Olsberg MSE celebrate Arvika success with Supercar and Supercar Lites silverware

Olsberg MSE celebrate Arvika success with Supercar and Supercar Lites silverware

11.08.2020: • Eriksson takes the fight to double world champ at Westombanan • Östlund defends Swedish title in Supercar Lites class • Enlund overcomes ill-fortune to race to maiden podium finish

•    Eriksson takes the fight to double world champ at Westombanan

•    Östlund defends Swedish title in Supercar Lites class

•    Enlund overcomes ill-fortune to race to maiden podium finish

Olsbergs MSE left the third round of RallyX Nordic presented by Cooper Tires at Arvika last weekend (7-9 August) with a bumper trophy haul, as Oliver Eriksson truly took the fight to double FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson in a pulsating Supercar final.

The battle between the two Swedes has been the talk of the rallycross community since the weekend, as Eriksson cut underneath his countryman to force his way into the lead exiting Turn Two of the technical Westombanan track.

The two-time RX2 Series title-winner resolutely held sway at the front of the field, rebuffing his rival’s every attack until Kristoffersson dived for the joker at the end of lap three – at which point, Eriksson knew he really needed to get the hammer down.

Unfortunately, a mistake over the jump left him with a puncture, and a second one shortly after meant he had to nurse his Ford Fiesta to the finish, doggedly staving off Peter Hedström to cling on to third place at the chequered flag – and with it, securing his third Swedish Championship (SM) medal in as many years.

“It was certainly a hell of a race!” the 21-year-old acknowledged. “Arvika is Johan’s home track, and whilst I could match his speed, I couldn’t go any faster so we knew our best opportunity would be to get him off the line. I had struggled with my starts in the qualifying races, so we worked hard on that and also saved a set of brand new tyres for the final because you get a much better launch than on used ones.

“As ever in rallycross, the first few corners were a mixture of a bit of skill and a bit of luck, but once I was in the lead, I made sure to focus on corner exit speed. Johan was breathing down my neck, but it’s very difficult to overtake at Arvika and by sticking to my lines, each time he got his nose alongside me, I was able to fend him off.

“I knew I needed to put a quick lap in when he jokered, but I pushed a bit too hard and that’s where I picked up the first puncture. To then later get a second one was just so unfortunate and made the last lap-and-a-half really tricky, but there was no way I was going to lose a top three finish as well as the win. I was obviously disappointed but hey, we put up a fight and we came pretty close...”

Eriksson’s OMSE stablemates Fraser McConnell and Anders Michalak similarly shone at Westombanan. The Jamaican was another to throw down the gauntlet to Kristoffersson with a doorhandle-to-doorhandle duel in Q1, but a broken wheel in Q3 and a first corner squeeze in the final curtailed his podium charge. The Swede also impressed in only his second weekend at Supercar level, and was on-course to finish third until gearbox issues intervened.

Linus Östlund spearheaded OMSE’s bid in Supercar Lites. The only driver to get the better of class pace-setter Henrik Krogstad in the qualifying stages – taking the chequered flag first in Q4 courtesy of a brilliant last corner block – the 20-year-old went on to lead a 1-2-3 for the team in the second semi-final and ran second in the final until suspension breakage dashed his hopes.

Östlund nonetheless did enough to successfully retain his hard-fought Swedish Championship crown, and he remains firmly in RallyX Nordic title contention heading into the double-header season finale at Nysum in just under a month’s time.

“It was obviously good to defend my SM title,” the Swede reflected. “There are a lot of fast guys in the Swedish Championship so that meant a lot, and it’s another cool medal to add to the collection.

“We struggled a bit to begin with at Arvika, but we analysed the data and worked out what we were missing and that helped us to close the gap to Krogstad. I knew I had to try to block him as he emerged from the joker at the end of Q4, but I didn’t honestly think I would be able to pull it off – I kept waiting for him to fly past me on the left-hand side, but he never did. After hunting him for so long, that was a big boost for the whole team.

“We had good pace again in the final, but over the first jump, I felt something weird. At first, I thought it was a puncture but then going down the hill, I felt the back of the car just hit the ground. That was when I knew it was more serious. It turned out to be a bolt holding the damper that had broken, which was extremely unlucky – the guys in the team had never seen that happen before.

“Still, we’re very much in the fight and moving on to Nysum now, it’s shaping up to be an awesome battle for the title in Supercar Lites – there’s everything to play for.”

Just two points ahead of Östlund in the Supercar Lites standings is Jesse Kallio, who jointly leads the championship going to Denmark. The Finn bravely raced to second place at Arvika with a bandaged-up wrist following contact in Q4, crossing the finish line narrowly ahead of Martin Enlund, who celebrated his breakthrough rostrum finish after having to overcome an electrical problem in Q3 and an unfastened door in Q4. The Swede displayed strong pace all weekend and thoroughly deserved his maiden trophy in the class.

“I was stoked to achieve my first podium, especially coming so early on in my Supercar Lites career,” the 19-year-old enthused. “My main goal for this season was simply to reach the final, so this definitely exceeds my expectations. I know I’ve got the speed – I’ve shown that before – but we’ve been unlucky and until Arvika, things just didn’t seem to go our way.

“I feared my weekend might be over after the electrical issue in Q3, because you never know how far down the standings you’re going to fall – especially in such a competitive field. Then in Q4, I needed to stop the door flapping to avoid getting black-flagged, so I had to step off the gas for a moment to close it, which left me at the back of the field. I knew I had the pace to fight back through and I drove angry after that – I was really pushing! To go third-fastest was extremely satisfying.

“In the semi-final, I didn’t challenge Jesse too hard because we were in a good position and the main thing was to ensure all three OMSE cars got through. It was a similar situation in the final – I felt I had a bit more pace than him, but we’re team-mates and friends and I was on for my first podium, so it would have been silly to try anything risky.

“The other Supercar Lites guys are super-quick and have a lot more experience than I do. I look up to them and I’m aware that I still have a lot to learn, but we’re definitely going in the right direction. The constant bad luck can drag you down a bit, but this gives me more confidence going to Denmark – bring it on!”

Niklas Aneklev reached the semi-final stage for the third time from three starts in 2020, and along with the rest of the OMSE stable, the Swede is now aiming to finish with a flourish at Nysum on 4-6 September.

Russell Atkins - photos RallyX Nordic

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/olsbergs-msa-arvica-sucess-supercar-lites-silverware---210626.html

11.08.2020 / MaP

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