Last weekend saw the third round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship held in Holjes, Sweden, where G-FORS premiered the Clio R.S. RX in front of 51,600 spectators, reaching the semi-finals.
Jean-Baptiste Dubourg and Jere Kalliokoski took advantage of free practice on Friday night – where they finished respectively 8th and 20th – and those of Saturday morning – where they ranked P6 and P20 – to discover the really technical, demanding Swedish track.
The first qualifying was difficult for both G-FORS drivers. Jean-Baptiste found himself in P22 following contact and a puncture upon landing after the jump, whilst Jere struggled with his start making his race difficult and leaving him in 17th place after Q1.
Not ones to be demoralised, our drivers came back stronger for Q2. Jean-Baptiste and Jere both had very good starts, which allowed JP to win his race, ranking P5 after Q2 and going up in the intermediate ranking to P13. Jere, meanwhile, finished his race in 2nd after leading the first 3 laps and putting down a strong fight with Andy Scott. He placed P8 after the second qualifying, and P11 after the first day.
Blazing sun welcomed Sunday’s races at Holjes circuit. For Jean-Baptiste the first qualifying of the day went well despite being positioned on the outside, and he managed to rank 3rd overall following Q3.
Unfortunately, Jere’s race ended in the second lap for him due to a technical problem, leaving him in 24th place.
Q4 saw Jere jump start resulting in him having to do the joker lap twice, costing time. The Finnish driver finished this final qualifying round in 17th, concluding his weekend in 19th place overall. His teammate, Frenchman Dubourg, managed to secure a spot in the semi-finals having lead a clean race in Q4, ranking 7th overall ahead of the semi-finals..
Jean-Baptiste lined up in the first semifinal against Reinis Nitiss, Thomas Bryntesson, René Münnich, Mats Ohman and Anders Braten. Despite showing good pace throughout the race, unfortunately it wasn’t enough and Jean-Baptiste crossed the finish line in 4th, missing the final by one place.
Now it’s time for the G-FORS drivers to focus on the next race, the second to last EuroRX race, in Lohéac, France.
Jean-Baptiste Dubourg commented: «It was a difficult weekend, we arrived on a very technical circuit that demanded different settings for the Clio, plus, it’s a track where there isn’t a lot of grip. At each end of each qualifier we improved the set-up of the car but at this high level of competition it’s difficult to ‘arrive a little late’ compared to your competitors and try to compensate for that. However, at the end of this weekend the performances were still good with three top 5 in the qualifying heats. G-FORS listen to their drivers and want to move forward and progress, so we are always in a constructive state of mind together. The next race is Lohéac and we will work to return even more powerful and able to play up in front, as this weekend we missed the speed. »
Jere Kalliokoski added: « I’ve had a weekend of ups and downs, with a few good races but unfortunately I was unlucky, breaking the power steering and having a couple of bad starts that resulted in me not making the semi-finals. Lots of learnings to take this weekend as we fought against a very competitive pack and now we take those to improve across the board to see me coming back stronger than ever. »
Atte Varsta, G-FORS team manager, said: «It’s been a difficult weekend for G-Fors in Sweden with JB suffering a flat tire and Jere having a tough time in Q1. Q2 was a lot better though and left us in high hopes Saturday to qualify for the semi-finals Sunday. However, Sunday, Jere suffered from power steering issues and after a jump-start in Q4 missed out on the semi-finals whilst JB made it to the semi-finals having put some strong qualifiers down. In his semi-final, he unfortunately got stuck behind another driver and lost a lot of time, finishing in 4th, and thus just missing out on a spot in the final. A little frustrating for us of course but we learned a lot again this weekend and sometimes it just isn’t to be. This weekend was one of those but we’ll come back even stronger for it.»