Wednesday 23 September 2020

Mixed emotions for Team Hansen in Latvia

Team Hansen have not had the start to season that they had hoped for after being crowned World Champions in 2019. 

But it's not all doom and gloom, as both Hansen brothers have stepped onto the podium this season, Kevin with a second place in Sweden and Timmy with two third-place finish in Finland and Latvia.

This season has been rather tough forTeam Hansen as they have struggled with starts, grip and set-ups, but there have been glimpses of pace which still needs to be unlocked. On Sunday (round six), Kevin set the unofficial lap record at the Bikerneiki Sports Complex - a 48.098 second lap to show the team's potential. 

Round five of the championship on Saturday saw Timmy claim a third-place finish, while his teammate and younger brother Kevin brought his Peugeot 208 across the line in fourth-place.

Being a double-header weekend, Sunday saw all the teams take to the track for the sixth round of the championship, but the smallest of margins meant Timmy would not claim another podium finish, rather he would take home a fourth-place finish with Kevin making the cut after Timo Scheider was disqualified for an incident with Andreas Bakkerud. He would cross the finish line in sixth. 

The reigning world champion won two of his qualifying races, in Q1 and Q3, to qualify fourth overall and pick up a front row start for the semi-final. A straightforward lights-to-flag run in second place in the second semi-final meant a second-row grid slot for the final, though Timmy was beaten to turn one by both Niclas Grönholm and Robin Larsson and fell to fifth-place.

The fightback began quickly, with Timmy taking the joker on lap one and turning in a sequence of fast laps to put himself back in contention for a podium finish. Sensing the danger, Larsson took the joker [lap] on lap three, only just managing to get out ahead of Timmy as he covered the inside line on the exit of the last corner.

While Timmy missed out on a podium finish he proved a point by snatching fourth from Grönholm on the last lap, sweeping around the outside of the final corner as the Finn emerged from his joker lap.

"In general this weekend I'm extremely happy with what we delivered and the results we got," Timmy Hansen said. "With the pace we had and the launches we had, this was the maximum we could achieve. The team hasn't made a single mistake all weekend, and I haven't made any mistakes on track, so we extracted everything we had."

"That said, we also want more, we want to be able to fight for the top step on the podium. To do that, we need to take one more step with the whole package that we have. There have been good signs but we need to put it together."

"Our launches were better today and the car was better this weekend in general, so we're taking steps. But it's not easy at this level to gain everything that you need to suddenly be at the front." 

"It's about making little steps and this weekend we took several little steps. It's a hard game, we're a small team, but I believe in the crew we have and we'll keep on fighting," he adds.

While Kevin Hansen only made it to the final after Timo Scheider was disqualified. He had nothing to lose and repeated his strategy from the day before, swinging the car out wide on the outside, which had given him second on the track a day earlier. It didn’t quite work this time around, he tucked in behind Timmy into turn three.

There was still pace on display as he caught Grönholm towards the end of the race, but couldn’t find a way past and finished in sixth.

"I feel I have more and can do more, but the starts still aren't quite there. We're lacking a really small amount of pace, not much at all, but it's tough because it makes a big difference to the result," Kevin Hansen said. 

"We did the maximum possible and I still have a very good feeling with the car, which is a great positive, having that full confidence and not making any mistakes. Being in scenario two for FIA Covid-19 protocols this weekend meant we were able to bring Eric Färén with us as an extra team member to help us even more, which has been useful as well."

"It was very disappointing not to get through my semi-final on speed; I felt I had more speed than both Larsson and Grönholm," he adds. "I went to the pre-grid for the final even though I was sure I wouldn't be the one called up if a grid slot opened, so I'm very surprised they called me in. But understanding the rules afterward, going to pre-grid was a great choice!"

“I was a bit more relaxed than I usually am before a race so it took me about a lap to get fully back into my rhythm again. I feel like I had a good run in the final, even if I was maybe a little too aggressive at the first corner. But when you are starting last, there's nothing to lose of course."

Kenneth Hansen, the team principal of Team Hansen admits that his team can learn from their performance in Riga (Latvia), and aim to take a step forward in Spain in a few weeks time. He adds that Team Hansen will not give up just yet. 

"We need to look at what happened, what we learned, and find some further progression before heading to Spain in a few week's time," Hansen said. 

"It's very close this year and we don't have quite the level of performance we would wish for, but we don't give up. We're definitely pushing to get to the front and fight for wins again."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Ekström hopes to return, while KYB Team JC claim double podium in Lativa.

Mattias Ekström claimed his twelfth career victory at the Neste World RX of Riga (Latvia) at round six of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, to remain in contention for a potential second title. 

It was another relatively strong weekend for KYB Team JC in Riga-Latvia. On Saturday (round five), both drivers made the final, while Mattias finished second after winning his semi-final and Robin Larsson brought his Audi S1 across the line in sixth. 

Whilst round five wasn't an ideal result for the team, they worked hard overnight and found some improvements, as KYB Team JC claimed there first-ever double World RX podium finish, with Mattias on the top step and Larsson in third-place. 

"What a fantastic result. We had a good day on Saturday, but we struggled a bit with the tyres, so it was good to get a P2 and both cars in the final," Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC Team Principal said. 

"We had a good debrief overnight and really put our heads together to try and find a setup to try to manage the tyres as well as possible. We worked late, and today it paid off. We had the pace in the morning and through the day, the semi-final went just as we planned, and then in the final, I was a little curious about how Robin wold get on because we didn’t have as many new tyres for him as we did for Mattias, but it was such a nice feeling to get both cars on the podium."

"I’m almost happier for Robin than Mattias because we have worked so hard with Robin and he’s driven so well but we’ve never had the last luck to be on the podium," Christoffersson adds. "Now finally he could step up there and it’s a huge relief for him. It’s so nice to have two top drivers in the team and it’s fun to be looking at the points in both championships."

Joel Christoffersson hopes that Mattias can complete the season with his team.

"There aren't many races left still and I guess I need to call Mattias and try to discuss what we can do in the future. Hopefully, CUPRA and ABT can let us have him back again," he said.

Ekström made a surprising return to World RX this season with KYB Team JC and has brought the team to the forefront with his wise tactical decisions and setups skills. It's also worth noting that the Audi S1 Quattro was built for him by Audi Sport in 2018. 

The 2016 World Champion took a maximum points haul on Sunday at the Bikerneiki Sports Complex to close the gap to World RX Championship leader Johan Kristoffersson to 17 points.

For the first time in 2020, championship leader Johan Kristoffersson did not win a qualifying session. The only time Ekström was beaten throughout the day was by teammate Robin Larsson in Q3. 

"For me, Sunday in Riga turned out very special, after being dead last in the Q1 grid draw really means having no draw at all, just to take the place that’s left over. It was feeling like a big challenge, but after a good start and a clean Q1, that was the base for our weekend," Ekström said. "Then to win again in Q2 was another key. For Q3 we were just doing tyre management to save the best for the semi-final and final. That was a big strategic thing." 

"I can’t say about enough about our starts because that was a key to success too. Robin finished P2 in the semi-final which was very good and important points for the team, and then the final battle with Johan, such a close race from the start into the first corner and all the laps he was on my bumper. I did no mistakes and in the end, finished in front. It felt amazing and probably one of the best victories."

Heading into the Latvian double-header, Ekström was announced as the first driver for CUPRA's entry into Extreme E next year and was given permission by ABT and CUPRA to race in Riga. 

"I can’t wait to go home and digest this one and to call the guys at CUPRA and ABT to say thanks for the permission to come here and do this race, and I will also ask for permission to go to the next races," the Swede said. "I hope I will be able to give an update on this soon because that’s what the team wants and what I want also."

Reigning Euro RX and RallyX Nordic Champion Robin Larsson used a good race strategy to finish in third place, his first World RX podium with KYB Team JC, which moved him up to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.

"I didn’t expect to be as high in the Intermediate Classification on Sunday after the tiny mistake in Q2. We had to use four new tyres in Q3 to go for it to get the fastest time. It went well, and made up a bit for the really disappointing Q2," Larsson said. 

"I knew then we couldn’t fight for the win when we used those tyres because you need them so much at the end, so I just tried to be behind Mattias in the semi, and it ended up really well in the final with Niclas Gronholm behind and I could really push on the lap that we took the joker."

"I’m more relieved than happy, that we could show pace, especially for me on this track, I’ve never been fast here and struggled before a lot," he adds. "I’ve tried to look at Mattias and the v-Box and everything to get as much data as I could. I’m really happy for Mattias and the team for the double podium. Finally!"

The next two rounds of World RX championship takes place in Barcelona, Spain on October 17-18. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 22 September 2020

We weren't 'quite strong enough' - Anton Marklund.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
It's been a season of ups-and-downs for all the GCK run teams in 2020, and it was no different for Anton Marklund in Riga, Latvia, as he failed to make the final in rounds 5 and 6 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

The fifth round of the World Rallycross Championship was a difficult one for the Swede who was languishing in 16th overall after the first qualifier, but he was able to work his way up to 14th overall after the second and three qualifying sessions, which meant that he would not progress to the semi-finals or final. 

Day 2 of the double-header event was slightly better for Marklund. In Q1, he posted the 10th faster time followed up by the ninth fastest time in Q2, and the eleventh fastest time in Q3, booking him a spot in the semi-finals. 

On row 3 in semi-final 2 following action into turn 1 pushing through from the back, Anton took the joker [lap] straight away. He then fought his way into fifth place, and on lap 6, the race was red-flagged following a big shunt for Andreas Bakkerud after contact with Timo Scheider. Scheider was later disqualified for contact with Bakkerud, resulting in a fourth-place finish in the semi-finals for Marklund, and he would go no further. 

"We’ve been working very hard on the car this weekend and everyone on the team had to absolutely put their everything in to try and mitigate some of the niggles that already reared their heads yesterday. We started to pick up some pace in the end but it wasn’t quite strong enough," Marklund said. 

"The semi-final had us finish in 4th due to Scheider’s disqualification, however, as a result of the race having been red-flagged, the previous lap’s standings stood and Andreas would’ve got the grid spot and of course was unable to so Kevin Hansen took the spot in the final ahead of me. A close call to the final but it wasn’t to be today [Sunday]."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

UNKORRUPTED uses Latvian double-header to gather information.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition.
UNKORRUPTED has used the Neste World RX of Riga (Latvia) as a test session after a poor start to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship. 

The French squad had high expectations heading into the 2020 World RX season after making significant changes to the Renault Clio R.S. RX that made it's debut in 2019. However, there expectations were not matched with on track performance. 

The fifth and sixth rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Latvia was used as a test event, as the UNKORRUPTED crew trialled differential changes and tweaks to the set up in order to gather data for post-event analysis. 

To date, Rokas Baciuksa has claimed the team's best result, an 11th-place finish at round one of the championship in Holjes, Sweden. Fast forward to Riga-Latvia, rounds five and six saw the pair leading the tail end of the field in 15th and 16th respectively. 

Team founder and driver Guerlain Chicherit admitted that it was difficult heading into the weekend knowing that he would not be competitive.

"As an athlete, for sure it’s tough to turn up when you’re not fighting for the top but motorsport is not easy, and it was important to get this weekend’s runs to gather enough information and test the changes made ahead of our pre-Barcelona testing," Chicherit said. "I’m really grateful to the mechanics and the rest of the team, they just keep pushing on despite frustrations as we try to learn as much as possible in what is an incredibly short, hectic season this year."

"I’m really happy to see the work I’ve put in over the off-season on my own driving style come through as we can see it’s got much cleaner. Now I hope we make some progress ahead of Barcelona to see it come together."

Teammate Rokas Baciuska has also been left frustrated despite earning the teams' best result of the season to date in Holjes, Sweden. 

"A weekend like this is hard because I want to race to win but we knew it was going to be a data-finding exercise and need to focus on the changes we can make and the improvements we can find," the Lithuanian driver said. 

Ahead of round seven and eight in Barcelona, Spain, the UNKORRUPTED team will analyse all the data obtained in Latvia to integrate it into a test programme planned for the next few weeks.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

"We still have some work to do" - Niclas Grönholm.

The 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship has been filled with ups-and-downs for early championship favourites, GRX Taneco. 

And, despite a win in Kouvola-Finland, the Finnish squad still has a long way to go to beat the likes of Johan Kristoffersson and Mattias Ekström [KYB Team JC]. After six rounds, there have been glimpses of pace, while GRX SET's Juha Rytkonen showed the true pace of the Hyundai i20 after a magnificent performance in Kouvola. 

The fifth round of the championship, also held in Riga, Latvia, saw Niclas Grönholm claim the top qualifiers spot. Lining up alongside, Ekström in the semi-final, the 2016 Champion had a much better launch with Niclas making it into turn two in second-place where he would finish the race. 

While teammate Timur Timerzyanov did not have a good start in semi-final two and got through turn two in fourth-place. However, it went from bad to worse when the Russian got a knock on the rear, which damaged his rear suspension and meant he was crabbing around the track fighting to keep his Hyundai going in a straight line. He  finished the semi-final in fifth-place. 

The round five final was a heated affair with six drivers jostling for position, while the 24-year-old Finn came out of turn two in fourth-place. And, later on in the final, Niclas was faster than Kevin Hansen and tried an alternative line to get past the young Swede. But luck was not on his side and he hit a barrier. Grönholm crossed the finish line 6.275 seconds behind Kevin in fifth-place. 

Sunday (round six) was slightly more challenging for GRX Taneco, with both drivers in fifth and ninth after three qualifying sessions. Niclas progressed to the semi-finals, while Timur could only manage a fifth-place finish. In the final, the Finn claimed a fifth-place finish. 

"Quali runs were up-and-down again and starting from the outside didn’t help. I had a quite good start in the Final and came out of the first turn as fourth," Grönholm said. "I managed to keep up with the frontrunners for a couple of laps, but eventually my tires overheated and I lost the pace."

"We came here well prepared and with high expectations, but couldn’t capitalize on that. The car was better than in first races of the season, but we still have some work to do."

Despite some good clean runs in qualifying, Timur wasn't able to achieve his plan of making it into the Semi-fiinal, and ended round six in eighth-place. 

"P5 in the Semi-final was not the result I was hoping for, especially after the good and clean run in Q2, where I finished 4th," Timerzyanov said. "We had a plan for the Semi-final, but it didn’t play out as we anticipated and even though I was driving as fast as possible, it was not enough to proceed to the Final."

Jussi Pinomäki, GRX Taneco Team Manager adds that it has been a frustrating weekend in Latvia, but admits that his team needs to keep working and improving throughout the season to reach the level of their rivals. 

"This weekend in Riga was a difficult and sometimes even a frustrating one, but I know that everyone in the team did their best and I am proud of them," Pinomäki said. "For sure we would have wanted a better result, but races in Riga prove the level of the sport and that we have to keep working and improving throughout the whole season."

Krisztian Szabo in the third Hyundai i20 run by GRX SET had a topsy turvy weekend, and while Saturday (round 5) was much smoother. Sunday (round six) saw the Hungarian's car catch alight in Q2 due to a broken manifold. The GRX team was able repair the car and got him out for the remainder of the weekend where he was able to finish in sixth-place in the semi-finals. 

"I was missing a couple of tenths here and there comparing to yesterday and I can’t really explain why it was like that. Still, I reached the Semi-final and I am satisfied with this result, especially after the thrilling Q2 session," Szabo said. "In Q2 I noticed smoke inside of the car, but I kept going until, on the last lap, when an actual fire came into cockpit and I was forced to stop. Mechanics did an unbelievable job, getting the car ready for Q3, where I set the 5thfastest time."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Monday 21 September 2020

Bakkerud appreciates safety equipment in Mégane after 120km/h crash.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
Andreas Bakkerud was given the all-clear on Sunday evening following a heavy crash in the semi-finals of round six of the World Rallycross Championship in Riga-Latvia.

The 2019 World RX runner-up came wheel-to-wheel with Timo Scheider as the German emerged from the joker lap at the end of lap five, and while Scheider was able to keep the Norweigian behind. On the last lap, Andreas saw a gap and went for the overtake on the inside of the German but in the short run to turn five, Scheider defended and squeezed him into the grass bank with significant impact, that tore the front-left corner off the GCK Mégane R.S. RX. He was immediately helped from the car by marshals and taken to the hospital for further evaluation, and was released on Sunday evening. 

Scheider finished the semi-final in third-place, but was later disqualified by the FIA Stewards for "unsportsmanlike" behavior. 

Bakkerud has not had the smoothest of seasons with GC Kompetition, but put his Renault Mégane in sixth-place overall after the three qualifiers, and progressed to the semi-finals where his weekend abruptly ended. He finished round 6 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in seventh overall. 

"Today was really a day about consistency for us in Riga and the target was the podium for sure," Bakkerud said. "I felt we were strong in Q1 and Q2 especially, then we struggled a bit in Q3, got safely to the semi-finals, and saw a lot of action there."

The Norwegian talks us through what happened in the semi-final, including the heavy 120km/h shunt.  

"First following the start which had us pushed out but then I caught up to Scheider twice and knew I had the opportunity to overtake him. I saw him break a little late to defend and I took a wider line, cut back to then take the inside line," he explained. "Then I just felt one big punch into the front side of my car that changed its direction entirely and hit the barrier on the left doing 120km/h at the time. There were parts everywhere and I literally just closed my eyes hoping that Marklund and Doran would avoid me."

"At that speed, you never know what can happen. The track medical team did a great job and the Riga hospital did a lot of tests on me, which I really appreciate."

"It’s moments like this that you appreciate the work we’ve done on our safety equipment in the Megane, the seatbelts, our hybrid device, the helmet, and so on - you sometimes take it for granted but now I’m just happy that we use safety equipment that is well proven and of great quality."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson pleased despite not extending championship lead in Riga.

It wasn't a race victory on Sunday, but Johan Kristoffersson is pleased with his overall weekend in Riga-Latvia, as he maintains a seventeen point lead in the World Rallycross Championship. 

The double world champion took this third win of the season in round 5 of the championship on Saturday, and did not get off to a good start on Sunday. Championship rival Mattias Ekström dominated the qualifying sessions to earn the top qualifiers spot, but Johan is happy with his weekend in Latvia. 

"Two more races are done and not so many points left to fight for," Kristoffersson said. 

The double-header at the Bikernieki National Sports Base became a tyre strategy mind game. And, while Kristoffersson gambled in the qualifying sessions on Saturday, battling his way through on mostly used tyres, he finished second in the Intermediate Classification (after qualifying) and picked up fifteen points.

In the semi-final, he had fresh tyres and showed his great pace, winning in style.

"[The win] was the reward for the fight in Q2 and Q3," he said.

He went on to take a convincing victory on Saturday to claim his third win of the season.

Round six (on Sunday) saw, Kristoffersson fighting to earn the top spot. However, he came out second-best behind Mattias Ekström.

"The fight was all the way to the end, but really the biggest chance for victory today was in Q1. When I didn’t manage to take the start there, in Q2 I didn’t manage to beat Mattias again, and then I knew he already had a good tyre strategy then for Q3. I was on the back foot from thereon," the Kristoffersson Motorsport driver said.

In semi-final two, he started from pole position and won fairly easily, and for the final, he lined up alongside Ekström who was on pole position with new tyres on both cars.

"We were very aggressive on the tyres in the semi-final so I had four new tyres for the final the same as Mattias, I had a good launch, but so did Mattias. Then there was not much more to do," he said. 

"I was on the outside for turn one, and thereafter I just had to follow him, saving as many tyres as I could for five laps before the joker, but there was a little too much argy-bargy with Grönholm at the joker merge and during the lap, so I couldn’t really challenge Mattias at the last corner. But, I picked up as many points as I could, without winning, so I can't be disappointed."

Kristoffersson took 29 points from round five on Saturday and 26 more points from round six (on Sunday) with a total of 55 from the weekend, the same as Ekström, which sees the two split by seventeen points in the championship standings with four rounds remaining.

"I have only lost 14 points from six races," Johan adds.

The duel between Kristoffersson and Ekström is set to continue in Spain in four weeks' time, at another double-header.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Saturday 19 September 2020

Kristoffersson extends championship lead with dominant win in Latvia.

Johan Kristoffersson took his 23rd career victory of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Riga-Latvia, after a well-executed tyre strategy. 

Despite posting the fastest time in Q1, Kristoffersson used an alternate tyre strategy, which put in on the back foot against his rivals in Q3 (on new tyres). But the Swede would have the upperhand in the semi-final and final with five new tyres. He finished the three qualifying heats in second-place overall behind Niclas Gronholm (in the immediate classification) and rubber stamped a place in the semi-finals. 

Semi-final one saw Mattias Ekstrom start on used tyres, but that was no disadvantage for the Swede, as he immediately sweeped around the outside and into the lead after a good start, and he would control the race all the way to the checkered flag. 

While Johan Kristoffersson unleashed three new tyres (two on the front and one on the left rear). He had a superb launch off the line and led from start to finish. And, that was not all... he also produced the fastest lap of the day, a 48.391 second lap. 

Starting on pole position for the final, Kristoffersson was the only driver with new tyres (front tyres) and had a good launch off the line, only to be challenged by KYB Team JC's Robin Larsson who clipped the rear of Johan's Polo supercar, then was spun around the front of Mattias Ekstrom. While Kevin Hansen sweeped around the outside of Ekstrom to claimed P2 after the 2016 champion backed off due to the turn two melee. Facing the wrong way at turn two, Larsson was hit by Gronholm who was intern hit by Timmy Hansen. 

Clear from all the bumping and grinding behind, Kristoffersson pulled a two-second gap to pursuing Kevin [Hansen] who tried to make an impact, but with an early joker lap strategy. The Team Hansen driver would fall behind Mattias Ekstrom, and would ultimately finish behind his older brother Timmy Hansen. 

The untouchable Kristoffersson crossed line 3.468 seconds ahead of Mattias Ekstrom and Timmy Hansen, to claim his third win of the 2020 World RX season and also extend his Championship lead to 21 points.

"This feels very good. We were really pushing hard in Q2 and Q3, I was not really able to pull off the best times, but instead we had some good tyres for the semi-final and final so I think we had a big jump on our competitors or terms of tyres, then we had two good starts, and everything is much easier when you have fresh tyres," Kristoffersson said. "Big thanks to the team, we made some changes between Q3 and the semi-final and it actually made the car better so that feels good to gamble and go in the right direction."

Ekstrom’s second-place finish in Riga-Lativia is his 25th podium finish of his career and he admits that in order to beat Johan Kristoffersson, he needs to be spot on with everything he does. 

"The first corner of the final was a little bit too exciting, I don’t know exactly what happened to Robin, we’ll have to watch the television, but it was a bit messy and after I drove as fast as I could behind Kevin. After he jokered I had a clear track and ended up P2. For sure that was not our wish when we came here, we wanted to win but during qualifying we were not good enough so we couldn’t do good enough starts so we couldn’t be at the front in Q1 and Q2," Ekstrom said.

"When you’re on the back foot then you have to try and recover and I think P2 is a good recovery, but you need to be spot on to win these races especially when the other guys are in top shape as well."

Timmy Hansen's third-place finish meant it was an all-Swedish top three and also ensured that the podium was filled by World RX Drivers’ Champions (Kristoffersson 2017-18, Ekstrom 2016, Hansen 2019).

The Team Hansen driver is rather pleased with a podium finish after a hard-fought day in Riga. "We had a tough day. We see glimpses of really good performance, some good launches and I’ve been fastest on lap time many times today, but you know when you’re not upfront then it’s not easy," he said. "We need to improve those launches so we can be at the front of the races from the beginning. I must say coming in third is really good and I’m super happy about that. The team has worked so hard and it is paying off, but at this level, it’s a slow process to gain speed, but I’m quite confident tomorrow will be even better."

Kevin Hansen brought his Peugeot 208 across the line in fourth-place after avoiding the turn two melee but was unable to make inroads on Kristoffersson or Ekstrom, while top qualifier Niclas Gronholm finished in fifth followed by Robin Larsson in sixth-place.

While Johan [Kristoffersson] has a 100% record of converting front row starts to victories on Saturday's, he is yet to win an event on Sunday [double-header], and thus could be called a Saturday man. However, if he is able to put it all together on a Sunday, he will climb onto the top step of the podium. 

Despite winning this afternoon in Riga-Lativa, the Swede will already have a plan for the sixth round six the FIA World Rallycross Championship tomorrow at the Bikernieki track in Latvia.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Grönholm edges Kristoffersson to take TQ.

Niclas Grönholm has edged Johan Kristoffersson to take the TQ (top qualifier) position in round five of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at the Neste World RX of Riga-Latvia. 

Kristoffersson was quickest in Q1, and despite being on pole position in Q2, he was beaten off the line by Grönholm who topped Q2. 

On the high grip Bikernieki track, tactics came into play in Q3 with master tactician Mattias Ekström bolting on four new tyres, and with a marginally stronger start squeezed into the lead and from there he was untouchable. The Swede went on to post the fastest lap of the day - 48.443s.

With the fastest drivers (after Q2) lining-up in the final Q3 race, Robin Larsson followed his KYB Team JC teammate and bolted on four new tyres along with Niclas Grönholm who took two new front tyres

Larsson starting in fourth (outside line) slotted into the lead in turn one ahead of Grönholm, while Kristoffersson was left on the line. The double world champion recovered to third but had to get his elbows and muscled his way past Krisztian Szabo on lap one. 

And, with clean air and fresher tyres, Larsson won Q3 Race 4 ahead of Grönholm and Kristoffersson, which in the end meant. The GRX Taneco driver would edge Kristoffersson to the top qualifiers spot by two intermediate points. 

Can Johan Kristoffersson fight back after just missing out on the TQ? He certainly has a chance, as he will start on pole position for semi-final two, and with four new tyres available he stands a good chance. 

For the first time in 2020, both Monster Energy RX Cartel drivers will progress to the semi-finals despite some issues in Q2. Liam Doran finds himself in eighth ahead of Andreas Bakkerud in ninth. 

Whilst the battle for top honors is rather close at the front, bowing out after three qualifying sessions are: Timo Scheider, Anton Marklund, and the UNKORRUPTED pair of Guerlain Chicherit and Rokas Baciuska along with Ferratum Team's Jani Paasonen who suffered with engine failure in Q2.  
Written By - Junaid Samodien

Friday 18 September 2020

PREVIEW: The forests of Bikernieki will come alive to the sound of World RX.

After four thrilling rounds, the FIA World Rallycross Championship is back! This time around the action-packed championship heads to the Latvian capital, Riga for rounds five and six.  

And, guess what? For the first time this season, spectators will be allowed to attend a World RX event, but in limited numbers though (a maximum 3000) with strict coronavirus control measures in place. 

The Neste World Rallycross of Riga 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. 


The start to the season was initially delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but thus far four championships rounds have been completed across two venues; Holjes (Sweden) and Kouvola (Finland). 

Returning double world champion Johan Kristoffersson has led from the front, and has established a healthy 17-point lead at the top of the championship standings, his closest rival being Mattias Ekstrom. 

Ekstrom (the 2016 World Champion) has returned to the championship this year with KYB Team JC after Jānis Baumanis was hit by financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Swede claimed victory at round two of the championship on home soil and has firmly cemented himself in championship contention (second-place overall). 

Earlier this week, KYB Team JC announced that Ekstrom will return for the Latvian double-header alongside Robin Larsson who is currently sixth in the championship. 

Finn Niclas Gronholm heads to Latvia with a good boost after winning his home round in Kouvola and currently holds third place in the drivers' standings. His teammate, Timur Timerzyanov who is currently in tenth-place, is hoping for better pace this weekend. 

While reigning world champion Timmy Hansen has not had the start to the season that he had expected but hopes to take steps forward this weekend after three days of testing in Sweden. Timmy and younger brother Kevin Hansen are currently in fourth and fifth place in the standings. 

Timo Scheider (ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport) claimed a third-place finish in Sweden (round 1) and is placed seventh after being in the final at three of the first four rounds. His teammate Rene Muennich has had a more difficult start to the year and is 16th after four rounds.

Andreas Bakkerud has also had a tough start to the season, but has made it to the final in rounds two and four and is eight in the standings, while his Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel teammate Liam Doran will be hoping for better fortunes in Latvia after suffering from a series of technical issues, which sees the Brit bringing up the rear in 21st place. 

GCK Bilstein's Anton Marklund had a strong start to the season in Sweden, but faded away in Kouvola, claiming an 11th and 12th place finish, which sees him currently placed ninth, while the UNKORRUPTED pairing of Rokas Baciuska and Guerlain Chicherit will be aiming for stronger results in their newly developed Renault Clio R.S. RX supercars. 

Jani Paasonen is back for more in his Ferratum Team’s Ford Fiesta as is Krisztian Szabo who raced in Sweden and holds 12th place in the standings with GRX SET.

Latvia star Reinis Nitiss will make his World RX return with ESmotorsport Eigesta WRX Team this weekend driving Skoda Fabia EVO WRX. 



The World RX track is constructed within the historic race circuit that threads its way through the forest at Bikernieki. Created for the 2016 World RX in Riga – the first time the championship visited Latvia – the rallycross track is 1295m in length and consists of 60% unsealed and 40% asphalt surfaces, with a track record time of 48.485s. The track includes three jumps, two of them on the joker lap. Meanwhile, the joker and standard lap runs parallel to each other.

Turn Three: This fast, wide-radius left-hander requires pure commitment but also a bit of patience. A quick exit is crucial to avoid being overtaken on the long run to a hard braking zone at turn four but the wall on the exit has caught out several drivers in the last four years.

Turn Five: It's hard to make up time here, but it's very easy to lose it. This seemingly never-ending right-hander is one of the few gravel turns on the track and anyone who gets greedy with the throttle is likely to slide wide and leave the door open for anyone lurking behind them.

The Joker Merge: It's often elbows-out at Latvia's joker exit, which is located at the final corner of the lap. Drivers on a joker lap have the inside line for the corner, but those on the standard lap can take more speed out of the turn. That often leads to side-by-side jostling to the finish line in close races!

BROADCAST TIMES and SCHEDULE for Rounds 5 & 6 of the Neste World RX of Riga-Latvia (CET):

The livestreams for the events will be carried on the official World RX Facebook page and YouTube channel:


Round Five (19 September 2020)

Free Practice: Saturday 7:30 am

Q1: 9:20 am

Q2: 10:45 am

Q3: 12:10 pm

Semi-Finals and Final: 15:00 pm

Round Six (20 September 2020)

Warm-Up: 8:00 am

Q1: 8:40 am

Q2: 10:10 am

Q3: 12:10 pm

Semi-Finals and Final: 15:00 pm

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Thursday 17 September 2020

Team Hansen hope "to take a step forward" in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Team Hansen has not had the start to the season that they had hoped for after being crowned champions in 2019. However, after a 3-day test in Sweden, the team aims to take a step forward in Latvia. 

The Hansen brothers have claimed two podium finishes thus far in 2020, with Kevin picking up a second-place finish in Sweden (currently fifth place in the drivers' championship), and reigning World RX champion Timmy scoring third place in finish Finland (ranked fourth in the championship). Their combined efforts have put Team Hansen only 19 points off the top of the teams’ championship with more than half the 2020 season to go.

Latvia will mark the half-way point of this year’s World RX season, as it hosts the third double-header event of the year. 

During the three-week gap since the previous round at Kouvola (Finland), the Hansen's have been hard at work making refinements to their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars, conducting a three-day test at Lidköpings Motorstadion with their two drivers.

"The start to this season has been a little bit difficult at times but overall it's still been a positive beginning," Timmy Hansen said. "We did a three-day test near the workshop to evaluate the areas we'd been struggling with so far this year, as well as developing some new things. Hopefully, that'll pay off this weekend."

"We've definitely done everything we can to take a step forward for now and although this season is tricky, with there not being much time between the races, the test went well, so I'm excited to see what happens this weekend."

Timmy Hansen returns to Riga, a venue with fond memories after claiming a third-place finish in 2016, and a victory in 2019, which was key to his championship fight. 

"I won here last year which was a key point in taking the world championship, so I'm excited to be coming back to Riga and see how we fare," he said. "With this being another double-header round, we need to be sharp and on the pace from the beginning, as there's no time to make any significant changes between the rounds."

With a return to a track expected to suit the team's Peugeot 208 better than the opening four rounds, the team is hoping for a first win of the year.

"Riga is a very nice track. It has suited us very well in the past; it's more of a high-grip circuit like Loheac, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona, which is the type of circuits we're best at," Kevin Hansen said. "Johan has won here twice in the past of course but I feel that we've got a good car for this track and it should suit us more compared to the tracks we've raced on so far this year."

“We've been testing recently to make improvements in specific areas and we feel like we're arriving in Riga with fewer question marks, which should hopefully bring us a little bit more performance from the first race of the weekend. It looks like it'll be a dry, warm weekend, and it's great to have fans safely back at the track for this event.

“Riga feels a bit like a street circuit; its corners are tight and twisty, with some fast stretches in between, but more than anything you need to watch out for the walls and barriers everywhere," the Swede adds. "There are plenty of run-off areas in Höljes and Kouvola but here, it's a bit like we're competing at the Monaco of rallycross."

The purpose-built Biķernieki circuit in Latvia features the longest lap of the year in both distance and time, with a lap length of 1.295km and a track record time of 48.485s.

"Riga is a bit more like circuit racing compared to what we had in the first two rounds," says  Kenneth Hansen, Team Boss. "It's a challenging track because of how different it is, with it being the longest lap of the season and also the hard jump early in the lap, which requires a delicate set-up balance between softness to cope with the landing but stiffness for grip elsewhere in the lap."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Rytkönen to make World RX return with the Ferratum Team.

PHOTO CREDIT: ferratum Team. 
Reigning Finnish rallycross champion Juha Rytkönen will make his World RX return with the Ferratum Team at the World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya on 17-18 October. 

Rytkönen, well known for his success in the Finnish rallycross championship made his World RX debut in Kouvola two weeks ago, and impressed right off the bat having won a heat race and a semi-final, before claiming a second-place finish behind Kristoffersson in round three of the championship. 

Following on from his debut in round three, Juka won two more heat races in the Finland double-header and only failed to make the final as a result of a track limits penalty in the semi-final. 

Having driven the GRX SET team's Hyundai i20 at the World RX of Finland, Juha will return to the championship with the Ferratum Team in Barcelona behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta that Jani Paasonen has used for the first two race weekends of the 2020 season, and again this weekend in Latvia. 

Rytkönen has already tested the car in Finland last week and will return to action at the World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya.

"Rallycross requires a lot of resources, both money and partners, for a layman. I really appreciate the cooperation opportunity with Ferratum. For me, it indicates that we did the right things with our team and our hard work paid off," Rytkönen said. 

"I want to show my support to Ferratum by driving the best I can. I have always thought that this is what I want to do, and I want to be at the top. I did not expect the start to be this good, though."

"In the future, I want to establish my position in rallycross, and especially in the world championship level."

Whilst the team remains mum on further plans with the Finn, has learnt that Juha is likely to complete the season with the Ferratum Team. 

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kouvola wins gives GRX Taneco 'good boost' ahead of Latvian double-header.

The condensed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has seen the first four rounds hosted at two venues, a truly grueling start to the season for all involved, and this is no different for GRX Taneco. 

Whilst the Finnish squad ended the 2019 season on a high note in South Africa. They expected to have a much stronger start to the 2020 season. And despite, the victory in Kouvola two weeks ago for Niclas Grönhom, the team and drivers have had their fair share of bad luck in the first four rounds of the championship, which they hope to turnaround this weekend in Riga.  

The quick turnaround times required for double-headers in 2020, has been a taxing affair for all involved including the drivers. 

"It’s been quite tough these first 4 races of the season," Niclas Grönhom said. "We have had some bad luck and struggled with the car sometimes."

Grönhom clinched his first win of the season on home soil in Kouvola by the slimmest of margins (0.3s) and admits that the race victory will give GRX Taneco a good boost ahead of the third double-header in Latvia.

"The podiums in Finland, of course, gives a good boost that our team needed, and I feel that we are well prepared for Latvia," he said. "The track in Riga is very nice and I enjoy going back there again this year!"

Timur Timerzyanov has had his fair share of misfortunes this season but managed to claim a podium finish at round four in Finland.

"The team has worked very hard over the last few weeks and we have made big steps forward and I feel that we have gotten our mojo back," Timerzyanov said.

Despite competing in World RX since it's inception in 2014, the Russian has found the Bikernieki race track in Latvia to be very challenging and was only able to claim a fifth-place finish last year. 

"Riga has always been a very challenging track for me personally, but I aim to turn my luck around and hopefully we can see another double podium," he said.

Krisztián Szabó will drive the third Hyundai i20 run by Set Promotion this weekend. And, while he did not make either of the finals in Höljes, Sweden. His form throughout the Swedish double-header was first-class. 

The Hungarian claimed a tenth-place finish in Latvia last year, in his EKS Audi S1, but will hope for stronger results this weekend.

"I really can’t wait to race again in Riga," he said "It’s a very long, fast and technical track with big jumps and a beautiful environment. I can say that this is my favorite venue of the season and it will be great to race in front of rallycross fans." 

"I had a chance to test here in the very beginning of the year with the Hyundai i20 Supercar, so I feel confident and I'm hoping for a good result."

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Wednesday 16 September 2020

20 cars set for eRX2's inaugural season in 2021.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA eRX2 Championship.
The inaugural season of the FIA eRX2 Championship – the first-ever FIA electric rallycross championship – will see up to 20 drivers racing wheel-to-wheel for the honor of being crowned the first electric rallycross champion.

Preparations are well underway ahead of eRX2’s eagerly-anticipated debut next year, with the championship primed to electrify the international rallycross scene. Testing is well underway, and a full grid of 20 cars is scheduled to be built between now and the first race – setting the scene for an electrifying maiden campaign of competition.

eRX2 will join the FIA World Rallycross Championship for six events in 2021 – with the calendar to be released in due course – the cars will mark a significant step forward in both power (+24%) and torque (+14%) compared to the existing Supercar Lites car, further bridging the gap to the headlining Supercar class.

"We are delighted to be able to reveal more details about the new FIA eRX2 Championship, which has already attracted a high degree of interest. Our testing programme is yielding very positive results, and the car is showing its potential to be even quicker and more exhilarating both to drive and to watch than the existing internal combustion vehicle," Pere Gonzalez, Project Manager for the FIA eRX2 Championship, said. 

"We understand that there are some misgivings – and misapprehensions – about electric rallycross, but our extensive experience and success in electro-mobility leaves us very confident that this is absolutely the way forward for the sport and that the final product will be the most dynamic, advanced and future-thinking car ever to grace a rallycross track.

"Not only that, but with drivers able to play a greater role than before in setting up and calibrating the car, even a few seconds before starting the races, the action is sure to be fast, exciting and thrillingly unpredictable – a true level playing field in which the cream will inevitably rise to the top," he adds.

In a first for rallycross – drivers will have three key parameters to play with before and between races, injecting an extra element of skill into the equation. 

From inside the cockpit, competitors will be able to manually adjust the amount of torque produced by the front and rear motors, the total torque deployed by all four wheels during the launch, and the degree of regenerative braking on the front and rear axles.

On the outside, the noise will be generated by the drivetrain running at more than 12,000rpm as well as the gravel spray and tyre squeals so synonymous with rallycross..

The total cost to enter a full season of eRX2 in 2021 is between €150,000 and €160,000, which includes the provision of one mechanic per car – trained in electro-mobility by sector specialist QEV Technologies – and a comprehensive engineering service, composed of one chassis engineer and one electric engineer for every four cars.

Charging, tyres, and other consumables such as brake pads are included in the full-season cost. Hospitality will also form part of the package, as will regular educational workshops on electric technology. The cost to enter a single event is €30.000.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Henrik Krogstad will be one of the first drivers to race in the new FIA eRX2 Championship in 2021 as prize for winning the 2020 RX2 International Series.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Ekström to continue championship charge with KYB Team JC

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
2016 World Champion Mattias Ekström will continue with KYB Team JC this weekend, at the Latvian double-header in Riga. 

Ekström was drafted into the team just before the first rounds of the season in Höljes after Jānis Baumanis was hit by financial issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Ekström was announced as the first driver for the new Cupra-backed Abt Extreme E team for 2021, and he will continue to race with KYB Team JC after being given permission by Cupra to race in the Latvian double-header this weekend.

"It’s been a pretty cool week for me, with the launch of the Extreme E programme with CUPRA for 2021," Ekström said. "That’s really exciting, and big thanks to ABT and CUPRA for allowing me to go to Riga for the next World RX races."

The Swede's return after a one-year hiatus has been first-class having won the second round of the championship in Höljes, and lies second in the Drivers' Championship only 17 points behind Johan Kristofferssson.   

"The first four races turned out pretty fine with three podiums, so being second in the championship and to be leading the Teams’ Championship, I’m in a situation I didn’t expect," the double world champion said. "I felt a bit obliged to do my very best to go to Riga, I want to continue supporting the JC team as much as I can."

In his three previous starts in Riga, Ekström finished second in the final every time (2016,17,18) and will aim to climb onto the top step of the podium this weekend.  

"We are very happy to have Mattias back in the team," said Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal. "I didn’t know if it would be possible for him to come to Latvia, but I’m thankful to CUPRA for letting us have him in the team for the event. It’s great that we can continue with the same team setup that we have had so far this year because we were very successful in the first two weekends of the season."

Whilst Joel Christoffersson has one eye on World RX Teams' Championship, he admits that KYB Team JC are aiming to close the gap to Kristoffersson in an aim to claim both World RX titles this season.

"I’m looking forward to continuing the fight for the Teams’ Championship but obviously, we are second in the Drivers’ Championship too and we are not giving up that fight in trying to do our best to close the gap up to Johan [Kristoffersson]," he said.

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Kristoffersson aims to extend championship lead in Riga.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
Johan Kristoffersson heads to Riga with a seventeen point advantage in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship over Mattias Ekström, with one aim in mind - to extend the championship lead. 

The two-time World Champion has been nothing short of spectacular this season having claimed the converted top qualifiers spot in all four rounds thus far, and was only able to convert two pole position starts to victories. 

With a win in Höljes and one in Kouvola, he has amassed 111 points, compared to Mattias Ekström on 94 points and Niclas Grönholm's on 76 points. 

"Many points are up for grabs this weekend but I hope to keep the distance", Kristoffersson said.

With two doubleheaders, the first in Sweden followed by Finland two weeks ago, it has been a very demanding start to the season for all involved due to the compressed 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

"I was really exhausted coming home from Finland, but during a bike ride a couple of days later I found my way back to normal," he said. 

The Swede has not had it all his own way thus far despite a dominant performance in qualifying. In Kouvola (Finland), his Volkswagen Polo suffered from a mechanical issue, which the team was able to solve ahead of the semi-finals and final. 

To get ahead of the double world champion, Ekström and Grönholm had to capitalize on joker lap tactics and mistakes from the Swede to get ahead and ultimately win. 

While Kristoffersson rues these missed opportunities in Sweden and Finland, he is eager to get ahead of the game with a full analysis programme ahead of the Latvian doubleheader this weekend. 

"I always do a lot of analysis and this track gives you a great output if you do your job right," he said. "Lately, my office has looked like a surveillance center, with all the screens, servers, and hard drives."

"There are a lot of details in this track, with a racing character, but more technical than for example Lohéac. I look at my own performances, but also analyze my competitors. We all have different backgrounds, from rally and racing to rallycross, and every driver makes their own considerations. You have to pick the best options."

Johan has great memories from the Bikernieki circuit, where he secured his first championship title in 2017 and returned for another win in 2018. 

"17th September 2017, a day to be remembered, and coming back in 2018 was a special feeling as well," he adds.

Tommy Kristoffersson, the team boss of Volkswagen Dealerteam BAUHAUS is well aware of the importance of the weekend in Latvia and has bolstered the team with more personnel from Volkswagen Motorsport in a pursuit for the much desired third crown. A good result in Riga can put Johan in a great position for the rest of the season.

"We have boosted our team with even more knowledge from Volkswagen Motorsport, the best there is, which of course also includes our own guys, who have worked tirelessly so far," Timmy Kristoffersson said. "We are ready to fight!"

Written By - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 15 September 2020

Portugal World Rallycross round cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Portuguese round of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has been cancelled.

Montalegre was set to host the eighth round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship on 10-11 October (2020) after a one-year hiatus but the event has now been cancelled due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

"In light of continued global health concerns regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the current evolution of the pandemic in Portugal, the new State of Contingency enforced by the Portuguese authorities starting September 15 th, which brings new freedom of travel limitations and stricter public gathering rules, the World Rallycross of Portugal 2020, scheduled to be hosted at Montalegre International Circuit on 10-11 October, will unfortunately not take place this year," the event organizers statement said.

"The health and safety of everyone involved remain the priority as we navigate these unprecedented circumstances."

Due to the ever-changing situation surrounding the Coronavirus, the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar has undergone a number of changes, and Portugal is one of them. However, despite the cancellation of the event this year. Montalegre will return to the calendar in 2020, according to the event organizers. 

"We very much look forward to welcoming the drivers, teams, and fans to the Montalegre International Circuit for this world-class event in 2021," the statement concluded.

The revised calendar will see Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona hosting the fourth doubleheader (rounds seven and eight) followed by the World RX of Benelux at Spa-Francorchamps, which was moved to November in order to allow more fans to attend followed by the season finale at the Nurburgring (Germany) in mid-December. 

Written By Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Will Mattias Ekström return for Riga doubleheader?

Mattias Ekström made an unexpected return to the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship after Jānis Baumanis ran into COVID-19 related funding problems and is therefore unable to complete the full season with KYB Team JC. 

Ekström has achieved a lot of success in his career having won two DTM titles and a World Rallycross title in 2016. The Swede competed in a number of motorsport disciplines from Swedish Touring Cars to DTM, WRC, NASCAR, and even V8 Supercars. 

In 2013, he branched out into rallycross where he competed in the Swedish round of the European Rallycross Championship in Höljes, finishing second. He subsequently announced that he was establishing his own EKS RX team to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The team made their debut at the Norwegian round of the 2014 European Rallycross Championship where Ekström claimed an 11th-place finish. He returned for the German round of the championship where he claimed victory. 

He also claimed a victory at the Swedish round of the World RX championship that same year followed up with a second-place finish in Germany. 

2015 saw the Swede return for all but two World RX events, and won his home round in Sweden for the second year in a row. 

In his first full World RX season in 2016, Ekström claimed four event wins on his way to the 2016 Drivers' Championship title. The 2017 and 18 seasons would see him finish second in the championship behind Johan Kristoffersson. 

In 2018, Ekström retired from DTM to focus on his rallycross team, and with factory support from Audi Sport, all seemed rosy. Until Audi Sport announced that they will withdraw from the sport at the end of the 2018 season, which subsequently lead to the Swede announcing that he will call time on his full-time World RX career. 

After catching a glimpse of World RX on his couch in 2019, the Swedish champion returned for an outing at the World RX of Benelux at Spa-Francorchamps with JC Raceteknik in the Audi S1 that carried him to the 2016 title. 

Ekström jumps Kristoffersson to win in Sweden.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
JC Raceteknik later acquired a further five Audi S1 Quattro Supercars from EKS RX to launch a new team named, KYB Team JC. And, whilst plans were to have reigning European Rallycross Champion Robin Larsson and Jānis Baumanis in the pair of Audi S1 Supercars. Baumanis was unable to provide the necessary funding to compete in the full World RX campaign due to COVID-19 related problems, and therefore the Swedish outfit required a driver at short notice to step into his place. 

The team principal of KYB Team JC, Joel Christoffersson called upon the services of Mattias Ekström, who he knows comes with a lot of experience, tips, and tricks, and he also knows the Audi S1 Supercars quite well.

In the Höljes doubleheader, he claimed a second-place finish in round one followed by a victory in round 2. Mattias returned for the second World RX doubleheader in Finland where he claimed a seventh-place finish in round three and a second-place finish in round four. With these strong results, the Swede is currently placed second in the drivers' standings.

The question on everyone's lips after the first four rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship is: Should Mattias Ekström return for the Latvian round of the championship or the full 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship? 

It’s a rather difficult question to answer, purely because Mattias once owned a team (EKS RX) where he could make those sorts of decisions. This time around it’s slightly different because he’d be required to bring along the necessary funding in order to race for the team. 

Whilst Ekström comes with a wealth of experience and is a master tactician, unfortunately, it counts for nothing. The Audi S1 supercars now owned by KYB Team JC were also built and developed around Mattias in 2018, which gives him an upper hand over teammates.  

Mattias Ekström did not expect to race in Sweden this year and has other commitments that will clash with the 2020 World RX season. Could we see him return for the Latvian rounds of the season?

"There’s no plan for what happens next," Ekström said. "I know that there are other people that want to drive this car in Riga, so that could also be an option. I think it will be a little while before we decide."

KYB Team JC's Joel Christoffersson would like Mattias to continue but is aware that budget and other commitments could get in way of the 2016 Champion. 

"The question I keep getting asked is about the future of Mattias in the team. It would be brilliant if he continued with KYB Team JC, but it also looks tough for him, both with budget and other commitments, so we will have to see," Joel Christoffersson said. "We have a week or so to find a solution for Riga, otherwise we need to find an alternative."

While we have no solid answer to this question. There is no doubt that many fans would really like to see Mattias Ekström complete the full season with KYB Team JC. 

Should he return for the remaining rounds of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, we are likely to see a close title fight to the checkered flag in Germany (season finale). 

Written By - Junaid Samodien