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The Swedish speedbowl the place oval set-ups paid dividends

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Many international locations across the globe have a wealthy motorsport panorama that’s little-known past their borders. The well-established home touring automobile championships of Brazil and Argentina, for instance, go to some really excellent tracks – anybody bear in mind the Potrero de los Funes Circuit round a reservoir that briefly appeared as a part of the FIA GT1 world championship? – that seize the creativeness and make worthy bucket checklist additions.

Sweden has no scarcity of its personal hidden gem circuits too. And having raced all over the world in sportscars and single-seaters, together with a doomed try at cracking IndyCar, it’s one among his native tracks that three-time Swedish Touring Automobile Championship winner Fredrik Ekblom choses as his favorite.

The success he loved at Falkenberg is clearly a big a part of Ekblom’s cause for choosing out the 1.145-mile monitor. It was definitely a cheerful searching floor, as Ekblom scored eight wins there in touring vehicles between 1999 and 2017 throughout Tremendous Touring, Tremendous 2000, TTA silhouette and TCR rule units.

“I used to be superb in touring vehicles there, I gained many races,” he says. “It’s a really small monitor, but it surely’s been superb to me.”

However there’s extra to it than sheer stats. With laptimes round 41 seconds in Tremendous Touring and solely a shade greater than that within the subsequent eras, getting right into a rhythm is vitally vital. Ekblom says the move of the circuit “fits me nicely” and allowed him to make use of a really particular set-up that made use of his expertise of racing Stateside in Indy Lights.

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“There’s so many right-handers, you are able to do the set-up so it’s extra a little bit bit like an oval-style,” says Ekblom, who made simply three IndyCar begins in as a few years between 1994 and 1996, together with a solitary oval look at Michigan.

What may have been: How a future tin-top ace was thwarted in IndyCar

And, except for the sluggish right-left chicane added in 2004 which opens the lap and can be the obvious overtaking spot, common speeds are pretty excessive.

Having skilled UK circuits when he completed runner-up within the 1991 British Components 3000 championship, Ekblom reckons it’s similar to Thruxton, the place maintaining momentum is equally essential for laptimes.

“It has a fast nook on the again which is very nice,” he says when requested for the British circuit it’s most just like. “It’s such a smaller monitor than Thruxton, however Thruxton is such a fast monitor. It’s the perfect I can give you!”

Ekblom’s oval racing strategy clearly paid dividends, though success at Falkenberg eluded him in 1998 as he gained the STCC title in his first try aboard a West Coast Racing BMW. After ending second to Jens Edman’s Flash Engineering BMW in that title-winning marketing campaign, he bought the ball rolling in 1999 by main from the entrance after poleman Thomas Johansson’s Ford missed the beginning with engine hassle.

In 2000, upon switching to Kristoffersson-run Audis, Ekblom mustered a finest end of third on the Bergagard monitor as Eje Elgh Nissan driver Tommy Rustad’s race two victory helped the eventual champion to drive his approach again into the struggle. Autosport’s correspondent Tege Tornvall reported that his “domination of the collection was halted, thanks partly to the introduction of rolling begins, which negated the benefit of his four-wheel drive Audi A4 Quattro”.

After two years away from the home collection, racing within the American Le Mans Sequence after which the European Touring Automobile Championship, Ekblom returned to the STCC for 2003 with the Kristoffersson Audi squad and rediscovered profitable kind at Falkenberg by changing pole to an easy victory. He then took third from the reversed grid race, and added a runner-up end within the STCC’s second go to to the monitor that 12 months in its regular mid-July slot which helped him to edge Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson to a second STCC title.

“It’s a must to place your automobile and be early on the ability in sure locations, and also you achieve the entire again aspect and issues like that. You simply drive on intuition. I actually appreciated that” Fredrik Ekblom

Ekblom’s 2003 efforts previous to the introduction of the advanced to sluggish the vehicles down underlined that overtaking was nonetheless doable for bold drivers.

“Going into the final actual nook, that’s an excellent overtaking one,” he says. “And likewise on the again aspect, it’s not that unhealthy. It’s fairly tough, however you are able to do it.”

A 3rd Falkenberg STCC win arrived in 2004, when he capitalised on a puncture for Richard Goransson’s BMW after which took Tomas Engstrom’s Honda Civic, and Ekblom was a winner on the monitor once more in 2005 – the primary season he completed exterior the highest three within the STCC standings.

A change again to the West Coast BMW group for 2007 yielded his third STCC crown. He completed second to Kristoffersson Audi driver Thed Bjork at Falkenberg and went one higher in 2008, though misplaced out on the title to fellow Orebro native Goransson by simply seven factors. Ekblom reckons West Coast’s 320si E90 was the best-suited machine he ever had on the monitor – and that 12 months BMWs locked out the highest 4 locations as a brand new monitor floor induced issues for a number of rivals.

Ekblom enjoyed enormous success at the Falkenberg track over many years and different rule sets

Ekblom loved monumental success on the Falkenberg monitor over a few years and completely different rule units

Photograph by: Cyan Racing

“It’s a must to place your automobile and be early on the ability in sure locations, and also you achieve the entire again aspect and issues like that,” he says. “You simply drive on intuition. I actually appreciated that.”

Ekblom’s return to the Kristoffersson group, which was growing a biogas-powered VW Sciorocco, for 2009 meant he didn’t rating one other Falkenberg podium till 2011, by which era the collection had merged with the Danish championship to kind the Scandianavian Touring Automobile Championship. But it surely was on the coveted prime step that he stood, for a sixth time, after seeing off Goransson and Chevrolet driver Rickard Rydell – who pipped him to the crown by two factors.

A fourth Swedish tin-top title for Ekblom arrived in 2012 when the STCC was break up aside, Ekblom becoming a member of the Polestar Volvo squad within the breakaway TTA Racing League.

Perception: When Sweden tried to create its own DTM

It was unified once more for 2013, this time with the STCC operating to TTA guidelines, and Ekblom took a brace of podiums earlier than a seventh Falkenberg win arrived in 2014 after he’d been taken off by Goransson in race one.

He took second at Falkenberg in 2015 earlier than heading to the World Touring Automobile Championship with Volvo in 2016. However there was nonetheless time for an additional Falkenberg win in 2017, the STCC’s first 12 months operating to TCR guidelines, as Ekblom held off eventual champion Robert Dahlgren’s PWR SEAT aboard a Kristoffersson VW Golf earlier than retiring from racing on the finish of 2018.

There aren't many left-handers at Falkenberg, which allowed Ekblom to tap into his oval racing knowledge when devising set-ups

There aren’t many left-handers at Falkenberg, which allowed Ekblom to faucet into his oval racing data when devising set-ups

Photograph by: Cyan Racing

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