Ekstrom wins at Pau-Arnos to eliminate Baptista from Pure ETCR title fight

Mattias Ekstrom reduced the PURE ETCR title fight to a four-driver affair with a commanding round one victory as the final event of the season got underway at Pau-Arnos, France.

Ekstrom wins at Pau-Arnos to eliminate Baptista from Pure ETCR title fight

The Cupra X Zengo Motorsport driver was drawn in Pool B alongside chief title rival Jean-Karl Vernay and the series’ most in-form driver, Philipp Eng.

The Swede benefitted from his starting position on the inside of the three-abreast line-up, diving inside Vernay’s Hyundai Veloster N ETCR into the fast, sweeping downhill dog-leg that begins the lap and making minor contact with his rival in the process.

He then sped off to victory ahead of Vernay - a result that increased his series lead to 34 points and eliminates Rodrigo Baptista from the title fight, but also makes it impossible for Ekstrom to be crowned champion before Sunday’s SuperFinal B.

The Pool A battles were even more intensely-fought and commenced with a similarly commanding victory for Ekstrom’s team-mate Mikel Azcona, who maintained his title hopes by recovering from a slow start to pass Daniel Nagy and John Filippi for the win.

Augusto Farfus was victorious in the other Pool A battle, but only after the Hyundai driver escaped punishment for a forceful passing move on Luca Filippi on the penultimate lap at Turn 7 - an incident that forced the Giulia ETCR onto the grass and into a half-spin.

Jordi Gene retains an outside chance of the title following victory in Pool B Battle 2 ahead of Baptista’s Romeo Ferraris-M1RA Giulia ETCR and Tom Chilton’s Hyundai.

He will square off against Ekstrom in round two, however, knowing that he must not only beat him, but hope his team-mate does not finish, to remain part of the title fight into Sunday.

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