Team Marklund Motorsport had an encouraging start to the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre, Portugal.
On a weekend of torrentially wet conditions in Northern Portugal, Marklund Motorsport drivers PG Andersson and Topi Heikkinen proved the potential of the teamâ€™s Volkswagen Polo RX Supercar; Andersson made it to the final but unfortunately finished in sixth position after damaging the carâ€™s left rear wheel. Heikkinen just missed out on a final start after finishing fourth in semi-final two. The pairâ€™s combined results put Marklund Motorsport joint second in the teamsâ€™ championship standings with 29 points.
Both drivers set heat times inside the top four of the hugely competitive World RX championship throughout the weekend. Double Junior World Rally Champion PG Andersson was pleased to make it to the final in his first world championship event for the team, and is excited by the prospects for the Volkswagen Polo RX. â€œThe races were mainly wet and the car handled very nicely in the slippery conditions. I was able to transform my driving to go well, but I didnâ€™t do as well as I hoped in the dry. I have room to improve there,â€ said Andersson. â€œI had quite a clean run in the semi-final to finish third, then the corner before the finish a driveshaft broke. The mechanics did a great job to change it before the final. I had a fantastic start and overtook a few cars in the first corner. Then on lap three I overtook Timmy Hansen, who became 3rd later, but touched his car with my rear wheel and that was it. It feels fantastic to be in the final at the first race of the season in a new team with a new car. Thereâ€™s a lot more to come!â€
Finn Toomas Heikkinen felt that heâ€™d had a weekend of mixed results, but that the Volkswagen Polo RX will be a contender in forthcoming events. â€œThere were some good and bad parts to the weekend. It wasnâ€™t so good for us in terms of results but we are definitely in the game and we can look forward. It was very wet apart from the fourth heat and I struggled to find the feeling in the wet. In the dry the car was really good, we just need to look at the small details to make it even better,â€ said Heikkinen, who is looking forward to the second round of the championship at Hockenheim in Germany next weekend where World RX joins the DTM at the famous Formula One venue. â€œIt was really wet in the semi-final here, I couldnâ€™t find much grip and thatâ€™s the reason I didnâ€™t make it into the final. Itâ€™s great to be going to a new track next weekend; Iâ€™m always strong on the new tracks so Iâ€™m excited.â€
Marklund Motorsport principle Jan Marklund believes that despite a tough weekend, the teamâ€™s Volkswagen Polo RX is a good platform for success. â€œWe have proved that our package is competitive, we have achieved our minimum goal of getting to the final. Itâ€™s a good start to the season; we know we have the speed thatâ€™s needed to win. We just need to do some more fine-tuning,â€ said Marklund. â€œThe rain makes everything a lottery and we were unlucky that PGâ€™s car broke two times. Weâ€™re looking forward to next weekend; new venues have always been good for us when weâ€™ve not had much data beforehand, so we hope to be strong.â€
The second round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Hockenheim will be run between Thursday 30th April and Sunday 3rd May where Marklund Motorsport will be joined by American star Tanner Foust, racing alongside Andersson and Heikkinen.
Text and images free for publication. Copies of content kindly requested.
Portugal Final Result:
1 Johan Kristoffersson (Volksagen Polo)
2 Petter Solberg (Citroen DS3)
3 Timmy Hansen (Peugeot 208)
4 Davy Jeanney (Peugeot 208)
5 Andreas Bakkerud (Ford Fiesta)
6 PG Andersson (Volkswagen Polo)
7 Toomas Heikkinen (Volkswagen Polo)
8 Mattias Ekstrom (Audi S1)