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Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
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Sat 29 Apr 2023

Marklund rides the rollercoaster to lead the way in Hungary

Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund described his new Ford Fiesta as ‘the worst car he’d ever driven’ after FP1 at Nyirád today (29 April). Following just a few hours of fettling and finessing, the SET Promotion star stormed to the fastest time in heat one.

Reigning FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund described his new Ford Fiesta as ‘the worst car he’d ever driven’ after FP1 at Nyirád today (29 April). Following just a few hours of fettling and finessing, the SET Promotion star stormed to the fastest time in heat one.

Marklund arrived in Hungary for the 2023 Euro RX1 curtain-raiser with minimal prior running in the Fiesta – a car significantly older than many of the category’s other front-runners – and having only tried it out at Rīga’s Biķernieku trase, a circuit whose super-smooth surface is a far cry from the bumps and loose gravel of Nyirád Racing Center.

That lack of knowledge showed in FP1, when the Swede was four tenths-of-a-second adrift of Andreas Bakkerud’s outright benchmark, but come FP2, it was Marklund on top, and by a commanding 0.393s.

From second on the grid in his opening heat race, the 30-year-old then battled back from a sluggish launch to overhaul home hero Tamás Kárai with an early joker strategy, ultimately winding up more than two-and-a-half seconds clear of his closest pursuer. It was an emphatic way to begin his quest for a fourth European Championship crown.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, I must say, maybe not in the results but definitely in terms of the car’s behaviour,” Marklund reflected afterwards. “We struggled a bit in FP1, and I told my mechanics this was the worst car I’d ever driven. We thought we had been clever, but we clearly weren’t doing it right so we made some big changes for FP2, when I was much happier and then we tweaked it a bit further before heat one.

“Those changes didn’t really play out the way we wanted in the race, though. I almost lost the Fiesta a few times – twice on the run downhill, which was a bit sketchy – but that’s just the way it is sometimes when you are getting used to a different car.

“This is a new chapter for us and we are still exploring and understanding the Fiesta, and I think we’re doing a good job as a team. The SET Promotion guys have been working until the early hours of the morning back at base in recent weeks, so this heat one victory is for them.”

Enzo Ide – runner-up to Marklund in Hungary last year – again proved to be best-of-the-rest after muscling his way past Bakkerud in the last of the heat races, with Jānis Baumanis completing the overnight top three in his RX Team Latvia Peugeot, despite feeling substantially below-par.

Bakkerud sits fourth ahead of Patrick O’Donovan, who enjoyed a clean run in the first race, with Kárai a competitive sixth and more than holding his own in such illustrious company. The Hungarian was the best-placed of four local aces inside the top ten.

In Euro RX3, second-year driver Nils Volland is the early pace-setter behind the wheel of Volland Racing’s all-conquering Audi A1, with Jan Černý a superb second in his Škoda Citigo. Homegrown stars Zsolt Szíjj ‘Jolly’ and Balázs Körmöczi were fast and feisty on their way to third and fourth in the classification, but further down the order, there was drama for Jens Hvaal and Damian Litwinowicz – who both retired following a coming-together – and Espen Isaksætre, who lost time to a half-spin.

The action continues tomorrow (30 April) with the remaining three heats, semi-finals and all-important finals. Every moment will be broadcast live on RX+, beginning at 11:30 CET.

All results from today’s racing can be found in the ‘Official Noticeboard’ section here.