After taking a resounding victory in the fifth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy at Lydden Hill on Sunday, Norwegian rallycross hero, Petter Solberg paid tribute to the Kent circuit, the birthplace of rallycross on its final world championship event.
Solberg, the popular twice World Rallycross Champion was pretty dominant all weekend, winning three of the four qualifying heats, his semi-final and final in what turned out to be a 25,000 people-strong crowd-pleaser.
“I’m really sorry that it’s the last World Rallycross at Lydden, because it’s been fantastic. The weather, the spectators, the volunteers around the track, they were all so happy and they’ve given so much energy back to us drivers. I think it’s a sad thing but to win here at least, for the last time, will go down in the history books and that means a lot to me. I want to say thank you to everybody involved in Lydden Hill for so many years, and all the volunteers for doing such a fantastic job”, said Solberg.
He was on superb form all weekend in the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden VW Polo Supercar and was favourite for top honours going into today’s semi-final and final. Maybe the fact that it had been 405 days since he’d last taken the top step on the podium spurred him on.
However, it is his younger team mate, Johan Kristoffersson, who takes the lead of the championship as they head to Norway in two weeks. Sweden’s Kristoffersson followed Solberg home in his VW Polo Supercar but had to give best to Petter, saying: “He’s been brilliant all weekend; he had the upper hand on me since the draw really, and he’s been managing his tyres very well. In the end, it’s all about the points that we go away from here with and now I’m leading the championship by a few points ahead of Mattias [Ekström] and the team championship is looking very good. I think it’s my fourth podium in a row, so I’m very pleased."
Acknowledging that the rest of the teams will be working hard to knock him off his perch at the top, Kristoffersson, continued: “It’s the first time I’m leading the championship on my own and I think in 2015, I was equal first with Petter after the win in Portugal but this is a great feeling.”
Completing the podium was 25 year-old Andreas Bakkerud competing with the Hoonigan Racing Division in a Ford Focus RS RX Supercar. The young Norwegian was a close third and at least upset the Saturday form book by keeping Mattias Ekström from the third step of the podium.
Bakkerud commented: “It was all about trying to be the best of the rest and I feel the whole team did a great job because we were pushing hard. We tried our best and we weren’t quite fast enough but I’m pretty happy with how it all went and now it’s for us to work even harder.”
Frenchman, nine times FIA World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb in the Team Peugeot-Hansen Peugeot 208, Ekström (EKS Audi S1) and Timmy Hansen in the second Team Peugeot-Hansen Peugeot 208 completed the order to pull the World RX curtain down at Lydden Hill.
In the FIA European Rallycross Championship for TouringCar, Lars-Oivind Enerberg took the win, to take the championship lead in his Ford Fiesta, ahead of Steve Volders who took his first series podium. Kjetil Larsen, despite not competing in his regular car, completed the top three, ahead of last year’s champion Ben-Philip Gunderson who narrowly missed the final podium spot.
In the second round of the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires, Briton Dan Rooke delighted the partisan crown with a second successive runner-up spot to defending champion Cyril Raymond, who extended his winning run. Raymond’s form was such that the Olsbergs MSE ace became the first driver ever to take a clean sweep in the World RX feeder series. Norway’s Thomas Holmen tallied his maiden RX2 podium in third.