|PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World RX. |
With four races in nine days for the start of the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship, the third and fourth rounds were held in Finland.
On day one, Ekström was again straight on the pace and qualified second in the Intermediate Classification, then was second in the semi-finals, but a rare electrical problem on the second lap saw him retire from the race. Robin Larsson had initially struggled on the Tykkimäki Circuit but made a great start in Q3 to set the second-fastest time. And, despite making the semi-finals, he retired with a puncture.
The heavens opened for round four of the championship (on Sunday), and in wet and tricky conditions, Ekström qualified third and was second in his semi-final to make it into the final. In the final, he pushed hard throughout the race and in a battle for the podium positions in the final corner, finished second behind Niclas Gronhölm.
"Finishing second feels pretty okay. It's no secret that I compete to win, and to come second is very close. On Saturday things looked good in the semi-finals, but then the day came to an abrupt end, which was not fun for any of us," Ekström said. "Today I thought we made good laps, but didn’t have perfect starts. That makes things difficult. But, we had good speed this weekend and that’s always positive."
"Of course we want to be at the top of the championship, and to see Johan [Kristoffersson] pull away is not what we want, but there is no point to cry over spilt milk."
Reigning EuroRX champion Robin Larsson had a more difficult time. He was ninth in the Intermediate Classification after the four qualifiers but finished fifth in his semi-final when the windscreen wipers stopped working in the muddy conditions.
"It hasn’t been an easy weekend for me, things just haven’t been going my way. When you have double-header events there are not many opportunities to make changes because the days are quite intense," Larsson said.
"On Saturday we had good pace in Q3, but I had a puncture in the semi-final. Then on Sunday I was unlucky with the start positions and didn’t really find the pace we wanted."
"I had a place for the final in the bag on Sunday but the windscreen wipers broke, and that was it. Now I’m focused on Riga and I’m fully motivated. There are still many points to race for."
Larsson believes that the only way he can improve is to compare himself to teammate Mattias Ekström.
"It’s been good to have someone like Mattias to compare myself with. Because of that, I’ve been able to see what I’m doing wrong and work on it. Without him there, it would be easy to get grumpy and more frustrated."
KYB Team JC continues to lead the Teams’ Championship, by 19 points, whilst Ekström is also still second in the Drivers’ Championship. Larsson is now sixth.
"We have a good lead in the Teams’ championship, even if we gave away a few points there. We will continue to work hard before Riga, we seem to have a car that will suit us there," Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal, said. "But, unfortunately in the Drivers’ championship, we lost a lot of points to Johan. But after the problems we had on Saturday, we have to live with that and use it to motivate us to work even harder."
Written By - Junaid Samodien