Mattias Ekström was left ruing a set-up call that left him unable to challenge for the overall win at the World Rallycross season opener at Höljes.
The 2016 series champion was Johan Kristoffersson’s closest rival throughout the day, topping qualifying after a Q2 victory – a half-spin would later lead to him missing out on the TQ spot – and winning his semi-final.
After making a perfect start in that semi-final he looked set to take the fight to Kristoffersson in the main event, but a sudden downpour ahead of the six-lap final proved to be his undoing.
“I was hoping for it to stay dry because we had a full dry set-up and I was hoping to give Johan a battle,” Ekström said. “In the end we didn’t have the right boots on the car for the final but Johan did everything right, he is also very good in the rain and he knows I can give him a run for his money when we are all sorted.”
Ekström was largely pleased to finish second, having only got the call to race – in place of Janis Baumanis who hit budget issues – at the last minute.
“I think P2, you can’t be satisfied in one way,” he said. “But for sure, 10-15 days ago I got to know I would drive here, and to finish P2 and have a good day, good pace, I couldn’t ask for more.
“I wouldn’t [have] expected that.”
Ekström’s podium finish helped JC Raceteknik leave round one with the lead in the teams’ championship, despite team-mate Robin Larsson being booted from the final after being hit with a post-race penalty at the semi-final stage.
The reigning European Supercars champion made contact with Anton Marklund in a battle for the final transfer spot, and the stewards deemed him to have pushed the GCK driver out of the way to make the pass. He however saw it as retaliation for a similar move from Marklund moments earlier.
“It was tight out of the joker and I got a push from Marklund, then I gave a push back and we got a three-second penalty and we’re out of the final,” Larsson said on the event’s live broadcast.
“We got a push and we gave a push.”
When asked if he would have wanted to face the torrential conditions that arrived ahead of the final, he added: “I’m not that jealous but it’s important points.”