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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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