Norway’s Sondre Evjen took his first every victory in the FIA European Rallycross Championship in a very exciting round 4 at the Ferratum World RX of Riga-Latvia, beating current championship leader Anton Marklund to the line by less than half a second.
In the final twist in a changeable weekend at the Biķernieki circuit in Riga, the final took place in wet conditions. Evjen – who had been in fourth place in the overnight standings, quietly getting on with his own race weekend and staying out of drama – managed to get the power down on the incredibly slippery asphalt, heading into turn one level pegging with Marklund. Both drivers leaned heavily on each other, trying to get their cars turned in, but it was the JC Raceteknik machine of Evjen who made it out of the first two turns in the lead.
Marklund opted to dive into his joker lap to try and get clear air, allowing him to push hard and get an advantage on Evjen. Indeed, it looked like everything had gone swimmingly for the SET Promotion driver, who swung round Evjen at the next joker merge. However, Marklund drifted slightly too wide into a wet patch of track, span his wheels, desperate for traction, and Evjen pounced. His Audi S1 looked so poised and controlled as the Norwegian nailed his foot to the floor, and regained the lead. Evjen’s usual millimetric precision slipped a couple of times on the final lap, not helped my Marklund giving him a friendly nudge on the final run round the hairpin, but he managed to hold on to take his maiden and a very popular event win. Marklund came home second, and the overnight leader Enzo Ide brought home his Audi S1 less than a second behind the leader – a thrilling end to a fabulous weekend of motorsport.
Marklund probably won’t be too upset with second place, however, as his main rival, #YellowSquad driver Janis Baumanis continues his run as potentially the unluckiest man in rallycross. The Latvian favourite looked all set to challenge for the win. He was doing pretty much everything right, sitting third in the overnight standings. Indeed, Baumanis took charge of his semi-final, leading from eventual winner Evjen to the audible delight of the home fans. However, on lap three, disaster struck: turbo issues dropped him down the order, out of contention, and out of the running for the final.
This means that, despite his best efforts, Baumanis now lies 26 points adrift of Marklund with only two rounds to go. The season is now Marklund’s to lose. The question now becomes: can Baumanis hold on to second place? Evjen is only two points behind him, and Ide only 7. Both drivers are hungry for more and will be pushing at every available opportunity.
Marklund could feasibly wrap up the championship with a round to spare when the EuroRX moves on to the next venue, the ever popular Montalegre in Portugal, in two weeks time.