MEDIA RELEASE: The FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will visit one of the most legendary venues of the season, the Volkswagen World RX of Sweden, this weekend (3-5 July).
The iconic Holjes event has attracted the biggest entry of 2015 so far with a total of 89 cars including 35 Supercars.
It is also the first time this year that all categories: Supercar; TouringCar; S1600 and the supporting RX Lites Cup will race in the same weekend.
This year’s Swedish RX round, which is held in the tiny village of Holjes in the heart of the Varmland region, is even more special as it marks the 40th anniversary of the first rallycross event at Holjes.
Indeed, Sweden was the first of the Nordic countries to embrace rallycross, and remains the only country to have hosted an event in the European/FIA Championship since it began back in 1973.
Last year’s event was won by EKS driver Mattias Ekstrom but reigning World RX Champion Petter Solberg continues to lead this year’s overall driver standings as he holds a 35 point lead over Johan Kristoffersson.
When asked about his Holjes RX victory last year, Ekstrom explained: “Last year was very special – to win with your own team, building the car together with the guys and doing it in only our third race.
That victory was one of the best moments in my entire life and it always will be. I feel that Holjes is one of the tracks where my driving style and our car fits the best. We will keep our heads held high and promise a big show for our local fans this weekend.”
A total of 29 Swedish drivers will race on home turf including permanent World RX Supercar drivers Ekstrom, Kristoffersson, Timmy Hansen, Robin Larsson, Anton Marklund, Alx Danielsson and PG Andersson.
Female driver Ramona Karlsson will race in her VW Scirocco that she uses to race in the FIA European Rallycross Championship, while Peter Hedstrom will also compete in a Skoda Fabia. Uncle and nephew duo Stig-Olov and Lukas Walfridson will pilot a pair of Renault Clio Supercars both prepared by Helmia Motorsport.
Finland’s Niclas Gronholm, son of double World Rally Champion Marcus, will make his Supercar debut at the wheel of an Olsbergs MSE built Ford Fiesta run by GronholmRX. Meanwhile, Ole Christian Veiby will compete in the Volkswagen Team Sweden Polo he uses to compete in Euro RX.
Holjes will also mark the debut of the eagerly-anticipated Volkswagen Beetle which has been prepared by Eklund Motorsport and which will be driven by Norway’s Daniel Holten.
The Beetle is only the second car in World RX to run an engine as part of the new-for-2015 custom engine regulations.
Team manager Per Eklund, who will also compete in Holjes with a Saab 9-3 Supercar, explained: “It’s great to be working with a driver like Daniel who has already proven his potential. We are confident that the Beetle is a brilliant base for a Supercar, the dimensions of it are really, really good. We are more motivated than ever and will push hard to continue the development, together with Daniel.”
Since the previous round at the Estering in Germany, several of the World RX Supercar drivers have been busy with other projects. SDRX driver Liam Doran attended the world-famous Festival of Speed at Goodwood where he drove his Citroen DS3 RX Supercar up the Hill and clocked a top-ten time.
The 28-year-old British driver has joined Solberg for a pre-event test in Sweden this week.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for EKS team-mates Ekstrom and Marklund as both drivers took part in the DTM and supporting Audi Sport TT Cup which was held at Norisring in south Germany.
Ekstrom narrowly missed a podium spot in the second race finishing fourth while Marklund was forced to retire from his second race in the Audi TT Cup following an incident at turn one. Meanwhile, Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Reinis Nitiss has graduated from school back in his native Latvia with an honours diploma.
Portugal RX winner Kristoffersson has continued his domination in the Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia, once again winning both races to make it six wins from six races.
The 26-year-old Swede is now leading the Carrera Cup with a total of 72 points. Team Peugeot-Hansen’s Timmy Hansen has been getting race fit by riding his mountain bike alongside younger brother Kevin who will race in the RX Lites Cup this weekend.
Sweden RX will form round four of this year’s supporting TouringCar and S1600 categories. Six Swedish drivers will compete on home soil including current series leader, Fredrik Salsten, and 16-year old Magda Andersson who finished second at the previous round in Germany.
“It feels absolutely crazy to be going to race at Holjes at the World RX event,” explained Andersson, before admitting: “I find TouringCar very challenging, there are loads of talented and experienced drivers and I respect them all very much. If you had asked me if I thought we would lead a final this early, before the season had started, I would’ve definitely laughed. I very much didn’t expect these kind of results so early my TouringCar career.”
Holjes will also mark the return of the highly-competitive RX Lites Cup which sees talented Swedes Kevin Eriksson and Kevin Hansen tied at the top of the standings with 55 points apiece after three rounds.
Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “Holjes is a magical event and it’s the rallycross event that everyone wants to win.
“The track is very special too, complete with a jump that can see the cars travel up to 40 metres in the air.
“With all four categories competing this weekend and with nearly 90 cars taking part, the competition is set to be extremely fierce.
“Last year we had 35,000 spectators visit over the weekend and after Loheac, it’s our most well-attended event of the season.
“The Swedish RX round has been won by local drivers 17 times out of a possible 42 and with so many Swedes competing, it’s possible that we could witness another crowned this weekend. With only nine points separating Ford Olsbergs MSE, SDRX and Team Peugeot-Hansen in the Teams’ Championship, it’s going to be all to play for as we get ready to approach the season’s half-way point.”
From a Cooper Tire point of view.
Paul Coates, General Manager – Motorsport, Cooper Tire Europe spoke of the challenges of Sweden RX: “Holjes places some extreme forces on the tyres with a sixth gear straight and quick changes from gravel to asphalt, and the jumps. Jumps place huge forces on all parts of the car but especially so on the four Cooper rallycross tyres, but with the use of advanced materials and a specific construction, the tyre not only can take the force of landing but quickly takes the sudden braking and cornering forces as well.”
Friday 3 July
1430 Drivers’ draw and World RX press conference
1445 National RX Class
1550 RX Lites open practice
1645 National RX Class
1740 RX Lites Heat 1
1805 Final National RX Class
Saturday 4 July
0920 Open practice, TouringCar & S1600
1020 Open Practice, Supercars
1120 RX Lites two lap warm-up
1130 Official opening to the event
1220 RX Heat 1 (all classes)
1400 RX Heat 2 (all classes)
RX Heat 3 (S1600, Touring Car and RX Lites)
1730 Autograph Session
Sunday 5 July
0930 Warm up
1100 RX Heat 3 Supercars
1200 RX Heat 4 (all classes)
1400 Semi-finals/finals (TouringCar & S1600)
1520 RX Lites Semi-Final, S1600 Final and TouringCar Final
1600 Semi-finals, Supercar
Final RX Lites
1710 World RX press conference