Robin Larsson made up for the disappointment of losing Friday’s Nitrocross victory on the last lap, to lead from start to finish in Saturday’s six-lap final en route to victory at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.
The Dreyer & Reinbold JC RX Cartel driver made an incredible start from second on the grid to lead by two car lengths on the approach to Turn 1. A late-braking Travis Pastrana, who started from pole, closed up by that first turn and had a look up the inside, then tried again round the outside of Turn 2, but Larsson remained resolute.
Both, along with Oliver Eriksson and Casper Jansson all took the Joker shortcut on the first lap, and began the second lap of the race on an even footing, but a challenge for Oliver Eriksson on Pastrana allowed Larsson to pull out a bigger lead soon after.
As it looked like the podium positions might be locked in, Friday winner Fraser McConnell jokered to second on the penultimate lap, right on Larsson’s tail. The pair fought hard on the final lap, with McConnell coming close to taking the lead towards the end. Again though, Larsson held firm.
Mirroring McConnell’s strategy from the lap before, Kevin Eriksson jokered on the final tour, immediately vaulting from obscurity to the podium fight, and swept up the inside of Jansson and Pastrana in the final corners to snatch third – his fourth podium finish in five rounds so far this season.
Jansson took fourth, capping off a fine first weekend in Nitrocross’ premier Group E class, ahead of Pastrana, with Andreas Bakkerud in sixth. Oliver Eriksson dropped to seventh after running deep in the first turn on the final lap, with Brian Deegan completing the final runners.
Pastrana’s Vermont SportsCar teammate was the only driver to miss out on a place in the main event. He ended up in the wall in the first Last Chance Qualifier after a short-lived fight with McConnell.
The day began with Pastrana topping qualifying and Kevin Eriksson bottom of the table as he contested car issues. He then backed that up with a win in the second semifinal, with eventual event winner Larsson taking the first.
McConnell won the first LCQ, making up for wall contact that ended his semifinal hopes early, while for the second day in a row, the second LCQ was an all Olsbergs MSE affair with Kevin Eriksson leading Oliver Eriksson and Casper Jansson in a perfect display of formation flying.
Kevin Eriksson remains the points leader, but only just. Qnigan/Nitrocross
Kevin Eriksson’s last gasp podium ensures he remains atop of the standings, ahead of Larsson by a single point. Despite a difficult weekend, Bakkerud sits third, a further 44 points back, with McConnell – the only other two-time winner this season besides Larsson – in fourth. Pastrana, meanwhile, occupies fifth.
In Nitrocross NEXT, Jansson took his second win of the weekend in what was a routine run to the flag from pole position. Lia Block improved on her maiden podium from Friday night by taking second, with Jimmy Henderson completing the rostrum in third.
Pastrana won in Side-by-Sides, that final taking place moments before the Group E final. He held off a charging Kainan Baker, with Tyler Remmereid endup up third after briefly reading mid-way through the race.
Ryan Rodriguez went back-to-back in the Baja Bugs category, winning a final that was twice stopped. The first stoppage was after Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone flipped from a botched landing after the first jump at the race start. The second came on the third lap of six in the restarted race after Jim Yorke was pitched into a slow roll from a nudge by Blake Wilkey. Kyle Zirkus was second, with Wilkey third.