Ahead of the start of last season, it would be fair to say not many people in the FIA European Rallycross Championship knew too much about Damian Litwinowicz, a graduate of CEZ and Polish competition. Four Euro RX3 final appearances and one podium finish later, everybody knew who he was – and he is aiming to turn even more heads in 2022.
Despite having clinched a trio of crowns in 2019 and 2020 – the Polish SuperTouring (over 2,000cc) trophy twice, plus the CEZ Rallycross Championship SuperTouring (over 2,000cc) title – Litwinowicz still arrived on the Euro RX3 scene lacking experience compared to many of his adversaries, and needing to get to grips with both the ex-Volland Racing Audi A1 he was piloting and every circuit on the calendar. It did not faze him in the slightest.
Immediately on the pace and mixing it with the big-hitters, the Pole made the final six in each of the opening two rounds and looked set to do so again in France, only for clutch failure at the beginning of Q3 to scupper his chances. Next time out in Belgium, he responded magnificently, posting a brace of top three qualifying times and finding himself elevated from fourth to third in the final by a post-race penalty for Škoda rival Jan Černý.
Litwinowicz capped his rookie Euro RX3 campaign with another top four finish in Portugal – securing him sixth spot in the overall championship standings – and as he prepares to rejoin the fray in 2022, the 23-year-old is eager to build upon his eye-catching progress to-date.
“I was very happy with the way last season went and the results we achieved,” he acknowledged. “I felt pretty nervous going to Barcelona for the first round, as I was aware the competition would be really strong and we’d only had chance to do one test with the car, which was in the wet – slightly different to the conditions we then found in Catalunya!
“I knew I would have to learn quickly to be able to fight with the top drivers, and I learnt a lot. If you want to improve and gain experience, you need to race with the best, and that was always my tactic in grid draws – to go up against the fastest guys right from the outset.
“The highlight was obviously finishing third at Spa – that was a fantastic feeling. I was in the paddock afterwards getting changed out of my race suit, when somebody told me I needed to get to the podium as it was starting soon! Prior to the beginning of the season, I hadn’t even dared dream about reaching the final, let alone the podium...
“While the goalposts will naturally shift a bit now going into my second year in Euro RX3, I don’t like setting expectations as I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. What I can say is that I have a quick car underneath me in the Audi – the A1 was clearly the best in the field last year – and I feel confident.
“It’s nice to be starting the season at Nyirád, too. I raced there in the final round of the Hungarian Championship a few months ago and won, so hopefully we can keep that momentum going. I’m really excited to get back out there!”