- Supercar debutant stuns with raw speed and sensational starts at Höljes
- Norwegian proves potential despite rotten run of ill-fortune in Sweden
- ‘BPG’ denied deserved spot in Thursday final by last corner electrical issue
Lady Luck rarely shone upon Ben-Philip Gundersen over the course of the ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend (2-5 July), but when he got a clean run, the reigning RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires Supercar Lites Champion demonstrated that he will be a force to be reckoned with at Supercar level over the coming months.
In an ultra-competitive, 20-strong Supercar field at Höljes – featuring the likes of double World Champion Johan Kristoffersson, fellow World RX race-winner Niclas Grönholm, former RallyX Nordic Champions Robin Larsson, Oliver Solberg and Thomas Bryntesson and two-time RX2 Series Champion Oliver Eriksson – Gundersen was a front-runner from the outset on his maiden appearance in the class.
Inside the top seven in all three qualifying sessions on the opening day, the Norwegian ran second behind JC Raceteknik stablemate Robin Larsson until the very last corner of his semi-final, when an electrical issue caused him to suddenly slow and denied him a deserved spot in the final.
That misfortune continued to plague him in round two, with a broken driveshaft in Q1 followed by a tag from a rival in Q2 that sent him skating across the grass. The fifth-fastest time in Q3 proved what he was capable of, but further electrical woes ruled him out of Q4 altogether and, as on Thursday, Gundersen narrowly failed to reach the final at the end of a stellar weekend.
Although his pace and potential clearly weren’t reflected in the results – through no fault of his own – the 25-year-old’s scintillating starts and accomplished racecraft certainly did not go unnoticed. Team-mate Mats Öhman predicted that ‘Ben-Philip will be deadly in the European Championship this year’, with JC Raceteknik Team Principal Joel Christoffersson adding that Gundersen ‘impressed me a lot, in both the dry and wet’.
“Finally, we got to race again, and my Supercar debut went very well on Thursday until we picked up a technical problem,” reflected ‘BPG’ himself. “What worked best was probably the starts, which was unexpected as I thought they would be difficult. The result was still better than expected, and although there is a bit of a gap to the fastest drivers, it’s not impossible to get there.”