With the sun setting on Nitro Rallycross Round 7 on the Trois-Rivieres GP3 Hippodrome in Quebec, Swedish racer Oliver Eriksson beat bother Kevin Eriksson and fellow countryman Robin Larsson across the snow-covered finish line. It was the first win of his career, making him the eighth different winner in series history.
“We found the details,” Oliver Eriksson told NBC Sports’ Katie Osborne on Peacock.tv. “We struggled yesterday to read the track – to read the start line. Today we figured it out.”
Oliver was waiting for the winter months to make his move. In the first four rounds, he failed to crack the top five. Finally, at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona last November – before a break for the holidays – he finished fourth in the first race and second in the finale. The icy conditions made the most difference, however, and Oliver was contested only by his brother Kevin in the six-lap Feature.
“I kept in the ruts,” Oliver continued. “Everyone can drive in snow, but it’s how we manage the ruts [that makes a difference] and I managed to do it good this time.”
RESULTS: How they finished in the Round 7 Feature
With three consecutive top-fives to his credit, Oliver stands fourth in the standings and is now in striking distance of second.
Sitting eighth in the standings, Kevin knew his primary job was to not cost his brother points. He was the last driver in the field to take the longer joker lap after it was obvious he would slot back into second-place and provide a cushion over Larsson.
But with his second-place finish, Larsson extended his lead, in no small part due to the fact that Andreas Bakkerud – who sits second in the standings – failed to finish. Bakkerud was credited with seventh after Travis Pastrana was disqualified from fifth.
Bakkerud was eliminated from contention on Lap 3 when Pastrana backed into the racing line after spinning into a snow embankment.
Fifth in the standings, Pastrana clung to the hope that he could dominate the final three rounds and make up his deficit on Larsson. With his disqualification and last-place finish, he is now more than 100 points out of the lead.
At Trois-Rivieres in Nitro Rallycross Round 7 in Quebec, Pastrana had a great start to the race. Sporting tribute livery for the late action racing start Ken Block, he led early in his heat until contact with Oliver Eriksson cut a tire and sent him into the semifinals.
“Maybe we should have gone harder,” Pastrana said on his radio immediately following the heat loss.
Pastrana was clipped on his left rear tire by Oliver Eriksson as Pastrana tried to keep his rival behind him and force the Swedish driver to joker first.
“When I was slowing down, it was like a chainsaw behind me,” Pastrana described the contact from Oliver and the studded snow tires. “[I was] just trying to hold the inside – not make a mistake. Unfortunately, with chainsaws behind you, they go through tires, so we drove two and half laps without a left rear.”
Oliver described the incident differently.
“He went in the snow and got quite wide, so I kept the inside line,” Oliver replies. “He came back into the line and I nudged him a little bit.”
The biggest loser of Round 7 was Kris Meeke, who was the only driver in the nine-car field who failed to make the Main.
A poor start to the weekend sent him into the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) and a disastrous start there sealed his fate. On the start, Meeke charged heavily into the first turn, expecting the two drivers ahead of him to do the same. They did not and Meeke doored his teammate Oliver Bennett to send both hard into a snow-bank lined wall. He also collected the leader Conner Martell, who continued after spinning 180 degrees.
All three cars sustained damage. The race was red flagged and when it was apparent Meeke could not return and the field was filled, the race was not restarted, giving Martell and Bennett extra time to work on their cars ahead of the Feature.
“I didn’t get the best of starts,” Meeke said. “The final turn where we take the turn back onto the track … it was all fluffy. I lost a bit of traction, Connor got alongside me. Ollie came up. Martell turned in; Ollie was there. I had no place to go and it was carnage. So yeah, my weekend’s over.”
Basically: Meeke discover three doesn’t go into one.
Three rounds remain in the 2022-23 season with Nitro Rallycross remaining in Canada to compete at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta February 4-5. After that, they will close out the season with a recently announced double header at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernadino, California in mid-March.