Driver

RX2 HELL-RAISERS NORWAY-BOUND FOR RED-HOT WEEKEND

The future stars of the FIA World Rallycross Championship are Hell-bent on putting on a spectacular show for fans this weekend (9-11 June), as the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires navigates its way to Norway for round three of its 2017 campaign.

Hell – located close to the city of Trondheim – is a popular stop on the annual schedule, and there will be a whole host of homegrown drivers eager to shine in front of the partisan crowd, with five Norwegians in the 19-strong field and a further nine competitors from just over the border in Sweden.

They will all have to go some to take the fight to defending title-holder Cyril Raymond (France), who is unbeaten so far this season behind the wheel of his Olsbergs MSE-prepared car and will be fired-up to complete a hat-trick of triumphs.

The Frenchman’s closest challenger to-date has been reigning MSA British Rallycross Champion Dan Rooke – who will be discovering Hell for the first time – while Simon Olofsson (Sweden) was on the pace at both Mettet and Lydden Hill, but has yet to score the kind of headline result he is threatening.

Guillaume De Ridder (Belgium) and Norway’s own Glenn Haug have been models of consistency but are similarly still in search of the podium, whilst Thomas Holmen conversely has reached the rostrum – with a gritty effort on British soil just over a week ago – and the Norwegian teenager is keen to replicate that form on home turf.

“Without any pun intended, it really is a Hell of a track!” the 17-year-old grins. “I’ve driven there twice before and whilst I haven’t always had the best results, I’m confident of turning that trend around this year – particularly after my podium at Lydden Hill. We’ve proved we have the pace to be able to fight up at the front and I’m sure I’ll enjoy plenty of support.

“It’s never been tougher in this championship than it is right now – everybody is quick in RX2 – and you really have to be on it if you want to make the final or even semi-final, because we’re scrapping quite literally for hundredths-of-a-second. That’s what makes it so exciting for the drivers and spectators alike. It requires 100 per cent commitment which is what I love about it, and you can be sure that I’ll be giving it 100 per cent and then some in Hell!”

Holmen’s countryman Sondre Evjen is continuing to inch closer to the front of the field, whilst American Tanner Whitten has been a front-runner at both rounds so far and can be counted upon to give his all in pursuit of his maiden RX2 victory.

Latvian ace Vasiliy Gryazin is another to have displayed flashes of speed, as have Swedish duo William Nilsson and Anders Michalak – both of whom are looking for a twist of fortune to come away with the kind of results to match their potential.

Simon Syversen is the final full-time Norwegian entry in the field but has proven to be routinely out-of-luck and will be aiming to turn things around on home soil. A similar story can be told for Swedish siblings Andreas and Jessica Bäckman and compatriot Sandra Hultgren, all of whom have shown far more promise than the scoresheets currently reflect.

The start list is completed by a quartet of new additions in the shape of Swedish trio Marcus Höglund, Jonathan Walfridsson and Stein Fredrik Akre, as well as Norway’s Tony Sormbroen.

The Hell RX2 action will begin with practice on Friday afternoon followed by the opening qualifying race later the same day. The remaining three qualifiers take place on Saturday, with the semi-finals and televised final concluding proceedings on Sunday.

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