The fourth round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross Series turned out to be a success for Subaru Motorsports USA on Sunday (November 21). At Glen Helen Raceway at San Bernardino, CA the Supercar podium was a complete Subaru one. Travis Pastrana (Subaru Impreza) won the event and is the new championship points leader. Scott Speed (Subaru Impreza) and Andreas Bakkerud (Subaru Impreza) completed the Subaru success by finishing second and third. In the NRX Next category Casper Jansson (NRX Next) won the Saturday as well as the Sunday event.
For the fourth round of the series the Nitro Rallycross “circus” moved from the Arizona desert to Southern California with Glen Helen Raceway at San Bernardino, CA as venue. The purpose built track was another dirt track with only the start straight paved and further included table top jumps and a gap jump (Supercars only!). Andreas Bakkerud returned to the series after his absence last weekend.
The Supercar battle brackets went underway on Saturday. Drivers that got eliminated in the first round (round of 16) were Steve Arpin (Hyundai i20), after a re-rerun, Ronalds Baldins (Honda Civic Coupé), Tanner Foust (Audi S1), following suspension damage, Oliver Bennett (BMW MINI Cooper), Liam Doran (Audi S1), Cabot Bigham (Audi S1) and Robin Larsson (Audi S1).
The first quarter final was one of the most exciting of the day with a battle between Kevin Eriksson (Honda Civic Coupé) and Scott Speed nearly won by the latter. There were more quarter final wins for Fraser McConnell (Ford Fiesta Mk8) who beat championship contender Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208), Travis Pastrana and Kevin Hansen (Peugeot 208) who beat Bakkerud. In the semi-finals Kevin Hansen won it from Speed while Pastrana won it from McConnell. After a close four laps Kevin Hansen was eventually successful and won the final by beating last weeks winner Travis Pastrana.
On Sunday battle brackets winner Kevin Hansen decided to start in the second heat race. The first one had Pastrana on pole with McConnell the other front row starter. Pastrana lost it from McConnell just after the start and therefore went immediately into the joker lap section in the opening lap. Teammate and second row starter Andreas Bakkerud went into the lead when McConnell was facing a puncture in the second lap. Bakkerud lead it until he went into the joker lap section in the pentultimate lap. He merged to the main track ahead of Pastrana, however, during the final lap the Norwegian let Pastrana pass to make sure the currently second in the point standings got that front row starting position for the final.
Kevin Hansen and Scott Speed were occupying the front row of the second heat race. Speed won the start from the outside similar to McConnell in the previous race. Speed lead it from Kevin and Timmy Hansen until Kevin [Hansen] passed through the joker lap section. He joined the main track as fourth behind countryman Kevin Eriksson. Speed and Timmy Hansen both continued as one and two until the final lap when both went into the joker lap section. Speed won it and therefore Subaru Motorsports USA secured themselves another front row lockout for the final.
The first semi-final delivered close racing between Larsson, who had a brilliant start, and Bakkerud until Larsson made it into the joker lap section mid race. In the mean time Bakkerud was extending his lead, went into the joker and joined the main track ahead of Larsson in the penultimate lap. Both finished one and two and were through to the final while Kevin Hansen only finished fourth (due to a loss of power at some time he said afterwards) and was forced to race in the LCQ. The second semi-final was won by Steve Arpin (punctured) who, together with Kevin Eriksson, made his way through to the final. With Timmy Hansen coming in fourth both of the Hansen brothers, and both championship contenders, were in an LCQ.
Timmy Hansen was able to do what he had to do to keep his championship hopes alive and that was winning his LCQ race. For Kevin Hansen things didn’t turn out as hoped. He got beaten after a though battle by Liam Doran and finished eventually third in the second LCQ. Afterwards the Stewards of the Meeting reviewed the race and gave a time penalty to Doran setting him back to third place. Therefore Latvian Ronalds Baldins was through to the final.
The Supercar final had the three Subaru’s on the first three spots of the grid. When the green light was shown, Pastrana had the better start ahead of Speed and Bakkerud. Last row starter and points leader before San Bernardino, Timmy Hansen, made it in the joker lap section in the opening lap. In the fifth lap Speed and Bakkerud went into the joker lap section with both holding second and third place after the merge. Pastrana then went into the joker lap section the lap after and was able to keep the lead. He scored a lights-to-flag win ahead of his teammates Speed and Bakkerud. Kevin Eriksson came in fourth ahead of Timmy Hansen.
“Amazing result for the whole Subaru team today,” said Pastrana after his victory.
“We came into this weekend withhuge momentum after the win in Phoenix last week but there was still some pressure knowing this is a track where we have to be fast.
“Next round in Florida has more paved sections and we’ve been fastest on the all-dirt rally style tracks, so it was all about scoring max points this weekend to put ourselves in position for the final round.”
“It’s been a tough weekend for the entire team,” Timmy Hansen commented afterwards.
“Unlike Kevin [Hansen], on Saturday I didn’t have the pace of the top guys either.
“Fifth place isn’t the result we came here to get but considering the route I had to take to reach the final, it’s a reasonable amount of points and it keeps me in the title race at the last round.
“That’s what matters most from this weekend.”
In the standings, with one more event to come, Travis Pastrana is the new points leader with 185 points. Scott Speed is second with 175 points while Timmy Hansen, who was in the lead before this weekend’s event, is now third with 165 points. Kevin Hansen (110 points) is fourth and is out for the title. With a maximum of 54 points for grabs in the final event the 2021 Nitro Rallycross title will be decided between Pastrana, Speed and Timmy Hansen.
In the NRX Next category Glen Helen Raceway was another double header event (rounds 7 and 8 of the series). Winner of the last three events Sage Karam (NRX Next) started the final from pole on Saturday. After eight laps it was eventually Casper Jansson (NRX Next) who crossed the finish line first ahead of George Megennis (NRX Next). Karam finished third and completed the NRX Next podium.
On Sunday there was more success for Casper Jansson. He won the final and scored his second win of the weekend. Sage Karam finished second and Jansson’s countryman and teammate Martin Enlund made it in third.
In the NRX Next point standings with two more events to come Casper Jansson (270 points) is leading it from Martin Enlund (265 points).
The next round of the 2021 Nitro Rallycross series is the season finale taking place at the FIRM (Florida International Rally & Motorsports Park), at Starke, FL in two weeks time on December 4-5.
Round 4 – Supercar – Battle Brackets: 1. Kevin Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 2. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 3. Fraser McConnell (JAM), Ford Fiesta Mk8; 4. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 5. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Subaru Impreza; 6. Kevin Eriksson (S), Honda Civic Coupé Mk10; 7. Oliver Eriksson (S), Ford Fiesta Mk8; 8. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; etc.
Round 4 – Supercar – Final: 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), Subaru Impreza; 2. Scott Speed (USA), Subaru Impreza; 3. Andreas Bakkerud (N), Subaru Impreza; 4. Kevin Eriksson (S), Honda Civic Coupé Mk10; 5. Timmy Hansen (S), Peugeot 208; 6. Steve Arpin (CDN), Hyundai i20; 7. Ronalds Baldins (LV), Honda Civc Coupé Mk10; 8. Robin Larsson (S), Audi S1 – DNF.
Round 7 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 2. George Megennis (USA), NRX Next; 3. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 4. Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next; 5. Eric Gordon (USA), NRX Next; 6. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next; 7. Lane Vacala (S), NRX Next – DNF; 8. Kyle Schwartz (USA), NRX Next – DNF.
Round 8 – NRX Next – Final: 1. Casper Jansson (S), NRX Next; 2. Sage Karam (USA), NRX Next; 3. Martin Enlund (S), NRX Next; 4. Lane Vacala (USA), NRX Next; 5.Conner Martell (USA), NRX Next; 6. Eric Gordon (S), NRX Next; 7. George Megennis (USA) – DNF; 8. Kyle Schwartz (USA) – DNF.
Supercar (after round 4): 1. Travis Pastrana (USA), 182; 2. Scott Speed (USA), 175; 3. Timmy Hansen (S), 165; 4. Kevin Hansen (S), 110; 5. Steve Arpin (CDN), 102; etc.
NRX Next (after round 8): 1. Casper Jansson (S), 270; 2. Martin Enlund (S), 265; 3. George Megennis (USA), 260; 4. Sage Karam (USA), 240; 5. Lane Vacala (USA), 240; etc.