Marklund Motorsport to undertake Euro RX title defence with updated Polo and exciting new partnersSwedish rallycross team Marklund Motorsport will begin the defence of its FIA European Rallycross...
For the second event in a row, FIA World Rallycross Championship team Volkswagen RX Sweden showed front-running pace at Hockenheim in Germany, but were denied a chance of fighting for victory due to being hit by another competitor [May 8].
Swedish driver Johan Kristoffersson qualified for pole position for semi-final two, following a run of consistently fast times through the qualifying races. The Swede led into the first corner of the semi-final, only to be hit hard from championship leader Petter Solberg, pushing bodywork onto the left rear tyre, which punctured on lap two.
Using all of his skill, and much to the delight of the thousands of DTM and rallycross fans in the Sachs Arena section of the German venue, Kristoffersson amazingly led the race until the fifth lap despite the puncture, but was unable to hold on any longer and only just missed out on qualifying for the final.
While the Volkswagen Polo RX again proved its pace through the weekend at Hockenheim, Anton Marklund was hampered by a poor grid position in Q1 and traffic in all of his races. Unable to show his potential he missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
The good pace and strong points haul from the weekend means that the Volkswagen RX Sweden team maintain second position in the Teams’ Championship standings.
Kristoffersson was disappointed not to have been able to fight for victory, but knows his recent bad luck will change soon. “If you bend something on the car you could manage for six laps, but if you have a puncture you can only manage for five … We had a good Q1 and a pretty spectacular start in Q2, which put us in a good position for Q3 and Q4, where I tired to stay out of trouble,” said Kristoffersson. “In the semi-final we had a pretty clear strategy, to try to stay on the inside, but I got a really big hit from the rear and on lap two I got a puncture. I just tried to hang on as long as I could and make it hard for the guys behind, but lost out on the last lap. We had the speed in Portugal and we had the speed again here. We don’t need to change what we are doing, we just need some luck. We will stay focused of course, sometimes you have a headwind but this is a long season and things will change for us soon.”
An incident with another car in Q1 made Marklund’s task even harder and he was forced to run in early qualifying races throughout the weekend, when the track was at its slowest. “I had a tough draw for Q1. I tried to do my best in the first corner, but I was last out of turn one. Unfortunately [Jean-Baptiste] Dubourg spun, which held me up and I lost six seconds. That more or less destroyed my weekend because it is so tight and tough in this championship,” said Marklund. “My driving was really good but I was in the first race of Q2 when they had watered the loose section, so the track was much faster in the later races. In Q3 the pace was really good but I was again in the first race when the gravel is so slow again. It was a weekend full of bad luck for me. Hopefully I am able to really show the pace we know we have in Mettet next week and I hope for a better starting position for Q1.”
Despite not being able to secure the desired result at Hockenheim, Volkswagen RX Sweden Team Principle Michael Schneider is satisfied that the Volkswagen Polo RX and the team’s driver have the pace to win this season. “We were first in the first corner of the semi-final but we were hit for the second race in a row by [Petter] Solberg. Johan is doing an amazing job. It was incredible from him, how he fought in the semi-final to keep the others behind for three laps was very impressive. That really shows his skills and capabilities,” said Schneider. “Anton was unlucky this weekend with the races he was in but we know from his lap times that he has the pace. I’m not at all worried and we will definitely fight back and try to win again in Belgium like we did last year.”
The third round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship takes place next weekend at Mettet, Belgium (May 13 – 15), where the team has been victorious for the last two seasons.
Hockenheim Final Result:
1 Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1)
2 Toomas Heikkinen (Audi S1)
3 Ken Block (Ford Focus)
4 Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3)
5 Liam Doran (BMW Mini)
6 Robin Larsson (Audi A1)
7 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo)
15 Anton Marklund (Volkswagen Polo)
FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ Standings:
1 Mattias Ekstrom 48
2 Petter Solberg 48
3 Toomas Heikkinen 45
4 Johan Kristoffersson 39
5 Robin Larsson 34
6 Sebastien Loeb 30
14 Anton Marklund 9
FIA World Rallycross Championship Teams’ Standings:
1 EKS 93
2 Volkswagen RX Sweden 48
3 Hoonigan Racing Division 40
4 Team Peugeot-Hansen 39
5 OlsbergsMSE 26
6 World RX Team Austria 18
7 All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport 6
FIA World Rallycross Championship 2016 Calendar:
1 Portugal – Montalegre – 16/17 April
2 Germany – Hockenheim – 6/8 May
3 Belgium – Mettet – 14/15 May
4 UK – Lydden Hill – 28/29 May
5 Norway – Hell – 11/12 June
6 Sweden – Holjes – 2/3 July
7 Canada – Trois-Rivieres – 6/7 August
8 France – Loheac – 3/4 September
9 Spain – Barcelona – 17/18 September
10 Latvia – Riga – 1/2 October
11 Germany – Estering – 15/16 October
12 Argentina – Rosario – 26/27 November