Monday 31 August 2020

Marklund surprised by lack of pace at Kouvola.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
Anton Marklund says he is surprised by the lack of pace at the very technical Tykkimäki Circuit in Kouvola, Finland. 

Having shown the quick pace of his Renault Megane R.S. RX at round 1 and 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Sweden last week, the GCK Bilstein driver put down competitive laps but struggled with engine issues throughout the day, which ended up seeing him finish round 3 earlier than expected in the semi-finals.

Marklund's engine was changed overnight, and he was able to return to action for the fourth round of the championship. 

It was a weekend of two halves due to weather and track conditions which was quite similar to that of Holjes, one round wet and the other dry. But the tricky conditions did not affect Anton Marklund's pace in the morning warm-up, as he comfortably posted the fastest time of the morning. However, things soon changed in racing conditions, as his Megane lost traction off the start line seeing him drop to the rear of the field in his quali races, but with a fightback the Swede progressed to the semi-finals to finish the race day (and round) in twelfth place. 

"The speed we showed throughout the warm-up today was really promising for the rest of the day - the car was working really well and we were the quickest on the track," Marklund said. "Unfortunately, we lost some pace and definitely lost capacity off the start line due to lack of grip."

"We need to do a thorough analysis now to understand why the speed differed so much to Free Practice, so a lot of work ahead. We bring the great pace we’ve shown with us and just have to learn from the challenges to come back better in Riga."

"It’s disappointing for me to not be able to bring the best results back to the team as the mechanics have worked super hard over the last couple of weeks to get us out on the track every time no matter the challenges and tight turnaround time."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson extends championship lead despite fourth-place finish in Kouvola.

Double World Champion Johan Kristoffersson extended his lead in the FIA World Rallycross Championship despite a fourth-place finish in Kouvola, Finland on Sunday. 

The Kristoffersson Motorsport driver has dominated the sport since his return taking the TQ (top qualifier) spot at all four rounds, winning his respective semi-final, but only converted two pole position starts to wins. 

"I have lost only nine points from four races. That's really satisfying!" Kristoffersson said.

"We feel more into it now than in Höljes. The speed is better and the overall feeling as well."

Despite a dominant run on Sunday, the Swede survived a brief scare in Q2 after his Volkswagen Polo was sluggish off the line and suffered from what sounded like a misfire. He ended the session in 14th overall. However, he returned for Q3 and despite being wary of the issue he had in Q2. The Swede won the session to take the overall TQ. 

"They solved the problem quickly. It feels safe to have such a good staff," the double World Champion said.

The Swede cruised through to the semi-final after yet another good launch winning the session by 2.4 seconds from Mattias Ekström, which meant he would start from pole position for the final.

Johan had another good start with Niclas Grönholm right on his bumper, but he ran a touch wide allowing Grönholm to sneak up the inside to take the lead and hang on to win the final. 

"I didn't get through the first corner as I would have hoped for," he said. 

With a last lap joker for Niclas Grönholm and Mattias Ekström in the final. Ekström emerged alongside Kristoffersson, while Niclas shut the door on the apex of the final corner. Johan attempted to leapfrog Mattias, but opened the door for Timur Timerzyanov to claim the final spot on the podium. He would finish the final in fourth-place. 

"It's 55 points from 60 this weekend and I'm still expanding my lead in the championship," Kristoffersson said. 

Johan Kristoffersson will take a 17-point lead in the drivers' standings to Riga (the next doubleheader), where he without a doubt go in search of the perfect weekend. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Keeping calm key to Grönholm's success in Kouvola.

Niclas Grönholm withstood immense pressure from Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström to take his first win of the season on World RX’s return to Finland.

Grönholm produced his best qualifying performance of the season in the Intermediate Classification to end up second and take 15 championship points at the Kouvola track. He then won semi-final two in treacherous conditions to earn a front-row start for the final.

Kristoffersson had a clean start in the final with Niclas right behind, and as Johan ran slightly wide into turn one. Grönholm swept around the inside to take the lead. From there on, he held the lead in difficult wet and slippery conditions fending off a quicker Kristoffersson, and then Mattias Ekström, when Johan took his joker (lap) on lap three.

The GRX Taneco driver was able to withstand the pressure from Ekström and Kristoffersson to cross the line first and win at his home round of the championship. 

"We found a bit more speed [on Sunday]. Maybe a little in the car, but mainly in myself – I kept calm the whole day, and that was crucial for winning this event," Grönholm said. 

"The final was a bit stressful because Ekström and Kristoffersson were on my tail, but I kept my racing line as knew that they won’t overtake me on the outside because it was so slippery there."

The 24-year-old Finns win in Kouvola (third win in his career) is an important result for the team, as they expected a stronger performance at the Höljes doubleheader, but within the short gap between the events. The GRX Taneco squad worked on their Hyundai i20 Supercars to find some improvements, which paid-off in Kouvola. 

"This is a very important result for our team. Everyone has been working flat-out for the past week and this win means a lot for the whole team," Niclas said. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Saturday 29 August 2020

Home hero Juha Rytkönen scores dream debut result

Juha Rytkönen was the star performer in Kouvola claiming a second-place finish on debut with GRX SET. 

The Finn demonstrated great pace straight from Free Practice, and after three Qualifying sessions, he was fourth overall in the Intermediate Classification. With a dominant drive, he managed to win his semi-final by 2 seconds. 

Juha lined up alongside Kristoffersson in the final, and with a good launch, he attempted to take the inside line, which was quickly blocked. With a clean run behind the double world champion, Rytkönen was able to manage his pace and claim a second-place finish for GRX SET on debut. 

"This is absolutely amazing! The team is very, very good. I did not expect this at all. The car was so easy to drive and the team around me helped a lot," Rytkönen said. "Throughout the day I learned a lot from my teammates and my spotter [Toomas Heikkinen] kept pushing me in the Final. I am really happy with the result. Tomorrow we might have a wet race, but I’d prefer it to stay dry."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Doran ready to mount Finland fightback.

Liam Doran is looking forward to mounting a fight-back after retiring from round three of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship at Kouvola-Finland today.

The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel have been working hard to solve the technical issues that plagued Doran in Sweden last weekend. There hard work paid off in the opening stages of the weekend for both RX Cartel drivers. 

"I think everybody saw what happened in Sweden and that’s not good for anyone but we worked really hard this week and hopefully turned it around," Doran said. "I’ve got a lot of confidence in the car and in the team, so of course, I’m not 100% confident after last weekend but I’m not going to give up, that wouldn’t be me.”

The British Bomb got off to a strong start finishing eighth in the standing after Q1. Doran lined up alongside teammate Bakkerud in Q2, but later retired due to a broken prop shaft. 

Q3 saw the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel driver sending it around the outside of the field to lead into turn one, but after some rear contact, he later retired due to a broken rim and broken rear upright. 

Doran is a former winner at the Kouvola circuit, one he says suits his flat out driving style. “This is definitely a great track for me, I love it. Probably one of the biggest things is when you enjoy driving a track you usually do quite well. It’s quite a flamboyant track, it requires a lot of commitment round the blind corners and crests and encourages aggressive driving. It’s my sort of track," he said. 

"We showed some promising pace this morning and can see the potential of the car. The broken prop shaft in Q2 put us on the back foot and meant I had to push massively in Q3, where contact resulted in us having to retire, which is frustrating of course but is what makes rallycross what it is. The track here is one of my favourites and it suits my driving style so much, so I’m just looking ahead to tomorrow, where we can hopefully build on this morning’s performance."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson thrilled with dominate win in Finland.

Johan Kristoffersson made it look easy on his way to a clean sweep in round three of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Kouvola, Finland. 

It was the perfect day for the double World Championship who won every qualifying session taking the TQ (top qualifier) in the Intermediate Classification, the semi-finals and finals to extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship. 

"30 points for the 14th time in my career," Kristoffersson said.

Clean sweeps are hard to come by in World RX, with only three drivers only claiming a clean sweep in the history of the championship. Today, Johan has become the only driver to claim two clean sweeps in the championships history, with Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud on one a piece. 

"The first time that has happened. To come here, new to this circuit, and with no teammate to share data with, and still find ways to go even faster, that feels great," he said.

A clean sweep is not all, the Swede clinched his 22nd win the World Championship, no other driver claimed as many wins as he has to date. 

Johan lead standings by two points heading into round three in Kouvola, ahead of 2016 champion Mattias Ekstrom, but with an electrical issue Ekstrom was forced to retire in the semi-finals thus allowing Kristoffersson to extended his lead in the championship by 16 points. 

"Incredible! I have repeatedly said that you need to score points on an even basis this year. That was in my mind for the whole day, all the way through the final," he said. 

Due to the tight nature of the Kouvola track, starts are key to success, and today Johan put on a masterclass in his Volkswagen Polo R Supercar.

"I practiced starting procedures a lot in '17 and '18 and I would like to say that they are just as good now as at the end of 2018," he said.

In the final Johan had an unfamiliar driver on his left side, the great surprise Juha Rytkönen (GRX SET). Whilst Kristoffersson got off to a flying start, he had the Finn right behind in the opening laps, but was left quite impressed by Juha's debut.

"It's very impressive of him to step in here as a newcomer and deliver like he did, but that is also a message to the rest of us that we always need to be on our toes," the double world champion said.

Still striving for excellence, Johan found a good rhythm and tried some different lines around Kouvola, and went on to win the final by 3.110 seconds.

" The final was very, very good. I had a very good start, like I had all day and from there on, the track was similar to how it was in the semi-final, so we could adapt a bit and do some small changes for the final which worked out well," he said. "I found the rhythm in my driving and could try some different lines." 

Tommy Kristoffersson, Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS boss, was quite satisfied with his son's performance today.

"Already when we came here we thought the track would suit Johan and the car very well," he said. "It's very technically demanding, a bit like gymkhana, where Johan has been successful."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday 27 August 2020

PREVIEW: World RX of Finland - Kouvola returns to calendar after six-years absence.

The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship returns to Finland for the first time since 2014 this weekend when rounds three and four of the championship take place at Kouvola.

Kouvola, approximately 130km northeast of the Finnish capital Helsinki. It’s the largest town in the Kymenlaakso region of southeast Finland. 

Just six days after a thrilling season opener(s) in Holjes-Sweden, with Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekstrom climbing onto the top step of the podium in rounds one and two. 

Originally planned to take part in the Holjes doubleheader, Ekstrom announced his participation in the Finland doubleheader earlier this week. The Swede will be joined on the grid by 18 other drivers this weekend. 

This weekend’s doubleheader event features two separate FIA World Rallycross Championship events, one full event – comprising three rounds of qualifying races, semi-finals, and the final – taking place each day.


Last weekend in Sweden Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekstrom claimed one victory each, Kristoffersson finishing third in Sunday’s event and moving to Finland with a two-point lead in the championship. 

Kristoffersson, is just ahead of 2016 champion Ekstrom whose KYB Team JC teammate Robin Larsson holds third in the championship having also produced a strong weekend in Sweden.

Heading into the weekend Kevin Hansen holds fourth place in the drivers' standings and clear of his older brother, current FIA World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen who is placed eighth after a difficult opening weekend. Both Team Hansen drivers have prior experience of Kouvola and will be aiming to recover lost ground in Finland.

Timo Scheider had his best-ever World RX weekend in Sweden with a third-place finish and a fourth-place finish in round two to hold fifth in the championship for ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport.

Anton Marklund also featured strongly in the first weekend and is sixth entering Finland, ahead of Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov who were unable to show their true pace after being stuck in traffic all weekend.

Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel had a mixed weekend with neither of its drivers in the finals in round one due to mechanical issues, but Andreas Bakkerud hauled himself back into contention with a sixth-place finish in round two and is now laying ninth in the championship. His teammate Liam Doran is 17th after two days of mechanical problems with his Renault Megane R.S. RX.

Whilst Krisztian Szabo is currently placed 10th in the standings after Sweden. However, 2019 Finnish champion Juha Rytkönen will take the wheel of the GRX SET Hyundai i20 Supercar this weekend. 

Kevin Abbring will also replace Rokas Baciuska this weekend at UNKORRUPTED alongside Guerlain Chicherit after the team struggled with set-up issues in Sweden. 

ALL-INKL Muennich Motorsport's team boss Rene Muennich is currently placed 14th overall with Jani Paasonen in 16th.

Jere Kalliokoski will return to the premier class this weekend after a part-time programme with STARD in 2019. The Finn will drive a Ford Fiesta. 

Fellow countrymen and multiple Finnish Champion Atro Määttä will also make his RX return this weekend, whilst Hungarian Tamas Karai steps up from the European Championship in his Audi Supercar as well. 

Tanner Foust leading Timur Timerzyanov at the 2014 World RX of Finland.

Tykkimaen Moottorirata, the Tykkimaki Circuit, at Kouvola is an undulating rallycross track that is 1060 metres long and consists of 55% asphalt and 45% gravel surfaces. It has hosted the FIA World Rallycross Championship once before, when American Tanner Foust won in a VW Polo Supercar in 2014. It has previously hosted the FIA European Rallycross Championship and is regularly used in Finland’s national championship.


Johan Kristoffersson leads the new Champion Fast Start award that was introduced at the first event, but with 20 more points up for grabs this weekend that could easily change.


The livestream for the events will be carried on the World RX Facebook and YouTube channels:

NOTE: The Semi-Finals and Finals will be broadcast on TV with no livestreams. CHECK YOUR TV LISTINGS HERE:

SATURDAY - Round Three (29 August 2020):

Q1 - 10:30 am

Q2 - 11:50 am

Q3 - 13:15 pm

TV Broadcast - 15:00 to 17:00

Semi-Finals and Final - 16:00 to 16:50

SUNDAY - Round Four (30 August 2020):

Q1 - 09:40 am

Q2 - 11:30 am

Q3 - 13:15 pm

TV Broadcast - 15:00 to 17:00

Semi-Finals and Final - 16:00 to 16:50

Kristoffersson ready for leap into unknown in Finland.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool. 
Johan Kristoffersson is preparing for a journey into the unknown as he heads into the second doubleheader of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, at a circuit he has never been to before. 

The double World Champion made his World RX debut in 2014 after the Finnish round of the championship, which meant he never actually got to race at the Kouvola track. But this season the Swede will finally beable to turn a wheel on the track he has only seen through videos and heard from other drivers. 

"I've never been to this track before, but from what I've heard it's very fun to drive." Kristoffersson said.

The 31-year-old Swede is currently at the top of the drivers' standings having won the first round of the championship in Höljes on Saturday, with a maximum score. Sunday was almost as good, with Johan claiming the top qualifiers spot, but finished in third-place after a most race penalty. 

"Just four points away from full score. You can't ask for more," he said.

With no real time for thought after a gruelling doubleheader in Sweden, Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS are making there way to Kouvola in Finland for the third and fourth rounds of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. The Kouvola track will return to the championship for the first time since 2014.

"I remember watching that final as Tanner Foust won, having had a great launch in the rain," the Swede said.

After a great duel between Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström in Höljes, the pair will meet once more in Finland, and while Johan enjoyed his ontrack battles with Ekström

He believes that his rivals in other machinery is just able capable of winning or challenging for a place on the podium as he and Ekström are.

"That's fun. Mattias is inventive and always on a high level, but it is not all about him. Niclas Grönholm, Robin Larsson as well as Timmy and Kevin Hansen are all very capable but were a bit unlucky in Höljes," Kristoffersson adds. 

Tommy Kristoffersson, Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS team boss has revealed that his team is a bit short-staffed due to COVID-19 restrictions and believes that they are also at a disadvantage due to running one car, while others have the benefit of gathering data and information from two cars. 

"We are a bit punished in that sense because we can't share different tasks between two cars," Tommy Kristoffersson said. "However, we are very inspired for the coming weekend and up to the challenge."

Written By - Junaid Samodien. 

Team Hansen ready to bounce back after 'mixed' season opener.

Team Hansen are keen bounce back after a weekend of highs and lows in Sweden, as the FIA World Rallycross Championship enters its second phase this weekend with the third and fourth rounds of the season in Finland. 

Whilst Sweden ushered in the new season, it wasn't the smoothest of starts for Timmy Hansen on homesoil. However, his younger brother Kevin lifted the team spirit with a second-place finish in the second round of the championship at the same venue.  

Team boss, Kenneth Hansen believes that his team were at a slight disadvantage compared to their rivals who competed in the RallyX Nordic "Magic Weekend" in Höljes with 2020 specification machinery. 

And while the dust settles on the season opener in Sweden, the World RX championship moves to Finland for the second doubleheader of the season. 

Kouvola's addition to the 2020 calendar was somewhat sudden but also highly welcomed, as other events dropped off the calendar due to complications from the ongoing Covid-19 situation. With past experience at the track for both Timmy and Kevin, it's a favourite circuit of both the team and drivers.

"Kouvola is a great track. It has strong character, good jumps, elevation changes, fast and slow corners, so it's nice to be driving there again. I think I have the lap record there but I'm not sure! I've had some good races there and I'm looking forward to going back," Timmy Hansen said.

The defending champion struggled with traffic all weekend in Sweden, but he firmly believes that Team Hansen has the package to challenge for wins in 2020. 

"I believe we have what it takes in our package to win a couple of races and to be able to fight at the top," he adds. "Last weekend wasn't normal and my hope is Finland is closer to what we would consider 'normal'. The car is still good, so we're hoping for a better result in Finland."

Kouvola is a track of two very distinct halves: the first half almost like Rally Finland, with wide, fast roads featuring jumps, while the second half is tight, twisty and technical.  

Kevin returns to a track with fond memories having made his first appearance at an international-level rallycross event and won his first-ever RX Lites race at the age of 16.  

"Kouvola is quite similar to Höljes, with a lot of elevation changes. I love the track; it's got a good flow and I think we have a good car for it too," Kevin Hansen said.

Having stepped onto the podium in Sweden, the 22-year-old expects to score more podium finishes in Finland but admits that the team needs to keep pushing. 

"I expect we'll be able to score podiums in Finland. That's the aim, and we need to keep on our toes and do the maximum possible," he said. "If we want to reach the podium or score wins, we have to keep pushing step-by-step beyond where we are now."

Whilst Team Hansen did not have the pace they expected in Sweden, rounds 3 and 4 of the condensed calendar will give the team strong motivation to perform at their best. 

"It's good to be back racing so soon after the last round. We didn't have the result we expected last time, so we have strong motivation to be back on track again and trying to perform to our best," Team Hansen team principal, Kenneth Hansen said. "It's going to be quite unusual this time, as it's the first time we're racing with only World RX present and none of the support categories."

"Both Timmy and Kevin know and love this circuit, so they'll have a slight advantage over the drivers who've been here before. But there won't be a big difference compared to the top-calibre drivers who've not raced here before; they'll get into it quickly."

Written By - Junaid Samodien. 

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Nitišs is back for Latvia RX doubleheader.

Double European Rallycross Champion Reinis Nitišs will join ESmotorsport for the fifth and sixth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, at the NESTA World RX of Riga on September 19-20.

Nitišs has been a World RX regular from its inaugural season in 2014 and competed almost full-time until 2017, before switching back to Euro RX in 2018, where he claimed his second title. In 2019, Nitišs fulfilled in a Development Driver role in the Gronholm RX and has been focusing on rallying since that.

ESmotorsport Skoda Fabia Supercar at 2019 World RX event.
"I’m grateful to the ESmotorsport for this opportunity to be a part of an exciting project. I think everyone knows that rallycross is in my heart and it really feels good to be back in a 600bhp World RX Supercar. Especially do be doing it in my home country, in front of my Latvian fans," Nitišs said.

"I know the team has been working hard on the development of the car and now it’s up to me to make use of that in real racing conditions. For sure, every team have been working hard over this long break, so we want to see where we stand against the best of the sport."

The ESmotorsport team is owned by a former FIA European Rallycross Championship Super1600 driver Ernestas Staponkus, who started developing the team’s Škoda Fabia World RX Supercar in 2018, with the team contesting eight World RX rounds in 2019.

"I’ve known Reinis for some time and I know he is a perspective and fast driver. Above that, he is also a very positive person. I hope we can work with him not only on these two races in Riga, but other rounds as well,” Ernestas Staponkus, ESmotorsport team owner, said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien 

Character-building weekend for UNKORRUPTED in Sweden.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition/Eric Fabre.
The 2020 FIA World Rallycross season kicked off in Sweden over the weekend with what has become known as the ‘magic weekend’ at the world-famous rallycross track in Holjes. 

It was magic, as a new team joined the grid in 2020, but unfortunately, that was where the magic ended for the newly established UNKORRUPTED team. While GC Kompetition was an independent team in 2019, this season they oversee three teams, with UNKORRUPTED being one of them. In addition to that team owner Guerlain Chicherit switched his Megane R.S. RX for the new evolution Renault Clio R.S. RX and will team-up with Rokas Baciuska in 2020. 

Hopes were high as the Renault Clio R.S. RX underwent further developments during the off-season with updated suspension, an updated engine, and a 30kg weight reduction. The updates allowed the Clio to brake a lot later than it's competitors, but the team were unable to unlock its true pace. 

The opening round of the 2020 World RX season got underway in mixed conditions, which saw Chicherit finish the first and second qualifying sessions in fourth-place, but due to evolving conditions he was ranked 16th overall in both sessions. 

The Frenchmen's third qualifier was only good enough for P14, which meant he would go no further finishing round one in sixteenth overall. 

Having worked through the night to change various aspects to the car’s set up, Guerlain finished Q1 in eleventh overall, but contact in Q2 saw him finish the session in twelfth overall.

In an attempt to hang onto a semi-final spot, Chicherit pushed but it was just not enough to qualify for the semi-finals, which saw him finish round 2 in thirteenth overall. 

"This was not the start to the Championship we had wished for sure - we’ve done a lot of testing over the winter and showed a very competitive pace, however, arriving in Sweden showed the track environment to be extremely challenging for our setup and we struggled with grip," Chicherit said. "The team thinks they may have found the problem and will now work hard to find a way to adjust the car ahead of Finland but it will be tight with only 5 days to go."

"It’s frustrating and upsetting for sure but I’m not someone to give up and I will fight to come back stronger. We’ve got some of the best drivers and cars in the paddock this year and I want to see the GCK Clio R.S. RX battle with them."

Chicherit's teammate Rokas Baciuska raced his way into the semi-final in round one having put down increasingly competitive pace and performances. After the three qualifying heats, Rokas was 11th overall despite turbo failure in Q3 and bagged a spot in the semi-finals. 

Having turned the car around in time for the semi-final, the Lithuanian only managed to complete three laps before another issue with the turbo forced him to retire in sixth-place. 

The second round (on Sunday) got off to a rough start for Rokas after contact with Robin Larsson caused engine issues which saw him drop to sixth overall with two qualifying sessions remaining.  

In Q2, Baciuska managed fought back to 11th overall, but his weekend came to an end after finishing his Q3 race in twelfth-place, which meant he would go no further. 

"We’ve definitely had a tough race weekend here at the first couple of rounds of the Championship in Sweden - from the turbo breaking which resulted in some engine issues later to struggles with the car setup from the beginning of the weekend, we’ve been fighting hard to find a good way for the GCK Clio R.S. RX to take on the rest of the pack," Baciuska said. "We did a lot of testing on very different tracks and our setup didn’t match what we needed here, so there’s work to be done now to find competitive pace."

 Written By - Junaid Samodien

Mixed emotions for Larsson after strong showing in Sweden.

Reigning EuroRX and RallyX Nordic Champion Robin Larsson made a competitive return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship last weekend with KYB Team JC, ending the Holjes doubleheader second in the drivers' standings. 

Larsson returned to World RX for a one-off outing in Latvia, as a gift from JC Raceteknik after clinching the 2019 EuroRX Championship with one round to spare. Despite a strong event, a disqualification in the second qualifying heat meant the Swede was not able to progress to the final despite a fightback. 

Whilst Robin raced with JC Raceteknik in 2019, the Swedish outfit announced it will compete in the World RX championship in 2020 under a new team banner "KYB Team JC". 

KYB Team JC originally planned for Larsson and Janis Baumanis to contest the full-season, but due to financial problems caused by the coronavirus. 2016 World Champion Mattias Ekström was called upon to step in for the season opener. 

It was a successful doubleheader on home soil for KYB Team JC with a win and a second-place for 2016 World RX Champion Mattias Ekström. 

Larsson started his season with a consistently fast pace but missed a final start in round one due to a five-second penalty. While on Sunday in round two, he continued to impress, and beat teammate Ekström to win semi-final two. In the final, he was in the running for the podium but due a puncture had to settle for fifth.

The Swedish outfit leads the team standings' by 28-points, and drivers Ekstrom and Robin Larsson hold second and third in the Drivers’ Standings heading to Kouvala in Finland.

“It was a good first World RX weekend for the team. It was intense, but we were consistently in the top five. Having Mattias has been a very big bonus for me and the whole team." Larsson said.

"It just shows how important it is to have a fast driver like him by your side, we took tips from each other and without him I probably would not have been able to continue to develop my speed. I hope we see more of him this season."

"The puncture in the final today was a shame because it would have been perfect to have a one-two in the final. It was also sad to miss the final yesterday, but in terms of points things look good in the Teams’ Championship and I too scored good points. That Mattias beat Johan on pure pace shows we can fight with him. We’ve done the best we can as a team and we will carry that to Finland."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Marklund impresses in Holjes with GCK Bilstein.

PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Fabre/GC Kompetition.
Anton Marklund put down a fantastic performance at the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship doubleheader in Holjes, leading GCK Bilstein to fifth overall in the drivers' standings.

The season kicked off at the world-famous rallycross track in Holjes, Sweden. The home ground of 27-year-old Marklund who showed off the competitive pace of the GCK Megane R.S. RX by winning all three of his qualifying races. 

In the semi-final, the Swede fought his way to fourth-place only to be promoted to the final due to a post-race penalty. Following a torrential downpour ahead of the final, the Swede raced his way to third. However, he was handed a post-race time penalty and dropped to 5th overall. 

On Sunday (round 2), Marklund had the opportunity to redeem himself after coming short of a podium finish in round one. Q1 didn't go according to plan, seeing Anton finish in 12th overall with a rear puncture, but fought back with a fourth and seventh-place finish in Q2 and Q3. 

Marklund started on the second row of the semi-final, which provided to be a heated affair. A decision to joker on the 2nd lap and some engine issues proved costly for Anton, but it didn't end there. In a battle for the final spot in the final, Timmy Hansen, Marklund, and Timur Timerzyanov were bumping and barging each other in an attempt to try and get the upper hand on a slow Andreas Bakkerud, which meant the Swede would finish round 2 of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship in 7th overall.

"I’m really really happy with the weekend overall because the work that GCK and Bilstein have put in over the weekend is really paying off. We can see the pace is very good, all the way from Free Practice 2 to the very ends, so I’m really proud of all the work they’ve done," Marklund said.

"Unfortunately, we missed out on the final - the first two corners weren’t great and we lost some time, plus some engine issues had us running low on power, and then of course carnage ensued."

"The Megane is certainly carrying its battle scars today but I cannot wait to go to Finland. The pace we’ve shown this entire weekend, especially on the loose surface, is really competitive and Finland should have pretty slippery surface also, so I can’t wait to show you what we can do there."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

"We expected to have slightly better pace" in Holjes - Kenneth Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull.
Team Hansen did not have the easiest of starts when the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship season finally got underway in Sweden, with Kevin Hansen leading the team's charge in fourth and reigning champion Timmy Hansen finishing eighth in the drivers' standings after two rounds.  

The reigning champions' hopes were high for a strong result during the return of World RX after an extended break. And while there were signs of strong pace at times, the team's key focus is to find improvements ahead of the third round of the championship this weekend in Finland.

Ultimately circumstances conspired against either reigning world champion Timmy Hansen and his younger brother, Kevin Hansen, from scoring a top result in round 1 on Saturday. Both drivers faced a similar fate at turn two, as Kevin was pushed wide into the joker lap in his semi-final and Timmy spun around in the final.

After overnight fine-tuning for the second round of the season in Holjes, Kevin got off to a much better start compared to his brother who started on the outside in Q1 and ultimately got caught in traffic. Whilst Kevin was consistently in the top five throughout the three qualifying sessions, Timmy worked his way out of the dropzone to ninth place, to qualify for the semi-finals.

Kevin Hansen had a much smoother run in the semi-final compared to his brother who got pushed wide by Andreas Bakkerud on lap one and took the joker lap. Whilst Marklund jokered to cover off Hansen. The GCK Bilstein driver emerged alongside Timmy and the two fought for track position with Hansen coming out on top. Timmy later recovered to fourth-place but after colliding with Andreas Bakkerud and Timur Timerzyanov in an attempt to get the final spot in the final, he was disqualified from the semi-final.

In the thrilling final, Kevin took the joker lap right behind Mattias Ekstrom on lap one in an attempt to jump traffic. A lap later, Robin Larsson, Timo Scheider, and Andreas Bakkerud took the joker lap. With a hard push, Kevin was able to jump Scheider and Bakkerud but emerged from the joker lap on par with Robin Larsson and the two fought all the way around the lap. On lap 5, Larsson ran into some trouble, and in a bold move around the outside of the KYB Team JC driver exiting the velodrome, Kevin took third place, which became second when Johan Kristoffersson was given a five-second penalty for a track marker infringement.

14-time European Rallycross Champion and team boss, Kenneth Hansen believes that despite struggling in some conditions on Saturday (season-opener) and encountering some unexpected issues, the team figured out the issues and were better prepared for the second round on Sunday. 

"I think we adapted very well. Kevin got into a good rhythm and his pace was very stable, pushing really hard. We weren't completely on the pace today (Sunday) but once we make some small adjustments, we'll be there," Kenneth Hansen said. "We continued to learn the upgrades we'd developed and tested; we didn't quite get that right [on Saturday] but today (Sunday) we started going in the right direction."

"I'm quite sure Timmy will be back at the front next weekend, especially as he struggled a bit with having to start on the outside for every race today, which isn't easy."

"We expected to have slightly better pace from the start but we've seen some small things in the car which changed its behaviour quite a lot. We also know that while Höljes is a home track for our team, it's also traditionally been quite a difficult one for us over the years."

The next stop in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship is Kouvola, Finland. A track that last featured on the World RX calendar in 2014, and an unknown for the teams and drivers, which poses a unique challenge. 

"It will be very interesting to try this car in Finland, to see how well it works around Kouvola, how much speed we can gain there, and how close we can be to the Volkswagen and Audis, with the hope that we'll really give them a fight next week," Kenneth said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday 24 August 2020

GRX Taneco face challenging weekend in Holjes.

The highly anticipated 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship finally got underway in Höljes-Sweden over the weekend. An event that was 8 months in the making after a delay due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

After a strong 2019 campaign, GRX Taneco were the team to beat on paper, but the season opener(s) in Sweden proved to be a real challenge for the GRX Taneco drivers Niclas Grönholm, Timur Timerzyanov, and Krisztián Szabó (GRX SET).

The first round at Höljes proved to be a real challenge for every team and driver in the paddock with weather conditions constantly changing. Grönholm progressed to the finals, whilst teammate Timerzyanov failed to make the cut. Krisztián Szabó in his GRX SET Hyundai also failed to get beyond the semi-finals. 

Just ahead of the final, the heavens opened above the Höljes track, which meant that team mechanics were rushing to make the neccessary tyre and set-up changes. Unfortunately, the GRX were unable to change the set-up on Grönholm's car. 

The Finn stalled at the start of the final, meaning he was unable to reach the podium and would finish in fourth-place on the day. 

As wished by most of the Championship drivers, Sunday at Höljes stayed dry and partly cloudly, making the racing conditions stable and equal for everyone. Unfortunately, the weather conditions didn’t bring any luck to the GRX Taneco drivers.

Throughout the three Qualifying heats and the Semi-final, Niclas was stuck in traffic and unable to show his true pace.

“We just couldn’t get the starts right, even though I had a decent reaction time and that impacted the overall result on track," Grönholm said. "It’s not clear yet, why it was like this, but we have just a few days to sort it out before the next round."

"Above all that we were just unlucky at times. We have made a step forward with the car overnight and it feels much better than yesterday, but there are still some things I would like to work on."

"Next week we will race in Finland and I want to perform there, as that will be my home race," he adds.

Timur Timerzyanov had decent pace in the first two Qualifying sessions, but struggled to climb up the standings and set eighth fastest time in both sessions. In Q3, the Russian suffered a driveshaft issue and finished last. Despite that, he was able to secure a spot in the Semi-final, where he was fighting for the place in the Final, but was not able to make it and finished in P4.

"The Semi-final was one of the most action-packed in my career with door-to-door racing and “elbows out” attitude. Unfortunately, it was not enough and I was still unable to make it to the Final," he said. 

"I am happy that finally this season has started, but obviously, we also have some things that we need to analyze and improve for the oncoming race at Kouvola – a track that has been out of the Championship for several years."

Racing under the banner GRX SET, Krisztián Szabó steadily improved from Q1 to Q3  finishing in P10, P7, and P6 that allowed him to score the highest intermediate result amongst the Hyundai drivers. 

The Hungarian shared the semi-final with Timerzyanov and crossed the finish line ahead of him, but was served a 5-second penalty for breaching the track limits, he dropped to fifth-place.

"I feel very satisfied with my weekend at Holjes," Szabó said. "I did my best to adapt to the car, I was able to keep a steady pace and fight for positions. For sure a Final would have been nice, but I take it step by step, I learn from Timur and Niclas and the experienced team around me."

Whlie FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to Finland for round 3 and 4 of the season, GRX Taneco have confirmed that Szabó will return for the third doubleheader in Riga, Latvia in September.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

"I’m really proud of our performance" - Andreas Bakkerud.

PHOTO: FIA World RX Media
The second round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, saw Andreas Bakkerud put down an impressive performance as he led the Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel into the final, only missing out on a podium spot due to a technical issue following contact in the earlier semi-final.

The Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel driver faced a number of setbacks in the opening round of the season on Saturday. It was no different for his teammate Liam Doran, who had a number of issues - prop shaft failure and driveshaft issues. 

It did not get any better on Sunday for the British Bomb who struggled with more technical gremlins as both prop shafts and the drive shaft broke leaving him without any gears or control and forced him to retire after Q3. 

Whilst Doran's weekend was plagued by issues, Bakkerud had a much better Sunday ranked third overall in the intermediate rankings after three qualifying heats. 

Despite damage in the semi-finals after contact with Timmy Hansen, Andreas showed his incredible driving skills defending and hanging onto P3 after coming under immense pressure from Hansen, Timur Timerzyanov, and Krisztian Szabo to progress to the final. 

Despite the team working hard to turn the Megane around in time for the final, the car’s broken driveshaft made a comeback in lap 2 of the final which meant Bakkerud had no chance to fight for a podium spot in Sweden, and ultimately finishing in sixth place.

"I’m really proud of our performance today," Bakkerud said. "We made massive steps and I can see where we’ll be able to go with the GCK Megane R.S. RX."

"I now hold the record for the only person having raced their way to the final in 5 different cars, so that’s not too bad either. I know we’re just a step or two away from the podium, so bring on Finland - I’m ready."

 Written By - Junaid Samodien

"You couldn't ask for more" as Kristoffersson walks away as Championship leader.

Johan Kristoffersson made an impressive return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Höljes-Sweden after a one-year hiatus from the championship. 

The double World Champion won the season-opening round in wet conditions by 4.201 seconds from Mattias Ekstrom. 

On Sunday morning Johan went on to win Q1 in the second part of the double-header. Whilst Mattias Ekström challenged hard and won the second qualifying session, but Johan restored his advantage in Q3 and finished as the top qualifier for the second time in two days.

In the semi-finals, Kristoffersson had a smooth run to the checkered flag after a great launch off the line.

"The launches were generally very good, both on dry and wet," Kristoffersson said.

In the final, the Swede had an average launch with Robin Larsson getting marginally ahead into turn one, but due to a tight left and right Kristoffersson was able to keep ahead and from there tactics came into play.

"I lost some time there but managed to take the lead", the 31-year-old Swede said.

With an early joker lap strategy and clean air, Ekstrom was able to close the gap to Kristoffersson. The pair were split by 2.174 seconds on the final lap, with Johan throwing caution to the wind and attacking the joker lap hitting two-track markers in the process earning him an automatic five-second time penalty.

Whilst Ekstrom emerged a few tenths ahead of Kristoffersson. The Swede went on the attack in an attempt to get past at the velodrome section, and the last corner but finished 0.194 seconds behind his rival and later dropped to third after the time penalty was applied. 

"I gave it all I had, but if you take the fight you have to be prepared to lose sometimes," he adds.

The double World Champion walks away from the Höljes doubleheader leading the championship by 2 points. 

"You couldn't ask for more. This was a really challenging weekend," Kristoffersson said. "Great fun to be back! And an incredibly good start to the season."

From Höljes it's straight off to Kouvola in Finland for the next doubleheader this weekend.

"We'll stay in the competition bubble now. On Tuesday we're on the ferry. Six days from now we have to be ready again."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Mattias Ekström to continue World RX comeback in Finland.

PHOTO CREDIT: JC Raceteknik.
2016 World Champion Mattias Ekström will remain with KYB Team JC for the second double-header of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Finland this weekend. 

Having retired from driving full-time at the end of the 2018 season, it became clear that Ekström has a renewed taste for rallycross after claiming his first rallycross win since 2017 in Sweden.  

The third and fourth rounds of the World RX will be held at Kouvola in Finland in the second double-header of the season in the space of eight days. 

In the first two rounds of the season, Ekström took a win and a second-place, and is currently second in the championship, two points off the lead and just ahead of teammate Robin Larsson. 

The Swede admitted that a full-time drive is unlikely as the condensed 2020 World RX season clashes with his other commitments, but hinted that "Finland, would be nice." 

Mattias Ekström will continue to partner Robin Larsson at KYB Team JC in Finland.

"It’s exciting to drive with KYB Team JC again in Finland. I've never been there and raced before, so I do not know what to expect from the track," Ekström said. "But, I look forward to another fantastic weekend with the team and go there with the same attitude as to Holjes - to do my best together with a good team."

Now that Ekström will continue his World RX comeback at the Kouvola circuit, having only initially planned to race at Holjes. KYB Team JC's goal is to continue picking up points in both the Drivers' and Teams’ World Championships this weekend.

"The idea from the beginning was that Mattias' entry would only be a one-off for Holjes, but now we have the opportunity to continue the cooperation in Finland too," Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal, said. "Mattias is very important in KYB Team JC, so getting him to race in the next two rounds feels really nice, both for Robin's sake and the whole team."

"We go to Finland with a victory and a second place in the bag, and a nice lead in the Teams’ Championship. We’ve all got the taste for that now, and the goal is to continue fighting for points in both the Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Sunday 23 August 2020

Ekström wins after thrilling battle with Kristoffersson.

Mattias Ekström has beaten Johan Kristoffersson in a thrilling six-lap straight fight for victory in the second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Holjes. 

The 2016 Champion has been Kristoffersson's biggest rival all weekend. Ekström admitted after round one (yesterday), that he could give Kristoffersson a proper run for his money in a straight fight. 

Ekström started on the second row of the grid after being beaten in semi-final 2 by his teammate Robin Larsson, whilst Kristoffersson started from pole having topped qualifying and winning his semi-final. 

In the final, Larsson had the best launch seeing him, and Kristoffersson fight for track position into turn one. Whilst they fought, Ekström opted for his first lap joker tactic that has worked for him all weekend and gained clean air with only Kevin Hansen behind. 

Larsson went on the attack in the early stages keeping Kristoffersson very honest at the front of the field, but by lap two, the chasing Swede, Timo Scheider, and Andreas Bakkerud took the joker lap. Thus promoting Mattias Ekström into second and clean air with no real distraction. 

From there he was able to post fastest lap after fastest lap reeling in Kristoffersson. On lap 4, Johan had a 2.175-second buffer to Mattias and on lap five responded with the fastest lap of the race to extend the gap to 2.711 seconds, but Mattias eeked closer taking a further four-tenths out of the round one winner. 

In an attempt to drag out a few more tenths, Kristoffersson pushed the limits of the joker lap, but the gap was not enough and he emerged behind Ekström. In a pursuit to try and muscle his way past, the double World Champion tried a number of different lines, but to no avail. 

The pair crossed the line split by 0.194s, but later Kristoffersson was handed a five-second time penalty for hitting two-track markers on the joker lap. 

"Today we made constant adjustments because of the weather, and I have to say that Robin [Larsson] was really contributing and did really good starts. He took me in the semi-final, but then I got clean air in the final, which was key to my win," Ekström said. "I had a clean run and the car worked fine. I heard the gaps to Johan and I could hear that I was reeling him in and then I knew just to bang every lap inch-perfect to beat him and it's quite a pleasure because it's quite a while since someone beat him in that car fair and square because it hasn't happened many times."

"We made a step over the last two years with them [KYB]. To win is what I love and today is a great win!"

Johan Kristoffersson was left with a big smile despite finishing in third-place. 

"It was such a fun final," he said. "First of all, Robin [Larsson] had a good start from there on we had a little bit of a wiggle, so lost a little bit of time in the beginning and then started to push and getting into the rhythm. The car was working fine, so I am happy with that. Then I got the gap to Mattias and I heard that he was really close and then I heard no the radio that I really need to push. Then I got told that I increased the gap a little bit and I am not sure if it was correct or not, and then I had the joker and I knew that I would have to do everything in the joker and I actually cut both the pillars and I was meant to do one, but it turned out to be two and then got a five-second penalty. That was a fight to enjoy!"

Despite his mighty charge in the opening laps, Robin Larsson slowed into the velodrome section, and Kevin Hansen took third with a ballsy outside move soon followed by Timo Scheider. 

"I was there all day challenging the guys ahead a bit, but just not quite enough," Kevin Hansen said. "Then I took advantage of Robin's mistake in the final, and I think it was a pretty bold move around the top (outside) when I did it. I was like... what am I doing? Am I completely crazy or what? It was mega fun. And to get home from Holjes with a podium is great. It's a good start for the team, but we need to keep working hard because we have two fast guys to beat."

The 2019 EuroRX Champion ended the final in fifth, while Andreas Bakkerud brought it home in a distant sixth +31.949 seconds behind Ekström.

A heated battle in semi-final two saw reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen, Timur Timerzyanov, and Anton Marklund not making the cut. 

Timmy Hansen was later disqualified "unsportsmanlike behavior during competition" after pushing both Bakkerud and Timerzyanov in semi-final 2. 

Niclas Gronholm, Krisztian Szabo, and Anton Marklund also failed to advance to the finals. 

The question on everyone's lips after the thrilling final is: Will Mattias Ekström return for the full-season after winning in Sweden? 

"It was only planned for here [In Sweden]," Ekström said. "I will speak to Joel [Christoffersson] when I get back [to the garage]. I still have other commitments, which is clashing with other weekends. Finland, I admit would be nice, but then afterward it looks really difficult unless some of my bosses, friends or partners would like to contribute for me to continue, but for the time being that is not the plan."

Written By Junaid Samodien 

Kristoffersson takes second straight TQ in Holjes.

There's just no stopping the double FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson, who has taken the TQ (top qualifier) position for round two of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship season in Holjes-Sweden.

Kristoffersson took the quickest times in Q1 and Q3 in Holjes. 

Whilst from the outside it might have looked like smooth sailing for the double World Champion, but once again he was made to work for it after Mattias Ekstrom was quickest in Q2 to briefly topped the intermediate classification. 

With an alternative strategy in Q3 Race 4, Ekstrom immediately took the joker lap, a tactic he used throughout the qualifying races. Unfortunately, it did not work for him this time around as he came out behind Anton Marklund and could only get past his fellow countrymen once he took the joker lap on the final lap of the race. 

Kristoffersson crossed the finish line over a second ahead of Ekstrom to clinch his second straight top qualifiers spot.  

"We had a good start again, and I could get out first. From there on the car felt much better than it did in Q2. We didn't really have the pace there. But I was not really sure about the pace of Mattias [Ekstrom] because he was very fast in Q2, but it's so nice and your adrenaline is pumping when you have the nice fights with Mattias," Kristoffersson said. "I am really enjoying it!"

After a disappointing first-round for Andreas Bakkerud. The Swede has shown a glimmer of promise with fifth overall finish after Q2, but with a strong drive in Q3, he was able to jump up the order to third overall in the intermediate standings. 

Bakkerud's teammate on the other hand has had another tough day filled with mechanical issues despite leading most of his qualifying races only to have it slip away due to issues with his Renault Megane R.S. RX. 

KYB Team JC's Robin Larsson has taken the fight to Marklund and the Hansen brothers seeing him in fourth overall ahead of Kevin Hansen (Team Hansen RX) and Krisztian Szabo for GRX SET. 

And after a strong performance from Anton Marklund in round 1 (yesterday). The Swede finds himself in seventh with ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider in eighth after claiming two qualifying heat race wins.

Reigning World RX champion Timmy Hansen finds himself ninth-place struggling with the balance of his car, and not having the best position on the grip to capitalize on the ultimate pace of his Peugeot 208 WRX.

A fast Niclas Gronholm finds himself right down the order after getting stuck in traffic, while GRX Taneco teammate Timur Timerzyanov drops down the order to eleventh overall after a mechanical issue in Q3.

Scheider's team boss Rene Munnich brings up the rear with a strong performance in Q3 Race 2 finishing in second behind Scheider. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Saturday 22 August 2020

Kristoffersson wins on return in wet-weather masterclass.

Two-time World Champion Johan Kristoffersson picks up where he left off one year ago, by winning the 2020 Swecon World Rallycross of Sweden (round 1). 

Kristoffersson did what he does best and made it look effortless by winning all but one qualifying session. But it was not all smooth sailing for the Swede, as Mattias Ekstrom fought back to win Q2 with smart team tactics. 

The semi-final was a similar affair with Johan and Mattias battling at the front and winning their respective semi-finals, which meant they would start alongside each other in finals. 

To spice things up, the heavens opened just before the final, which meant teams were forced to make quick set-up changes and tyre selections. Moments later the rain stopped and the racing resumed.

Johan took the hole shot off the line with Ekstrom in second. While a close fight behind saw Marklund and Hansen collided sending the 2019 champion into a spin, and while Hansen lost out Marklund hung onto third with Timo Scheider right behind in fourth. 

Once Timmy got it all gathered up he was joined in the joker lap by Niclas Gronholm who was left on the line after stalling his car. On lap 4 of 6, Hansen's race ended prematurely in the gravel.

As the final progressed Johan was able to inch away from Ekstrom, lap after lap eventually crossing the finish line 5 seconds ahead of Mattias Ekstrom, Anton Marklund, Timo Scheider, and Niclas Gronholm. 

"I think these conditions have been the trickiest that we could get when we came back to rallycross. The weather was changing all day. You are always trying to do your best, but not really sure," Kristoffersson said. 

"The conditions like this when you come back and not 100% confident, but after the semi-final, I felt pretty good and in the final, I dropped the clutch the launch was so good, and from there on I felt okay. Then I just had to do my laps and it's such a big advantage to have a clear windscreen and then from there six good laps." 

The double World RX champion says he is happy to have ended on a high in WTCR after winning in tricky wet conditions from P22 and returns to World Rallycross with a win in similar conditions.

"It feels good, but I am also happy with the win at Sepang (in the wet) with WTCR and started with a win in World RX. So, it ended on a high [in WTCR], and starts on a high [In World RX]," he adds. 

Whilst Kristoffersson dominated the rain-hit final, Mattias Ekstrom is happy with a second-place finish but says he would have given Johan a proper run for his money in the final. 

"P2, you can't be satisfied in one way. But 10 or 15 days ago, I got to know that I will drive here, and to have a good day and good pace, I couldn't ask for more," Ekstrom said.

"I wouldn't have expected that, but I was hoping for it to stay dry [in the final] because we had a full dry set-up, and I was hoping to give Johan [Kristoffersson] a battle. In the end, we didn't have the right boots on the car for the final, but Johan did everything right and his very good in the race and knows that I can give him a run for his money when we are all equal. Congratulations to him. They did well!"

Following the World RX final, the stewards determined that Anton Marklund "did not respect the car on the right-hand side of turn 2" and thus handing the GCK Bilstein driver a 30-second time penalty demoting him to fifth-place overall. Whilst Munnich Motorsport's Timo Scheider was promoted to a podium finish in his Seat Ibiza. 

2019 runner-up Andreas Bakkerud and teammate Liam Doran, had a torrid day. The latter suffered with a broken propshaft, which caused significant damage to his Renault Megane. While Andreas Bakkerud had a number of problems throughout the qualifiers stalling in Q1, a slightly better start saw him finish second in Q2, and the Norweigan finally won his third qualifying heat. They ended day one in thirteenth and seventeenth respectively. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien