Elias Svensson raises his game, Oliver Sollie sets the pace…

With a CrossCar category full of surprises, in which almost all the favourites failed to make their mark, and a Junior category in which the young guard has taken over from last year’s formidable Finnish trio of Uitto, Ylilammi and Halonen, this first confrontation of the 2024 season of the RallyX Championship presented by Nova Motorsport bodes well for an exciting campaign.

Elias Svensson keeps Joonatan Ylilammi at bay

Last season’s runner-up in the junior championship, Joonatan Ylilammi, was the sensation of the weekend in the senior category.

After finishing on the podium behind Ronalds Baldins and Elias Svensson in Friday’s rally sprint, the 16-year-old Finn used Race 2 to confirm his status as one of the favourites for the 2024 season.

Winner of the intermediate classification, Ylilammi looked well on his way to a first career win at this level of competition. But Elias Svensson was not to be denied.

Setting the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 52.276s, Elias Svensson won by six tenths over his young Finnish rival, while Estonian Lucas Orav took his first career podium in the RallyX championship.

Only 12th after qualifying, Eirik Steinsholt managed to reverse the trend during the final stages, failing to finish on the podium ahead of Martin Juga and Ronalds Baldins.

Nevertheless, thanks to his consistency and 51 points out of a possible 60, Joonatan Ylilammi now leads the overall standings, four points ahead of Elias Svensson and seven ahead of Ronalds Baldins.

Behind them, the favourites paid a heavy price on the first stage in Tierp. Unable to qualify for a final, 2023 runner-up Thomas Eek Murstad is only sixth in the standings, 22 points behind Ylilammi. The same goes for Martin Juga (7th, 26 points behind the leader) and outgoing champion Sebastian Enholm (8th, 23 points behind).

Riku Huuhka (11th, 31 points behind Ylilammi), Alexander Heum (12th, 35 points behind) and Jimmie Osterberg (15th, 38 points behind), who had been eagerly awaiting the start of the championship, also had a tough time at the Tierp Arena.

Junior CrossCar: Oliver Sollie strikes back at Hampus Hagström

With seven of the ten drivers in the top ten of the 2023 CrossCar Junior standings having left the series in the off-season to explore other horizons, the 2024 campaign was bound to bring some new faces.

However, it was the more experienced drivers who came out on top in the second race of the weekend.

Like the Ylilammi/Svensson duo in the senior class, Hampus Hagström and Oliver Sollie battled it out throughout qualifying.

While Hagström set the fastest time in Q1, Oliver Sollie responded by winning Q2. Logically, it was in Q3 that the intermediate standings were decided. Leading Q3 by almost three seconds over Sollie, Hagström pocketed the 16 points for first place.

However, his lead was not to last long. Slowed down by engine problems in the final, Hampus Hagström couldn’t prevent Oliver Sollie from taking his first career win and had to settle for second place on the podium ahead of Niko Kinnunen, who ended his weekend with a second consecutive top-three finish ahead of Alex Anttila, Pauli Turpeinen and Jonas Hegelund Nielsen, who managed the miracle of reaching the final despite being only twelfth in the intermediate standings after the three qualifying races.

In the overall standings, Hampus Hagström and Oliver Sollie share first place in the category with 55 points each, while Niko Nikkunen logically lies in provisional third place with 48 points, 12 points ahead of his two compatriots Alex Anttila and Pauli Turpeinen.