Norwegians invade British RX

Vikings continue to loot British rallycross of silverware

by Hal Ridge |

The journey from Norway to the UK is a well-travelled trail for Vikings looking to conquer new ground.

Earlier this month, at the opening round of the British Rallycross Championship at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, no less than four Norwegians made the trip in the hunt of loot, and came away with silverware.

Ole Henry Steinsholt has signed up for a full-season in the MSA Junior Rallycross Championship, having spent the winter months preparing for his first rallycross campaign in a Peter Gwynne Motorsport-run Suzuki Swift on frozen lakes in his homeland. Steinsholt was therefore well equipped for battle when he arrived on English shores, and showed he has the pace to race with the best in the field this season through the Croft event, culminating in a podium finish. “It was very fun to race in England, especially when all the cars are similar and the best drivers can show themselves,” he said. “I had many good fights and it was a lot of fun.”

The young charger was joined in North Yorkshire by three compatriots, racing in the Swift Sport Rallycross Championship (in cars also run by PGM) and one of those drivers, Christoffer Lia, upset the established order by claiming some British silver, as he finished third in the final with an accomplished drive.

Joining Lia in the event was Norwegian and European Championship Super1600 racer and sometime Supercar driver Ada Marie Hvaal, who drove a left-hand drive Swift at Croft. She finished 10th overall, while Martin Kjaer also raced and was ninth.

Such did Lia enjoy his British RX debut that he plans to return for more, and is working on securing the budget to race in the second round at Lydden Hill next month. “It was a really good day at Croft. The Swift was a little bit slower than a Super1600 car but it was really fun to drive,” he said. “It’s a really tight fight because all the cars are the same, so that is good. I didn’t expect to be on the podium at all. We’re trying to fix some more money so we can drive in the next races. Hopefully we can come to the next round at Lydden Hill, that would be really good.”

Norwegians making a name for themselves on British shores isn’t a new phenomenon, however. Several have travelled to compete in the British series over the years.

Martin Schanche used British RX events during the development of his infamous Ford Escorts. In early 1984, he raced at Brands Hatch while fine-tuning the Xtrac Escort, in wintery conditions.

Schanche also debuted his last ‘new’ version of the Escort in British RX in 1997, this time at the Lydden Hill circuit.

A decade earlier, Thor Holm was one of several Group B foreigners when he made a trip to the UK, to race a legendary RS200.

Father and son pairing Jan Arthur and Martin Iversen were regular British RX contenders in 1996 and 1997 in a pair of Ford Escort Cosworths.

Current World RX front-runner Andreas Bakkerud raced his Super1600 Peugeot 206 in the opening round of the Championship in 2010 in preparation for the European Championship.

And, when he signed to race a Supercar for LD Motorsports in the 2013 season, he made his debut at Lydden Hill in British RX. Fast pace and potential victory was cut short by engine problems. Bakkerud returned in 2015 an RX150 buggy at Croft, and duly won.

This is just a handful. Many, many more Norwegian’s have competed over the years in the British Rallycross Grand Prix, Supercar Prix and rounds of the FIA European and World Rallycross Championships.

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