Fri 14 Oct 2022

In-form Marklund targeting ‘the top level’ in 2023

Euro RX1 Champion Anton Marklund is aiming for a return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2023, after concluding his dominant title-winning campaign with a third triumph from six rounds in Belgium last weekend (8-9 October).

Euro RX1 Champion Anton Marklund is aiming for a return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2023, after concluding his dominant title-winning campaign with a third triumph from six rounds in Belgium last weekend (8-9 October).

Having clinched the coveted crown at Montalegre three weeks earlier, Spa-Francorchamps for Marklund represented something of a victory parade as he was let off the leash at last – although by his own admission, it took him a little while to realise that he could now throw caution to the wind.

The 29-year-old won his first heat race behind the wheel of his Hyundai i20, but was pipped in the overall times by Enzo Ide – leading him to accuse himself of ‘not really pushing hard enough’. It was the only session he would not top all weekend.

After outfoxing impressive newcomer Mika Liimatainen in heat two to leap to the summit of the standings, Marklund turned up the wick considerably in heat three the next day to go fastest by almost four seconds.

Not satisfied with that, the SET Promotion star won his progression race by more than five seconds and then proved to be peerless in both his semi-final and the all-important final, with none of his rivals able to hold a candle to the now three-time European Champion.

The result saw him end the season 29 points clear of closest pursuer Jānis Baumanis – and Marklund is hoping his title success will prove to be the springboard for a renewed assault on World RX honours, having already ascended the podium on four occasions at the international pinnacle of the dual-surface discipline.

“I really enjoyed the weekend,” the Swede reflected. “There was no pressure at all, so we just tried to do what we do best, which is pushing to the maximum at all times. It was difficult in previous rounds to handle everything right – to not take too many risks, make any stupid mistakes or put myself in bad situations – but at Spa, we could just give it our all, and somehow that is a bit easier than trying to be smart.

“In heat one, it was still the same Anton Marklund as it had been for the previous two or three rounds, where I had been careful not to use that last little bit of the track, but then my team told me I needed to wake up a bit given the championship was already secured, and to just go out there and kill it – so that’s what we did.

“I feel very proud of myself and the team for the work we have done, and it’s cool to now be a three-time champion – although I think that will feel a lot sweeter when I’m older and my career has ended and I’m staying back home watching the racing.

“Right now, I just want to win every race I enter – and I really hope I can be competing at the top level of rallycross next year. I feel very hungry, and to be honest, I feel I’m at my best at the moment. I’m better now at keeping everything together throughout the race weekends and the championship, and the mistakes are getting fewer and fewer. That means I’m feeling very good, and I hope I can be in a good spot next year...”

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Italy
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Hungary
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