Niclas Grönholm gained his revenge over Johan Kristoffersson with victory in Round 6 of the RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires Championship at OuluZone, Finland today (June 6).
Grönholm looked set to win the first leg of this weekend’s double-header before suffering a puncture in the Round 5 final – allowing Kristoffersson to inherit first place – but there was no such misfortune this time around as the Finn took the spoils on home soil.
Tommi Hallman headed a SET Promotion 1-2 in Supercar Lites as the category points leader picked up his fourth win of the season, while Tomi Rakkolainen took advantage of the championship contenders running into trouble to secure a surprise success in an all-action CrossCar/Crosskart final.
Marcus Norman came out on top in Open 2WD after pace-setters Simon Tiger and Tuomas Venäläinen were both excluded while reigning CrossCar Junior champion Alex Gustafsson landed his third win of the campaign to close the gap on Lukas Andersson in the overall table.
With all drivers across every class having to drop their lowest-scoring round of points ahead of the season finale, there is everything to play for when the RallyX Nordic championship concludes at Arvika, Sweden (August 13-15).
Niclas Grönholm showed his class with a dominant performance in the Supercar category at OuluZone, putting aside a frustrating Saturday to stamp his mark on Round 6.
The Finnish ace, who was leading the Round 5 final before suffering a puncture, looked like a man on a mission when he set the fastest time of the weekend so far in Q1 – beating Johan Kristoffersson on track in the process.
The three-time FIA World Rallycross Champion responded by claiming Q2 at the wheel of his Kristoffersson Motorsport-run Volkswagen Polo, but the pair reversed positions once more in an epic Q3 dual run in dramatically changing conditions.
Both drivers won their respective semi-finals, setting up yet another high-profile clash in the showpiece event, but Grönholm didn’t put a wheel wrong and withstood intense pressure from Kristoffersson to prevail.
Juha Rytkönen, who made an instant impression on the World RX stage with a podium finish on his debut at Kouvola last year, secured third on his return to RallyX Nordic with the Betomik Racing Team, having shown brilliant pace throughout the weekend in his Ford Fiesta.
Enzo Ide came home fourth for EKS JC ahead of Jere Kalliokoski, while Sondre Evjen failed to finish the final due to broken steering. However, the Norwegian remains ahead of Fraser McConnell in the points standings after the Olsbergs MSE driver’s steering also collapsed in his semi-final – capping a frustrating couple of rounds for the Jamaican.
Grönholm is now second in the championship despite skipping the curtain-raiser at Nysum, having won three times in four appearances, but the ultra-competitive Supercar field will be looking to get their own back at the final event of the season.
Niclas Grönholm said: “This was revenge for yesterday – that sucked. It all seemed to go my way yesterday until the puncture so very happy to get the win here today. I was a bit nervous all day to be honest, we haven’t had good launches and starting on the inside has been really tricky – I think it’s the worst spot on the grid! I had a decent launch in the final though, the car was stalling a bit and I couldn’t hold it any more and Q3’s launch was a bit worse than that, three of our starts we struggled with stalling.
“Johan [Kristoffersson] took me after turn one for the first few meters over the bump but then I got him on the gears. Johan was close on the first lap, that’s been the same all weekend. For me, the second or third lap has been the best once the tires get up to temperature. The first lap I’ve generally been quite cautious, I was trying to avoid any mistakes and obviously go carefully over the bump after yesterday.
“We came here to get more racing under our belts and to compete against Johan and the other guys in this series. Very happy to get the win and get more time in this car. We learned a lot this weekend, what works and what doesn’t and there’s obviously a lot of tarmac here so it’s useful to know these things for when conditions are similar to this.”
Tommi Hallman made it two wins from two at his home track this weekend, securing a second consecutive maximum points haul by claiming victory in Supercar Lites.
The SET Promotion ace has now won four rounds in his debut campaign in the category and is yet to finish outside of the podium places this season, consistently demonstrating superb racecraft and blistering pace when needed.
Hallman was only third fastest in Q1 behind team-mate Jonne Ollikainen and STS RX driver Simon Olofsson but then proceeded to head the timesheets in both Q2 and Q3 to secure top qualifier status.
The Finn won his semi-final by over four seconds, pulling off an excellent pass on Martin Ekspjuth in the process, and carried that form over into the final to comfortably take the chequered flag from Ollikainen – who was running an alternative joker strategy to cover off the rest of the pack – and Martin Enlund.
Isak Sjökvist finished a commendable fourth, having shown promise all weekend at OuluZone, while Casper Jansson was fifth and Simon Olofsson rounded out the top six.
Hallman’s main championship rival Nils Andersson endured a frustrating day, qualifying seventh but exiting at the semi-final stage after failing to find a way past Sjökvist. Meanwhile, Linus Östlund’s title hopes faded due to ongoing mechanical issues hampering his performance throughout the event.
Tommi Hallman said: “This is quite the result, once again! A big thank you to my team and my partners. It has been an amazing season so far, and we’ve only got one more race to go so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m over the moon, as a home race is always most important for a driver. Winning both races here is more than I expected but I’m really happy.”
The CrossCar/Crosskart category produced a hugely dramatic final as all three of the main championship contenders were involved in contentious incidents, leaving the way clear for Tomi Rakkolainen to secure his first win of the campaign.
The Team Speedweekend driver kept his nose clean as sparks flew when Isak Reiersen and Jimmie Österberg were involved in a collision with Jarko Aronen at turn one. The red flag came out and the trio were not permitted to take the restart, leaving pole-sitter Patrik Hallberg primed to capitalise and claim the overall standings lead.
However, the Max RPM ace was then collected by Isac Egonsson when the race got back underway, resulting in an exclusion for the latter. Hallberg limped around for several laps with broken suspension, securing him second in the classification, but Rakkolainen was the only driver to escape unscathed and was duly rewarded with a welcome – if unexpected – victory. The drama leaves Hallberg, Reiersen and Österberg all tied at the top of the overall points standings (after lowest-scoring round dropped) with just one event of the season remaining.
There was also fireworks in the Open 2WD class as championship leader Simon Tiger and local talent Tuomas Venäläinen were both disqualified from the final, having come together just seconds after the lights went out.
Tiger, chasing a sixth consecutive win this season, was pushed hard all day by his Finnish rival and the pair made contact on the run to turn one in the showpiece event. Tiger recovered to win on the road as Venäläinen dropped to the back of the pack, but the stewards later excluded both – handing Marcus Norman a surprise victory ahead of Rami Kauttio and Mathias Jansson.
Finally, Alex Gustafsson kept his CrossCar Junior title hopes alive with a spectacular victory over Lukas Andersson. The reigning champion was top qualifier following a Q3 session win and converted that pace into his third victory of the season, holding off the current points standings leader Andersson and the impressive Rasmus Persson with an expert display of defensive driving.
The RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires Championship reaches its dramatic conclusion with Round 7 at Arvika in Sweden (August 13-15). Remember to catch all the action live and for free on the RallyX TV YouTube Channel.
1. Niclas GRÖNHOLM (FIN) GRX 5 laps
2. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (SWE) Kristoffersson Motorsport +1.379s
3. Juha RYTKÖNEN (FIN) Betomik Racing Team +2.216s
4. Enzo IDE (BEL) EKS JC +6.103s
5. Jere KALLIOKOSKI (FIN) Kalliokoski Motorsport +6.770s
6. Sondre EVJEN (SWE) EKS JC +1 lap
1. Tommi HALLMAN (FIN) SET Promotion 5 laps
2. Jonne OLLIKAINEN (FIN) SET Promotion +2.489s
3. Martin ENLUND (SWE) Enlunds Motorsport +3.059s
4. Isak SJÖKVIST (SWE) Olsbergs MSE +3.793s
5. Casper JANSSON (SWE) Enlunds Motorsport +4.199s
6. Simon OLOFSSON (SWE) STS RX +5.768s
1. Tomi RAKKOLAINEN (FIN) Team Speedweekend 5 laps
2. Patrik HALLBERG (SWE) Max RPM +1 lap
3. Jarkko ARONEN (FIN) Team Speedweekend
4. Jimmie ÖSTERBERG (SWE) Power RX
5. Isac EGONSSON (SWE) Carcontrol EXC
6. Isak REIERSEN (SWE) EKS JC EXC
1. Marcus NORMAN (SWE) Marcus Norman 5 laps
2. Rami KAUTTIO (FIN) RK RX +0.987s
3. Mathias JANSSON (SWE) Mathias Jansson +1.256s
4. Antti VÄRE (FIN) Anti Väre +1 lap
5. Simon TIGER (SWE) TeamTigerRX EXC
6. Tuomas VENÄLÄINEN (FIN) Tuomas Venäläinen RX EXC
1. Alex GUSTAFSSON (SWE) EKS JC 5 laps
2. Lukas ANDERSSON (SWE) Lukas Andersson +0.466s
3. Rasmus PERSSON (SWE) Carcontrol +2.377s
4. Elias KALLIOKOSKI (FIN) Kalliokoski Racing +6.617s
5. Lauri HALONEN (FIN) Lauri RX +8.658s
6. Joonatan YLILAMMI (FIN) Team Ylilammi +5 laps
1. Johan KRISTOFFERSSON (SWE) 137 points
2. Niclas GRÖNHOLM (FIN) 110 points
3. Sondre EVJEN (NOR) 108 points
4. Fraser MCCONNELL (JAM) 102 points
5. Enzo IDE (BEL) 76 points
6. Andreas CARLSSON (SWE) 71 points
1. Tommi HALLMAN (FIN) 141 points
2. Nils ANDERSSON (SWE) 109 points
3. Linus ÖSTLUND (SWE) 98 points
4. Simon OLOFSSON (SWE) 97 points
5. Martin ENLUND (SWE) 91 points
6. Martin JONSSON (SWE) 86 points
1. Patrik HALLBERG (SWE) 117 points
2. Jimmie ÖSTERBERG (SWE) 117 points
3. Isak REIERSEN (SWE) 117 points
4. Ronalds BALDINS (LVA) 81 points
5. Isac EGONSSON (SWE) 74 points
6. Reinis NITISS (LVA) 71 points
1. Simon TIGER (SWE) 131 points
2. Mathias JANSSON (SWE) 102 points
3. Marcus NORMAN (SWE) 72 points
4. Morten B BERTELSEN (DNK) 69 points
5. Lars ENGLUND (SWE) 66 points
6. Mikael PERSSON (SWE) 55 points
1. Lukas ANDERSSON (SWE) 130 points
2. Alex GUSTAFSSON (SWE) 125 points
3. Rasmus PERSSON (SWE) 103 points
4. Joonatan YLILAMMI (FIN) 99 points
5. Erik NILSSON (SWE) 99 points
6. Lauri HALONEN (FIN) 90 points