Mon 26 Feb 2024

Sjökvist has ‘reconciled’ with 2023 title near-miss

Seven points. That was all that ultimately separated Isak Sjökvist from RX2e title glory last year. Having since ‘reconciled’ with that disappointment, he has his focus fully fixed on the biggest prize.

Seven points. That was all that ultimately separated Isak Sjökvist from FIA RX2e Championship glory last year, as the Swede was obliged to settle for the runner-up spoils in the title standings for the second consecutive campaign. Having since ‘reconciled’ with that disappointment, he has his focus fully fixed on the biggest prize.

Leaving the season-opener in Hell, Sjökvist looked to be in pole position in the race to become the third champion in the fiercely-disputed, single-spec FIA World Rallycross Championship support series.

The #YellowSquad star was riding the crest of wave, having just delivered arguably the performance of his career to-date to claim a maximum points haul courtesy of a second RX2e victory.

“That was some extraordinary stuff,” Sjökvist acknowledged. “You know, drivers sometimes describe that feeling of being right in the zone and it was like that for me throughout the whole weekend. I felt untouchable, to be honest. To win the first final of the season was absolutely the icing on the cake.”

Unfortunately, he was unable to maintain that momentum and would not hit the same heady heights again in 2023, but he stayed firmly in the fight throughout and entered the Estering season finale only five points shy of the top of the table, embroiled in a tense three-way tussle for honours.

By the end of the heat races in Germany, a revitalised Sjökvist had reduced the deficit to four points, and he duly dominated the second semi-final ahead of guesting world championship stars Niclas Grönholm and Klara Andersson. A bold attempt to relieve Tommi Hallman of the lead at the start of the all-important final, however, failed to come off, costing him a position to chief title rival Nils Andersson who would thereafter remain narrowly out of reach.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as mentally exhausted after race weekends as I did last year, especially after Lydden Hill and Mettet,” the 23-year-old confessed. “I was surprised by how much power I had whenever I needed to push my mental boundaries. I would say that mental strength always plays a big role in our sport, but last season really tested me in many different ways.

“The final at the Estering is still a bit of a blur, to be honest. At the start, when I saw my chance to overtake [Tommi] Hallman in the first corner, everything went in slow-motion. It was much more slippery than in the semi-finals and that meant the move was not the most effective one I’ve made. The rest of the final was like a hard workout where you push yourself to the red zone limit. Devastated was just the beginning of the emotions I felt afterwards.

“Now some time has passed, I feel I actually did everything I could. For sure, second place is the first loser, but I see this as the best result possible when you look at the bigger picture. The season had its ups-and-downs, but I’ve reconciled with that and I’m excited to do everything I can to achieve an ever better result in the future.”

Key to Sjökvist’s ongoing development and progression has been the support of #YellowSquad – and the exclusive access his partnership with the Hansen Motorsport junior outfit affords him to some of the legends of the sport. He credits the team with giving him the confidence to challenge for the coveted crown.

“Without this incredible team and its members, last year’s result would have been merely a dream,” mused the Uppsala native. “What we achieved shows just how talented and capable this group of people is. They sacrificed all they could and really showed that everything is possible – you simply need to believe it!”

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