- Fans lap up wheel-to-wheel racing as Höljes delivers double dose of high-octane action
- Brothers Kevin and Oliver Eriksson take a victory apiece for Olsbergs MSE on home soil
- ‘Comeback kid’ Thomas Holmen stuns Supercar Lites rivals on eye-catching return
The 2019 RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires campaign stormed into life at Höljes last weekend (18/19 May), with the stars of the show putting on a scintillating spectacle of wheel-to-wheel racing at the iconic Swedish circuit – and brothers Kevin and Oliver Eriksson ultimately emerging on top as they shared the coveted Supercar spoils.
For the first time in RallyX Nordic history, the season began with a double-header, meaning double the opportunity to win – and double the entertainment for fans. The on-track action was first-class from the outset, from the headlining, flame-spitting 600bhp Supercar monsters to the supporting Supercar Lites, RX Academy and CrossCar categories.
It was a good weekend to be an Eriksson at Höljes. Kevin Eriksson survived a coming-together with Peter Hedström during the qualifying stages on Saturday and then artfully avoided a spinning Robin Larsson in the semi-final to secure a front row starting spot for the all-important final behind the wheel of his Olsbergs MSE-prepared Ford Fiesta.
When Hedström subsequently made a poor getaway from pole position, his fellow Swede needed no second invitation and Eriksson duly led the final from lights-out to chequered flag.
“It’s always fun to win, but honestly, from the first corner, I didn’t expect it because I was down quite a lot on horsepower,” reflected the former FIA World Rallycross Championship race-winner. “Right from the start I could feel I was missing the push from the engine, but thankfully I had enough to stay ahead. We are developing this car for World RX, so we came here firstly to learn and secondly to win – and we achieved both!”
Hedström recovered from his tardy launch to place second, ahead of Jere Kalliokoski, who produced a strong performance in his Ford Fiesta as he determinedly kept last year’s championship runner-up Oliver Eriksson at bay to secure a rostrum finish on his full-time RallyX Nordic debut. The Swede, by contrast, endured a difficult day, characterised by a brace of punctures and a wild spin going down the hill.
Philip Gehrman scored solid points for fifth, with Crister Dalmans piloting his Hedströms Motorsport Volkswagen Polo to sixth – an impressive result given the Swede’s qualifying race struggles.
Elsewhere, others were less fortunate, with two of the pre-season favourites – Larsson and Ulrik Linnemann – failing to make the final. On his maiden appearance in JC Raceteknik’s Audi S1, Larsson dominated the qualifying races with two fastest times out of three, and he was leading his semi-final when gearbox issues sent the Swede into a dramatic second corner spin and tumbling out of contention. Linnemann similarly showed his hand in terms of raw pace, topping the timesheets in Q2 but falling foul of a puncture in the second semi-final.
Sunday’s action was every bit as exhilarating – and whilst an Eriksson double always appeared a strong possibility, the smart money looked to be on pace-setter Sebastian, not Oliver, who again suffered a torrid run of ill-fortune in the qualifiers. Twice tagged from behind entering the first corner, the current RX2 International Series leader spun as he endeavoured to regain ground in Q2 and beached his OMSE Honda Civic in the gravel.
Languishing all the way down in 11th spot in the overall classification, Eriksson needed to pull something out of the bag – and in Q3 he did just that, storming to the fastest time to haul himself up the order and secure a second row starting position for the semi-final, in which he took the chequered flag behind namesake and team-mate Sebastian Eriksson.
Oliver seemed set to finish third in the final – never quite showing the same outright pace as Sebastian Eriksson and Larsson ahead – but a collision between the top two as they disputed the lead at the exit of the joker on the last lap sent the JC Raceteknik man into a spin and earned his assailant a five-second post-race penalty. That elevated the younger Eriksson to the highest step on the podium – and the summit of the standings.
“What a weekend!” the 20-year-old reflected. “What can I say, pretty much everything went wrong up until Sunday’s semi-final, but after that, things just seemed to bounce our way.
“After Q2, I really wouldn’t have expected this – I was so upset then, I almost started crying in the bus. It’s been so tough, but this team always fights back. I’m just so proud of everyone at OMSE and all the work they do, and as for this Honda Civic, it might be the first full season for the car in Europe but it’s a beast and it definitely showed its colours this weekend!
“To not just win the race but take the championship lead as well feels great. I didn’t even make the final here last year, but now we’re coming away from Höljes at the top of the table. I’m so happy – I love rallycross!”
While Sebastian Eriksson crossed the line first on the road, he was relegated to fifth in the final reckoning, behind Larsson and Mikko Ikonen, who unexpectedly found himself climbing onto the third step of the rostrum to cap a strong weekend in his Ford Fiesta. Stene Johansen wound up fourth in a similar car, with Andreas Carlson completing the top six.
Notably, that made for 11 different drivers occupying the 12 available final slots over the course of the two days – underscoring just how ultra-competitive and unpredictable this season’s RallyX Nordic Supercar field is.
Big names not to reach the final on Sunday included Saturday runner-up Hedström, whose bid ended following a coming-together with Larsson in the semi-final, Kalliokoski – who fell barely a third-of-a-second shy of making the cut – and the luckless Linnemann, who was again amongst the front-runners until a slow start in the semi-final curtailed his challenge and sent Philip Gehrman into a spin.
The Supercar Lites class was very much a Norwegian benefit at Höljes, with Thomas Holmen winning on Saturday – in his first competitive outing in more than a year-and-a-half – and Sondre Evjen upholding honours on Sunday.
Holmen’s triumph was an emotional one, the teenager topping the intermediate standings, staving off team-mate Simon Olofsson in the semi-final and surviving first corner contact with Evjen and Ben-Philip Gundersen in the final to go on to seal a tremendously popular success ahead of Olofsson and Evjen.
Twenty-four hours later, it was Evjen’s turn to shine, as the JC Raceteknik ace – who is dovetailing his RallyX Nordic Supercar Lites title tilt with a Supercar drive in the FIA European Rallycross Championship this year – led home team-mate Gundersen and local hero Linus Östlund, whose Saturday charge had been undone by gear linkage issues.
The one-make RX Academy – featuring a grid of identical Renault Clio RS RX cars – witnessed a lights-to-flag victory for Finland’s Tommi Hallman on Saturday, ahead of Jimi Kalliomäki and Marko Muru. Estonia’s Muru turned the tables on Sunday, with an assured performance to stave off the threat posed by Rasmus Tuominen, as Kalliomäki returned to the rostrum in third.
In the newly-renamed CrossCar category – formerly the SRX Series – defending champion Nils Andersson doubled up with an impressive effort. The protégé of two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson defeated Ole Henry Steinsholt on Saturday and Jimmie Österberg 24 hours later. Yellow Squad by Hansen’s Julle Ljungdahl produced a superb last corner pass to snatch third on Saturday, but spun out of podium contention on Sunday. Isac Egonsson put a disappointing first day behind him to secure the remaining rostrum spot.
The 2019 RallyX Nordic season will resume for round three on Danish soil at Nysum in a fortnight’s time (1/2 June).
Supercar Final Result – Saturday
- Kevin ERIKSSON (SWE) Olsbergs MSE 5 laps
- Peter HEDSTRÖM (SWE) Hedstöms Motorsport +0.662s
- Jere KALLIOKOSKI (FIN) Kalliokoski Motorsport +2.038s
Supercar Final Result – Sunday
- Oliver ERIKSSON (SWE) Olsbergs MSE 5 laps
- Robin LARSSON (SWE) JC Raceteknik +1.222s
- Mikko IKONEN (FIN) Mikko Ikonen +3.115s
Supercar Lites Final Result – Saturday
- Thomas HOLMEN (NOR) Thomas Holmen 5 laps
- Simon OLOFSSON (SWE) Simon Olofsson +1.361s
- Sondre EVJEN (NOR) JC Raceteknik +1.620s
Supercar Lites Final Result – Sunday
- Sondre EVJEN (NOR) JC Raceteknik 5 laps
- Ben-Philip GUNDERSEN (NOR) JC Raceteknik +0.812s
- Linus ÖSTLUND (SWE) Olsbergs MSE +1.155s
RX Academy Final Result – Saturday
- Tommi HALLMAN (FIN) RX Academy 5 laps
- Jimi KALLIOMÄKI (FIN) RX Academy +4.136s
- Marko MURU (EST) RX Academy +4.921s
RX Academy Final Result – Sunday
- Marko MURU (EST) RX Academy 5 laps
- Rasmus TUOMINEN (FIN) RX Academy +1.021s
- Jimi KALLIOMÄKI (FIN) RX Academy +2.502s
CrossCar Final Result – Saturday
- Nils ANDERSSON (SWE) NA Motorsport 5 laps
- Ole Henry STEINSHOLT (NOR) OHS RX +1.099s
- Julle LJUNGDAHL (SWE) Yellow Squad by Hansen +2.288s
CrossCar Final Result – Sunday
- Nils ANDERSSON (SWE) NA Motorsport 5 laps
- Jimmie ÖSTERBERG (SWE) Österberg Motorsport +1.083s
- Isac EGONSSON (SWE) Car Control +1.335s
Supercar – Championship Standings
- Oliver Eriksson (SWE) 42 points
- Jere Kalliokoski (FIN) 41 points
- Robin Larsson (SWE) 40 points
- Peter Hedström (SWE) 39 points
- Ulrik Linnemann (DNK) 34 points
- Mikko Ikonen (FIN) 27 points
Supercar Lites – Championship Standings
- Thomas Holmen (NOR) 50 points
- Sondre Evjen (NOR) 49 points
- Ben-Philip Gundersen (NOR) 45 points
- Linus Östlund (SWE) 40 points
- Simon Olofsson (SWE) 39 points
- Marcus Höglund (SWE) 32 points
RX Academy – Championship Standings
- Marko Muru (EST) 54 points
- Tommi Hallman (FIN) 50 points
- Jimi Kalliomäki (FIN) 48 points
- Rasmus Tuominen (FIN) 44 points
- Jonne Ollikainen (FIN) 35 points
- Luka Nurmi (FIN) 35 points
CrossCar – Championship Standings
- Nils Andersson (SWE) 59 points
- Ole Henry Steinsholt (NOR) 45 points
- Jimmie Österberg (SWE) 44 points
- Julle Ljungdahl (SWE) 37 points
- Isac Egonsson (SWE) 28 points
- Jonas Ericsson (SWE) 26 points
2019 RallyX Nordic Calendar
|May 17-19||Rounds 1/2||Höljes, Sweden|
|June 1-2||Round 3||Nysum, Denmark|
|July 20-21||Round 4||Riga, Latvia|
|July 27-28||Round 5||Finnskogbanen, Norway|
|August 24-25||Round 6||Kouvola, Finland|
|September 21-22||Round 7||Tierp Arena, Sweden|