- Swede enjoying every moment as he launches 2021 title bid
- 2016 champion aiming to reclaim coveted Supercar Lites crown
- Highly-rated American Lane Vacala to pilot second STS RX car
Simon Olofsson was a man reborn in 2020, taking the fight for the RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires Supercar Lites class crown right the way down to the wire – and he is hoping his new-found approach will lead to even greater success over the course of the forthcoming campaign.
Having been something of a magnet for misfortune in recent seasons, last year marked a spectacular turnaround for the Swede. An emotional victory in Höljes’ ‘All-Star’ Magic Weekend curtain-raiser set the scene for a committed challenge, and he was fast and impressively consistent throughout, never placing lower than seventh in the qualifying races and only twice missing out on the top five.
Olofsson has achieved everything possible in RallyX Nordic’s fiercely competitive Supercar Lites category – race wins, podium finishes, TQ honours and the title in 2016, the first of a hat-trick of top three championship finishes – and after rediscovering his mojo last season, the 26-year-old is hopeful of continuing to reap the rewards over the coming months.
“I changed my approach last year,” he acknowledged. “I was more relaxed, and I think that was reflected in my results – even our bad days were still pretty good days, which hadn’t always been the case in the past!
“I just focussed on enjoying the racing, and that paid off. That’s the most important thing for me moving forward. I don’t know how many more seasons I’ve got ahead of me – none of us do – so I want to make sure I enjoy every moment. If I do that, my driving will naturally benefit and the results will follow.
“Obviously I hope we will be competitive this season. We know we need to find a little bit more pace still before we go racing, because whilst we were always there-or-thereabouts in 2020, we were rarely the outright quickest, but we have some more testing planned so the goal is to keep chipping away. It’s going to be an extremely tough field again, which is exactly the way I like it, and consistency will definitely play a major part in the overall outcome.
“My goal is clearly to win the championship, but if we can’t manage that, as long as we’ve been in the mix and put up a fight, I’ll be satisfied. It’s no longer the be-all and end-all that it perhaps once was, but at heart, I’ll always be a racer, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ultimately want my title back…”
Olofsson will be joined at STS RX – for all events bar Höljes – by Lane Vacala, who previously entered two rounds of the RX2 International Series with the team in 2019. The American had hoped to return to Europe to continue his rallycross apprenticeship last season, only for the global COVID-19 pandemic to postpone his plans.
“We had full intentions to race in RallyX Nordic last year, but due to obvious reasons we were unable to make it happen,” explained the 24-year-old Illinois native. “I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to sign with STS RX again in 2021 and get back to racing. To be joining the stacked grid this year is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to competing and getting some solid results.
“In my first year on the rallycross scene with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2019, I was learning the car, the tracks and the flow of a race weekend. I also had zero dirt experience prior to my debut in ARX2 at Trois-Rivières, so the main goal was to get as much seat time as possible and learn each time we took to the track.
“One of the biggest learning experiences for me was being able to race overseas in the RX2 Series in a completely different environment. There was always something to learn, whether it was from the level of competition on-track or the interaction with fans.
“This year, we are looking to be more competitive and have some consistent finishes. The level of competition in RallyX Nordic is a huge draw for me, along with being able to gain more experience in preparation for Nitro Rallycross later in the year.
“Having Simon as a team-mate will be a huge help. Having someone with experience on these tracks and good data to compare against mine will definitely expedite my learning process and help to bring me up-to-speed much more quickly.”
The last word, though, must fall to Olofsson.
“We’re very open at STS with regard to data-sharing and general communication,” he says, “and I honestly think Lane will surprise people. Maybe he will end the season teaching me a thing or two…”