Thu 17 Aug 2023

Marklund ready for ‘mental game’ as day of destiny awaits

Anton Marklund has promised to treat the upcoming Euro RX1 title-decider at Germany’s Estering ‘like any other weekend’, as he seeks to add a third career crown to his impressive résumé in Euro RX’s top tier.

Anton Marklund has promised to treat the upcoming Euro RX1 title-decider at Germany’s Estering (19-20 August) ‘like any other weekend’, as he seeks to add a third career crown to his impressive résumé in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s top tier.  


Defending champion Marklund has arguably been the Euro RX1 pace-setter all year, but a mixture of issues and ill-fortune kept him off the top step of the podium until the penultimate round at Mettet in Belgium earlier this month.  


The Swede’s first victory of the campaign, however, coincided with a torrid weekend for his three chief rivals Jānis Baumanis, Enzo Ide and Patrick O’Donovan, which enabled him to quadruple his advantage at the summit of the standings from a slender five-point margin to a commanding 20-point lead.

“This season has certainly had its ups-and-downs, with a lot of the downs coming early on,” he reflected. “There was the crash in Hungary and then stalling the engine on pole position in the final in Portugal, the clash in Norway and being pushed wide through Turn Two in Sweden. It felt like Belgium was the first time this year that things actually went our way, even though we didn’t necessarily have the outright pace there.


“I was gutted for the other guys at Mettet, to be honest. I couldn’t have expected anything like that to happen. All of us have had really good fights this year, and I really hope we can have another big fight for the win in Germany.”


The Estering has not featured on the Euro RX calendar since 2019, and Marklund’s last appearance there was a year earlier still. While acknowledging that he always goes racing to win, the SET Promotion star is conscious that there is a much bigger picture this weekend.


“I’ve always enjoyed coming to the Estering,” he revealed. “It’s a track with proper loose gravel, which allows you to go ‘full send’ into Turn One – you need to be so committed on the unsealed sections, but at the same time, really precise on the asphalt because there’s very little room for error. It’s a high-intensity, high-adrenaline lap with no time to rest – full push from the moment you lift the clutch to the moment the chequered flag falls.

“I wouldn’t say I’m feeling relaxed going into the weekend, but with the bigger gap now, I’m not feeling too stressed either. I’ve tried to prepare as well as possible, and the main focus will be to qualify for the semi-finals, which would give us the points we need.


“There’s always a lot of action and contact at Buxtehude, so the most important thing is to try to stay out of trouble – which is obviously easier said than done! All it would take is an engine failure or technical issue, or a small error or getting caught up in somebody else’s accident and it can really cost you. It’s never over in rallycross until it’s over.


“My approach is pretty straightforward. I need to stay focussed, stay in the zone, drive smart and not get into any big fights and just treat it like any other weekend. When you start adapting your approach, that’s when things can go wrong.


“Ultimately, it’s a mental game for me this weekend. First and foremost, I need to think about the championship during the heats, but if are where we need to be after that, then we go all-in...”

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