Germany WRX: Ekstrom leads Hansen on Day 1
Outgoing World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekstrom leads the penultimate round of the 2017 series at the venue where he claimed his maiden FIA World title last year.
DTM points leader Ekstrom was fastest in Q1 at the Estering circuit on a drying circuit, before winning his race in Q2 to finish second to Timmy Hansen overall and secure top spot.
Ekstrom passed EKS teammate Toomas Heikkinen at the first corner of the pair’s Q2 race, Heikkinen having made the best start, as double-champion Petter Solberg ran wide.
Returning to the driving seat just five days after an operation on his collarbone following the crash which put him in hospital at the Latvian round a fortnight ago, Solberg was immediately at the front of the order in free practice.
Fifth in Q1 after losing out at the infamously challenging first corner, Solberg pushed hard after running wide at Turn 1 in Q2 from the outside of the grid and climbed to second behind Ekstrom by the finish to be third overall and hold the same place overnight.
Hansen had his best day one for some time, setting his first fastest qualifying time since the British round of the series at Lydden Hill, while his teammate Sebastien Loeb struggled in traffic.
Loeb was one of the drivers in his Q1 race to make the best start before losing out at Turn 1, entering the corner alongside EKS driver Reinis Nitiss and then running wide.
The nine-time World Rally Champion then spent two laps behind STARD racer Janis Baumanis and was 18th-fastest. He again raced behind Baumanis in Q2, but the pair’s fifth and seventh times respectively elevated them to 12th and 13th overall.
Champion Johan Kristoffersson also had a day stuck in traffic, having made two relatively poor starts by his own high standards. He pressured Jean-Baptiste Dubourg's stand-in Davy Jeanney in their Q1 race before then following compatriot Kevin Hansen in Q2.
Driving the 2016 version of Peugeot’s 208 WRX, outgoing European champion Kevin Hansen was twice sixth-fastest and holds the same position overall.
Global Rallycross regular Sebastian Eriksson made his second World RX start of the year in Germany and was an impressive third-fastest in Q1, driving OlsbergsMSE’s Ford Fiesta.
Eriksson is eighth overall, one place up on 2016 Germany winner and namesake Kevin Eriksson.
Former OMSE driver Niclas Gronholm had a frustrating day. Having set the fastest time halfway through practice, he lost time on wet tyres in Q1 and suffered a puncture in Q2. He lies 21st.
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Germany WRX: Ekstrom claims first win in five months