Driver

WORLD RX TEAM BY TEAM REVIEW - KYB TEAM JC

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Team: KYB Team JC

Car: Audi S1

Drivers: Robin Larsson (SWE) #4, Mattias Ekstrom (SWE) #5

Teams’ Championship Points: 314

Teams’ Championship Position: 1st

 

Swedish team JC Raceteknik entered the FIA World Rallycross Championship as a permanent team for the first time in 2020 with Sweden’s Robin Larsson and Latvia’s Janis Baumanis in EKS-built Audi S1s. Baumanis was forced out before the season started due to budget issues, and 2016 World RX Drivers’ Champion Mattias Ekstrom stepped in to take his place. Together Ekstrom and Larsson were the most consistent Teams’ Championship drivers through the season and KYB Team JC won the Teams’ title. Ekstrom was also the nearest challenger to World RX Drivers’ Champion Johan Kristoffersson and finished P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.

 

Here’s how Robin and Mattias fared head-to-head:

 

Quickest Qualifying Times:

RL 1 – ME 7

Ekstrom took fastest time in the second qualifier of the 2020 season at Holjes-Sweden in round one, and repeated the effort in round two. A further quickest time in round five in Riga-Latvia followed, before two fastest times in round six sent the former champion on his way to TQ (top qualifier) position in the Intermediate Classification. Larsson set one quickest time to make it a day of KYB Team JC domination in round six at Riga-Latvia with fastest in Q3, on his way to P3 in the Intermediate Classification, his best qualifying position of the year.

 

Semi-final starts:

RL 8 – ME 8

Both KYB Team JC drivers made the semi-finals at every round. Ekstrom started on the front row for the semis in all but one round (round seven, Catalunya-Barcelona), and it was only in round three at Kouvola-Finland where Ekstrom didn’t progress to the final, due to technical problems. Larsson won his semi-final in round two of the season at Holjes-Sweden to start on the front row in the final, but later in the season, at Catalunya-Barcelona in round seven, he missed the semi-final cut in P13 in the Intermediate Classification due to problems in the qualifiers, but JC Raceteknik colleague Enzo Ide withdrew from his place in the semi-finals to give Larsson the chance to score further points for the team.

 

Final starts:

RL 4 – ME 7

The only final Ekstrom didn’t start was in Kouvola-Finland, round three, when the Audi S1 had a technical problem while fighting for the lead of semi-final two on the second lap. When Ekstrom made the finals, he was usually on the podium, except in the final rounds of the season, when he was P5 in round seven in Catalunya-Barcelona, then had a throttle problem in round eight and finished in P4. Larsson battled hard in three of the four finals he started, especially in round two where he challenged Johan Kristoffersson for the race lead at turn one. His hopes of a round eight podium at Catalunya-Barcelona were ended when he had a heavy impact at the first corner with Andreas Bakkerud’s stranded Renault Megane RS RX.

 

Podiums:

RL 1 – ME 5

Consistency was key to Ekstrom’s title challenge. He took P2 on his return to World RX at Holjes-Sweden for round one, before winning round two the next day. He finished P2 again in round four and five, in Kouvola-Finland and Riga-Latvia, before winning round six. But, his hopes of battling for the drivers’ title took a hit in Catalunya-Barcelona, where he didn’t finish on the podium in either round. Larsson was in contention for several podiums, but in Riga-Latvia he returned to the World RX top three for the first time since the first round of the 2016 season, finishing in P3 in round six, joining Ekstrom on the podium.

 

Wins:

RL 0 – ME 2

Ekstrom was the second driver to win a 2020 World RX round, beating Johan Kristoffersson in a head-to-head battle for victory at Holjes-Sweden in round two, to properly open a title challenge account. Ekstrom then used superior tyre tactics in Riga-Latvia on Sunday (round six) to again beat Kristoffersson for his second win of the season.

 

Championship:

RL (6th) 122 points – ME (2nd) 192 points

Ekstrom challenged for the Drivers’ Championship title through the season but his hopes of a second crown were ended by a difficult weekend in Catalunya-Barcelona, then with the final two races being cancelled due to COVID-19. He finished P2 in the standings for the third time in his World RX career. Larsson was in a battle for the top three in the Drivers’ Championship but ended up P6.

 

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