Rookie Champion Joel Eriksson: “This is a great, great feeling”

by Paul Hensby

Joel Eriksson was delighted to clinch the 2016 rookie championship, doing so with two runners-up positions in the final two outings of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship season.

The Motopark driver was involved in a three-way battle for the rookie title along with Ralf Aron and Anthoine Hubert heading into the Hockenheimring weekend, but a sixth place in race one gave him a boost while he took the honours with a runners-up spot in race two, a position he repeated in race three.

The results also took him to fifth place in the standings in the main championship, getting ahead of Callum Ilott and ultimately finishing only two points behind fourth placed Nick Cassidy.

“This is a great, great feeling,” said Eriksson. “My primary aim this season was to win the rookie title, and now it’s done. I want to thank the team and everyone who has supported me this year; it’s been fantastic.

“This does mean a lot to me. I was under quite a bit of pressure this weekend – more than in previous races – and that in itself is an experience I’ll take with me for the future. I now know how to handle a situation like this, and that I’m able to do it without getting all stressed up.

“I’m really happy with the season overall. I’ve put my heart into it, and I think I’ve made the most of the races most of the time. We were quite unfortunate in the middle of the season and lost some valuable points, but to still end up fifth is pretty great. I’ve learned a lot this season and I’m grateful for the experience.”

As well as clinching the rookie title, Eriksson also achieved his first European Formula 3 pole position for race three, although he was unable to keep Lance Stroll behind as the Canadian clinched a hat trick of victories.

“It’s been a good weekend, for sure,” insisted Eriksson. “I ran into traffic in first qualifying which compromised the result in Race 1, but we made up for it with two good podiums in races two and three.

“I’m also really pleased to have finally bagged a pole position (in Qualifying 2); it’s been close a couple of times this year, but to finally get it – and for the last race of the season at that – was very nice.

“Unfortunately Lance (Stroll) was a little too quick today and was able to get past, but I gave it all I had and it was a fun, clean fight.”

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