Busy weekend of titles clinched: WRC, WRX, DTM champs crowned

Ogier (FIA WRC) won fourth straight title. Photo: Getty Images

Three international series crowned their champions this weekend, with the FIA World Rally Championship, FIA World Rallycross Championship and the DTM series confirming their champs. They’re sort of related.

Here’s quick recaps:

Sebastian Ogier has joined the ranks of four-time champions in WRC, along with Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Makinen. Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia won the Rally of Spain in their Volkswagen Polo R WRC and defeated Dani Sordo/Marc Marti in the process.

For the year, Ogier has won five of 11 completed rallies – no other driver has won more than twice (Kris Meeke two, then Jari-Matti Latvala, Hayden Paddon, Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen have one win apiece).

In a funny statistical quirk, Sebastien Ogier’s title also brings the number of consecutive WRC titles won by a driver named Sebastien to 13 in a row, as Sebastien Loeb won nine in a row from 2004 through 2012. Ogier’s four titles, all with Volkswagen, have come in succession since 2013. The last non-Sebastien World Rally Champion was Petter Solberg for Subaru in 2003.

Mattias Ekstrom has won this year’s FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy for Audi, while the winner in Germany this weekend was Kevin Eriksson, son of Olbsergs MSE team owner Andreas Eriksson. There’s one weekend remaining in Argentina, Nov. 26-27. The younger Eriksson’s start was nothing short of mental, as you’ll see below:

Meanwhile, here’s Ekstrom’s celebration, and a release of the 2017 FIA World RX calendar:

Edoardo Mortara (Audi) came up four points short to Marco Wittmann (BMW) in DTM, with Wittmann winning his second DTM title on Sunday in the Hockenheimring. Audi, meanwhile, secured the DTM Manufacturer’s Championship, 700-647, over BMW.

Mortara won five races to Wittmann’s three this year, but Wittmann had slightly better consistency over the course of the year. Wittmann only finished outside the points three times while Mortara was outside the points on five occasions.

Jamie Green, Robert Wickens and Paul di Resta completed the top five in points. Wickens’ season nose-dived in the final three weekends of the year after the Canadian had been in title contention until that point.

Others of note: Ekstrom actually missed the DTM weekend because of his FIA World Rallycross commitments and Rene Rast filled in for him at Audi; this is what forced Will Stevens to fill in for Rast at the FIA World Endurance Championship race in Fuji, where the G-Drive Racing team won in LMP2. Ekstrom finished seventh in points.

Past F1 driver Timo Glock was 10th in points, and fellow Timo – Timo Scheider – announced his retirement at year’s end. Scheider won back-to-back DTM titles in 2008 and 2009.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.