Tag Archives: Anton Marklund

Drivers Adapt To Changing Conditions Over Munich Weekend

Global Rallycross may be using the same track layout in both races of the X Games Munich doubleheader, but that doesn’t mean that drivers don’t have to adapt as they go. To wit: Saturday’s event featured a wet racetrack, forcing many drivers to become acclimated very quickly with new tires, a changing track, and a different set of challenges than in a dry race.

“I just had to drive a lot more careful,” said Ken Block, who took the silver medal in Saturday’s race. “It’s just really, really slick. These are tires and situations we haven’t tested for. We only had a short bit of practice and qualifying today, and it was straight into racing.

“It’s something, though, that as rally and rallycross drivers, we have to adapt to very quickly. So the guys, I think, that have more experience with some of those conditions excel.”

Liam Doran won the race in a MINI Countryman, the first time that he was able to compete in GRC in his new car. “The car is good, the track design suits the MINI, and the track conditions definitely suit the MINI, where we’re running less weight and less power,” he explained.

But Sunday’s event, by all indications, will be a dry event, meaning drivers will have to handle the track in a different manner. Anton Marklund finished fourth on Saturday, but he feels that he is even better prepared for a dry track on Sunday.

“We did a lot of changes to the car to get it working,” Marklund said after Saturday’s race, “but we didn’t get the perfect setup anyway. So we have something to think about until tomorrow. But also, I think this setup will be perfect if we have a dry track.

“We have to pick up in the starts, but I think otherwise we have the right driving style and everything. I will have another driving style if we have dry tarmac tomorrow. It will be more like racing lines, not as wide and dramatic.”

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com

X Games Munich Track Draws Rave Reviews From European Veterans

Part of the allure of Global Rallycross is its inherent ability to create “pop-up racetracks”—circuits that didn’t exist weeks, days, or even hour the start of the first heat race. That dynamic has changed the face of rallycross, with events located everywhere from permanent racetracks to stadiums, as opposed to permanent circuits.

But this weekend’s track in X Games Munich, in particular, has excited many veterans of classic European tracks: it possesses an even mix of dirt and gravel, a balance of tight corners and long straightaways, and the famous dirt jump that fans have come to expect at every GRC event.

OlsbergsMSE team principal Andreas Eriksson, a veteran of more permanent European circuits before moving to GRC, is one of many to approve of this weekend’s build.

“I like this track, I think this is well prepared,” he said. “I like how they put it up. I see they’ve learned a lot doing the track. I hope the weather remains dry, but even if it gets wet we will not have a problem. It’s just more fun if it’s dry, I think, for everyone to see the cars.

“When I came here, I was really impressed with the operation. I think we will have no problems, and I think we will have a good show.”

“I think it’s a little bit of both a European track and a Global track, with the big jump from Global Rallycross, and also tarmac now and proper gravel,” added Anton Marklund, who finished sixth at X Games Brazil. “I think this track will be a lot of fun to drive, and there will be good racing. I think this track is the best we’ve had in Global Rallycross so far.”

To help his drivers adapt to the technically challenging track, Eriksson has been entering his team in numerous events across Europe.

“All of my drivers have been doing driving,” he continued. “(Brian) Deegan was in Europe for the first time ever, and then Topi (Heikkinen) and Tanner (Foust) did a lot of mileage. Also Patrik (Sandell) did some events in Stockholm. I think all the seat time you get in a Supercar makes you better, so that’s why we did it.”

But perhaps it’s Sverre Isachsen, a four-time race winner in Germany and three-time European champion, who best summed up the consensus opinion: “I’m really glad to see this now. They’ve done an amazing job.”

GRC Drivers No Stranger to Competing in Germany

Though both Global Rallycross and X Games may be making their first-ever stops in Germany, heading to Munich at the end of June, that doesn’t mean that GRC drivers are unfamiliar with competing in the country. In fact, if the past is any indication, visiting the country should be a welcome site for much of the sport’s European contingent.

The European championship often features a round at the Estering circuit, located in Buxtehude in the northern part of Germany. Over the past decade, Estering has hosted eight events, including last year’s season finale won by Liam Doran.

But three-time European champion and current Subaru PUMA Rallycross Team driver Sverre Isachsen is perhaps the king of the Estering. Isachsen took his first Supercar victory in Buxtehude in 2005, and claimed additional wins in 2006, 2009, and 2010. Only twice, in 2004 and 2008, did he fail to score the victory while competing at the track.

While Isachsen was often unbeatable, Andreas Eriksson, the man behind OlsbergsMSE and the new GRC Lites concept, would frequently mount a strong challenge. Eriksson won the race in 2008, finished second to Isachsen in 2006 and 2009, and added a fifth place in 2010.

Many drivers with GRC links besides Doran also competed at Buxtehude last season. Andy Scott, who ran four GRC races in 2012, finished fifth in the Supercar class, while Timur Timerzyanov, not long before he made his GRC debut with OMSE, finished 14th. Future GRC Lites driver Joni Wiman finished eighth in the Super 1600 class, while Anton Marklund wrapped up his Touring Car class championship with a seventh place run.

Two of the drivers making their GRC debuts at X Games Munich also have experience racing in Germany. Mattias Ekstrom is one of the DTM touring car series’ most legendary drivers, debuting in the series in 2001 and taking 17 victories and two championships since then. Meanwhile, Townsend Bell made his CART debut at the Lausitzring in 2001, finishing on the lead lap in 13th place in a Patrick Racing Reynard-Toyota.

Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com

GRC Personalities // Anton Marklund: The Road To Munich

As well as having the invitation to race in X Games, I’m also competing in the FIA European RallycrossRX Championship, so, since Barcelona, the team has travelled to Hungary, Finland and now this weekend we are in Norway. The season so far has gone well, we are really improving in every race, learning a lot about the car, the tracks and the competition. We are currently 5th in the total standings so are extremely pleased with that.

Right now we are prepping the car, ready for the first heats, tomorrow, in Norway. I’m hoping to improve on the result from Finland and make it into the final this time around. The entire championship we have been really consistent, scoring points and staying strong at the top of the overall table, hopefully this weekend we can climb even higher.

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Then, after Norway we’ll have just over a week before we head to Munich to get the cars ready and do some testing before the X Games weekend. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Munich X Games has to offer, we’ll be competing in two races to make up for the cancelled event in Barcelona so it will be pretty full on. The fans have been fantastic the whole season so far and it’s a great experience to perform on such a big international stage. I’ve got my fingers crossed for good weather and a fun race!

See you in Munich!

Photo credits: Johnny Loix (1); QBA/QNIGAN.com (2)

GRC TV: Saturday Tech Inspection

#AskGRC Debuts on Twitter With Anton Marklund

Anton Marklund is used to the concept of being first. He was first in the touring car class of the European championship last year, and is the first driver to run a Volkswagen in Global Rallycross during his first year of Supercar competition.

On Saturday, Marklund became the first driver to take over the Global Rallycross Twitter account (@globalrallyx) for a while, tweeting answers to fans who asked questions using the #askGRC hashtag. Here’s a sampling of some of his tweets:

 

 

 

 

Be sure to look for more #askGRC Twitter takeovers at future races.

Photo credit: Alison Merion Padron

NEWS-TestingFeatured

Teams Complete Weekday Test Sessions In Preparation For X Games Barcelona

With only a single day of track time—including practice, seeding, and the race itself—X Games Barcelona offers a unique challenge to the teams of Global Rallycross: trying to make the car as fast and driveable as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Those limitations inspired numerous teams to head out of the city over the course of the weekend, bringing their cars to various locations in order to experiment and gather data.

The biggest event, staged by Ford, took place at the Parcmotor circuit in Castelloli. Five Fiesta ST drivers, including Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan, Patrik Sandell, and Toomas Heikkinen of OlsbergsMSE and Ken Block of Hoonigan Racing Division, used the time both to shake down their cars and promote the race to the media.

“We were on kind of a large go-kart track that actually worked well for testing tight turns in the rallycross cars,” said Foust. “It was mainly a media event for Ford, and we gave many people rides. We didn’t really change the cars much because it was tarmac and it didn’t really affect how we would run the car here. But it showed us any weak links in the motor package and made sure the cars were running, and it was a ton of fun.”

“I did two days of testing and this media day all combined,” adds Block. “It was a very cool facility. I got to do some testing on a nice little kart track, and it was just trying to keep progressing the setup of what we have on our current car and test some things for launches, that type of stuff.”

“I just focused on myself and finding the speed in the car,” continued Sandell, “because the test was completely on tarmac and (the race) is completely on dirt. We just kept the setup we had from Brazil and tried to get the good feeling from the driver’s seat. I found a really good feeling, so I’m confident.”

But the Ford teams weren’t the only ones who took to the track to prepare for the tight Barcelona circuit. The Subaru PUMA Rallycross team, which will make its season debut on Sunday, sent all three of its cars to Circuit Can Padro.

“(We) took the first part of the day to go through all the cars, all the systems, and made sure everything was okay and ready for race day—that the cars are making full power and doing everything that they should,” said Clint Fast, team manager. “And we spent the second part of the day working on some things that we think are going to be important on this track. We all know that it’s going to be fairly low grip out there. The dirt is quite wet, the circuit is 90% dirt, which for us is a difference from last year, where we were 90% pavement. So we focused in on making the cars driveable in a low-grip situation.”

Meanwhile, Marklund Motorsport and Global Rallycross newcomer Carlos Sainz had their own test session in Lleida in order to prepare for Sunday’s race. Primary driver Anton Marklund served as one of Sainz’s engineers on the test and was pleased to report significant improvements.

“We were trying to get better suspension and more of the power in the ground in that test,” explained Marklund. “It was all gravel, and it was pretty loose, so I think it will be like here. We had two longer corners and a lot of hairpins. What we were without was the jump, but the car was jumping pretty good in Brazil, so I think the car will fit to this track.”

Marklund also praised Sainz, the two-time World Rally champion and 2010 Dakar Rally victor, on his ability to bring the car up to speed. “He has so much time in a rally car, and he’s so experienced, that he can really teach both me and the team a lot of stuff. He has worked with and developed the Polo WRC, so he knows how to get the car quicker and quicker.”

NEWS-ByTheNumbers-Featured

By The Numbers: Barcelona Entry List Boasts Numerous Accolades

Global Rallycross frequently boasts one of the most versatile and talented driver bases in all of motorsport, and Sunday’s event at X Games Barcelona is no exception. The 17 entrants have appeared in nearly every major racing series on the planet, taking home dozens of accolades in the process. Here’s a look at just what they’ve accomplished:

Photo credit: Alison Merion Padron

Path To Brazil: European Champion Marklund Becomes Next Driver To Commit To X Games

If there’s one new driver on the grid at Summer Global X Games in Foz do Iguaçu who Global Rallycross Championship fans should be aware of, it’s Swedish phenomenon Anton Marklund.

At only 20 years of age, and with only three years of rallycross competition under his belt, Marklund already boasts a European rallycross championship, having won the Touring Car class last year. Now driving the No. 92 Volkswagen Polo Supercar for Marklund Motorsport, he’s already taken high-profile victories in Austria and Belgium, in preparation for a full-on assault on the European Supercar championship this year.

But some of the most high profile races Marklund will run this year will come at Summer Global X Games, where he has committed to running a minimum of three events. In looking forward to the new season, he sat down for an interview to give us some background on his accomplishments, his new car, and his great expectations for the coming years:

First things first: what is your background and what have you accomplished as a rallycross driver so far?

I started with rallycross when I was 17 years old, and I did it in the Swedish championship then with older and cheaper cars. But everything went very well, and in the next season, when I was 18 years old, I tried half a season in Touring Cars in the European championship. And I had third place in Sweden as my best result. We were very happy with that season, we had a lot of progress, so we decided to do a three-year plan to reach the championship title in Supercars in the third year. The first year was to learn tracks, and how all the races were working, and we did it in the cheaper class, in the Touring Car class. And it went very well, with a championship title.

So now we are going into year two, the first year with the Supercar. It’s a new car, and it needs to (have work) done on it during the season, because you can’t build a perfect car—you need to develop it so it’s faster and faster. But I’m really looking forward to this also because we’ve been testing it a lot during the winter, and I feel that the car is very good, we have not had that many problems with it. So I think we can be at the top already this year for sure.

I’m 20 years old, so I have a lot to learn on my own also—it’s not just the car that needs to be better and better, it’s me also, for sure. And then we also have the third, and we will be the champion—we are really aiming to be the champion in both Europe and hopefully we can go worldwide and be champions there also.

 

How did your program with Volkswagen initially come about? Who are some of the people involved with the program?

We thought it was a good opportunity to drive a Volkswagen Polo because there is no Volkswagen car in rallycross, and with Volkswagen Motorsport building the WRC cars and having their premiere this season, there will be a lot of media looking to the Volkswagen. So we thought it was a good opportunity to build that. We also looked at the car together with Gunnarsson Motorsport, the chassis builder, and also Trollspeed, who is the engine supplier. And together we decided that with the Polo, we can build a winning car. Because Volkswagen is doing the WRC, all eyes are on the Polo, and that could help us. So it was a pretty easy decision. The car looks good with the specs, the wheelbase, and the engines we can use.

 

When was the decision made to come to X Games? Can you reveal which X Games events you plan to participate in?

It was just one week ago that we confirmed that we will be in X Games in Brazil, and I’m very happy with that. We will also be in Barcelona and Munich, but we haven’t (confirmed) that we will be in Los Angeles. But I would love to be in Los Angeles, driving the fourth race also, so hopefully we can make something up so we can be in Los Angeles with the Volkswagen car also.

 

Last year you were driving in the European championship’s Touring Car class, winning the championship there. Have you had to make a lot of adjustments in your style to drive the Supercar?

Yeah—you know, those Supercars are sick! They’re so fast. But it’s actually pretty easy to drive it when you have learned how to do (it). With a four-wheel drive car, if you’re going too fast into the corner, you can just pull the handbrake a little bit and go full throttle, and you’ve made it. That’s not the way you do it with a rear-wheel car, so in the beginning it was hard for me to understand that if I’m going a little bit wide with the rear, if I’m going sideways, I need to put more throttle down. So that was a little bit hard in the beginning. But I’m enjoying it, I’m learning very fast. I think it has been very good, actually.

We did our first test with the car in October last year in Austria—I did 40 laps of testing and then I drove in the race of Austrian champions. And I was Austrian champion, I beat the four-time Austrian champion with the best time ever on that track, so it went surprisingly well.

 

You mentioned that you’ve done a lot of testing, and you’ve raced the car already, winning the Belgian season opener as well as the Austrian event. How much has the car improved since you started testing? How does it react when on track with other vehicles?

I think our car has one thing that’s very good that we could see in Belgium—on the starts, it’s very fast. We had a super start in the final from third on the start grid, and (it) was far ahead of others on the first corner. I think the car is very fast on the starts, and that’s very important in rallycross. We have been testing the Polo very much during the winter, on ice, tarmac, and gravel, and we have had almost no problems. I was very surprised because those cars are impressive, with so much horsepower and everything, and they should have some problems. But this car has had almost nothing during the test sessions. So that’s perfect.

 

Looking forward to X Games, have you looked at the track layout in Foz do Iguaçu yet? If so, what do you think of it?

I’ve seen it a little bit—it’s all gravel, right? I think it’s perfect for the Polo, with such good traction, that we have found on the ice—because we’ve been driving on the ice, and it’s slippery, (like) on the gravel. So I think it’s perfect for us to drive on gravel, both for me where I drive a lot on the ice, and the Polo we’ve tested a lot on the slippery parts.

 

The field at X Games should be incredibly deep as always. Which drivers do you think will be the toughest competition, and who would you like to beat the most?

I think all the guys who will be competing at X Games are seriously good, and it will be hard to beat all of them. But to race against people like (Tanner) Foust, (Travis) Pastrana, and Ken Block, it’s fantastic. I would really love to beat them, because they’re world stars. And we’ve been looking at the Gymkhana movies and everything, and you really want to beat them.

 

Finally, what are your expectations for your results in X Games? Do you think that you can challenge for a medal?

Yeah, for sure! I think we will be at the podium, I think we have a good chance to be at the podium. Absolutely. I wouldn’t go there, either, if I was thinking that I would be the last person to cross the finish line. I’m aiming for the podium, and hopefully we can reach there.

For more information on Anton Marklund and Marklund Motorsport’s participation in Summer Global X Games, visit their website.

Photo credits: Qba/QNIGAN.com