Oliver Solberg set the pace on day one of “Magic Weekend” in Sweden, when round two of the 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship started at Höljes.
After torrential rain early in the morning, 20-year-old Solberg was in sensational shape in a wet and slippery heat to set the pace by almost a second in the high-caliber, 25 strong Euro RX1 field – despite having only previously driven his Hedström Motorsport Hyundai i20 in dry conditions.
Although he has not competed in rallycross since 2020, he then fought his way to the third best time in heat two – despite having problems with the starter.
“It was a good day overall,” said Solberg.
“I got a really clean run in the first heat – it actually felt surprisingly good – but then in the second I got a terrible launch, and it was very strange to suddenly be in traffic for the first time in two years!
“The other guys are super fast and the margins are so small, but it was really cool to be able to fight like that again – very fun – and it’s great to be in first place overnight.”
Solberg is two points ahead of championship leader Anton Marklund, winner of the season’s curtain raiser in Hungary last month, where the Swede has proven to be equal to his brilliant opponents by going second fastest in both sessions when he offers to increase his advantage in the title fight this weekend.
Four-time RX world champion Johan Kristoffersson ends up third after engaging in an audience-satisfying duel with Andreas Bakkerud in heat one and then set the pace in heat two despite reporting a loss of power during the last two laps of his race.
The winner of the Multiple Andros Trophy Jean Baptiste Dubourg is four, the Frenchman sweeps spectacularly all the way around the outside of his rivals to take the early initiative in heat one. Sondre Evjen was a consistent challenger for JC Raceteknik and is fifth, with EKS ace Bakkerud sixth after losing time for a slow start in heat two.
Jānis Baumanis was frustrated by a spin in the second heat but still holds the seventh position for #YellowSquad, just before Enzo Ide, who joined Anders Michalak at the start of heat one.
Drivers with work to do on Sunday include Nyirád finalists Ulrik Linnemann and Sivert Svardal, who both had problems in the initial heat. The Dane finished his race in the barriers, while the Norwegian was hit by a broken steering wheel that made him spin.
Martin Kjaer produced a surprise in Euro RX3 to lead the way at the end of the first day.
Rising star Marius Solberg Hansen impressed all the time to push Kjaer hardest, just one point behind his fellow Norwegian after winning heat two, with title duelists Kobe Pauwels and Jan Černý sharing points for third.
However, it was less luck for the free training tempo setter Janno Ligur, who could not start heat one due to a broken gearbox in his Škoda Fabia and then found himself the victim of a first basket squeeze that spat him off the track at. beginning of heat two.
Viktor Vranckx had been tipped to make a strong impression on his FIA RX2e Championship debut, and the 16-year-old did just that at Höljes today. Under the leadership of last year’s title winner Guillaume De Ridder, the Belgian teenager went faster than all his competitors in heat one and set the second fastest time in heat two to finish the procedure at the top of the scoreboard.
Second-year drivers Nils Andersson, Isak Sjökvist and Patrick O’Donovan are in the hunt, with the racing that will continue tomorrow with heat three in all categories followed by the Progression races, the semifinals and all important finals.