Mon 08 Jul 2024

O’Donovan repeats ‘Magic Weekend’ success to take early Euro RX1 lead

Patrick O’Donovan lived up to his pre-season favourite tag in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s top-tier by racing to a second consecutive ‘Magic Weekend’ victory in Sweden yesterday (7 July).

Having celebrated his breakthrough Euro RX1 triumph at Höljes 12 months earlier, O’Donovan returned to the popular Värmland circuit with his sights firmly set on a repeat performance – and that is exactly what the rising British star delivered.


Behind the wheel of his Peugeot 208, he kept fellow title hopeful Sivert Svardal at bay in the opening heat until the Norwegian dropped out of contention, before adding another race win to his tally in heat two after narrowly avoiding Ulrik Linnemann’s spectacular Turn One roll.


The 20-year-old then led a Team RX Racing one-two in heat three as he was followed home by his father, Ollie O’Donovan, but a sluggish getaway in the wet in heat four on Sunday morning left him back in the pack, and he had to draw upon all of his bravery and skill to pull off a crowd-pleasing last lap pass on Mikko Ikonen to finish second – in so doing, securing himself top spot in the intermediate ranking and pole position for the first semi-final.


When it rains at Höljes, however, pole is rarely the best place to start due to the limited grip on the front row of the grid. Having slipped to fifth when the lights went out, O’Donovan elected to dive straight into the joker, and that strategy – allied to a scintillating turn-of-speed – enabled him to fight his way back to second behind race-winner Mika Liimatainen in his Hyundai.


That earned the two-time British Rallycross Champion third on the grid for the all-important final – arguably the prime starting slot – and after getting blamelessly caught up in a clash with Yury Belevskiy and Peter Hedström in the first corner, he emerged from Turn Two in the lead.


When his pursuers then tripped over each other entering the Velodrome section later around the lap, O’Donovan was gifted a significant advantage – and he duly went on to take the chequered flag more than four seconds clear to launch his title bid in commanding fashion.


“I had awful starts all day on Sunday but got a great start in the final,” he reflected. “I was alongside Hedström and I tried to give as much room as I possibly could to Belevskiy on the inside, but Hedström just went into the side of me and I was a passenger at that point.


“After that, I got my head down and it was all about managing the pace and not making any mistakes. The fans at Höljes are amazing and it’s an incredible place to be – it really is the ‘Magic Weekend’ and I love it. Everyone in the team properly pulled together, so a big ‘thank you’ to them all. To come back to Höljes and make it two-for-two is a fantastic result.”


Surprise package Liimatainen wound up second overall for Betomik Racing ahead of reigning Euro RX3 champion Damian Litwinowicz, who impressed on his Euro RX1 debut with Volland Racing.


The season will continue with round two at Nyirád in Hungary on 27-28 July.

Second image (Linnemann roll): Mads Egeberg-Gjelstrup

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