Anton Marklund has described his FIA World Rallycross Championship comeback and electric racing debut at World RX of Germany earlier this month as mission accomplished, as he works ‘flat-out’ on cementing a full-time return to the highest level in 2023.
Fresh off the back of clinching his third European Championship crown in the series’ headlining Euro RX1 category, Marklund joined ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport as a stand-in for regular driver René Münnich for the Nürburgring season finale, behind the wheel of the team’s SEAT Ibiza RX1e.
The Swede was keen to stress from the outset that it was a learning opportunity, having never previously raced an electric car, and while his weekend got off to a somewhat inauspicious start – with an off-piste moment in the single-lap SuperPole session and a coming-together with Gustav Bergström in heat two that resulted in a disqualification – he came out-of-the-blocks on Sunday in much stronger form.
After setting the fourth-quickest time in morning warm-up – only a tenth-of-a-second shy of the Hansen brothers in the battle for best-of-the-rest honours behind runaway pace-setter Johan Kristoffersson – Marklund then found himself slowed by visibility issues in both his progression race and semi-final, but as he explains, the result was never the primary concern.
“To be honest, it was a very challenging weekend but at the same time a very interesting one and a lot of fun,” reflected the 29-year-old Boliden native. “We knew we were not going to be on the front-running pace, but it wasn’t about results. First and foremost, it was an opportunity to gain experience, because there was a lot to learn on my side and with the frenetic rhythm of a rallycross weekend, there’s never much time to properly analyse.
“There are also a lot of differences between electric and combustion, which is what I’ve always been used to in racing. The acceleration and corner exit speeds were really something else, and you can’t simply ‘copy-and-paste’ the set-up – you need to adopt a new approach. It’s almost like starting from zero in some respects, which is very exciting.
“We had to work our way into the weekend, and the ALL-INKL guys were more than happy to explore changes to the car – every time we went out on-track, we made some more adjustments.
“We turned everything upside-down from Saturday to Sunday to see how the SEAT would react to a different philosophy, and I really liked the way it felt on the Sunday morning. That was reflected in setting the fourth-fastest time in the warm-up – I was really proud of that, as it proved what was possible and validated all the hard work that everybody had put in.
“Our speed clearly wasn’t the best in the races, but a large part of the reason for that was that we didn’t have a spare windscreen, and being in traffic, it kept getting blasted with gravel. The sun was also very low by the time the progression races and semi-finals came around, which made visibility even more difficult so we decided to play it safe rather than take any unnecessary risks.
“Overall, though, I’m very satisfied with what we achieved. Only ten drivers have driven these new cars in World Championship competition; that makes it a very exclusive club still, and to be one of them is a marketable value and means if I do succeed in securing a World RX drive next year, I will know what to expect. We’re working flat-out for 2023 and while at the moment, no doors are really open, I’m going to keep on knocking on them all and we’ll see what happens...”