SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Hansens Remain Perfect in Nitro Rallycross at Utah as 2021 Season Begins

The long-awaited debut of Nitro Rallycross as a proper racing series rather than a one-off event came on Friday and Saturday, with Utah Motorsports Campus—host of its inaugural two rounds as part of Nitro World Games in 2018 and 2019—serving as the opening round of the campaign. But the more things change, the more they stay the same: it was the Red Bull Hansen Peugeots on top again, with 2018 winner Timmy Hansen and 2019 winner Kevin Hansen split by only GRX Loenbro Motorsports’ Steve Arpin on the podium.

SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Participants celebrate at Nitro Rallycross in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 25 September, 2021.

The action kicked off with single-car qualifying and match racing on Friday, where the time trials set a 14-driver grid and four rounds of head-to-head racing commenced to distribute bonus points and set Saturday’s heat grids. Timmy Hansen was the fastest qualifier, but after a mechanical failure in his quarterfinal race against Nitro RX creator Travis Pastrana, he’d have to settle for the third starting spot in his heat. Pastrana would make it to the final, but he’d fall there to his Subaru Motorsports USA teammate Scott Speed, whose last race here ended early due to a broken back.

SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Scott Speed competes at Nitro Rallycross in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 25 September, 2021.

Hansen would return to the front of the field in Heat 1 ahead of Oliver Eriksson, while Pastrana would defeat Arpin as he did in the Friday semifinals to win Heat 2. Speed would recover to punch his ticket through the semifinals, as would the third Subaru of Andreas Bakkerud, Jamaican standout Fraser McConnell, and the legendary Tanner Foust.

SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Kevin Eriksson and Kevin Hansen (L-R) compete at Nitro Rallycross in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 25 September, 2021.

They all had to be happy to avoid the LCQ: the first start saw Monster Energy RX Cartel teammates Liam Doran take a hard hit and Robin Larsson roll over, Kevin Eriksson withdrew before the restart, Oliver Bennett fell out, and Cabot Bigham’s left front suspension exploded just after he finished the race, ultimately preventing him from making the final. Only Kevin Hansen would survive that final race relatively unscathed on the way to the six-lap main event.

SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Participants compete at Nitro Rallycross in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 25 September, 2021.

Pastrana got the holeshot in the final, but stalled in the first corner and would yield the advantage. With dust a major factor, Timmy Hansen would benefit from the clean air to pull out a five-second advantage over Arpin at race’s end. Bakkerud, Foust, and Eriksson would all fail to finish every lap, with Eriksson turning the fastest lap but rolling over late in the race.

SI hires jpeg bit rgb

Timmy Hansen, George Megennis, and Kevin Hansen celebrate at Nitro Rallycross in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 25 September, 2021.

In the support races, Casper Jansson and George Megennis would split the NRX Next wins, using the same Supercar Lites that have been run in America for nearly a decade. John McInnes and Op Andersen would split the victories in the Sierra Cars crosskart events.

The Nitro Rallycross season won’t take long to resume, heading up to ERX Motor Park in Minnesota next Saturday and Sunday for the second event of the season. After that, it’ll be a month-long break before the championship continues at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on November 13-14. All races can be streamed live on Peacock.

Images via Red Bull Content Pool

Chris Leone

A veteran of the motorsports industry (both physical and digital), Chris Leone contributes coverage of race events of all types to Off-Road Racer. Elsewhere, he is the marketing/communications manager at iRacing, media director of Jim Beaver's Down & Dirty Show, and a frequent contributor to UTV Underground.