The 2019 RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires campaign resumes this weekend (1/2 June) with what promises to be another edge-of-the-seat instalment, as spectacular Danish track Nysumbanen plays host to a fast-developing and intriguing title fight.
All four classes – Supercar, Supercar Lites, RX Academy and CrossCar – were fiercely-contested over the course of the double-header curtain-raiser at Höljes earlier this month, with a particularly close battle in the headlining Supercar category culminating in the top four drivers being separated by just three points in the championship standings.
Rounds one and two were all about the Erikssons. After Kevin Eriksson led home a slow-starting Peter Hedström and the increasingly impressive Jere Kalliokoski on Saturday, it was the turn of younger brother Oliver to take the win – and with it the championship lead – on Sunday. The Swede looked set to finish third until a controversial collision between Robin Larsson and Sebastian Eriksson at the exit of the joker put the former into a spin and earned the latter a five-second penalty.
Oliver duly leads the field into Nysum, a circuit that has established itself as a pillar of the RallyX Nordic calendar in recent years, providing thrilling action for drivers and fans alike. Characterised by a fast-and-flowing, 1,160m lap, the track is unique in the series for its figure-of-eight layout and bridge/jump combo – ensuring spectators are in for a true rollercoaster ride as the championship builds momentum.
Eriksson took the chequered flag first in Denmark last year, but was relegated to second by a post-race penalty for clipping a track marker on the exit of the joker. This time round, ‘Flying Finn’ Kalliokoski, last weekend’s Silverstone FIA Euro RX event-winner Larsson and Hedström are all within just three points of the early leader in the title chase – setting the scene for some sensationally close racing – and that is without even counting fifth-placed Ulrik Linnemann, who will arguably be the most fired-up of all to shine this weekend.
The Dane made a head-turning RallyX Nordic debut on home soil last year, registering a hugely popular victory in the final following Eriksson’s demotion – a result he is eager to replicate 12 months on. Linnemann was out of luck at Höljes, displaying front-running pace on both days before falling victim to a run of punctures. After Olsbergs MSE team-mate Eriksson proved what the new-to-Europe Honda Civic is capable of, he would like nothing more than to open his 2019 account with a podium finish – if not better – in front of family and friends.
“I’m really looking forward to racing on the track where I grew up,” the 31-year-old enthused. “I think Nysum will suit the Honda well and I have high hopes of taking revenge after my bad final results in Sweden. Lots of people are expecting great things of me at my home circuit, so I hope I can make them proud…”
In evidence of the unpredictable and top-tier action in RallyX Nordic this year, no fewer than 11 drivers occupied the 12 available final slots at Höljes – amongst whom were Philip Gehrman, a podium-finisher then and also in Denmark last year, so the Swede will doubtless fancy his chances on his return. Nysum will mark seasonal debuts, meanwhile, for JC Raceteknik’s Mats Öhman – who lost 95 per cent of his mobility following a snowmobile accident in 1998 – and local favourite Dennis Rømer.
The competition is every bit as hot in the supporting Supercar Lites category, with Norwegian teenager Thomas Holmen stunning his rivals by racing to victory in the opening round of the campaign following an 18-month absence from the cockpit. So tightly-disputed is the class, Holmen could only manage sixth place in Sunday’s final, but that was nonetheless enough to maintain the championship lead heading to Denmark.
Sunday’s top two – Sondre Evjen and Ben-Philip Gundersen – mirrored the top two from Nysum last year, meaning the JC Raceteknik pairing will return in confident spirits, and the former sits just a single point behind countryman Holmen at the summit of the standings. Simon Olofsson was similarly a podium-finisher in both events, and can always be counted upon to put in a crowd-pleasing performance.
The RX Academy and CrossCar showdowns at Höljes were equally as gripping, with the promise of more to come – particularly with a clutch of local heroes in the 18-strong CrossCar field in Denmark.
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