the sport’s closest ever finish in its 47 year history, PSRX driver Solberg pipped Sweden RX winner Mattias Ekstrom to the post by a margin of just five thousandths of a second in the nail-biting final. Robin Larsson completed the podium line-up in third.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say – I don’t think I have seen anything so close in my whole life,” grinned Solberg, who has racked up a tally of four World RX victories this season and is 52 points ahead of his nearest rival in the championship, with just three rounds remaining.
The Norwegian continued, “The plan today was not necessarily to win but when I saw Robin’s [Larsson] mistake, I knew I had a chance. Then, on the second last lap, I made a mistake – I couldn’t remember if there was one more to go, so I hesitated at the joker and lost some time. I heard on the radio that I needed to go flat out to the finish so I really pushed on the last lap. I didn’t even know if I had won when I crossed the line, it was a really incredible moment.”
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG Motorsports, concluded by saying, “We witnessed one of the closest finishes there’s ever been and the organizers have done a tremendous job at dealing with such a huge entry of cars. For two drivers to be separated by five thousandths of a second is really incredible and helps to demonstrate the extremely close racing RX creates.
“We also saw four manufacturers in the final today which goes to show just how diverse an entry that Germany RX delivered this weekend. With Ford Olsbergs MSE leading a three-horse race in the teams’ championship, our next event in Italy is shaping up to be pivotal in the title chase.”
Some 10,000 spectators attended the Estering circuit to watch the cars tackle 60% tarmac and 40% gravel at a track where the first corner produced some of the most intense World RX action on the 2014 calendar. Having such a mix of surfaces to contend with is the reason why Cooper Tire produces such a unique rallycross tire that can excel under the demands of having to take ‘the rough with the smooth.’
After watching all the action in Buxtehude, Marketing Communications Manager for Cooper Tire Europe, Sarah McRoberts, said, “We’re thrilled that World Rallycross continues to provide such spectacular racing, and this weekend marked the 100th driver entering the series in a Supercar this year. The championship is growing at an extraordinary pace and, with such talented drivers coming on board, it's set to grow even more.”
Now second in the driver standings is Volkswagen Marklund Motorsport driver Topi Heikkinen, with Ford Olsberg’s MSE driver Reinis Nitiss third.
At the next round in north Italy, at Franciacorta International Circuit (27-28 September), Former F1 World Champion Villeneuve will return with Albatec Racing in his Peugeot 208 Supercar.
For more information about the FIA World Rallycross Championship, visit http://www.rallycrossrx.com/.