Audi And Ekström Say “Goodbye, Lydden Hill”
By Kyle Lindsay
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 09:00
Round five of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill will also be a farewell. On the weekend of May 27 and 28, the field will be competing for the last time on the circuit in the southeast of England until further notice.
Lydden Hill is regarded as the cradle of rallycross, the first races of this motorsport series having been held there in 1967. The circuit suits the Audi S1 EKS RX quattro really well and Mattias Ekström with his team, EKS, is aiming to clinch a victory there.
50 years after the first race at the “home of rallycross,” the World RX will be moving on to Silverstone in 2018. Mattias Ekström and his team, EKS, have many memories of the Lydden Hill Race Circuit. Track sections such as Devil’s Elbow and Hairy Hill enjoy cult status in the World RX community. “This year, we’ll be on the grid for the third time at Lydden Hill and the races have always been great fun,” says Ekström. “Especially my duels with Petter Solberg are legendary.”
In 2016, when Ekström clinched victory there, fans were treated to racing in a class of its own. In the final, the Swede relegated his Norwegian opponent Solberg to second place following a fierce battle, his advantage at the finish amounting to a mere 1.142 seconds. “We didn’t have an easy weekend,” Ekström says in retrospect. “In Q1, we had engine issues and in Q4, I had a puncture. We kept cool, took it easy on our tires for the semi-finals and the final, and had the necessary amount of fortune to clinch victory.”
Featuring many fast sections on tarmac, the track suits circuit racers well. The gravel section, Pilgrims, has repeatedly made for daredevil overtaking maneuvers and headlines. The track layout is generally fluid and offers many good overtaking opportunities. “I really like the circuit,” says Ekström’s teammate Toomas Heikkinen. “Devil’s Elbow is one of the best turns on the whole World RX calendar.” Reinis Nitišs competing in the third Audi S1 EKS RX quattro is equally enthusiastic: “A fantastic track! In 2015, I was in the final and came fifth. This time I want to be in contention at the very front.”