The battle to become the 2021 iRacing Rallycross World Champion came down to the final race of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With two wins apiece, Jon Robertson and Jonne Ollikainen were only separated by six points entering the day. When the dust settled, it was Robertson on top, the 2021 iRacing Rallycross Champion of the World.
As Robertson crossed the line in third, Vicente Salas was finally able to break through for his first career series victory. In between, Kevin Ellis Jr crossed the line in second to take the 2021 Dirtfish Rookie of the Year. The Top 10 drivers in the final standings will all get a ticket back to the series in 2022 and the rest will need to re-qualify.
The final event of the season wasn’t a walk in the park for anyone, especially the two going for the title. With only a six-point separation, a lot could be gained before the main event even began.
QUALIFYING AND HEATS
Sure enough, Ollikainen came to play, dropping a lap time good enough to take the pole position in the final race of 2021. For the pole, Ollikainen earned six points. Further down, Robertson only managed a fourth place effort, good enough for three points. Before any race even started, the points gap was down to three.
Ellis Jr would line up alongside Ollikainen in the first heat of the night, having qualified in fifth. Ellis Jr races under the Apex Racing Team banner alongside Robertson, so he couldn’t just give the spot away to team’s title rival. On the start, Ellis Jr was able to sneak around Ollikainen for the top spot.
Through the five lap heat, Ellis Jr wound up winning with Ollikainen advancing from second, but that meant two things. For one, it eventually gave a point back to Robertson in the championship, and two, it meant moving from first to fifth on the starting grid.
The second heat saw some drama outside of the championship fight. Rasmus Tuominen jumped the start and would receive a post-race penalty, taking him out of the equation to advance. That left it to Salas and Jake Robertson to duel for the win. Salas would win it, Robertson advanced, and the event moved on to Heat 3.
The third heat had an insane battle between Yohann Harth and Tommi Hallman. Entering the finale, Hallman had an outside, mathematical chance to win the title. However, if Robertson was able to score a certain amount of points before the main, it would eliminate Hallman. Hallman had the most wins on the season, but struggled to keep consistency up throughout the year. The two made contact at several points, but Harth would take one last win on the 2021 season before vacating the 2020 crown.
In the final heat of the season, championship leader Robertson could dynamically gain a point back on Ollikainen by winning. He did just that and quite handedly as well, pulling out to win large over the other transfer to the main, Jarno Leskinen.
C-MAIN AND B-MAIN LCQ’S
The 2021 season has been one to forget for Beau Albert. Coming into the finale, Albert only had one appearance in the feature race, all the way back in Round 2 at Atlanta. For the majority of the season, the trope has been waiting to see if he could survive the starting gates. Thankfully, Albert ended his season starting in the feature, but it didn’t come easy.
Off the start of the C-Main, Albert was able to wrestle the lead from Garrett Manes, but not too long after that, Quentin Dall’olmo stuck it in deep and managed to take the leader. Dall’olmo has also had a season to forget, and that sentiment would come full circle. Halfway through the first lap, Dall’olmo spun it while leading and handed it back to Albert. Albert held off Manes and scored a ticket to the big show.
The B-Main, the final chance for drivers to advance into a feature race in 2021, went off with a brilliant start from Louis Lejuene. Lejeune timed it perfectly and took the lead before the line. The SET Esports Team GRX duo of Killian Dall’olmo and Tuominen were not having it, however. Both were able to get by Lejeune before the first lap was over.
In a desperate attempt to out-Joker the teammates, Lejeune went in immediately after getting passed, but ended up caught in traffic as a result. The teammates battled it out, both looking to end their seasons positively, but it was Dall’olmo taking the final spot as Tuominen would go home early.
The final feature of the season had rookie Ellis Jr alongside the most improved from a season ago, that being Salas. The championship fight found itself mired in the mudpack, fourth and fifth, stuck behind the soon-to-be-former champ Harth in third.
Out of the gates, Salas was able to take control of the situation and pull away from Ellis Jr. Meanwhile, Harth stuck his car in front of Ollikainen and into the jump, that allowed his teammate Robertson to scoot by into third.
Ollikainen eventually made his way around Harth for the fourth spot, but it would be too little, too late. Robertson could not be caught, as he held on for third, enough to win the 2021 championship.
For the win, Salas managed the gap and held his Joker lap until the very end. With Charlotte’s Joker lap longer than a regular lap, it was the right move. Any earlier could have placed him back in traffic, which would have allowed Ellis Jr to get him.
Salas picked up his first career win as Robertson picked up his first career championship. Both should be returning to do it all again in the 2022 season. While a Subaru Motorsports USA driver won the driver’s title, SET Esports was able to come away with the team championship.
CHARLOTTE MAIN EVENT RESULTS
- 55 Vicente Salas – Elliott Sadler Esports | 10 LAPS
- 30 Kevin Ellis Jr – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Esports +0:00.627 sec
- 86 Jon Robertson – Subaru Motorsports USA +0:02.179 sec
- 44 Jonne Ollikainen – SET Esports +0:03.836 sec
- 87 Tommi Hallman – SET Esports +0:05.379 sec
- 52 Jarno Leskinen – Hansen Williams Esports +0:09.442 sec
- 90 Yohann Harth – Subaru Motorsports USA +0:10.235 sec
- 45 Jake Robertson – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Esports +0:11.689 sec
- 18 Killian Dall’olmo – SET Esports Team GRX +0:12.154 sec
- 06 Beau Albert – Logitech G Altus Esports | RETIRED
- Jon Robertson – 201 points | 2 wins
- Jonne Ollikainen – 195 points | 2 wins
- Tommi Hallman – 179 points | 3 wins
- Yohann Harth – 132 points | 1 win
- Kevin Ellis Jr – 121 points
- Vicente Salas – 116 points | 1 win
- Killian Dall’olmo – 96 points
- Jarno Leskinen – 89 points
- Jakob Rafoss – 69 points
- Jake Robertson – 68 points
iRX ALL STARS
There was a championship battle, unofficially, in the iRX All Stars ranks. Pablo ‘GoPro’ López was tied with Parker Retzlaff and Jamie Fluke while Luke Knupp sat just a few points behind. Fluke wasn’t able to make the show, so it was essentially a three-way battle for the top spot.
While Simon Feigl went on to take the Charlotte All-Star victory, Knupp managed a runner up finish, just enough to rip the title away from ‘GoPro’ López who finished in third. This reporter also managed to make the final in the All-Star ranks, and while it didn’t end well, it was still a fun time had.
Looking forward to the 2022 season, the Top 10 drivers in the final standings will get to keep their licenses into the new year. Drivers below the Top 10, such as Luis Núñez, Tuominen, Manes, Alex Bergeron and Albert will need to battle back into the top ranks through the qualifying series.