The picturesque Montalegre circuit in Portugal hosts the second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship this weekend, where 12 months ago Petter Solberg got his title assault off to a near-perfect start with victory. 

The 2016 Portuguese event was in fact the last time that Norway’s Solberg stood on the top step of a World RX podium, despite challenging for his third straight title for the duration of the season last year. Solberg and his now team mate Johan Kristoffersson both won their semi-finals in the 2016 Championship curtain raiser last year and Solberg led the final from the start as Kristoffersson was followed by World RX newcomer Sebastien Loeb into the joker lap on lap one. 

Robin Larsson and Topi Heikkinen ran second and third to Solberg in the opening laps, before the Norwegian took his joker on lap four. Contact between Solberg’s Citroen DS3 and Kristoffersson’s Volkswagen Polo at the joker exit caused transmission damage to Kristoffersson’s car and he spun a few corners later. Loeb also lost time, allowing Hoonigan Racing Division’s Andreas Bakkerud to finish third on the debut for the brand new Ford Focus RS RX. 

Heikkinen’s final lap joker from the lead of the race meant the EKS driver finished on the podium in third, behind Larsson in second. Heikkinen’s team mate, Mattias Ekstrom, was top qualifier in the Intermediate Classification but turn one contact with Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen in semi-final one lost the Audi S1 driver time and the champion elect didn’t make it through to the final.


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