Saturday 6th of July 2019

Jesse Kallio sat 19th in the standings after the opening RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires qualifying round at Höljes today (6 July), but a brilliant fightback – allied to a healthy dose of sisu – saw the Finn fly to the top of the overnight classification on a dramatic day in Sweden.

Kallio found himself edged into the Turn One dirt mere moments into Q1, with a puncture picked up as he rode the kerb to rejoin subsequently sending him into a 360° spin and leaving him well down the order. That bad luck made way for good fortune in Q2, however, as his early starting position meant the Olsbergs MSE ace was one of only three drivers to enjoy a completely dry run as the heavens opened before the next race.

A similarly flawless performance in Q3 yielded second position, which was sufficient to lift the RX2 rookie to the top of the table with just one qualifier left to run on Sunday morning – and Kallio was justifiably pleased with his day’s work.

“I would never have imagined I’d end today as top qualifier after Q1!” quipped the 20-year-old, who has finished on the podium in every event so far in his maiden RX2 campaign. “That was a pretty disastrous start, but we managed to bring it back round. My luck changed in Q2 – when I saw the rain drops coming down, I was very relieved to be in the first race!

“We then got a clean run in Q3 which was enough to move us to the top, but it’s very close with Oliver [Eriksson] still, so there’s no time to ease off the gas...”

Championship leader Eriksson sits four points behind Kallio in second, but it was far from plain sailing for the Swede, who is chasing a fifth consecutive victory in 2019 on home soil this weekend.

After making light of his outside grid slot in Q1 to storm into the lead at the first corner and go on to post the fastest time, Eriksson was the quickest of the drivers faced with a fully wet track in Q2 but then picked up a penalty for contact in Q3 that cost him the overall top spot.

It is another Olsbergs MSE driver that sits third overnight, with Fraser McConnell’s excellent performances in Q1 and Q3 allowing the Jamaican to overcome a first corner collision in Q2 that left him nursing a broken rear wheel.

Vasiliy Gryazin lies fourth for Sports Racing Technologies after a strong run in Q3, with debutant Martin Enlund an outstanding fifth on his series bow. Rapid from the outset, the Swedish teenager placed a superb third in Q1 and recovered from a spin in Q2 with another top six effort in Q3 as he marks himself out as one to watch.

Simon Olofsson – the day’s undisputed star overtaker – is just behind in sixth following a characteristically fast and feisty effort, with Marcus Höglund seventh in his Team Färén-run car. The Swede rode the Höljes rollercoaster more than most, breaking his suspension in a first corner incident in Q1, incurring a 30-second penalty for missing the joker lap in Q2 – and then soaring to the fastest time of the day in Q3.

“What a crazy day!” Höglund reflected. “Our lap times in practice proved we have the pace and we know we have everything we need to succeed here, but my head just seemed to be completely elsewhere in the first two qualifiers. It was my fault on both occasions, and Q2 was even harder to take because being in the only dry race, it was a golden opportunity to regain some ground. I was so focussed on beating Jesse [Kallio] ahead that when he jokered, I didn’t want to follow – without thinking that it was the last lap!

“After that, I had to get a result in Q3 or the weekend would have been all-but over – it was pretty much win or bust, and we finally got a clean run to put us back in the game. Now we just need to do the same again in Q4...”

Sami-Matti Trogen is the highest-placed of the SET Promotion entries in eighth after mastering the wet conditions in Q2, while a penalty for contact in Q3 dropped JC Raceteknik’s Ben-Philip Gundersen to ninth overall. Mats Oskarsson sits tenth following a consistent run, ahead of fellow Swedes Jimmie Walfridson and William Nilsson.

Walfridson retired at the first corner in Q1 after clipping a rival, but like Kallio, he was saved by the conditions in Q2 as he benefitted from being in the only dry race and then staved off the frustrated Eriksson all the way to the chequered flag in Q3. Running as a private entry for the first time, Nilsson showed good pace and currently occupies the last of the semi-final spots.

Those outside of the cut heading into Q4 on Sunday include local hero Linus Östlund, who was delayed by a spinning rival in Q1 and struggled on the sodden track in Q2 before fighting back with a top five time in Q3. Petter Leirhol fell from third to 14th overall after being tipped into a spectacular first corner barrel-roll in Q3, Jami Kalliomäki is a low-key 16th on his RX2 return with SET Promotion, with Anders Michalak slipping to 18th after incurring damage in the incident with Leirhol.

The Höljes RX2 action resumes with Q4 at 09h50 local time (CEST) on Sunday, which will be broadcast live at:

Intermediate Classification:

1. Jesse Kallio FIN Olsbergs MSE 120 points
2. Oliver Eriksson SWE Olsbergs MSE 116 points
3. Fraser McConnell JAM Olsbergs MSE 110 points
4. Vasiliy Gryazin LVA Sports Racing Technologies 109 points
5. Martin Enlund SWE Martin Enlund 107 points
6. Simon Olofsson SWE Simon Olofsson 106 points
7. Marcus Höglund SWE Marcus Höglund 105 points
8. Sami-Matti Trogen FIN SET Promotion 105 points
9. Ben-Philip Gundersen NOR JC Raceteknik 102 points
10. Mats Oskarsson SWE Mats Oskarsson 101 points
11. Jimmie Walfridson SWE Helmia Motorsport 101 points
12. William Nilsson SWE William Nilsson 101 points

13. Linus Östlund SWE Olsbergs MSE 99 points
14. Petter Leirhol NOR Petter Leirhol 98 points
15. Steve Volders BEL Nationale Renstal Trommelke 97 points
16. Jami Kalliomäki FIN SET Promotion 96 points
17. Stein Frederic Akre NOR Stein Frederic Akre 95 points
18. Anders Michalak SWE Anders Michalak 95 points
19. Morten Asklund NOR Morten Asklund 85 points
20. Lars Erik Haug NOR Lars Erik Haug 82 points
21. Albert Llovera AND Albert Llovera 78 points

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