The Swedish round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship has traditionally been the best event for numbers in both entries and spectators, and this seasons event didn’t disappoint, a record breaking 30,000 people watched the 83 competitors battle it out in round six of RallycrossRX.
Andreas Bakkerud was unlucky not to make the podium at round five in Norway, when a puncture on his Citroen DS3 ruled him out of contention in the final. Baby Blue, as he is known by his adoring fans, made amends for his home round disappointment by taking victory at Holjes. Fast all weekend he won semi-final two and the final to take home a large points haul to jump up the table.
Wildcard runner Mattias Ekstrom made his RallycrossRX debut in Sweden. The DTM star didn’t have a great time of it on day one, but stunned regulars by setting fastest time in heats three and four, before winning semi-final one to join Bakkerud on the front row for the final. Taking his joker on the second lap, Ekstrom looked set for third before Timmy Hansen made a mistake allowing Bakkerud and Ekstrom past. Hansen himself had qualified fourth for semi-final one, but drove a tidy race to finish second and line up on row two for the final. Taking his joker lap early looked to have paid off, when leader Bakkerud took his joker on lap three, coming out behind Hansen only for the Swede to make a mistake into the velodrome, loosing just enough time for Bakkerud and Ekstrom to get past. The three ran nose to tail to the end of the race. Hansen’s points total from the weekend closed the gap at the top of the table to just four points heading into the summer break.
Henning Solberg had a great event, keeping his Saab on the road when many didn’t. The older Solberg brother usually drives at 100% commitment, here he had backed off to 95% and it worked. He had a reasonably lonely race in the final, fourth place just deserves for his hard work. Daniel Holten drove well all weekend, consistently in the top ten in the heats, he finished second to Bakkerud in semi-final two but was slowed in the final by technical troubles. If the youngster can find the budget to race full-time next season he could easily spring a surprise.
Petter Solberg was fastest in heat one by over a second. Heat two didn’t go so well, the Citroen DS3 picking up a misfire although the former WRC champion still set tenth fastest time. The misfire was terminal, the engine having to be changed overnight, and incurring the 15 point penalty for doing so. Sunday warm-up also spelt bad news, as the second engine too picked up a problem. Solberg’s team had to open the engine to solve the problem, missing heat three and incurring another 15 point penalty. Thirteenth in heat two was just enough to making it into the semi-finals, where he finished third in semi-final one to proceed to the main event. A brilliant start gave Solberg the chance he needed, battling hard but fair for the first three laps with Bakkerud. The fight wouldn’t last, Solberg’s transmission expiring on the third lap ending his challenge. With no real chance of fighting for the title, Solberg will now concentrate on event wins in the last three rounds, whatever it takes…
Alexander Hvaal had a great run through the heats and finished top at the intermediate classification. Hvaal lost out to Ekstrom at the start of the semi-final, following the Swede to lap six when they both jokered, only for the Norwegian to come out behind the pack, missing out on the final. Davy Jeanney had his usual consistent run though the event, only slowed in heat four when stuck behind Hansen who had a momentary problem. The French drivers event ended in the semi-final, his Citroen C4 coming to a halt on the third lap. Patrick Sandell contested the event at the wheel of an OMSE Ford Fiesta and made the semi-finals, only to pick up a misfire and eventually stop. Swedish Touring Car driver Johan Kristoffersson also made his RallycrossRX debut, second fastest in heat four showed he and his VW Dealer Team had the pace when everything went right. Unfortunately, everything didn’t go right in the semi-finals, the bonnet coming up on his car blinding his view, Kristoffersson missed out on the final by one place. Timur Timerzyanov had an uncharacteristically poor event, broken steering causing him to spin out of heat one. His best time in the heats was second in the third run, although the Russian showed his skill in heat two, clipping the barrier on the exit of the jokerlap, he spun the car a full 360 degrees only losing a couple of second at most, still setting sixth fastest time. Timerzyanov would finish semi-final two third, just missing the final for the first time this season. Toni Lukander returned to the series following his appearance in Finland and was always in the top sixteen. Driving the newer of the two Eklund cars, Lukander showed well on his first visit to Holjes and finished fifth in semi-final two. Mikael Thiman made his Supercar debut in Holjes, the former SuperNational driver didn’t look out of place and ran with the more experienced regulars all weekend. Broken steering from hitting a kerb in heat two the only blot on his copybook.
Stig-Olav Walfridsson isn’t having a great run in recent events, again the case at Holjes. The Swede’s Clio missed heat two with electrical problems. Even when the car was running well Walfridsson wasn’t able to show his usual style and speed, still developing the five-cylinder engine. Morten Bermingrud made his second start of the season and looked less rusty than he had in Hell. Two championship points were reward for his efforts. More events and seat time would see the experienced Norwegian climb the order. Knut Ove Borseth didn’t get the result he wanted in Sweden, but remained smiling throughout the event. Heat three showed his nature though, stuck behind Jos Jansen, Borseth tried every manoeuvre under the Swedish sun to get passed the Belgian, but there just wasn’t an opening. Lap after lap he made attempts, and had his nose well inside on a number of occasions, but didn’t push Jansen off, or indeed wide once. Many drivers would do well to watch that race and take note of Borseth’s performance.
Tommy Rustad will be disappointed to have finished outside the points, especially since he was fastest in heat two. His Volvo C30 twice broke it’s suspension and ultimately with two slow times he wouldn’t progress into the semi’s. Peter Hedstrom had high hopes for the event but spent his entire weekend embroiled in battles with slower cars which ultimately slowed his times. Engine issues on Saturday also hampered his progress. Mats Lysen had another weekend to forget, still developing his new five-cylinder Clio, the Norwegian must be wondering if he should have remained in his older version of the car. Anton Marklund had broken suspension on the rear of his Polo in heat one, losing him time. Worse was to come, destroyed front suspension in heat two giving his team lots of work to do overnight and even with two good drives on Sunday it was always going to be hard to make up ground given the size of the field. Andy Scott won his first race in his Peugeot 208 in heat three, and finished up 23rd overall. The next round in France should suit the car better and Scott could well make the semi-finals. Pontus Tidemand was fast when he was running, but a disqualification from heat one and a non finish in heat four meant he would go no further. Fourth fastest in heat two showed his potential. Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme looked like he could well make the semi’s, only to break the suspension on his Focus in heat three and not return for heat four.
Liam Doran suffered engine failure in heat one, and so missed heat two. With no chance of making the semi’s, Doran withdrew from the event, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to make back the 15 points lost for changing the engine.
Ulrik Linnemann treats Sweden as his home circuit, and the Dane clearly enjoys Holjes. Easily top at the intermediate classification, he won his semi-final lining up on the front row for the final with championship leader Reinis Nitiss. Linnemann took his joker on lap two, and ran second until Nitiss jokered on the sixth tour, handing the lead back to Linnemann, where he stayed to the end. Nitiss had an unusual DNF in heat four, spinning as he landed from the jump, ending in the gravel trap. A win in semi-final two placed him on the front row for the main event, where he led and might have won, had Linnemann not had that little extra speed. The gap between the two in the championship lessened, but Nitiss won’t be too disappointed. Vadim Makarov missed round five in Norway but returned for Holjes and again visited the podium. The Skoda driver is one of the most consistent in the class and doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Eric Faren again just missed out on the podium, the scrap in the first corner of the final perhaps just lost him the couple of tenths that mattered in the end. Ildar Rakhmatullin was unusually upstaged in Sweden, a track he normally goes well on and could only manage fifth in the final. He does have a presence on circuit, and is one of the fastest drivers in the class when he has a clear track. Kevin Eriksson could well have made the podium at his home event but was removed from the final in the first corner, a shunt in the rear leaving very little he could do to avoid getting stuck in the sand. Rene Munnich returned to RallycrossRX having missed recent rounds due to his WTCC commitments. The Skoda driver drove well throughout, and really could have made the final, but for ending up in the gravel at turn one in the semi-final. A good result cannot be far away for the German.
Sandra Hultgren was the star of Super1600, if not the whole event. The sixteen-your-old Swede competed in her first ever rallycross event at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia that she only saw for the first time on the Friday. Coming from a Folkrace back ground, she was only two places off making the final and is certainly a star for the future. Andreas Steffen had never seen the Swedish track before Friday, and wasn’t expecting much on the notoriously difficult circuit. He did well however, winning races in the heat stages he was on for a very fast time in heat four, only to go off entering the joker lap. Janno Ligur is also a sixteen-year-old going places, and showed well in Sweden, having been put out of the event in Finland with engine failure early on. Timur Shigaboutdinov finished up fifteen, if there are difficult races that end up being slow in the championship, the Russian seems to find them.
The home of the rear-wheel drive category is in Scandivavia, and so the event at Holjes is usually dominated by home drivers. Following an impressive run in Norway, Derek Tohill came out of the blocks running in Sweden and didn’t slow down. Fourth fastest in heat one was respectable in itself, second in heat two even better. Fastest all day on Sunday with wins in heats three, four, semi-final one and the final, Tohill was left speechless after the race and may well consider the win one of the biggest of his career.
Daniel Lundh was second fastest in every heat bar one and is turning into a very fast and fair competitor for his experience. Never to be seen pushing anybody off, the Swede almost matched Tohill for pace in the final and should consider second place a job well done. The ever present Roman Castoral always pops up when you least expect it. Fastest in heat two, he stayed clear of trouble in semi-final two beating home hero Robin Larsson and went on to finish third in the final. If the Czech driver had a better car at his disposal he would be near unbeatable.
Tom Daniel Tanevik made his second appearance of the season following his run in Norway and was impressive all weekend. Involved in some hard battles throughout, he was fastest when it mattered and rose up in the final stages. Robin Larsson was arguably favourite for his home event but ultimately had a poor run and couldn’t deliver. Excluded from heat three after contact, he was surprisingly beaten by Castoral in the semi-final and picked up a puncture in the final, just winning a last lap scrap with Torlief Lona, who had a good run at Holjes in his Ford Fiesta.
David Nordgaard retired from semi-final one on the first lap with technical troubles, while Koen Pauwels finished fifth against some of the faster local drivers. Lars Oivind Enerberg won heat one on the back of his victory at his home round in Norway. He was fastest in heat two for a time, before being excluded for having an illegal catalytic converter on his Ford Fiesta. He would not be seen again in the event, coil related problems keeping his former championship winning car in the paddock.
Kevin Hansen dominated the junior category in Sweden. The youngest of the Hansen family has had problems at every event so far this season, and now the car is working well he was fastest in all four heats and the final, closing the gap to championship leader William Nilsson who finished second in the final. Magda Andersson again finished on the podium, with Ada Marie Hvaal in fourth.
Find full results here.
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