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Mon 10 Jul 2023

‘It’s game on’, vows Isaksætre after Höljes breakthrough

Espen Isaksætre has thrown down the gauntlet to team-mate Damian Litwinowicz in the battle for Euro RX3 glory this year, after his long-awaited maiden triumph at Höljes blew the title fight wide open...

Espen Isaksætre has thrown down the gauntlet to team-mate Damian Litwinowicz in the battle for Euro RX3 glory this year, after his long-awaited maiden triumph at Höljes’ ‘Magic Weekend’ earlier this month blew the title fight wide open.

Heading to Värmland, Isaksætre had been a front-runner and podium-finisher in every round of the 2023 Euro RX3 campaign, but despite topping the timesheets in multiple sessions, his breakthrough success remained frustratingly elusive.

A clean sweep of fastest heat times on the Saturday in Sweden suggested he was intent on putting that statistic to bed, and the Norwegian went on to pocket the three championship points for leading the way in the intermediate classification.

Despite his dominance, Isaksætre had to give best to Volland Racing stablemate João Ribeiro in a wet opening semi-final, needing to overtake Litwinowicz midway through to secure second spot. The first real setback of his weekend turned out, however, to be something of a blessing in disguise, as by that stage, it was apparent that on the damp track surface, the front row of the grid was not the optimum place to start.

The 29-year-old duly blasted through the middle of Ribeiro and Martin Kjær at the beginning of the final, and from then on, he would never be headed, despite a brief off-track episode later around the first lap that he swiftly gathered up.

Such was Isaksætre’s pace, his nearest challenger, Litwinowicz, was more than three seconds adrift at the chequered flag, meaning just five points now separate the pair in the Pole’s favour going to the last round of the season at Germany’s Estering next month (19-20 August), where a winner-takes-all duel will determine the destiny of the 2023 Euro RX3 crown.

“This means so much,” enthused the Flisa native of his overdue first victory in the series. “I only live an hour or so away from Höljes and I’ve been coming here since I was three or four-years-old, so it’s like a home track for me and to win at the ‘Magic Weekend’ is amazing.

“The conditions on Sunday were certainly tricky. It was my first time driving the Audi in the rain, so it was a little bit scary in the morning but we made some set-up changes and while the semi-final wasn’t the best, everything worked well in the final. There was really good grip on the second row of the grid and although I had a few ‘moments’ – like everybody, I think – I tried to stay calm and keep it on the racing line.

“To have finished on the podium in every round so far in my first season with Volland Racing, I can’t believe it, to be honest. Now we need to step it up again in Germany. Damian will also be fired-up, so it will be a fun weekend – it’s game on!”