Ulrik Linnemann – one of the most successful drivers in FIA European Rallycross Championship history at Super1600 (now Euro RX3) level – will rejoin the fray in the headlining Euro RX1 series in 2022, as he promises to show that he is ‘capable of much more than I’ve ever been able to show before’.
Linnemann made his European Championship debut behind the wheel of a Škoda Fabia in Division 1A in 2008, prior to switching to a Peugeot 207 and claiming his maiden podium in Poland in 2010. He continued to campaign Peugeot machinery for much of the following decade, as he established himself as a leading contender on the international stage.
In the inaugural season of Super1600 in 2011, the Dane wound up second in the final table behind Andreas Bakkerud – the first of seven consecutive top five championship placings, three of them as runner-up.
All-told, Linnemann tallied a total of 11 wins in the category, being pipped to title glory by Jānis Baumanis in 2015 and Krisztián Szabó the following year – in the latter case, by the narrow margin of just two points as he only once finished lower than second in six starts.
Stepping up to Supercar (now Euro RX1) level in a Volkswagen Polo in 2018, the Skivum native raced to sixth in the standings amongst the 37 protagonists, advancing to the final twice along the way. He simultaneously made a fairytale debut in RallyX Nordic at his home circuit of Nysum, overcoming a broken gearbox that ruled him out of all three qualifying heats and mastering tricky wet conditions to defeat all the series regulars and seal a hugely popular victory.
Linnemann became the first driver to race Olsbergs MSE’s Honda Civic Coupé in Europe at the end of that season, but 2019 would prove to be a troubled campaign, as a variety of misfortunes conspired to keep him off the RallyX Nordic podium, despite repeatedly securing top three positions in the intermediate classification.
He subsequently switched to his current Linnemann Promotion Ford Fiesta Mk7, going on to make one-off appearances at Nysum in 2020 – reaching the rostrum – and 2021, when he successfully took the fight to multiple world champion Johan Kristoffersson, despite having to contend with a broken damper.
Now, however, all of his focus is firmly on 2022. Having not competed in Euro RX since 2018 and with three ‘nearly-but-not-quite’ Super1600 seasons on his career CV, Linnemann clearly has unfinished business in the championship – and he is champing at the bit to head back out into battle.
“It’s always been my dream and my plan to return to Euro RX – ever since I stepped away, I’ve been missing it,” the 33-year-old confessed. “My heart has always been in the European Championship. For me, it’s the best racing, the highest calibre of competition and quite simply, just the right place to be.
“We’ve been there-or-thereabouts so many times, and I’ve raced against some of the top rallycross drivers around, which has unquestionably helped to develop my experience and racecraft. We worked so hard to get the budget together to step up to Supercars in 2018, and while the Polo I drove that year was far from the most competitive car on the grid – she was a bit of an old lady by that stage, having first been raced five years earlier – we still achieved some good results.
“After our difficult season in 2019, we decided to buy and run our own car again – and then obviously the world changed quite a lot! That restricted our programme in 2020 and 2021, but now I feel better prepared than ever before and ready to fight.
“The Fiesta probably isn’t right at the top level, but I don’t think we will be too far away. The car showed some decent pace last year, and we’ve made some more changes over the winter to refine it a bit further. We have some testing planned ahead of the season start, too, so I’m hopeful we’ll be in reasonable shape come Hungary.
“I must say, I was especially glad to see Nyirád return to the calendar. It’s one of my favourite circuits – a proper rallycross track like the ones closer to home and having finished second there in 2012, it seems to suit me pretty well.
“On the basis of last year, it’s going to be an extremely competitive season, but I’m aiming for a top five championship finish and to fly the Danish flag high. I’m ready to show I’m capable of more than I’ve ever been able to show before. It’s time to give this everything I’ve got!”