Wednesday | 14 Sep 2022

Evjen’s Rīga romance reaches new heights with stellar maiden Euro RX victory

Sondre Evjen and Rīga’s Bikernieki circuit have always been friends. Back in 2016, it was the scene of his breakthrough RX Lites triumph, and two years ago, the Norwegian added to that with his first FIA European Rallycross Championship podium finish. Earlier this month, he went one better again – racing to a stunning maiden victory in the series’ headlining Euro RX1 category.

Sondre Evjen and Rīga’s Bikernieki circuit have always been friends. Back in 2016, it was the scene of his breakthrough RX Lites triumph, and two years ago, the Norwegian added to that with his first FIA European Rallycross Championship podium finish. Earlier this month, he went one better again – racing to a stunning maiden victory in the series’ headlining Euro RX1 category.

Right from the outset in Latvia, Evjen signalled his intentions, with an assertive launch from the outside of the grid in his opening heat propelling him into a lead he would not subsequently relinquish. Contact at the start of heat two left him with a flailing bumper and bodywork rubbing on his rear tyre – hampering his Audi S1’s performance – but he swiftly bounced back with another win in heat three.

A brace of second-quickest times were enough to secure third in the intermediate ranking, and victory in both his progression race and semi-final – benefitting from ill-fortune for local hero Jānis Baumanis in the latter, as the Latvian retired from first place with turbo failure – duly earned the 24-year-old Ål-born ace second choice of starting slot for the all-important final.

Following a weekend of distinctly mixed and unpredictable weather conditions, there was no doubt over tyre selection this time, as competitors sat on the grid on a sodden wet track with the rain hammering down.

After holding his nerve around the outside of championship leader Anton Marklund into Turn One, Evjen had the inside line for Turn Two – and with it, the lead. As the top two rapidly left their pursuers behind, Marklund piled on the pressure and briefly nosed in front heading onto the last lap once both had jokered, only to slide wide onto the start/finish straight and hand the advantage back to his JC Raceteknik rival.

An inadvertent nudge from the Swede a few corners later sent the Audi momentarily sideways, but with Marklund taking his foot off the throttle, the positions remained unchanged. Thereafter, Evjen would remain unflinching in his defence, and he duly took the chequered flag ahead to cap what was indisputably one of the performances of his career. To the palpable delight of the enthusiastic Latvian fans, he then celebrated with some crowd-pleasing donuts.

“I’m so happy,” he enthused. “I’ve always loved racing in Rīga, and it’s always been good to me – and to take my first Euro RX1 win felt incredible.

“We were lacking a little bit of consistency in the heats, but in the progression race and semi-final, everything went to plan. We won both with the same tyres and then in the final, it was all about the start. With the weather changing so fast, we couldn’t do everything we wanted to with the set-up, but my spotter made a good call and I managed to stay ahead of Anton after the jokers – and then it was just about not making any mistakes.

“He pushed me at one point but he came off the throttle so I could pass him again; he was very fair and I have to give him a lot of credit for that. I was actually quite nervous throughout the final because I could see him everywhere in my mirrors but it was really, really fun. I brought a lot of people with me to the event, so it was the perfect time to start winning...”

“It was just fantastic to end the weekend with a win,” echoed JC Raceteknik Team Principal, Joel Christoffersson. “It was a great result for the team and for Sondre. It’s special that he took his first Supercar Lites win with us in Rīga in 2016 and now his first Euro RX win, too. We have worked together for many years and it has always been the goal to win, and to do it in front of so many fans was amazing.

“As things stand, that was the last race we had planned with Sondre this year. You never know what might happen in the future, but if that was the end of our Euro RX season, it was a pretty special sign-off for the whole team.”

Ferratum World RX of Rīga-Latvia 2022: Euro RX1 Event Highlights