Large crowds in Höljes enjoyed a dramatic and action-packed opening day of competition at round two of the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship at Höljes today (July 2), with Oliver Solberg ultimately comes out on top as he looks to turn his family’s race around. bad luck at the legendary ‘Magic Weekend’.
In five World RX starts at the iconic Swedish circuit, two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg has only made it to the grandstand once and, from 2016 to 2018, he narrowly missed out on a place in the the last three consecutive seasons.
Fast forward four years, and his son Oliver – now recognized as a rallycross and rally star in his own right – has taken over, and if he was a little rusty today having not competed in the discipline at double surface since 2020, he hasn’t let it show.
In wet conditions after an early morning downpour, the 20-year-old was in sensational form in the opening moto to set the pace by nearly a second in the high-caliber 25 Euro RX1 field – although he didn’t had never before ridden his Hedströms Motorsport Hyundai i20 in the wet – before overcoming starter issues to fight his way to the third fastest time in moto two.
“It was a great day overall,” he acknowledged. “I had a really clean run in the first moto – it was actually surprisingly good – but then in the second I had a terrible launch and it was very strange to suddenly be in traffic for the first time in two years! The other guys are super fast and the margins are so small, but it was really cool to be able to fight like that again – great fun – and it’s fantastic to be in first place today on the next day.
Solberg are two points ahead of Championship leader Anton Marklund – winner of the season’s curtain raiser in Hungary last month – with the Swede proving himself utterly equal to his illustrious opponents by finishing second in both sessions as trying to extend his advantage in the title battle this weekend.
Four-time world champion Johan Kristoffersson sits third after engaging in a no-holds-barred duel with fan favorite Andreas Bakkerud in moto one and then set the pace in moto two despite losing power over the last two. laps of his race.
Multiple Andros Trophy ice racing king Jean Baptiste Dubourg is fourth, the Frenchman sweeping dramatically all around the outside of his rivals to take the early lead in the first run. Sondre Evjen was a constant contender for JC Raceteknik and sits fifth, with EKS ace Bakkerud sixth after losing time to a slow start in moto two.
Jānis Baumanis was frustrated by a spin in moto two but still sits seventh for #YellowSquad, just ahead of Enzo Ide, who joined Anders Michalak at the start of moto one.
Two drivers have work to do on Sunday, however, Nyirád runners-up Ulrik Linnemann and Sivert Svardal, who both ran into trouble in the opening round. The Dane ended his race in the barriers, while the Norwegian suffered a break in the steering which sent him spinning.
OUTSIDERS SHINE IN EURO RX3 AND RX2e
Martin Kjaer produced an upset in Euro RX3 to lead the way at the end of the first day of action in Höljes, enjoying the best conditions in round one before backing up with the fifth-fastest time in round two to cement the top spot in the overnight leaderboard for its seasonal debut.
Rising star Marius Solberg Hansen impressed throughout to push Kjaer the hardest, just one point behind his fellow Norwegian after winning the second set, with defending duelists Kobe Pauwels and Jan Černý level on points for the third. The Czech ace lost time in traffic in the first moto, before the Belgian got the upper hand in a close battle between the two in the second moto.
There was less luck, however, for free practice pacemaker Janno Ligur, who was unable to start the first moto due to a broken gearbox in his Škoda Fabia, then found himself victim of a tight first corner that spewed him off the track at the start of the second run.
Viktor Vranckx had been tipped to make a strong impression on his debut in the FIA RX2e Championship, and that’s exactly what he did at Höljes today. Under the tutelage of last year’s title winner Guillaume De Ridder, the Belgian edged all his competitors in moto one and posted the second-fastest time in moto two to end the proceedings at the top of the standings. .
Sophomores Nils Andersson, Isak Sjökvist and Patrick O’Donovan are hot on their heels, with the race set to continue tomorrow with round three in all classes, followed by the all-important progression races, semi-finals and finals. .
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