Victory and podiums for KYB Team JC at World RX in Riga
KYB Team JC and Swedish driver Mattias Ekstrom finished second in round five of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Riga in Latvia, then followed up with a victory and third place finish for Ekstrom and Robin Larsson in round six on Sunday, the team’s first ever double World RX podium.
The Latvian round was the first to welcome fans on site in 2020, and they watched both JC Raceteknik-run Audi S1s make the final in round five, where Ekstrom finished second after winning his semi-final. Larsson was sixth.
The team was then top throughout the second day in Riga, round six. Ekstrom took the fastest time in Q1 and Q2 and Larsson was fastest in Q3. First and third in the Intermediate Classification, the team mates finished one-two in semi-final one. Ekstrom had saved new tyres for the final, took the lead at the first corner and went on to take his second win of the season, a week after announcing his 2021 programme with CUPRA in Extreme E. Ekstrom remains second in the World RX Drivers’ Championship, but closed the gap to Johan Kristoffersson to 17 points.
Reigning Euro RX and RallyX Nordic Champion Larsson used a good race strategy to finish in third place, his first World RX podium with JC Raceteknik, which moved him up to fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.
JC Raceteknik also finished fifth in the second round of Euro RX with Ben-Philip Gundersen. Following victory in the final round of RallyX Nordic at Nysum in Denmark, Gundersen came to the Latvian round of Euro RX with high hopes. He was second fastest in the first qualifying session but didn’t have the weekend he hoped for, battling in traffic and then had a spin while racing for a podium in the final. He holds fourth in the Euro RX points.
The next two rounds of World RX take place in Barcelona, Spain, October 17-18. The third and final round of Euro RX will be at Spa, Belgium, November 21-22.
Joel Christoffersson, KYB Team JC and JC Raceteknik Team Principal:
“What a fantastic result. We had a good day on Saturday, but we struggled a bit with the tyres, so it was good to get a P2 and both cars in the final. We had a good debrief overnight and really put our heads together to try and find a setup to try to manage the tyres as well as possible. We worked late, and today it paid off. We had the pace in the morning and through the day, the semi-final went just as we planned, and then in the final I was a little curious about how Robin wold get on because we didn’t have as many new tyres for him as we did for Mattias, but it was such a nice feeling to get both cars on the podium. I’m almost happier for Robin than Mattias because we have worked so hard with Robin and he’s driven so well but we’ve never had the last luck to be on the podium. Now finally he could step up there and it’s a huge relief for him. It’s so nice to have two top drivers in the team and it’s fun to be looking at the points in both championships. There’re many races left still and I guess I need to call Mattias on Monday and try to discuss what we can do in the future. Hopefully CUPRA and ABT can let us have him back again.”
World RX: Mattias Ekstrom (SWE):
“For me Sunday in Riga turned out very special, after being dead last in the Q1 grid draw really means having no draw at all, just to take the place that’s left over. It was feeling like a big challenge, but after a good start and a clean Q1, that was the base for our weekend. Then to win again in Q2 was another key. For Q3 we were just doing tyre management to save the best for the semi-final and final. That was a big strategic thing. I can’t say about enough about our starts because that was a key to the success too. Robin finished P2 in the semi-final which was very good and important points for the team, and then the final battle with Johan, such a close race from the start into the first corner and all the laps he was on my bumper. I did no mistakes and in the end finished in front. It felt amazing and probably one of the best victories. I can’t wait to go home and digest this one and to call the guys at CUPRA and ABT to say thanks for the permission to come here and do this race, and I will also ask for permission to go to the next races. I hope I will be able to give an update on this soon because that’s what the team want and what I want also.”
World RX: Robin Larsson (SWE):
“I didn’t expect to be as high in the Intermediate Classification on Sunday after the tiny mistake in Q2. We had to use four new tyres in Q3 to go for it to get the fastest time. It went well, and made up a bit for the really disappointing Q2. I knew then we couldn’t fight for the win when we used those tyres because you need them so much at the end, so I just tried to be behind Mattias in the semi, and it ended up really well in the final with Niclas Gronholm behind and I could really push on the lap that we took the joker. I’m more relieved than happy, that we could show pace, especially for me on this track, I’ve never been fast here and struggled before a lot. I’ve tried to look at Mattias and the v-Box and everything to get as much data as I could. I’m really happy for Mattias and the team for the double podium. Finally!”
Euro RX: Ben-Philip Gundersen (NOR):
“I’ve been struggling a bit with the starts all weekend I didn’t have the pace I wanted on the track either. The pace has been okay, but not what I wanted, so I’m not so happy with the weekend. It’s very difficult to pass here when you have bad starts and you get stuck in traffic. I was more comfortable in the car in Denmark for RallyX Nordic than here. I thought it would be a better track for me and the car, but it wasn’t like that. In the final I did a jump too long, went off the line and into the dust and just spun. I just need to work more with the car and do more driving in a Supercar for me to learn more.”