Mon 19 Jun 2023

Svardal overcomes ill-fortune for emotional first win

Sivert Svardal entered his home round of the 2023 Euro RX1 campaign in Hell looking to turn around his fortunes following a luckless start to the season. He ended it on the top step of the podium...

Sivert Svardal entered his home round of the 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship campaign in Hell last weekend (17-18 June) looking to turn around his fortunes following a luckless start to the Euro RX1 season. He ended it on the top step of the podium.

Twenty-four hours earlier, that result had looked far from likely. Contact with René Münnich restricted Svardal to just the ninth-quickest time in heat one, but he bounced back with the third-best run in heat two. Steering failure in heat three then left the Norwegian in danger of early elimination, but a solid run in heat four secured him a second row starting slot for the semi-final.

Safely advancing to the final, Svardal lined up fourth on the grid for the weekend’s last race, before reading the first corner clash between Anton Marklund, Patrick O’Donovan and Enzo Ide to perfection to duck neatly to the inside.

By the time the field reached turn three, the home hero was in the lead. Despite coming under intense pressure from three-time champion Marklund over the closing stages, that’s where he would stay, showcasing nerves of steel and not putting so much as a wheel out-of-place to take the chequered flag first by just over six hundredths-of-a-second – in so doing, rewarding the Norwegian fans with a second home victory in Hell in as many years.

As the magnitude of what he had just achieved began to sink in, the emotions came pouring out.

“This is so huge,” the 23-year-old reflected, fighting back tears. “It’s surreal. I can’t believe it! This is my third season in Euro RX1, and it has always been my dream to finish on the podium but we’ve had so much bad luck this year.

“I knew we might have a chance in Hell, but to win, that was never in our thoughts. This is simply incredible. It’s honestly a dream come true and I’m just waiting to wake up. This is for my family and my team – they’re the best team in the whole world.”

With Baumanis failing to make the final after picking up a penalty for contact at the semi-final stage, Marklund boosted his title defence with the runner-up spoils, overtaking the Latvian in the standings and closing to within a single point of the championship lead.

Tamás Kárai reached the rostrum for the fourth time in his career in third, with Mandie August proving to be quick throughout and deservedly finishing fourth. O’Donovan was classified fifth – with the rising British star and Marklund having seemed to be magnetically attracted to each other in Norway as they collided three times over the course of the weekend.

Notwithstanding his failure to finish in the final after finding himself caught up as collateral damage in the first corner fracas, Ide now sits at the top of the title table by a single point, ahead of round four of the Euro RX1 campaign at Höljes in Sweden on 1-2 July.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM