Damian Litwinowicz might have played down his pre-season favourite tag in the build-up to Euro RX of Hungary just over a week ago (29-30 April), but a superb fightback that resulted in a maiden triumph in the FIA European Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser has thrust him firmly into pole position for title glory this year.
Litwinowicz headed into the 2023 Euro RX3 campaign with four podium finishes under his belt, but remaining in search of his first win. That victory still looked to be some way off after the opening heat on Saturday at Nyirád Racing Center, when a coming-together with Jens Hvaal resulted in an early bath.
The following day, however, conditions played in the Pole’s favour in heat two as the later runners reaped the benefits of a drying track surface and Litwinowicz got the better of earlier nemesis Hvaal in the pair’s re-match race to set the pace.
A poor start in heat three prompted an early joker, from which he fought back to post the second-quickest time. The Volland Racing ace had to deploy the same tactic in heat four after finding himself shuffled down the order in the first corner squeeze, but a strong-turn-of-speed enabled him to recover to grab third place in the session and second in the intermediate standings behind new team-mate Espen Isaksætre.
From pole position in semi-final two, Litwinowicz dominated – twice, after the initial race was red-flagged due to João Ribeiro’s roll, from which the Portuguese driver thankfully emerged unscathed – to secure the top spot on the starting grid for the all-important final.
While his launches throughout the heats had been mixed, the 24-year-old Poznan native nailed the start when it mattered most and by the end of the opening lap, he was already 1.6 seconds clear of his closest pursuer. Although a charging Isaksætre reduced that gap as the laps ticked down, Litwinowicz held on to prevail by just over half-a-second.
“I’m really proud of myself, and really proud of my family and team for all the hard work we’ve put in to get to this point,” he enthused. “I trained hard over the winter and made a lot of progress with my driving, and it was good to see that pay off.
“The weekend got off to a difficult start in heat one and I honestly didn’t think we would be able to climb back up as far as second in the intermediate standings, but thankfully it all worked out well in the end.
“This is like a dream come true – a big, big day for me. The car was amazing in Hungary and I was so happy to come away with the win – we’d waited a long time for that moment. I feel much more confident now I’ve got experience of every circuit, which wasn’t the case last year, and Montalegre next up is one of my favourite tracks – I can’t wait to get there!”