GC Kompetition has explained its decision to replace Rokas Baciuška with Kevin Abbring for the third and fourth rounds of the World Rallycross Championship in Finland this weekend.
Abbring was initially set to run part-time in an additional Renault Clio R.S. RX, while Baciuška was tabbed for the full season.
However, after a difficult start to the season at Höljes – where it had just three final appearances from a possible 10 across its three teams – the French outfit will now run Abbring in Finland.
As GCK has explained to DirtFish, the reason for the shuffle is that big changes have been made in response to last weekend’s struggle and Abbring’s development expertise is required.
“Round one and in Sweden last week brought up key issues around the set-up of the two Clio R.S. RXs which had a significant impact on performance,” GCK team boss Stéphane Orre told DirtFish.
“The team has been working hard in the days since to adjust the car’s set-up to what will be very similar surface here in Finland.”
Baciuška meanwhile addressed his absence in the Kouvola double-header in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“We have agreed with our sponsors that we couldn’t waste our sponsors’ budget unnecessarily as we can’t see us getting on the podium with this car, so we’ll make a decision about our further plans after this weekend.
“There will be a lot of changes made compared to when I drove in Sweden. The shock absorbers will be replaced and a new engine will be installed. Naturally, the team will do everything they can to make the car go faster.”
Ex-World Rally Championship runner Abbring made his World RX debut last season, again replacing Baciuška, but at the ESmotorsport Škoda squad. He spent much of the winter working with GCK developing improvements for the Clio platform.
“Kevin joined us throughout the winter and has been working with the team on developing the car, gathering data and working with the engineers to optimize it,” Orre said.
“He was working with both Unkorrupted drivers in Sweden and his experience in rallycross and as a development driver will help us optimize these changes further here in Kouvola.”
Despite the change, Orre confirmed that Baciuška remains part of the team and will be present in Finland.
“Rokas is a remarkable young talent and is still part of GCK; he’s here with us and supporting the work being done on the car to get to the performance level we need it to be.”
GCK’s best results at the first race weekend of 2020 came courtesy of the firm’s Mégane R.S. RX drivers. GCK Bilstein runner Anton Marklund took fifth in the season opener, being demoted two spots after a post-race penalty. RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud followed that up with a sixth place in round two.
The best Clio result came courtesy of Baciuška, who finished 12th in round one.