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...
Swedish World Rallycross team Volkswagen RX Sweden showed great pace in wet and dry conditions throughout the first weekend of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. Both Volkswagen Polo RX Supercars reached the semi-finals and only a crash in the final ended hopes of a podium finish at Montalegre in Portugal [April 17].
In an event that began wet on day one and dried out for day two, World RX event winner Johan Kristoffersson set the fastest time in Q1 and qualified on the front row of the first semi-final. He proved the performance of the Volkswagen Polo RX by winning the semi-final ahead of Sebastien Loeb.
In the final, Kristoffersson made the best start and won the Monster Energy Supercharge Award for being first to the first corner. He took his joker on the first lap before setting the fastest lap time of the weekend (38.979) as he pushed for a podium finish. On lap four, Kristofferson received contact from later event winner, Petter Solberg, after his joker lap – the resulting mechanical damage causing a sixth place finish.
“The weekend started well in Q1, it was very, very wet but the car was working well and we were fastest. We didn’t have good starts on the first day, they were much better in Q3 and Q4 on day two but still not perfect. The start was great in the semi-final and we managed to win it, which I was very happy with,” said Kristoffersson. “In the final I got a very good start, we had a very clear strategy to go directly into the joker, then I just pushed like mad. I felt I had right of way coming out of the joker lap but Petter (Solberg) banged into my wheel which broke the driveshaft and I had a big spin on the gravel. From there I just cruised to the end. It was ups and downs this weekend but we have the speed and the season is long, so I’m happy.”
Former European Rallycross TouringCar Champion Anton Marklund finished 12th at the Intermediate Classification and made the semi-finals. Like team mate Kristoffersson, he too took his joker on the first lap, but got stuck in traffic and wasn’t able to progress to the final. “The pace was really good this weekend, but I made a small mistake in Q1, which meant I was in an early race in Q2 when the track was slower,” said Marklund. “In the semi-final I was trying to push at the start from the back but made a mistake and had to take the escape road, which was the joker lap behind four other cars. From there it was impossible to overtake four cars on this track. I learnt this weekend that you can’t make any mistakes in Q1, the pace is there and I’m really looking forward to show what we can do.”
Volkswagen RX Sweden Team Principle Michael Schneider was very pleased with both the performance of the Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar and the new World Championship team. “The weekend started very well with victory in Q1. I’m very satisfied with the results of the weekend, apart from the final,” said Schneider. “We really showed we had the pace and we will fight back in Hockenheim. We’ve proven the big steps we have taken before the season with the Volkswagen Polo RX, so thanks to all of the team for a huge effort.”
The second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship will take place at Hockenheim, Germany on the second weekend of May (6 – 8).
Portugal Final Result:
1 Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3)
2 Robin Larsson (Audi A1)
3 Toomas Heikkinen (Audi S1)
4 Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Focus)
5 Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot 208)
6 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo)
12 Anton Marklund (Volkswagen Polo)
FIA World Rallycross Championship Drivers’ Standings:
1 Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3) 29
2 Robin Larsson (Audi A1) 21
3 Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo) 21
4 Toomas Heikkinen (Audi S1) 20
5 Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Focus) 20
6 Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1) 19
11 Anton Marklund (Volkswagen Polo) 7
FIA World Rallycross Championship Teams’ Standings:
1 EKS RX 39
2 Volkswagen RX Sweden 28
3 Team Peugeot-Hansen 26
4 Hoonigan Racing Division 20
5 Olsbergs MSE 12
6 World RX Team Austria 4