Austin World RX: Solberg unstoppable on Saturday
Triple FIA World Champion Petter Solberg dominated the opening day of World Rallycross’ first visit to the USA at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
Solberg set the fastest time in Q1, despite not making the best start in his race and having to re-pass Mattias Ekstrom at the first corner as Ekstrom ran deep.
Meanwhile, Solberg’s teammate and runaway championship leader Johan Kristoffersson had been forced wide in a lap one joker in Q1 by Peugeot drivers Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen and would only set 13th fastest time.
Starting in the first race of Q2, Kristoffersson made a good start from the middle of the grid and survived contact with Janis Baumanis in the run to Turn 1 to set a time 1.2 seconds faster than Solberg had managed in the first session.
Launching from pole in the final race of the day, Solberg led from Loeb into the first corner and took a lap four joker to take race victory, and shave a further 0.673s from Kristoffersson’s effort to win Q2 overall and take the overnight lead.
Kristoffersson’s second-best time in Q2 lifted the Swede to sixth at the close of the opening day, which became fifth when Loeb was handed a five second penalty for Q2 contact with Ekstrom.
Second to Solberg in Q1, Ekstrom took a lap one joker in Q2 and was neck and neck with Loeb at the joker exit, after the Peugeot driver took his extra route on the third tour.
Making an attempt to pass on the inside at the left hander onto the loose surface section, Loeb made contact with Ekstrom, forcing both cars wide. Ekstrom’s team mate Andreas Bakkerud was the chief benefactor and passed both to move to second on track.
The Audi drivers and second and third at the end of day one, as Loeb’s penalty dropped him to seventh.
Driving Peugeot’s older specification 208 WRX, Kevin Hansen won his Q2 race and set third best time to be fourth at the end of the day.
Another former European rallycross champion, Robin Larsson, lost ground when he was spun over the COTA circuit’s jump in Q2 after contact with Janis Baumanis.
Tanner Foust, Volkswagen
Photo by: Olivier Delorme
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