WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia
Sweden
Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Sweden
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Tue 25 Apr 2023

Marklund unveils ‘special’ car for Euro RX1 title defence

Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund has taken the wraps off the ‘special’ car with which he will bid to defend his hard-fought Euro RX1 title this year, as he prepares to take to the track behind the wheel of an updated Ford Fiesta RX honouring the legacy of the late Ken Block.

Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund has taken the wraps off the ‘special’ car with which he will bid to defend his hard-fought Euro RX1 title this year, as he prepares to take to the track behind the wheel of an updated Ford Fiesta RX honouring the legacy of the late Ken Block.

Marklund clinched his third European crown last season, but with SET Promotion having since sold the latest-specification Hyundai, it looked like the Swede would be absent from the grid in 2023. However, when a last-minute opportunity arose to embark upon a fresh challenge, it was too good to turn down.

The M-Sport developed Fiesta RX was, in its day, one of the best rallycross Supercars in the world. The concept was initially used in America, and subsequently in the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Block – who sadly passed away at the beginning of this year – was the first driver to race an M-Sport Fiesta RX in rallycross, taking the car to a World RX podium finish and Euro RX win in Norway in 2014. Just under a decade on, Marklund will now pilot a similar SET-run machine throughout the forthcoming six-round Euro RX1 campaign.

Like SET Promotion, Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division team was, and still is, a tight-knit bunch of hard-working people with a common passion for achieving success and an emphasis on enjoying the journey.

Somebody who worked with Block and the Fiesta RX in its heyday, and is today a member of SET’s small but committed team on the Euro RX programme, is Finnish technician Henrik Rautanen. It is through ‘Hepa’s’ personal link with the Block family and Hoonigan Team Principal Derek Dauncey that the car that Marklund and SET are running this year will celebrate the memory of the American star within its stunning new livery.

As part of the striking design on the Fiesta RX, the roof section carries the American flag in tribute to Block, while the team’s support of the foundation established to continue Block’s creative legacy, 43i.org – intended to forge paths of opportunity for the exceptionally driven who may lack the proper support system for growth and success – is acknowledged within the design.

The programme will certainly pose a challenge for the 10-time European champions, with the Fiesta RX being significantly older than many of the cars racing at the front of the ultra-competitive Euro RX1 field, but from SET’s Turku workshops in Finland, work has been undertaken on one of only six Fiesta RXs ever produced to bring it more into the present day.

SET has history with the concept, too; Reinis Nitišs won the Euro RX title in 2018 with a sister car to the one that will be used by the team this season, and while the current machine was not driven by the Latvian, Block or Niclas Grönholm, the shared DNA within the chassis will stand the team in good stead this year.

“I’m very much looking forward to the season,” enthused 30-year-old Marklund. “We are the reigning champions, but I see us as the underdogs. Of course we are doing everything we can to win because that is why we go racing, but the Fiesta was built in 2013 and things have changed a bit since then. Having said that, the team is very good and I think together we can create something special.

“It feels nice for me to come into the season not being a big favourite to win the championship, and we will see how we get on. The car looks really good, and for me it is special to be able to honour Ken’s legacy – it was with him that this Fiesta project started, and Ken’s passing is a huge loss to the whole motorsport community.

“I know Henrik’s time with Ken was a special part of his career, so it means a lot for us as a team to be doing this project and carrying the livery on the roof of the car that we are. I can’t wait to get into the car in Hungary this weekend and see what we can do on-track, and most importantly continue to enjoy what we do as much as we did last season.”

The 2023 Euro RX1 campaign gets underway at Nyirád in Hungary this weekend (29-30 April).