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Wed 28 Sep 2022

Baumanis: Marklund ‘a very worthy champion’

Jānis Baumanis was gracious in defeat after conceding the 2022 Euro RX1 crown to Anton Marklund at Montalegre earlier this month, explaining that he ‘left nothing on the table’ in an effort to keep the title battle alive into the Spa-Francorchamps finale while acknowledging that his arch-rival is ‘a very worthy champion’.

Jānis Baumanis was gracious in defeat after conceding the 2022 Euro RX1 crown to Anton Marklund at Montalegre earlier this month, explaining that he ‘left nothing on the table’ in an effort to keep the title battle alive into the Spa-Francorchamps finale while acknowledging that his arch-rival is ‘a very worthy champion’.

Baumanis has been a front-runner in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s headlining category all season behind the wheel of his #YellowSquad Peugeot 208 – although he has not always had the luck to match his undisputed pace, with just one rostrum result to his name arriving in Portugal.

Be that as it may, his commendable consistency meant he was still in with a chance of prolonging the championship fight – albeit needing to outscore Marklund by seven points in order to do so.

The Latvian’s weekend got off to the perfect start in heat one as he sped to the fastest time, but a heat two joker merge clash between the two former champions – Baumanis having previously lifted the laurels at Super1600 (Euro RX3) level and Marklund in both the Supercar (Euro RX1) and TouringCar classes – dropped him down the order.

With his car fully repaired, the 30-year-old set about bouncing back the next morning. A stellar launch in heat three saw him sweep right the way around the outside of his adversaries to lead into the first corner – but that good work was subsequently undone when a mistake in the increasingly rutted loose-surface section pitched him headlong into the barriers at the end of the following lap.

From there, Baumanis kept Marklund honest throughout the pair’s progression race before delivering a dominant semi-final win. From second on the grid in the all-important final, he then pushed Enzo Ide all the way, and while ultimately he didn’t have quite enough pace to turn the tables on the Belgian and take the title duel down to the wire, the runner-up spoils nonetheless represented his best result of the campaign to-date.

What a weekend,” reflected the Mārupe native. “It was very up-and-down and one of the most difficult I’ve ever had. Clearly, we had good pace and the car felt great, and despite the collision with Anton and the mistake in heat three – when the rear kicked out and I lost control and hit the barrier – I pulled myself together, got back into the rhythm and gave everything I had.

“We saved four new tyres for the final and I left nothing on the table, but Enzo was too fast to be able to make up the difference in just one lap. Still, I was pleased to finish on the podium – for sure we wanted more from this season overall, but it’s been difficult.

“I was happy for Enzo that he got his first win and happy for Anton that he won the championship. Congratulations to him – we had our share of fights and contact, but he is a very, very worthy champion.”