Welcome to the midpoint of this years rallycross season! So far this season we’ve seen four different winners, two of them having their debut win. That means we have a lot of drivers hungry for success, especially at what is considered “The Magic Weekend”, far up in the Swedish woods.
Sweden is by many considered the heart of rallycross, with lots of teams and drivers having their base here. Five of the teams in this years WorldRX have their base in Sweden: OlsbergsMSE, Marklund Motorsport, VW Team Sweden, Peugeot-Hansen and Larsson-Jernberg Motorsport. Petter Solberg also lives quite close to this track, making it a hotspot for rallycross. Höljes is located north in the Värmland region, not far from Torsby, and familiar grounds for those following the WRC. It’s also close to Norway, which means that up to 40 000 Swedes and Norwegians (and some other Europeans) gather for a completely bonkers summer party as well. I’m going.
When you ask the drivers about their favourite tracks, most of them will answer Höljes. Why? It’s built in an old quarry, so all the drivers get the amphitheatre feeling with all the spectators gathered around. All of them with a perfect view of the track. It has two jumps (some say there’s a hidden third one), several high speed corners and even a banked corner that always seems to induce passing on the following back straight.
It’s the regular 40 % gravel and 60 % tarmac, but a lot of variation means the gravel is often dragged out to the tarmac sections. The varying grip might be the biggest challenge of this track, besides all the other drivers. The fastest lap set was by Petter Solberg last year, at 0:43.143. Petter didn’t win though, as Mattias Ekström was dominant the whole weekend. Earning a perfect 30 points, Ekström showed what he and EKSRX are capable of.
And after a horrible weekend at Estering, Ekström must perform here to still be a contender for the championship. Andreas Bakkerud has always done well here, winning in 2013 and getting second last year. His aggressive driving style and frequent passing moves suits this track, and he could take his first win of the season. Peugeot-Hansen will be interested in keeping their Estering form, and improve on how they did last year. They’ve also recruited Swedish talent Eric Farén for this event, his first WorldRX supercar outing this year. Tord Linnerud got to his only semifinal last year in Höljes, something that proves his pace on this track. Can he beat teammate Johan Kristoffersson for the first time this year, or will wildcard Ole Christian Veiby be the best driver from VW Team Sweden?
Another wildcard here in Höljes is Marklund Motorsport driver and recent EuroRX winner Tommy Rustad. He would’ve finished fourth in the WorldRX intermediate standings at Estering, and could be the best Marklund driver here as well. Both Topi Heikkinen and PG Andersson has struggled with their form recently, and Andersson didn’t race here last year. Making a surprise return here in Sweden is Stig Olov “Steckan” Walfridsson. He raced in the European Championship several years, before retiring after the 2013 season and handing the Renaults over to Lukas. This year both of the Clios are for Walfridssons to use, so both Lukas and Steckan will race in Höljes. Steckan won here in 2009, so he certainly knows his way around the track.
CircleX Racing and Ole Christian Nøttveit returns to Sweden, with a new teammate in Henning Solberg. It will be interesting to see how their old cars can keep up here, but both has raced at Höljes numerous times. Henning hasn’t done anything competetive lately, but he’s famous for having pace right after breaks. Racing in what I think is “Stina” might help him as well. Rally legend Per Eklund, who recently turned 69 (!), will enter this weekend in one of his Saabs, while his New Beetle will be piloted by Norwegian talent Daniel Holten. This will be the first event for Eklunds latest creation, and Holten has proved his speed here before. If they can stay out if trouble, Holten will reach the semifinals.
A year after his last outing in WorldRX, Alexander Hvaal returns in a Citroën DS3. After having his confidence shattered by the second PSRX car, Hvaal has been working hard to get back to rallycross. He won two events in 2013, so the potential is there for the Norwegian. Another Norwegian on the entry list is Ole Kristian Temte, making his debut here. Since this is his debut, this is all about experience for the Norwegian who drives the old Citroën C4 of Morten Bermingrud. The car also raced here last year, and should be competetive. Also making his debut is Niclas Grönholm, in an OlsbergsMSE built Ford Fiesta. If that name rings a bell, I can tell you that it is in fact the son of rally legend Marcus Grönholm. Niclas has been racing in the Scandinavian RallyX Championship, without being able to beat the Erikssons so far. He could surprise us all here, but I think he’ll be lucky to get any points in this strong field.
Also racing here in Höljes, are EuroRX regulars Peter Hedström, Frode Holte, Ramona Karlsson, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg and Tamas Karai
This event is of course broadcasted on livestream, starting at 15:00 CET on Sunday. In case you need to know more about rallycross before making your picks for this round, take a look at the season guide. The rules are at the bottom of the guide, but they’re really simple so I can just repeat the most important thing here. You pick six drivers, but you can only pick one driver from each team. Will there be prizes? I’ll go to one or two events this year and I’ll try to get something prize-worthy there! In case you want to do an in-depth analysis, I’ve made a statistics spreadsheet for your pleasure. All entrants are listed below, and you can find the official entry list here.
SDRX - CITROËN DS3
#1 Petter Solberg (NOR) - Average last 10: 26.10 - Last year: 23
#33 Liam Doran (GBR) - Average last 10: 6.40 - Last year: 12
VOLKSWAGEN TEAM SWEDEN - VW POLO R WRX
#3 Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) - Average last 10: 17.78 - Last year: 0
#52 Ole Christian Veiby (NOR) - Average last 10: 0.00 - Last year: 0
#99 Tord Linnerud (NOR) - Average last 10: 5.30 - Last year: 6
WORLDRX TEAM AUSTRIA - FORD FIESTA VII
#7 Manfred Stohl (AUT) - Average last 10: 8.00 - Last year: N/A
#31 Max Pucher (AUT) - Average last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
EKSRX - AUDI S1
#10 Mattias Ekström (SWE) - Average last 10: 16.57 - Last year: 30
#92 Anton Marklund (SWE) - Average last 10: 8.40 - Last year: 3
OLSBERGSMSE - FORD FIESTA ST
#13 Andreas Bakkerud (NOR) - Average last 10: 16.60 - Last year: 17
#15 Reinis Nitiss (LVA) - Average last 10: 15.70 - Last year: 16
#42 Timur Timerzyanov (RUS) - Average last 10: 9.60 - Last year: 16
TEAM PEUGEOT-HANSEN - PEUGEOT 208 WRX
#17 Davy Jeanney (FRA) - Average last 10: 10.30 - Last year: 0
#21 Timmy Hansen (SWE) - Average last 10: 19.80 - Last year: 11
#90 Eric Farèn (SWE) - Average last 10: 0.50 - Last year: 1
MARKLUND MOTORSPORT - VW POLO RX
#24 Tommy Rustad (NOR) - Average last 10: 2.33 - Last year: 0
#45 PG Andersson (SWE) - Average last 10: 8.29 - Last year: N/A
#57 Topi Heikkinen (FIN) - Average last 10: 14.80 - Last year: 14
ALL-INKL.COM RACING MÜNNICH MOTORSPORT - AUDI S3
#55 Alx Danielsson (SWE) - Average last 10: 0.40 - Last year: N/A
#77 Rene Münnich (GER) - Average last 10: 0.75 - Last year: 0
HELMIA MOTORSPORT - RENAULT CLIO
#23 Stig-Olov Walfridsson (SWE) - Average last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#48 Lukas Walfridsson (SWE) - Average last 10: 0.17 - Last year: 0
CIRCLEX RACING - VOLVO C30/FORD FOCUS II
#32 Ole-Kristian Nøttveit (NOR) - Average last 10: 0.50 - Last year: N/A
#88 Henning Solberg (NOR) - Average last 10: 6.70 - Last year: 4
EKLUND MOTORSPORT - VW BEETLE/SAAB 9-3 AERO
#53 Daniel Holten (NOR) - Average last 10: 11.00 - Last year: 13
#101 Per Eklund (SWE) - Average last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A
SINGLE CAR ENTRIES AND INDEPENDENTS:
#4 Robin Larsson (SWE), Audi A1 - Average last 10: 9.50 - Last year: 0
#8 Peter Hedström (SWE), Skoda Fabia - Average last 10: 3.50 - Last year: 0
#14 Frode Holte (NOR), Hyundai i20 - Average last 10: 1.75 - Last year: 0
#28 Alexander Hvaal (NOR), Citroën DS3 - Average last 10: 2.80 - Last year: 2
#29 Niclas Grönholm (FIN), Ford Fiesta VII - Average last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#30 Ole Kristian Temte (NOR), Citroën C4 - Average last 10: N/A - Last year: N/A
#47 Ramona Karlsson (SWE), VW Scirocco - Average last 10: 1.60 - Last year: 0
#87 Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (FRA), Citroën C4 - Average last 10: 3.00 - Last year: N/A
#102 Tamas Karai (HUN), Audi S1 - Average last 10: 0.00 - Last year: N/A