By his own admission, Enzo Ide went through ‘a difficult time’ a few years ago. His rallycross career got off to something of a faltering start, but he is now arguably the most-improved driver in the paddock. Last Sunday, he cemented that status with a superb performance at Montalegre to win the penultimate round of the 2022 Euro RX1 campaign.
After starting out in sportscars and GT racing – clinching the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup laurels along the way – Ide made his rallycross debut on home soil at Spa-Francorchamps in the World Championship in 2019. Only a matter of weeks later, he sustained a serious head injury at home that resulted in him being placed into an artificial coma for almost five months – stopping his momentum firmly in its tracks.
Once recovered, the Belgian returned to the dual-surface discipline, reaching the semi-final stage at Catalunya in late 2020 prior to spending a year alongside multiple world champion Johan Kristoffersson at KYB EKS JC – culminating in him outpacing all of his adversaries to post the fastest time in Q2 on the last day of the season at the Nürburgring.
Maintaining his relationship with former title-winner Mattias Ekström, Ide transitioned to the European Championship with EKS in 2022, and he has been a front-runner throughout. After finishing runner-up to eventual champion Anton Marklund in the Hungarian curtain-raiser, the 31-year-old found himself out of luck in both Sweden and Norway, before bouncing back as he reached the rostrum again in Latvia. And then came Portugal, and his day of days.
Having wound up second-quickest to Jānis Baumanis in heat one, he topped the times in heat two as he leapt to the summit of the overnight standings. He then pushed Marklund all the way in heat three to maintain his overall advantage, proceeding to dominate his progression race and confidently keep the Swede at bay in the first semi-final.
That earned Ide prime choice of grid slot for the all-important final, and from pole position, he was never headed, having an answer to everything Baumanis could throw at him. Fastest lap reinforced his supremacy, with the result carrying him to within three points of the Latvian in the battle for second in the title table – and his home event of Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps next up on 8-9 October.
“This is very special – a day I’ll never forget,” the Tielt native reflected. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve been through a lot and had a bit of a difficult time a few years ago. I started from zero in rallycross, and I was lucky from the beginning that I could learn from the best rallycross drivers in the world in Mattias [Ekström] and Johan [Kristoffersson].
“I’ve learned so much from them both – they have a tremendous baggage of knowledge between them, and that’s always an advantage. If you want to go fast, you need to learn from the masters and that’s more-or-less what I’ve done over the past couple of years.
“We’ve had the pace all season in Euro RX1, but we had bad luck in a couple of the rounds and despite what the results sheet suggested, the first day in Portugal was hard. I wasn’t happy at all as I couldn’t find the rhythm, but the team did a great job to tune the car to the way I wanted it, and on Sunday it was performing really well.
“I kept my head cool and stayed focussed all day, and I was very happy to end the weekend on a high with my first rallycross victory. It’s amazing. The EKS guys are a great bunch of people and we’ve been working hard from the beginning. This goes to show that hard work pays off.”