Ekstrom second in Finland, KYB Team JC maintains championship lead
Swedish motorsport legend Mattias Ekstrom finished second in round four of the World Rallycross Championship at Kouvola in Finland, and KYB Team JC continues to lead the Teams’ championship standings.
With four races in nine days for the start of the 2020 World RX Championship, the third and fourth rounds were held in Finland and for new squad KYB Team JC, run by Swedish outfit JC Raceteknik, the double-header weekend returned mixed results.
On day one, Ekstrom 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 slowed the Audi S1 Supercar on the second lap and he retired from the race. Robin Larsson initially struggled on the Finnish circuit but made a great start in Q3 and set the second fastest time. But, he retired from the semi-finals with a puncture.
On Sunday, in wet and difficult conditions, Ekstrom qualified third and was second in his semi-final to make it into the final. Once in the main event, he pushed hard throughout the race and in a battle for the podium positions in the final corner, finished second. Larsson had a more difficult time. He was ninth in the Intermediate Classification, but finished fifth in his semi-final when the windscreen wipers stopped working in the muddy conditions.
The team continues to lead the Teams’ Championship, by a margin of 19 points, and Ekstrom is also still second in the Drivers’ Championship. Larsson is now sixth.
The next World RX event is another double header, also a round of the European Rallycross Championship in Riga, Latvia on September 19-20. This weekend though, JC Raceteknik will race in the final rounds of RallyX Nordic and the RX2 International Series at Nysum in Denmark.
Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC, Team Principal:
"It was a tough weekend, and the whole team worked hard to find the pace. In the final on Sunday, Niclas Gronholm's speed was not the fastest and we pushed him for the win, but it wasn’t enough. But, when Mattias took his joker lap, he came out second in front of Johan Kristoffersson, which we were a little surprised by to be honest because on the times it looked too tight. Second was good though, and Robin would also have been in the final, which he really deserved after making many starts from the outside of the grid and having traffic and other issues, until his problem in the semi.
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. 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.
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. We have a week or so to find a solution for Riga, otherwise we need to find an alternative.”
World RX: Mattias Ekstrom (SWE):
“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. 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.
There’s no plan for what happens next. Right now I'm most eager to go home and digest this weekend, then we just have to check and see if it is possible to do something more. 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.”
World RX: Robin Larsson (SWE):
“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. 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. 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. I had a place for the final in the bag on Sunday but the windscreen wipers broke, and that was it. It was great that Mattias could get a good result at the end. Both he and Johan [Kristoffersson] have pulled away in the points, but otherwise it’s close for third. Now I’m focused on Riga and I’m fully motivated. There are still many points to race for.”