(#22) secured the 2018 RX Academy title in a battle for the coveted crown that went down to the wire in the final round at Tierp in Sweden (October 7).
As his prize, the 16-year old will race in the RX2 International Series in 2019, the official single-make support category to the FIA World Rallycross Championship, with nine-time FIA European Rallycross Championship winning team SET Promotion.
Four drivers entered the 2018 season finale at Sweden’s newest rallycross track in the hunt for the RX Academy title and it was the closest challenger to Trogen’s points lead, Polish driver Oskar Leitgeber
(#3), who struck first by setting the fastest time in Q1 on Saturday afternoon to take the overnight advantage.
Trogen hit back with the best time in Q2 and Q3 on Sunday morning to qualify top of the Intermediate Classification, as Leitgeber was second. Both drivers won their semi-finals and qualified on the front row for the final.
New Zealander Sloan Cox
(#21) began the weekend right on the pace, with fastest time in Free Practice two. He wound up fourth at the end of qualifying, before finishing second in semi-final two to take a second row starting position for the final, alongside Isak Reiersen
(#70). The Swede was second fastest in Q2 and overtook Russian driver Marat Knyazev
(#96), who was third in the Intermediate Classification, in semi-final one to earn a second row start in the final. The grid was completed by Knyazev and Estonian Marko Muru
(#27), who set a best time of fourth in Q2.
At the start of the final, it was Reiersen who took the lead at the exit of turn one, from Muru and Leitgeber as Trogen dropped to fourth. But, while chasing Leitgeber, Trogen rolled his car on a rutted loose-surface on the second lap and the race was stopped.
With the race unable to restart, the official result was later published by the Stewards of the Meeting, citing that in accordance with regulation 15.6.6, the championship points scored by each driver through the event were used to determine the official results.
Needing to finish fifth or higher if Leitgeber won the event, Trogen, who was classified first ahead of Leitgeber, secured the 2018 RX Academy title. Knyazev was classified third at Tierp as Cox, Reiersen and Muru completed the top six.
Fredrik Damm Larsen (#95) made his RX Academy debut at Tierp and improved with every session but just missed out on a place in the final by finishing fourth in semi-final two, while Jimi Kalliomäki (#95) had a spin while battling for a place in the final in semi-final one and finished fourth.
Tierp Winner and RX Academy Champion: Sami-Matti Trogen (FIN)
“It’s been a really good season for me, overall all of the races have been really good and I’m really happy to win the championship. I’ve learnt a lot in RX Academy this season, we’ve had different conditions at different tracks and learnt a lot away from the track also. The prize drive is fantastic, it will be really good to drive with SET Promotion in RX2 next season. I like the RX2 cars, so I’m really looking forward to it. This race was overall really good for me, I had good qualifying and semi-finals, the pace was strong but the final it didn’t go to plan. It was really hectic and I crashed in the second lap after the jump, I don’t really know what happened but I’m fine and really happy with the season overall.”
Tierp Second and RX Academy runner-up: Oskar Leitgeber (POL)
“This year has been the biggest adventure of my life and I have to say thank you to all of the people at RX Academy. I have learnt so much about life, rallycross and everything around being a driver. I tried really hard this weekend and I think it went well, there was some contact in the first corner of the final and it didn’t end in the way I wanted it to, but I feel like I am a winner and we will see what we can do for next year.”
Head of RX Academy: Jussi Pinomäki
“It feels like only yesterday that we began with the pre-season training camp at the Eerikkilä Sports Institute, but at the same time we have been through a huge journey since April. I’ve said many times that I personally don’t care at all who wins, our only mission is to give equal support to everyone and I think we have fulfilled that this year. It has been such a pleasure being able to work with the young, amazing characters like the drivers that have been with us this year, that is something really special. What they have learned from each other this summer is really unique, I’m sure what they learnt they don’t even realise yet. Of course, they have been given everything we can teach them about rallycross, but they have also learnt so much about life in general. This was an amazing group, what we experienced both on track and away from it, it’s all the small things that make the bigger picture for everybody and I’m really proud of what we are doing.
I’ve seen a big improvement in everyone in RX Academy and have had many positive surprises through the season. Congratulations to Sami-Matti for winning the championship. He takes the big prize but I’m looking forward to watching what all of these guys do next, wherever their careers take them. It’s important to reflect, but at the same time we are already working hard for next year and we will release news about our plans soon.”