Tue 04 Jul 2023

Heroes of Höljes: Cooper Tires’ ‘Racers of the Weekend’ from Sweden

World RX of Sweden was an event of two halves, from the hot, sunny conditions of Saturday to Sunday’ s showers and slippery track surface. But who best handled the challenge to clinch the Cooper Tires ‘Racer of the Weekend’ awards..?

World RX of Sweden (1-2 July) was an event of two halves. Hot, sunny conditions greeted competitors on Saturday, before giving way to showers on Sunday and a slippery track surface. But who best handled the challenge to clinch the coveted Cooper Tires ‘Racer of the Weekend’ awards from Höljes..?

World RX: Timmy Hansen

It’s difficult, granted, to argue against Johan Kristoffersson, so dominant was his performance as he sped to a fourth ‘Magic Weekend’ victory of his glittering FIA World Rallycross Championship career, but behind the Swede, there was another great story being composed as countryman Timmy Hansen belatedly got his 2023 campaign underway with a second-place finish for Hansen World RX Team.

After uncharacteristically failing to reach the final in either Portugal or Norway, on home soil in Sweden, Hansen overcame a puncture in heat two to secure third spot in the intermediate classification. The 2019 world champion then chased Kristoffersson to the flag – albeit at a distance – in both his semi-final and the all-important final to climb four places in the title table to fifth, narrowing his deficit to second in the standings to just nine points.

RX2e: Ole Henry Steinsholt

The 2023 FIA RX2e Championship curtain-raiser in Hell could scarcely have gone any worse for Ole Henry Steinsholt, who seemed to spend the majority of the event crashing into other cars and being summoned to the stewards.

At Höljes, the Norwegian bounced back in the best possible fashion. On the money throughout the heats – and setting the pace outright in the third of them – even a brace of spins on Sunday morning after the heavens opened could not dampen Steinsholt’s charge.

From the front row of the grid for the first semi-final, the 20-year-old hounded defending champion Viktor Vranckx to the chequered flag. He later fought his way past Hell winner Isak Sjökvist and exploited a mistake by Nils Andersson in the final to overhaul the Swede and Vranckx in one fell swoop, thereafter holding his nerve to seal a maiden and somewhat unexpected RX2e triumph.

Euro RX1: Patrick O’Donovan

As he concluded a troubled opening day of racing at Höljes sitting just 16th in the standings, you would have got pretty long odds on Patrick O’Donovan’s chances of winning in Euro RX1. His speed was not in question, but to climb so far up the order in such a fiercely-competitive field – featuring the likes of Andreas Bakkerud, Robin Larsson and Anton Marklund, European champions all – looked like mission impossible.

The fifth-quickest time in heat four marked a step in the right direction and earned him a berth in the semi-finals, where from the rear of the grid, he battled his way to third – and into the final. And he wasn’t done yet. This time, the rising British star rocketed up to second at the start, despatched Ulrik Linnemann on lap two and then established enough of a lead to emerge from his last lap joker just ahead of weekend pace-setter Larsson, who skated off-track in his efforts to fight back – an error that cemented O’Donovan’s breakthrough victory.

Euro RX3: Espen Isaksætre

The top step of the podium seemed to have been taunting Espen Isaksætre for a long time in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Euro RX3 category. Second-place finishes at both Nyirád and Montalegre and third in Hell extended his career rostrum tally to six, but with still no win to his name, the Norwegian looked destined to be ever the bridesmaid.

At Höljes, however, he was not to be denied. The driver to beat from the outset, Isaksætre came within a whisker of a clean sweep of fastest heat times and navigated the precarious conditions to secure a second row starting spot for the final. When the lights turned green, the Volland Racing ace immediately grabbed a lead that he would not subsequently relinquish, setting up a tantalising title showdown with team-mate Damian Litwinowicz at Germany’s Estering next month...

Hansen, Steinsholt, O’Donovan and Isaksætre will each be rewarded with a free set of Cooper Tires for their performances in Sweden.

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