Friday | 24 Jun 2022

More magic moments in prospect as Höljes gears up to host Swedish summer spectacle

The scene is set. The cars are prepped. More than 50 drivers are ready for action at Höljes in Sweden. Heck, after two years of Covid-enforced absence, even ‘Happy Street’ is back. This can all only mean one thing. It’s almost time for the legendary ‘Magic Weekend’ (2-3 July).

The scene is set. The cars are prepped. More than 50 drivers are ready for action at Höljes in Sweden. Heck, after two years of Covid-enforced absence, even ‘Happy Street’ is back. This can all only mean one thing. It’s almost time for the legendary ‘Magic Weekend’ (2-3 July).

A capacity 25-strong entry in Euro RX1 and high-calibre grids in both RX2e and Euro RX3 are headlined by a multiple World Rallycross Champion, a quartet of European Rallycross Champions, a trio of rallying heroes, a 14-time FIM Women’s Trial World Champion and an ice-racing master. It’s quite the line-up.

EURO RX1: A FIRST-CLASS FIELD

Euro RX1 at Höljes constitutes something of a rallycross who’s who, with Johan Kristoffersson throwing down the gauntlet to his rivals when he announced his participation in his family-run Kristoffersson Motorsport Volkswagen Polo. Let us not forget that the last time the quadruple World Champion contested a European event – at Franciacorta back in 2014 – he won.

The Swede will face stiff opposition, however, from a number of quarters. Reigning title-holder Andreas Bakkerud has renewed his relationship with EKS, and the Norwegian will head into battle in the same Audi S1 with which he so very nearly clinched the World Championship crown in 2019.

Anton Marklund proved to be unbeatable in the Nyirád curtain-raiser behind the wheel of his SET Promotion Hyundai i20, and in front of his home fans, the Swede will be eager to banish the memory of the spectacular barrel-roll that scuppered a likely victory last summer.

Marklund was pushed hard in Hungary by the increasingly impressive Enzo Ide (EKS), who is demonstrating just how much he learned competing alongside Kristoffersson last year in the top flight – and the Belgian achieved the best result of his brief stint in World RX at Höljes.

Series returnee Ulrik Linnemann fought his way from 18th overnight to a rostrum result in the season-opener, and the indefatigable Dane can always be counted upon to put his absolute heart and soul into his performance.

Former Super1600 king Jānis Baumanis is fired-up to bounce back from a disappointing end to his Hungarian weekend, when car issues conspired to deny the Latvian a podium finish on his debut in #YellowSquad’s Peugeot 208.

Last season’s Cooper Tires ‘Rookie of the Year’, Sivert Svardal, produced another giant-killing performance to reach the final at Nyirád in his VW Polo. In-between recurring engine fires, the Norwegian’s pace was on a par with the front-runners at Höljes in 2021, so he will be looking to make good on that promise this time around.

Six-time Andros Trophy ice-racing champion Jean Baptiste ‘JB’ Dubourg will be eager to make amends for uncharacteristic errors in Hungary that curtailed his challenge before the final, while a famous surname returns to the World RX paddock as Oliver Solberg makes his first competitive rallycross appearance in two years.

It might come as some surprise that despite the family heritage, this will mark Solberg Jr’s Euro RX debut. The Hyundai FIA World Rally Championship star will join the fray with Hedströms Motorsport.

JC Raceteknik fields a pair of Audi S1s for Norwegian duo Sondre Evjen and Ole Christian Veiby, both of whom have previous podium form in European competition, while perhaps the darkest horse of all is local favourite Linus Östlund. Hailing from nearby Sysslebäck, the 22-year-old knows Höljes like the back of his hand.

EURO RX3: AUDI VS. ŠKODA TAKE TWO

In Euro RX3, last year’s championship runner-up Kobe Pauwels and Rally Italia-Sardegna WRC3 winner Jan Černý waged a fierce duel for supremacy in Hungary and a similar no-holds-barred scrap looks to be in prospect in round two, but there are a number of other contenders amongst the 16-strong entry.

João Ribeiro and Nuno Araújo will fly the Portuguese flag, with fellow Audi A1 driver Damian Litwinowicz likewise sure to be a threat in his sophomore campaign in the series.

Teenage hotshot Jiří Šusta went second-quickest in both of the heats he finished at Nyirád, while two former podium-finishers at Höljes have also thrown their hat into the ring, as Estonian Janno Ligur and Norway’s Espen Isaksætre make their seasonal debuts.

RX2e: AN ELECTRIFYING SHOW

Building upon the success of its inaugural campaign, the all-electric FIA RX2e Championship marks the start of its second season at the ‘Magic Weekend’, with an intriguing entry list. Spain’s Pablo Suárez, rising British star Patrick O’Donovan – son of 2007 British Rallycross Champion Ollie O’Donovan, who is also competing, in Euro RX1 – and Sweden’s own Isak Sjökvist were embroiled in a fierce tussle for third place in the overall standings last year, and all three are back for more in 2022.

To the delight of the Höljes faithful, Sjökvist reached the rostrum on his series debut there last summer, while countryman Nils Andersson was similarly impressive, placing third in the intermediate standings. Under the tutelage of Johan Kristoffersson, the 22-year-old will be aiming to finish the job he started ten months ago.

Leading the female charge, meanwhile, will be Extreme E front-runner Catie Munnings and 14-time FIM Women’s Trial World Champion Laia Sanz, who made her RX2e bow at Spa-Francorchamps last year.

So, we’re all-set. Here we go. Ready to Race!

All of the action weekend-long will be broadcast live on RX+. Event passes are available for €7,99, with the full season pass on sale for €49,99. More info can be found here, while race weekend tickets can still be purchased here. All event entry lists can be found here.

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