Two-time FIA European Rallycross Champion and multiple FIA World Rallycross Championship podium-finisher Anton Marklund will return to Euro RX1 this season in a SET Promotion Hyundai i20 – with his sights solidly set on a third career crown.
Marklund has been a consistent front-runner on both the European and World Championship scene since 2011, clinching TouringCar honours in 2012 and adding the Supercar (now Euro RX1) laurels to his burgeoning CV five years later. The Swede also has four rostrum appearances to his credit in World RX – placing a career-high sixth in the standings in 2014.
Last season, Marklund rejoined the fray for the Euro RX1 curtain-raiser at Höljes, behind the wheel of the same car that he had piloted to title glory four years earlier. After setting the pace in each of the opening three heats, the 29-year-old was on-course to secure Top Qualifier status until a spectacular barrel-roll at the joker merge in Q4 ruled him out of the remainder of the weekend.
Like its new driver, SET Promotion is a name synonymous with the sport. Since first entering Euro RX competition in 2003, the ultra-successful Finnish outfit has tallied nine championship triumphs, more than 50 individual event wins and in excess of 100 podium finishes.
In various guises, SET and Marklund have competed directly against one another in recent campaigns, and having now joined forces, they are firmly focussed on challenging for the coveted Euro RX1 trophy. The Västerbotten County native has already tested the Hyundai i20 in Finland, with further running planned ahead of the season curtain-raiser at Nyirád in Hungary next month (21-22 May) – the first of six rounds on the 2022 schedule.
“Since even before I began racing in rallycross myself, I have seen SET Promotion always competing at the top in whichever category they are in,” mused Marklund. “From the outside, SET has always looked very professional. We started to discuss what we could do this year at the end of last season, and finally decided to work together.
“There will be a lot of cars and drivers at a very high level in the European Championship so it will be far from easy, but the target is to challenge for the title. I’ve driven the Hyundai in a small test already, and I have to say I was quite surprised by how good it was on the gravel. In general, the car and team share the same philosophy that I have had myself for the last couple of years, so it feels very good and hopefully we can continue that preparation all the way to the first round.
“I’m particularly looking forward to Höljes as my home event, and Norway as it is pure fun to drive there. I’m also looking forward to going back to Hungary. I raced there in 2013 and it’s an amazing track. Kicking off the season at an old-school circuit will be great!”
Team Principal Jussi Pinomäki and SET Promotion’s Euro RX1 Team Manager Aleksi Koskinen share Marklund’s enthusiasm as they look ahead to what is shaping up to be a fiercely competitive campaign, with the full entry lists due to be published later this week.
“SET Promotion feels very at home in the FIA European Rallycross Championship,” commented Pinomäki. “As a team, we have enjoyed many years of very good competition in the series and much success. We don’t ever take that for granted, however, and a lot of hard work has gone into preparing for this season with both Anton and Aleksi, who has been a big part of SET for a number of years.
“The calibre will be high in Euro RX1, but when you combine the experience of the team together with Anton’s clear ability and experience as a driver at the highest level in rallycross, I think we can expect to enjoy a lot of close racing.”
“It’s a very exciting year that we have ahead of us,” echoed Koskinen. “This is a new role for me as Team Manager, and a new position for Anton as he returns for a full European Championship season with our Hyundai. Anton and I worked together in 2014 and 2015 in the World Rallycross Championship with Marklund Motorsport, and it’s been great to see his development as a driver through the years.
“We’ve put a really strong team in place, full of experienced people and with one goal – to fight for another championship title for both Anton and SET Promotion. The level will be high in Euro RX1 this year, and I’m looking forward to some great battles.”