Robin Larsson was the man to beat as Nitro Rallycross kicked off its all-new, all-electric Group E category at Lydden Hill in the UK.
The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver was fastest in Saturday’s practice sessions, before emerging victorious from Battle Bracket knockout qualifying after beating Niclas Gronholm, Oliver Eriksson and teammate Andreas Bakkerud.
That put him in prime position to win his opening heat race on Sunday, handing him the pole for the main event. There, he made a clean getaway to lead from lights to flag, avoiding the carnage behind him that claimed half the field.
After starting strongly from the second row of the grid, Travis Pastrana made contact with Fraser McConnell, with five-time World Rally winner Kris Meeke and fellow rallying convert Ole Christian Veiby also being collected. McConnell and Veiby were able to continue, albeit wounded, while Meeke and Pastrana both pulled off course.
A second lap joker for Bakkerud dropped him into the field behind Oliver Eriksson, while Larsson’s drive round the longer route a lap later enabled him to maintain position.
Gronholm, a last-minute addition to the series in place of the injured Kevin Eriksson, finished third after a quiet final. He did win a semifinal en route to the main event, as did his Olsbergs MSE teammate Eriksson, who finished sixth behind McConnell and Veiby — both of whom made it to the finish despite their hefty lap one contact.
Missing out on the final altogether were Conner Martell and Oliver Bennett, who looked set to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier, only for inverter failure to curtail Martell, and exclusion for Bennett after pushing to pass Veiby.
Elsewhere on the bill, Casper Jansson and Simon Oloffson shared NRX NEXT victories, while Supercar honors went to McConnell, the only driver pulling double duty at the European rounds this season.