KYB Team JC takes debut World RX win with Mattias Ekstrom
A victory, a second-place finish and the lead of the FIA World Rallycross Championship Teams’ Standings was the result of an unforgettable first weekend for new team KYB Team JC.
The first round of the World RX season took place behind closed doors at Holjes, for the first-ever double-header World RX weekend. The event also included the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship.
For JC Raceteknik's new KYB Team JC World Championship team, it was two successful rounds with a win and a second place for 2016 World RX Champion Mattias Ekstrom. The squad leaves Swedish soil with a 28-point advantage in the Teams’ Championship, and drivers Ekstrom and Robin Larsson hold second and third in the Drivers’ Standings.
Ekstrom made his comeback this weekend in a guest appearance for KYB Team JC, and on Saturday he immediately proved that he still has the pace needed to fight at the front. With several top times, he finished second in wet conditions. On Sunday, he pushed even harder, and in an amazing battle in the final, took the win.
Reigning Euro RX and RallyX Nordic Champion Larsson also started his season with consistently fast pace, but missed a final start in round one due to a five-second penalty. On Sunday in round two, he continued to impress, and beat team mate Ekstrom to win semi-final two. In the final he was in the running for the podium but due a puncture had to settle for fifth.
JC Raceteknik also finished fourth in the first round of Euro RX with Ben-Philip Gundersen. After his successful career in TouringCar Supercar Lites, Gundersen made his debut in Euro RX Supercar at Holjes and impressed immediately with race wins and fifth in the Intermediate Classification, before finishing fourth in the final. With a strong performance Mats Ohman also took part in Euro RX and finished fourth in his semi-final.
The next two rounds of World RX take place next weekend at Kouvola, Finland. The next round of Euro RX will be in Latvia, September 19-20.
Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC and JC Raceteknik Team Principal:
"This feels absolutely fantastic. As a team to win a World Championship event for the first time, this is really big for us and something we will never forget. We could never have dreamed this would happen already in the first weekend as a World RX team. The goal is to fight to win the Teams’ Championship, and to continue to fight for victory in the Drivers’ World Championship.
Mattias excelled this weekend. Robin also showed a very high level, so it was a shame he had the puncture in the final today, otherwise we would have had two drivers on the podium. We’re already focusing on next weekend in Finland.
It was also a really good weekend in Euro RX too. Ben-Philip getting to the final on his debut feels good. He loses out a bit at the starts, but we will work on it and continue to chase top three positions in the championship. I’m also happy with Mats’ pace and we are improving on his starts too.”
World RX: Mattias Ekstrom (SWE):
“It was a fun weekend and we had the pace on both days. It’s always extra enjoyable to win, it's not every time you do that in motorsport. Everyone in KYB Team JC has fought as hard as they could to achieve this result. The best part for me has been to see the joy and passion in the team. That is the secret to success, which has been fantastic.
That we could lead the Teams’ Championship with 28 points straight away, I wouldn’t have guessed that if anyone had said it before the weekend. Also to be just two points behind Johan [Kristoffersson] in the Drivers’ Championship is nice for the whole team, but the season is long and these were just the first rounds.
Right now we are working on a solution for me to be able to drive in Finland next weekend, after that it looks more difficult. I have no budget to do anything other than take one race at a time, I also have other commitments that clash with World RX, so we will just have to see.”
World RX: Robin Larsson (SWE):
“It was a good first World RX weekend for the team. It was intense, but we were consistently in the top five. Having Mattias has been a very big bonus for me and the whole team. It just shows how important it is to have a fast driver like him by your side, we took tips from each other and without him I probably would not have been able to continue to develop my speed. I hope we see more of him this season. The puncture in the final today was a shame because it would have been perfect to have a one-two in the final. It was also sad to miss the final yesterday, but in terms of points things look good in the Teams’ Championship and I too scored good points. That Mattias beat Johan on pure pace shows we can fight with him. We’ve done the best we can as a team and we will carry that to Finland.”
Euro RX: Ben-Philip Gundersen (NOR):
“Saturday was very demanding, with very changeable weather conditions. It was better today, but I'm still not completely happy with the speed and pace on the track. But, I’m pleased that we were able to fight for fourth in the end, especially with how fast the pace at the front is. Before the next round in Riga, I will have to continue working. The goal for the season is to continue scoring points and to think about the championship. Thanks to the mechanics, teams, organisers and sponsors who have made it possible to be doing this in the current circumstances.”
Euro RX: Mats Ohman (SWE):
"It was a pretty good event for me. On Saturday I had a little more rhythm on the circuit, including in the joker, and set the fifth time in Q2. In the semi-finals, we almost had a final place in the first few laps, but in the end it wasn’t enough. But, that’s rallycross. We’re starting to find the right set-up for my driving style, I enjoy the car and it feels better and better. We have a few small things to work on and even if the starts are not perfect yet, we are going in the right direction. We know that these cars are quick at the start, so now we are working to get it perfect. I must also say, what a weekend it was for the team. Robin has driven very well and taken a big step forward, and what a driver Mattias is. Ben-Philip also impressed in Euro RX, and he will be dangerous for the others when he gets warmed up. JC Raceteknik, what a wonderful bunch of people.”