Jean-Luc Pailler: “RallyX drivers should have a great time at Älvsbyn”

While the RallyX championship will be visiting Älvsbyn this weekend for stages 5 and 6 of the 2024 season, the Swedish track is above all preparing for a return to international competition, something that hasn’t been the case since the Swedish edition of the European Rallycross Championship in July 1994.

An event which left its mark on 1993 European champion Jean-Luc Pailler. The French driver had just switched from his famous BX to a Xantia built and developed with the support of Citroën and the brand’s competition department headed by Guy Fréquelin. Unfortunately, his performance on the Älvsbyn circuit was cut short by a violent crash following contact with Tommy Kristoffersson’s Audi Coupé S2 20V.

Despite winning two of the first four races of the 1994 season, Jean-Luc Pailler’s dreams of a European double were dashed at Älvsbyn.

“It was definitely the biggest crash of my entire career and my back still remembers it,” laughs Jean-Luc Pailler.

“One thing’s for sure, my weekend at Älvsbyn didn’t last as long as I would have liked. It’s a shame because the track was really very nice in terms of driving, with lots of elevation changes. Nevertheless, as I couldn’t get behind the wheel, I spent the rest of my weekend on the roof of our bus watching the races.”

It was a short-lived respite for the 1993 European champion. The accident, which occurred during qualifying at the Höghedenbanan in Älvsbyn, put the Pailler Compétition team under pressure, as five days later the European Championship continued at the Ahveniston Moottorirata in Hämeenlinna, 840 kilometres further south.

“I remember that immediately after the race in Älvsbyn, we were welcomed by the local Citroën dealer to get the Xantia back in running order. The guys worked non-stop for three full days. Citroën Sport had even sent us parts by plane. It was a real race against the clock to make sure we arrived in time for the Hämeenlinna race. We weren’t even able to take the ferry for timing reasons and it was by road along the Baltic Sea that we came down to the south of Finland. Despite everything, our efforts after the Alvsbyn race were rewarded as we managed to finish the race in fourth place in Finland just behind Per Eklund.”

“In any case, that race at Alvsbyn left us with some pretty good memories. It was really the good old days when you had to drive by instinct, but I’m happy to see this circuit back in the limelight. One thing’s for sure, the RallyX drivers are going to have a lot of fun and enjoy themselves on this track.”