Hockenheim WRX: Ekstrom leads Heikkinen in Audi 1-2
EKS Audi driver Mattias Ekstrom won the second round of the World Rallycross Championship at Hockenheim, ahead of teammate Toomas Heikkinen in a dramatic pair of semi-finals and final.
Ken Block completed the podium having got into the final 12 through the back door, when Timmy Hansen was disqualified from his Q4 race.
Ekstrom had topped the order at the Intermediate Classification but was beaten away from the start line in the first semi-final by Heikkinen, the pair running line astern throughout to start on the first and second row for the final.
British driver Liam Doran won an action-packed second semi-final to join Heikkinen on the front row of the grid for the final, but was passed by Ekstrom at the first corner.
Doran ran three abreast with Petter Solberg and Block through the Sachs Curve on the opening lap of the final, Block climbing to third from the back row of the grid before immediately taking his joker lap.
Block pressured Ekstrom up front as the top three started to gap the rest of the field on lap three, as Solberg ran wide into the wall on the outside of the loose section next to the joker lap entry, mounting the wall and almost rolling his Citroen.
Moments later, Robin Larsson replicated the move and did roll, but amazingly re started his privately-run Audi and retuned to the race.
Ekstrom took his joker on lap three and carried more speed than teammate Hekkinen into the final corner, pulling a move around the outside to take the lead.
Over the remaining two laps the Swede pulled away marginally from Heikkinen to secure victory.
Heikkinen finished second, his second podium in a row while Block held on for third in the Hoonigan Racing Ford Focus.
Immediately after the podium ceremony, Ekstrom headed straight for the DTM paddock to take part in qualifying for the second DTM race of the weekend, having been fastest in FP3 before the rallycross finals.
Solberg finished fourth, the PSRX team battling technical troubles that had forced an engine change overnight.
Doran finished an impressive fifth after a frantic set of opening corners while round one podium finisher Larsson recovered to complete the race in sixth.
Peugeot-Hansen driver Sebastien Loeb missed out on a place in the semi-finals after a close fight in semi-final one with Davy Jeanney, Andreas Bakkerud and Larsson, the latter climbing from sixth to third on the opening lap to make it into the final, while Loeb finished fourth.
In semi-final two, Johan Kristoffersson suffered from a left-rear puncture, the result of first corner contact, but held onto the lead of the race until the fifth lap, when he was passed by Doran, Solberg and Block.
Janis Baumanis had climbed to second having passed Solberg but dropped back to sixth by the finish with problems.
Results - Top 5:
Hansen barred from Hockenheim semi-finals after fiery exit
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