Fresh double victory for JC Raceteknik with Robin Larsson and Ben-Philip Gundersen in Riga
European Rallycross Championship leader Robin Larsson claimed his first RallyX Nordic victory of the season at Riga in Latvia with JC Raceteknik, while team mate Ben-Philip Gundersen claimed a second straight win in the Supercar Lites class.
The double-victory comes just two weeks after the Kil-based squad achieved the same feat with Larsson and Gundersen in the Swedish round of the European Rallycross Championship and RX2 International series at Holjes, strengthening both drivers’ positions in the respective Nordic championships.
In RallyX Nordic’s first visit to the Bikernieki circuit just outside Latvia’s capital city, Riga, Larsson set the pace in the Supercar division through the event, aside from when he got caught up in another drivers’ accident in the very first corner of the weekend in Q1, but he battled back with fastest times in the remaining sessions, won semi-final one and the final to take a maximum points haul. He is now just five points off the lead of the series.
Fellow JC Raceteknik Audi S1 Supercar driver Mats Öhman also made it into the final with a strong performance, but a missed joker lap in the last race of the weekend meant he finished sixth.
Gundersen stormed to a second straight win in Supercar Lites with a succession of fastest times and a clean run in the final, to extend his championship lead over team mate Sondre Evjen, who lies second. For Evjen, the Norwegian ran inside the top three through the Latvian weekend but in the final stages of the event he got stuck in traffic and ended up fourth. Swede Jimmie Walfridson also showed good speed on his first visit to the circuit and was fifth in the Intermediate Classification, but contact in a busy first corner of the semi-finals, before getting held up in traffic, meant he didn’t make the final.
In the Crosscar category, JC Raceteknik Juniorteam driver Isak Reiersen won three of the four qualifiers to take top spot in the Intermediate Classification and start on pole position in the first semi-final. While controlling the race with a commanding lead, Reiersen was forced to retired with an ECU problem and cruelly missed out on a starting position in the final
In Finland, racing in the third round of FinRX, 12-year-old JC RaceteknikJuniorteam driver Alex Gustafsson showed good speed but had problems with his Crosscar at the starts of his qualifying races and qualified sixth for the final, before finishing fourth.
The next round of RallyX Nordic takes place this coming weekend at Flisa in Norway (27-28 July).
Joel Christoffersson, Team Principal:
“This is fantastic. It’s very nice to do the same as Holjes, even then we thought it was a bit too good to be true, so it’s really nice to do it again here. It was nice we did a test here on Thursday, we struggled a bit with the speed in the Lites team, but we worked hard to find the right setup and then Ben-Philip found the proper speed the whole weekend. He was fastest. The final was easy for him – a great result for him and good for the championship. Sondre also did a really good weekend with good speed and it’s a shame he lost a bit in the semi-final so was on the second row for the final and got stuck in traffic. Overall he should be happy with his speed and we take that with us for next weekend. Jimmie also did well lost speed after the first corner in the semi.
For the Supercar team it was a brilliant result. We showed quite amazing pace. Apart from the crash in Q1 we have been fastest. We have struggled a lot this year in this championship so it’s really nice to take the win and good points. We have closed the gap in the points a lot. If we can keep up this momentum it will be a good fight in Tierp in the final round. Everyone has worked hard to get Mats’ car working properly for him and finally here it was good. We thought it would be tough for him to drive here because the track doesn’t really suit his style and it was really nice to have him in the final.”
Supercar: Robin Larsson (SWE) :
“It was nice to finally get a win in RallyX Nordic this year. We had a hit in the first corner of Q1, and even with a five second penalty we were still P4 so that was good, then we had really good pace. It’s an amazing feeling when you’re so fast and you don’t have to overdrive. The starts weren’t brilliant but we had the pace to overtake on the track and it’s been the perfect weekend. For the first time I had a car on this track that really suits me so I could show some speed and we closed a lot in the championship. Next week at Flisa is a very different track, it’s very short and the start is really important. There’s going to be a lot of battles but now we’re in the game for the championship.”
Supercar: Mats Öhman (SWE) :
“I have a unique driving style and special settings in the car, but it’s clear that I’m getting a good feeling in the Audi and we are learning more and more about how to adapt it to me. It’s fun. I still have a bit to find to the fastest guys, but we work one step at a time. The starts have been much better compared to Holjes, but we haven’t made any huge changes since then. It's about me becoming more part of the starting system, apparently you can teach old dogs new tricks. This weekend I’m most satisfied with the semi-final, there it went perfectly and I came second. In the finals, the tyres were warm and that left me almost standing at the start. But overall, it’s been a positive weekend. I would like to thank the team for their work during the event, and I would also like to thank Anders Norberg who has helped me for many years – that matters to me a lot.”
Supercar Lites: Ben-Philip Gundersen (NOR) :
“What a great victory. I hadn't imagined this before today, because it’s Vasily Gryazin’s home circuit and no one was near his pace during practice. But we analysed the data and the track, worked a lot with the setup and finally we found a setup that worked well for me. Then I also found the rhythm and from second qualifying I was the fastest driver. The whole team, my spotter and my mechanics have done an incredibly good job in the background this weekend – everyone deserves this victory. Thanks also to all of the supporters who came all the way from home to support me this weekend from start to finish.”
Supercar Lites: Jimmie Walfridson (SWE) :
“Of course I’m not happy to miss the final, but at the same time we can take a very positive view of Riga. This was a new circuit where I quickly got into the groove and we found the right settings early on. The rhythm has been there the whole weekend and I’m happy with my starts, it's just the last little bits that have been missing. Unfortunately, a bad joker strategy in the semi-finals made me fall behind a slower driver that I couldn’t pass. It’s a shame that I miss important championship points, but I'll take my pace and come back strong at Flisa next weekend. "
Supercar Lites: Sondre Evjen (NOR) :
“We had good speed in all qualifyings, we were just missing the last couple of tenths to Ben-Philip and in the semi-final we struggled a bit with the car and couldn’t get it together of a win. It was a really rough start in the final, I had a bad line, came out fourth and went straight to the joker. After that we got stuck behind another driver and by the time we got by we were too far from the podium. All in all an okay weekend. A podium would have been a fair result for us, but that’s how it goes sometimes. This is a difficult track, it’s the first time the drivers have been really separated on time this year. It’s good to know we have the speed but when you come fourth it doesn’t really matter. I’m looking forward to my home race next weekend and to try the track for the first time. Hopefully we can give Ben-Philip a run there.”
Xtreme: Isak Reiersen (SWE) :
“On pace this has been a very good weekend, from the very first session. We have also come a long way with the setup on the loose and developed a lot during the weekend. I was top qualifier in the Intermediate Classification and in the semi-finals I led straight from the start. When we entered the last lap I was 2.5 seconds ahead to the top drivers in the championship behind me, but after the landing from the big jump, a plug came off the ECU. I felt the engine die and the display went black. I tried to do everything to get it started again, but nothing worked. Right there I just felt huge disappointment. The speed was there for a victory, but today I didn't get the chance to start in the final. Of course, it could effect the motivation, but instead we choose to take the positives from here and come back with equally high pace next time.”
Xtreme Junior: Alex Gustafsson (SWE) :
"This was an important event for me because I had had the opportunity to take the lead of the championship. It didn’t go to plan, though, so that feels a bit disappointing. But you can't give up! We just tried to make the most of the situation. It’ a very even field, so I really have had to fight for a good position. We take with us many positive things from here, including that we have improved in wet conditions in Friday's practice and that I have done good lap times. I was sixth in the finals and after problems at the start I tried to drive smart, and it was enough to finish fourth.”