Robertson reigns supreme in Atlanta!
Apex Racing Team’s trio of off-road experts – Yohann Harth, Jon Robertson and Jake Robertson – arrived at Atlanta motor speedway in buoyant mood after strong performances at Daytona. Most notably, Jon Robertson headed to the third round as the early championship leader.
Jon Robertson and Yohann Harth laid down the gauntlet in qualifying. Robertson’s rapid sweep of Atlanta’s rallycross course placed the Advan Subaru ace ahead of teammate – Yohann Harth – and fastest in the field. Thus, both would start their heat race from the front of the pack.
Jake Robertson whipped his Ed Carpenter Racing Subaru around Atlanta’s technical course less than 0.2 seconds behind the pole time and qualified seventh quickest.
First up for the ART crew, was Jon Robertson. From pole position, Robertson sped away cleanly and immediately dived for the joker lane. Boasting a significant advantage by taking the joker early, Robertson clearly intended to press on at the front in clear air.
A wise strategy and perfect execution delivered a dominant win for Robertson and Advan Subaru. A prime spot in the feature would be a just reward for the young Briton.
Heat number two saw Yohann Harth starting from the prime spot on the grid. Despite a shaky start, running slightly wide into turn one, Harth swiftly recovered. Mirroring Robertson’s strategy, Harth ducked into the joker lane from the lead at the first opportunity. Although under pressure from Jonne Ollikainen, Harth never flinched and held the lead to the flag. Two heats and two wins for the Advan Subaru duo.
Jake Robertson started the third heat of the day in second place alongside Subaru motorsports USA star, Bobby Zalenski. From the drop of the flag, a typical rallycross brawl ensued, with Robertson at the epicentre. Keen to break out of the melee, Robertson took to the joker lane on lap one.
Following his trip through the joker lane, Robertson stalked the mica blue and gold Subaru of Zalenski in second place. However, four other drivers still had the joker to play. However, Robertson also had the snarling Jonathan Pailler to defend from which allowed Zalenski to escape. Agonisingly, this left Robertson third and forced to the last chance qualifier race.
So, a last chance showdown under the Georgia sun offered just one place in the crucial feature race. Although Jake Robertson started from second, eight other drivers desperately craved that final spot in the feature. Robertson’s campaign for promotion to the feature race faltered at the first turn, a clumsy bump from the VW Beetle of Marcos Matamoros sent the Ed Carpenter Subaru wide and immediately to the back of the pack. Two-hundred metres later, Otto Taskinen spun and speared immediately into Robertson’s path, sealing his fate.
Jon Robertson and Yohann Harth started the feature race as they qualified, locking out the top two positions in their boxer engine beasts.
Tommi Hallman immediately elbowed his way in between the Advan duo on lap one. However, with Hallman keeping his joker trip up his sleeve, both Harth and Robertson darted to the joker lane at the first chance.
With Ollikainen, De Jong and Albert behind – Robertson and Harth led the five-car group who had played their joker. Tommi Hallman, was the danger man in sixth place, yet to embark on his joker trip.
On lap nine, the agonising wait for Hallman to take the joker concluded.
Jon Robertson led comfortably but Hallman emerged from the joker lane in the wheel tracks of Yohann Harth. Thus, commencing a battle for second place. A maiden one-two finish for a new partnership between the Apex Racing Team and Team Yokohama was at stake and the spotlight shone brightly on Yohann Harth to deliver. Unflustered, Harth held firm from the Finnish star and maintained second place to the chequered flag.
Meanwhile, Jon Robertson sealed his first world championship win in convincing fashion. Additionally, the Aylesbury ace retained the prestigious red windshield strip, adorned by the championship leader.
A momentous day for all at the Apex Racing Team and Team Yokohama.
Following the event, the Apex Racing crew reflected on a historic day for the team:
Yohann Harth: “What a race for Team Yokohama! Coming into this race, we knew we had a good car, but we never expected a perfect round like that. I was a bit disappointed with my qualifying lap as I’m certain I had the pace to get pole but other than that, everything was PER-FECT. Huge thanks to everyone at Apex for all the work, and massive congrats to Jon for his maiden win, it was only a matter of time for him. Up to third in the standings and we increased our lead in the Teams Championship, let’s keep it up!”
Jake Robertson: “I was confident that I had some good pace. After slightly messing up my qualifying I managed seventh. I knew I had to stay as clean as possible in my races to make sure I didn’t rack up anymore incident points. So, after emerging from the joker behind another driver in the heat, I got stuck and couldn’t make any moves. I wasn’t able to transfer to the feature straight from the heat so had to work to get a position from my consolation race. In the consolation race, I got hit into the first corner and that essentially ended my race. It’s a very disappointing result and can definitely be improved for this Saturday at Iowa.”
Jon Robertson: “Everything just fell into place this round. I took my first pole at world championship level which set me up well for my heat where I lead from start to finish. The feature was tense as Yohann and I were racing Tommi on different joker strategies, so it was essentially a time trial from lap one to the finish. We both held onto first and second taking the first team clean sweep of the series which has helped me extend my lead in the drivers championship as well as our lead in the team championship. I couldn’t be happier with my season so far, I just need to focus on maintaining consistency from here.”
Full size images by @Groove_Media