Date: April 22–23
Track: Circuito Internacional de Montalegre, 150 km northeast of Porto
Track length: 1.010 km (Joker lap: 1.130 km)
Surface: 60% tarmac, 40% gravel
Turns: 5 left, 7 right
Top speed: approx. 169 km/h
Lap record: Johan Kristoffersson (S), 37.802s (2017)
Average speed: approx. 96.19 km/h
Winner 2017: Mattias Ekström (S), 3m 59.345s
Everything continues to run according to plan for Mattias Ekström and his EKS team in the FIA World Rallycross Championship 2017. At the second round in Montalegre, the defending World Champion beat nine-time Rally World Champion Sébastien Loeb in a thrilling finale. With his second victory this season, the Swede extended his lead in the drivers’ classification. In the team classification, World Champion EKS sits in second place behind the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden squad.
Ekström and his team-mates Toomas Heikkinen (FIN) and Reinis Nitišs (LV) initially had to contend with some problems on the technically very demanding track close to the Spanish border. “We were not the quickest for a long time here this weekend,” admitted the overjoyed Ekström after the finale. “But we never give up. In the end is was one of the most hard fought wins in my rallycross career.” In the final, the 38-year-old took the lead after making a perfect start. However, after making a mistake on the last lap a tough battle erupted with Sébastien Loeb, which the Swede ultimately won.
On only his second competitive start in the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro, the 21-year old Nitišs also made the final for the best six drivers. The Latvian, the youngest ever race winner in World Rallycross Championship history, was fifth after a courageous race. “A big compliment to Reinis,” said Ekström. “He did a great job again, but also Topi proved again what he and his car are capable of.” The 26-year-old Heikkinen’s hopes of another podium finish came to a premature end after finishing fifth in his semi-final – last year the Finn finished third in Portugal on his first start for EKS.