by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Team Hansen MJP (1); Subaru Motorsports USA (2)
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For the second straight year, it was a Hansen who came over from Europe to stand on top of the podium at Nitro World Games.
This time, though, it was Kevin Hansen who took the checkered flag in the six-car final from Utah Motorsports Campus on Saturday, following in the footsteps of his brother Timmy, who won last year’s event and finished third. Subaru Motorsports USA’s Patrik Sandell finished second after winning the pole and his heat race on Friday to advance directly to the final.
The 10-car field was the largest in an American-organized Supercar race on American soil since the end of Red Bull Global Rallycross, as the seven cars that regularly compete in Americas Rallycross (with Ken Block in place of Travis PeCoy at Loenbro Motorsports) were joined by the Hansens and a fourth Subaru for event visionary Travis Pastrana. The race format saw time trials and two rounds of heat races on Friday to set the first row of the final grid, while two Challenger races on Saturday set the remaining four spots.
Sandell and Kevin Hansen advanced on Friday, while Timmy Hansen and Block went through the first challenger race and Pastrana and Tanner Foust advanced through the second. Foust would fall one spot short of back-to-back bronze medals in the event, while Pastrana suffered a late-race mechanical and Block fell out of podium contention thanks to a puncture.
This year’s Nitro Rallycross track featured a number of refinements from the already popular 2018 layout, including proper use of all three lines through the gap jump section and more dirt and jumps elsewhere. Unfortunately, four-time defending US rallycross champion Scott Speed suffered a broken back during qualifying rounds on one of the smaller jumps. His status for the remainder of the season is not currently known, though he will not undergo surgery for the injury.
While 2020 plans have not yet been revealed, the popularity among competitors and fans of the first two editions of Nitro Rallycross suggest that a third visit to Utah, and potentially more events, are on tap for next year. Meanwhile, the field of ARX regulars will gear up for the penultimate round of their season, a single-day affair at Circuit of the Americas on September 28.