KYB Team JC had a great weekend in Latvia by claiming a total of three podiums in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and second in the championship standings Mattias Ekström is continuing to match leader Johan Kristoffersson with four rounds of the season remaining.
Ekström finished in second place in Saturday’s final, just behind the current championship leader Kristoffersson, but on the Sunday things were turned as Ekström won round six, followed by Kristoffersson in second and team mate Robin Larsson in third.
Ekström believed he wouldn’t be that competitive in Sunday’s opening qualifying session, as he was drawn last in the grid draw and was forced to take the outside grid place in the first race.
Despite having that grid position, Ekström stormed in to an early lead by making a fine round-the-outside move on the rest of the field however.
He had one rather scary moment when the throttle became stuck in the middle of turn five forcing the car to spin sideways at high speed, but Ekström managed to control it to take the win and also was the fastest in the first qualifying session.
“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. “ Ekström said on his 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.”
Ekström continued to dominate in the second qualifying by taking another fastest time with team mate Larsson taking his first qualifying win of the last session and it was therefore a good return to action after his misfortune in the second qualifying session where he hit the barrier inside the joker lap that led to his car being heavily damaged at the right front corner.
“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.” Larsson added.
“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!”
JC Raceteknik’s Ben-Philip Gundersen, who was entered in the FIA European Rallycross Championship didn’t have a great weekend.
Gundersen claimed his first Supercar win at the RallyX Nordic season-finale in Denmark earlier this month, so he had high hopes of taking home a first win in Euro RX as he headed to Latvia.
Gundersen was second quickest in the first qualifying on Saturday and also made it to the final on the Sunday, but that was where the bad luck started for him.
He was given a reprimand after the battle with Oliver Eriksson in the semi-final and also made a costly mistake at the hairpin in the final which led to a pile up of cars who were ruining behind.
Gundersen ended up fifth in Latvia and is currently fourth overall in the championship as they heads to Belgium for the final round in November.
“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.” Gundersen commented.
“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.”