Wed 24 Jan 2024

Euro RX3 Driver of the Year: Jens Hvaal

With the votes all counted, here is who you selected as the Euro RX3 ‘Driver of the Year’...

Jens Hvaal entered the 2023 FIA European Rallycross Championship campaign with scant prior experience on the international stage but plenty of promise, having sped to a podium finish on his Euro RX3 debut at Germany’s Nürburgring the previous November.


He knew he was facing a steep learning curve, particularly in a class that has been dominated in recent years by Volland Racing’s Audis, whereas he was heading into battle with his family-run Škoda Fabia. But right from the word ‘go’, he showed that he was not afraid to get stuck in.


In the Nyirád curtain-raiser, there was a collision with Damian Litwinowicz in heat one – for which the Pole was officially reprimanded – but Hvaal went third-fastest in the following two sessions and grabbed fourth in the final as he spearheaded the Škoda charge. In four of the five rounds, indeed, he took the chequered flag as the best-placed driver behind the wheel of one of the Czech cars.


Montalegre next up marked the only time all season that the Norwegian did not reach the final – finding himself narrowly pipped by brother-in-law Martin Kjær – but he bounced back with another fourth-place finish on home soil in Hell. He then returned to the rostrum at Höljes, where he beat Litwinowicz to lay down a superb second-quickest time in the opening heat and conquered challenging conditions in the final.


But the 19-year-old saved his finest performance until last. At the Estering, Hvaal outmanoeuvred title-chasing Espen Isaksætre at the beginning of heat one to secure the first fastest time of his Euro RX3 career, and he similarly kept his countryman at bay in heat two to cement the overnight lead.


A semi-final win earned the Larvik native a front row starting spot for the final, which he duly dominated to claim a brilliant breakthrough victory – but there was to be a late sting in the tail, as a technical non-conformity subsequently saw him disqualified from the event.


That denied the teenager an Audi-splitting third position in the overall standings, but in a car that was by common consent not quite as quick as the pace-setting A1 – and irrespective of what the revised results sheet might say – he was nonetheless the only non-Volland Racing driver to cross the finish line first in a Euro RX3 final in 2023. And for that achievement alone, Jens Hvaal is fully deserving of the ‘Driver of the Year’ accolade.

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