The surprise package in the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship could be KYB Team JC. This season will be their first full-year in the championship and they have three experienced rallycross racers in their line-up for 2020.
Robin Larsson and Janis Baumanis both showed promise in 2019 with Larsson dominating and winning the European Rallycross Championship while Baumanis took his first podium finishes in World RX.
For Larsson, putting together a consistent season across the differing tracks will be key for any title aspirations. Driving JC Raceteknik‘s latest-specification Audi S1 EKS RX Quattro last month, he won the RallyX Nordic season-opener at Holjes against a strong field of opponents.
There were encouraging signs from Larsson that he was right on the pace immediately. The only question could be whether JC Raceteknik are able to develop the car and maximize it’s potential throughout the year.
Last season also saw Larsson dominate Euro RX as well as him coming out on top against Oliver Eriksson to win the RallyX Nordic title. His natural speed can get him out of trouble but it also puts him into trouble if he overdoes it.
The last person any driver will want to see in their rear view mirror is Larsson. He can be so aggressive and loves going up against the fastest drivers and with him on the grid this year the excitement levels will go up a couple of notches for fans of the series that’s for sure.
Elbows out and a hardcore racer could see Larsson win an event this year as you just can’t rule him out when he pulls up to the startline. Hopefully we can see Larsson at his best in the World RX because the championship has missed him after he focused on his European campaign.
Teammate Baumanis was initially announced as a full-time driver for the team but economic problems for him have meant he can only compete part-time this season.
It means Mattias Ekstrom returns and will race this weekend in the World RX of Sweden double-header.
Ekstrom made a one-off appearance at Spa last year and showed glimpses of the form that saw him become the 2016 champion. He is a great substitute for Baumanis and we can expect Ekstrom to be on the pace of Larsson.
It is not known yet how many rounds Baumanis will miss but when he is racing it will be fascinating to see how he fares against Larsson
Baumanis meanwhile has a smoother style compared to Larsson and it will be fascinating to see if the car suits Baumanis or not considering how sideways and how much of a loose rear Larsson likes to have.
The Latvian will be looking to build on last year and will be searching for his maiden win. Something that could harm his potential this year is the simple fact that he is very rarely at the top of the time sheets and appears at times to just not quite have the raw speed of some of his rivals.
Without doubt Baumanis is a safe pair of hands at the wheel though, but he will be hoping to find that extra gear to challenge the very top drivers this season.
A change of both car and team after four years of driving a Ford Fiesta could be just what Baumanis needs but it will be a steep learning curve for the 2015 Super 1600 champion this season that is for sure.
To summarise, KYB Team JC have a pair of drivers with contrasting styles, but are a team that could do some big things in their first full season in the championship.
Robin Larsson: 9th
Janis Baumanis: 12th