Thu 31 Aug 2023

Sjökvist already ‘pumped for redemption’ in 2024

After coming up just short in his quest to be crowned FIA RX2e Champion following a season-long battle this year, Isak Sjökvist has warned his rivals that he is ‘pumped for redemption’ and set on ‘hunting them down’ in 2024.

After coming up just short in his quest to be crowned FIA RX2e Champion following a season-long battle this year, Isak Sjökvist has warned his rivals that he is ‘pumped for redemption’ and set on ‘hunting them down’ in 2024.

Competing for Hansen Motorsport ‘junior’ outfit #YellowSquad, Sjökvist came out-of-the-blocks on stellar form in the Hell curtain-raiser in Norway back in June as he sped to his second career triumph in the single-spec FIA World Rallycross Championship feeder series.

He remained in charge after finishing third on home soil at Höljes three weeks later, but disappointing outings at Lydden Hill in the UK and Mettet in Belgium saw the Swede arrive at Germany’s Estering for the title showdown having slipped five points shy of the summit of the standings.

Rediscovering his form just when he needed it most, Sjökvist outpaced fellow championship protagonists Nils Andersson and Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky to go second-quickest in qualifying practice around the Buxtehude-based circuit. He replicated that result in heat one – pipping Andersson to the chequered flag by barely a tenth-of-a-second – before having to give best to his countryman in heat two.

The Uppsala native fought back the following day, outperforming Andersson and Åhlin-Kottulinsky in both of the remaining two heats to secure second in the intermediate classification – narrowing his deficit to the top of the table from five points to four in the process – and then leading home World RX star Niclas Grönholm for victory in the pair’s semi-final.

That earned him a front row grid spot for the all-important final – ahead of Andersson – but his task was complicated when Filip Thorén rolled at the first attempt to get the race underway and did not take the re-start. With Grönholm and CE Dealer Team stablemate Klara Andersson not eligible to score, Sjökvist suddenly needed to win to be crowned champion. No other result would do.

With that in mind, the 22-year-old boldly attempted to hold his nerve around the outside of pole-sitter Tommi Hallman through Turn One, but he found himself edged wide and sent tumbling down the order to fourth. Although he fought back to third at the flag – matching the leaders for pace – it was not quite enough, consigning him to the runner-up spoils in the championship for the second consecutive campaign.

“I was devastated to lose the championship,” reflected Sjökvist, who was characteristically gracious in defeat, “but Team E has done a great job all season and Nils [Andersson] is a deserving champion, so congratulations to them. I enjoyed all the fights we had during the year – it was always really hard but fair racing and I was proud to share the championship podium with two fellow Swedes.

“I hadn’t been to the Estering before, so I felt Nils had a bit of an advantage having tested there. Still, we were on great form all weekend, and I tried to pull out everything I had and enjoy every second.

“The first corner is really tricky, and if you’re on the outside you have to make a choice. We knew we needed to win in the final, so we took the decision that we had to just go for it and I tried to send it around the outside, but it wasn’t quite enough.

“The level of competition at the top of RX2e is so high that the small margins make a big difference, and we did everything in our power to deliver the best result possible. At the end of the day, Nils was in every final this season, and with the way the points system works, that counts for a lot.

“Yes, it sucks. Yes, it hurts. Yes, there are loads of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, yet I’m actually proud of myself and my incredible team at #YellowSquad that we went down fighting. Even during the dark times, you need to try to take away the positives. We made all decisions as a team and gave it everything we had. This time, it wasn’t meant to be, but we’re still the second-best in the whole of Europe.

“That said, I’m not satisfied with second. I’m hungrier than ever and it’s not going to end here. There’s a new season around the corner, and we are pumped for redemption and will work as hard as we can to turn our dreams into reality. The others had better be prepared, because I’ll be hunting them down!”

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