Tuesday | 07 Jun 2022

Höljes Euro RX debut a ‘dream come true’ for local hero Östlund

Linus Östlund is looking forward to the realisation of a boyhood dream on home soil at Höljes next month, when he makes his FIA European Rallycross Championship bow in the headlining Euro RX1 class at the ‘Magic Weekend’ (2-3 July).

Linus Östlund is looking forward to the realisation of a boyhood dream on home soil at Höljes next month, when he makes his FIA European Rallycross Championship bow in the headlining Euro RX1 class at the ‘Magic Weekend’ (2-3 July).

Hailing from nearby Sysslebäck, Östlund spent many a weekend at Höljes while growing up, and after cutting his teeth in national Crosskart competition – claiming six domestic titles – he debuted on the international stage at the Värmland circuit in the FIA World Rallycross Championship-supporting RX2 Series in 2017, progressing through to the semi-finals amongst the 22 contenders.

Two years later, the Swede reached the rostrum with a second-place finish in the same event, while simultaneously achieving success in RallyX Nordic, scooping the runner-up spoils in the standings in 2019 as he truly broke through. He backed that up with fourth overall in 2020 and third last season, when he also joined the RX2e grid at Höljes.

On the leading pace throughout the heat races, he pushed Fraser McConnell all the way in his semi-final in the electric single-spec category, ultimately winding up fifth in the final.

As he continues to climb the rallycross ladder, Östlund joined the Supercar ranks for the first time with a Ford Fiesta in RallyX Nordic last month, and now he is set to test his mettle in Euro RX1 behind the wheel of a Hedströms Motorsport-run Volkswagen Polo in a high-calibre, 25-strong field.

“We were debating between RX2e and Euro RX1, but one of my biggest sponsors is the owner of the Polo and when you are offered the opportunity to race a Supercar, you don’t turn it down!” the 22-year-old acknowledged.

“I’ve obviously driven around Höljes a lot, but it still always feels special to race there – particularly during the ‘Magic Weekend’, with all the fans and the festival atmosphere. Hopefully there will be a big crowd again this year, like in the old days before Covid.

“I think every rallycross driver loves Höljes – it’s such an iconic track, with the big jump and a proper gravel section. To get to compete there in a Supercar in front of my friends, family and sponsors really is a dream come true.

“I enjoyed racing the Fiesta last month, and while we struggled a bit with the car – the deal came together very late, which meant we were thrown in at the deep end without much time for pre-event testing or preparation – I was happy with the progress we made over the course of the weekend.

“My goal in Euro RX1 is to continue learning and improving. I might have driven more laps around Höljes than anybody else, but most of the other Euro RX1 entrants have much more recent and relevant experience of the circuit in a Supercar than I do, so I don’t think I have any kind of advantage in that respect anymore.

“I certainly don’t expect to be able to compete against the big guys yet, but if I can maintain a good midfield pace with no screw-ups, I’ll be happy with that. I need to make sure I finish every race to get as much time in the car as I can, and most of all, I want to really enjoy the weekend. Plus, with 15 cars going through to the semi-finals now, if we can get that far, who knows – anything is possible...”

The full entry lists for Cooper Tires World RX of Sweden will be published on Monday, 13 June.