Jean Baptiste Dubourg looked to be stitching together a title challenge in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s headlining Euro RX1 category last year until an accident on home soil at Lohéac left him with a season-ending broken arm. Just over a week ago at Höljes, the Frenchman celebrated his successful convalescence with a tenth career podium finish.
Having struggled for consistency in the 2022 curtain-raiser at Hungary’s Nyirád Racing Center – showing strong pace on occasion but ultimately failing to reach the final following a brace of uncharacteristic errors behind the wheel of his Peugeot 208 – Dubourg was back on-form in round two, the sport’s legendary ‘Magic Weekend’.
Third-quickest in heat one – when he stunned his rivals by sweeping right the way around the outside from fifth on the grid into the lead at lights-out – the DA Racing ace backed that up with the seventh-fastest time in heat two, but a puncture that precipitated a spin in heat three restricted him to eighth place in the intermediate ranking amongst the 25 high-calibre contenders.
After comfortably navigating the progression stage, Dubourg exploited an early joker to leapfrog Sondre Evjen in the second semi-final and subsequently defied another puncture to hold the Norwegian off to the chequered flag – in so doing, securing the last available spot in the all-important final. From there, he held his own amongst the ‘local’ specialists – and his efforts were rewarded with the runner-up spoils, just over two seconds shy of winner Anton Marklund.
“It’s always a big emotion to compete at Höljes,” reflected the 34-year-old, who has moved up to fourth spot in the championship standings. “It’s such a special place, and I really enjoyed the whole weekend.
“Hungary was a difficult event for me – I wasn’t in good shape still and I didn’t feel good in the car – but to finish second at Höljes was like a victory for us. When you look at the big names that were in the final, to show that we can play with those guys was really encouraging. I was the only French driver in the field amongst a lot of Scandinavians, but I think I proved we can take the fight to them on their home turf...”