Mon 03 Jul 2023

O’Donovan beats the big guns for breakthrough Euro RX1 victory

Ahead of the Euro RX1 semi-finals at Höljes, former champions Robin Larsson, Anton Marklund and Andreas Bakkerud were the hot tips for glory. Clearly, nobody had shown Patrick O’Donovan the script...

Ahead of the Euro RX1 semi-finals at Höljes in Sweden yesterday (2 July), former FIA European Rallycross Champions Robin Larsson, Anton Marklund and Andreas Bakkerud were the hot tips for glory at the ‘Magic Weekend’. Clearly, nobody had shown Patrick O’Donovan the script...

A puncture in heat one, damage in heat two and a clean run but on old tyres in heat three left O’Donovan a lowly 16th on Saturday night in the 24-car Euro RX1 field – and in real danger of an early bath.

Digging deep, the rising British star punched in the fifth-quickest time in heat four on Sunday morning to secure his spot in the semi-finals – although he would be starting from the back of the grid. Undeterred, a lightning launch vaulted him up the order, and O’Donovan subsequently got the better of local hero Linus Östlund to take the chequered flag third.

That ensured safe passage through to the all-important final, when another rocket-propelled getaway elevated the 19-year-old immediately to second position. He challenged Ulrik Linnemann for the lead heading down the hill on the opening lap, before completing the job at the same place next time around – and with the Dane proceeding to keep the pursuing pack at bay, O’Donovan focussed on making good his escape and building his advantage.

Larsson – the pace-setter in three of the four heats – was the man leading the chase, but the Audi had to slot in just behind the Peugeot as the Team RX Racing driver exited the joker on the last lap. When the Swede subsequently made his only error of the weekend, O’Donovan’s zero-to-hero success was all-but assured.

“This is such a special moment,” he beamed. “It was a crazy race in the final – I was trying to attack, trying to defend, it felt like I was all over the place! We’re just a small privateer team, so to win at the ‘Magic Weekend’ is absolutely amazing and something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a young kid. I’m honestly over the moon!”

Larsson recovered from his brief off-track excursion to take the chequered flag second, with Linnemann – who was in the mix from the word ‘go’ at Höljes – producing an excellent performance to reach the rostrum for the first time in 2023 in third.

Defending champion Marklund had to battle against a lack of visibility after his windscreen wipers stopped working, but with Enzo Ide – championship leader entering the weekend – failing to make the final, fourth place was sufficient for the SET Promotion star to climb to the top of the table for the first time this year, five points clear of O’Donovan.

Fellow title contender Jānis Baumanis wound up fifth ahead of Hell winner Sivert Svardal, who was the architect of arguably the start of the weekend in his semi-final to leap from fourth to first. Countryman Bakkerud saw his victory hopes extinguished by a puncture in the same race.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM