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Volkswagen R DiRT World Championships – WE HAVE A WINNER!

Well, WHAT a weekend! Speedmachine was a spectacle on all accounts – the music, the food, the inaugural Silverstone WRX event – but we’re here to talk about one thing in particular: the Volkswagen R DiRT World Championships finale.

Everyone’s favourite three DiRTy musketeers Mark Hatcher, Andrew Coley and Luke Crane took the helm of the live show, sharing their trademark insight into the racing throughout both the rally and rallycross events. They weren’t on their own this time though, and were joined by the wonderful Lottie Van-Praag and Neil Cole. Neil and Lottie were down on the ground getting the post-race scoop and interviewing competitors throughout the proceedings, getting those all-important reactions to the racing in real-time.

Playing on an incredibly high spec, sexy set-up of Acer Predator PCs, Acer curved monitors, a special DiRT Playseat, and all of the Thrustmaster goodies imaginable (TSXW + R383 rally rim, TSS handbrake, TH8A shifter), the six finalists took on two rally events and two rallycross events to decide who was the fastest of them all.

Before we go any further, you can watch the racing in its impressive entirety here:

… but if you’re OK with spoilers, then read on!

Event one – a complex rally through the snowbanks of Sweden – was the first chance for competitors to show how serious they were about walking away with the winner’s trophy. A relatively clean race was had by all, but the Scandinavians made a particularly strong showing, with Joona Pankkonen and Robin Johnson being separated by less than two seconds for the majority of the stage. Ultimately, it was Pankkonen who pipped Johnson to the post to take the win and those all-important extra points – and South African Nicholas Steere followed up to take the third spot.

The second event was a trip to Hell, Norway’s stunningly speedy World Rallycross Championship track. Racing in the Volkswagen Polo R, the real battle here was for those final podium positions, with Pankkonen and Steere spending the first half of the race trading paint for second and third. Ultimately they lost a lot of time battling, and an early tactical Joker plus some hot laps from Alejandro Aroca Garcia saw him snatch second place, with Robin Johnson also going through to take third. Meanwhile, Quentin Dall’Olmo took a commanding win after smart first lap Joker, finishing 2.5secs ahead of the rest.

Showcasing his dominance in the rally part of the game, Pankkonen took the win in the third round, conquering Australia in the dark – the second of the final’s rally stages. 1.3secs ahead of Robin Johnson and looking as cool as you would for a casual Sunday drive, Pankkonen rallied to his second victory of the day, sending him into the final event with 15 points. Robin Johnson’s strong showing in all three events took him into the final with 14 points, and the stage was set for a final round showdown for the title.

The final race took racers to Loheac, France, and the race was absolutely show-stopping. Racing was frantic and frenetic, and there was contact on every single lap – so much so that our stewards and adjudicators had to take matters into their hands. However, amongst the carnage, only one winner could emerge… And that winner was Joona Pankkonen!

After over 20,000 entries and three live events, we’re so delighted to crown our first ever DiRT World Champion. We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who competed and watched; it’s been an incredible thing to see thousands of you race against one another and whittle down into six monumentally talented finalists. Thank you to our finalists for travelling to Silverstone to take part in the final four races, and finally: thank you to Joona Pankkonen for setting the bar so darn high. We’re very, very proud to call you our champion.

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