Wed 14 Jun 2023

Marklund hoping ‘third time’s a charm’ in Hell

Anton Marklund is aiming to belatedly kick-start his Euro RX1 title defence in Norway this weekend (17-18 June), having been arguably the fastest driver so far this year but – for a variety of reasons – having yet to stand on the top step of the podium...

In both Hungary and Portugal, defending FIA European Rallycross Champion Anton Marklund was arguably the fastest driver in the Euro RX1 field, but on both occasions, the Swede has come away without the winner’s trophy. He is determined to belatedly open his 2023 victory account in Norway this weekend (17-18 June).

Despite having traded his Hyundai i20 for a Ford Fiesta over the winter, as a driver with three European titles to his name, Marklund was inevitably going to be one of the pre-season favourites, and that has certainly been reflected on the timing screens – if not necessarily the final results sheets.

The SET Promotion star has displayed a devastating turn-of-speed on occasion, but unavoidable contact at Nyirád and a start-line issue at Montalegre have kept him off the top step of the podium.

Marklund has been out of luck in Hell recently, too – losing a breakthrough World RX victory there due to a technical infringement in 2019, and then finding himself muscled out of the lead at the start of the Euro RX1 final in 2022 – so he returns seeking redemption and hoping that the old adage ‘third time’s a charm’ rings true.

“It’s been a very strong start to the season in terms of pace,” the 30-year-old acknowledged. “I’m really happy with the way the car has been working, even though it has been a bit of a struggle compared to last year, when we had more data to lean back on. It seems that with the combined experience of myself and the team, we are able to be quick out-of-the-box every weekend, but the results have not really been with us.

“Second place in Hungary felt like a victory, but it wasn’t a victory, and in Portugal, everything looked very good until something happened. The engineers haven’t really understood exactly what happened yet so we are still investigating, but for sure, we haven’t had the results we hoped for and that our pace has deserved.

“In motorsport, sometimes it’s your day and sometimes it isn’t, and feeling sorry for ourselves is not in our nature. We will stay hungry, we will stay focussed and we’re going to Hell with a big will to win, especially with it being my closest round to home. I have a lot of friends and family coming along and I want to show them what we can do. I’m pretty confident we will be quick again, so hopefully we can keep it together with no technical issues, have a great weekend and catch up a bit in the championship.”

The drivers the Swede needs to catch are Jānis Baumanis and Enzo Ide, nine points clear and tied at the summit of the standings – with a win apiece to their credit in 2023. Young guns Patrick O’Donovan and home hero Sivert Svardal have also been right on the pace so far this year, though the latter, like Marklund, has too often found himself on the receiving end of ill-fortune.

Seasoned campaigner René Münnich continues to take the fight to his younger rivals – racing to the runner-up spoils in Portugal – while there is an intriguing ‘wild card’ in the pack in the shape of Norwegian rallycross legend Sverre Isachsen, back in action for the first time in almost seven years. Has the three-time European Champion and fans’ favourite still ‘got it’? We’re about to find out...

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM