Nitro Rallycross heads into the final round of the 2022-23 season with it all to play for.
With three full rounds taking place this weekend, the championship remains open as we head back to Glen Helen Raceway. Here we take a look at this year’s contenders and their seasons so far.
5th - Travis Pastrana, 199pts
Reigning series champion Travis Pastrana hasn’t quite enjoyed the title defense he perhaps expected. Nevertheless, he’s remained a series frontrunner.
After having something of a tough time in Europe at the start of the year, he instantly bounced back on the return Stateside with a win at ERX Motor Park. A second victory in Phoenix made him the first driver to win multiple rounds this season (and he remains one of only two to do so), but with that pair of wins being his only podium finishes so far, it leaves him as something of a surprise outsider.
Nevertheless, Pastrana won at Glen Helen in 2021. So if he can find that form again, he could quickly move from outsider to serious threat.
4th - Oliver Eriksson, 209pts
The season's been a bit of a slow burner for Oliver Eriksson. He came into the year as a championship favorite, but aside from a qualifying win on home soil in Sweden, his year's been plagued by bad luck, leaving him on the back foot.
Recently, however, things have changed. Another TQ result and a second place in Phoenix – narrowly missing out to Robin Larsson – helped him go into the winter break brimming with confidence, which he duly backed up with an unstoppable performance on race day in Quebec.
Now he just needs to keep that form going now the snow’s melted and we’re back on the warm dirt of Southern California.
3rd Fraser McConnell, 215pts
Fraser McConnell must’ve been thrilled when the series announced it was returning to Glen Helen for the final three rounds of the season.
Always fast, McConnell was pretty much unbeatable last time we were there, dominating qualifying before completing a weekend clean sweep on race day.
A lack of podium finishes since have left him adrift somewhat, but the pace has remained. He was top qualifier in Quebec and a semifinalist in the second Phoenix race. But a return to the site of his finest hour opens the door for a real late charge for the championship crown.
2nd Andreas Bakkerud, 230pts
After our European excursion, it was lookiong like it would be a tense battle for the title between RX Cartel team-mates Robin Larsson and Andreas Bakkerud. They had a win apiece (Larsson in the UK, Bakkerud in Sweden), and matching qualifying performances too.
Since then though, the road's been a bit more rocky for the popular Norwegian. Car-killing crashes on Minnesota and Phoenix bookended the US stint on the schedule, while a seventh place on the snow and ice of Quebec means he's been out of the top three for two rounds in a row.
A brace of podiums – including one on our last visit to Glen Helen – have kept him in the hunt, and with him also the holder of a trophy from last season's trip to Southern California (when he finished third), he'll be heading back there full of confidence to turn his season around at the most crucial moment
1st Robin Larsson, 264pts
Robin Larsson heads back to California as the clear championship favorite. A two-time race winner, Larsson has finished on the podium in all but one championship round this season.
It’s been quite the difference from a season ago where his Audi struggled to adapt to the bruising US tracks. Now racing Nitro RX’s FC1-X electric car, his been able to truly show his skills.
On our previous visit to Glen Helen, Larsson finished second behind a dominant McConnell, but was the only driver to mount a real threat to the Jamaican all weekend. Consistency has been the key to his season, and with points in the bank, he’ll be looking for a similarly strong weekend. But don’t be surprised if he finds that little bit extra and adds to his win tally.