Scottish-based Albatec Racing team are ready to resume their assault on the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars on this weekend’s round three at Höljes, Sweden (1-2 July), on the back of their impressive result last time out in Norway.
Albatec are fielding two Peugeot 208 Supercars in the continental series, with 2015 European Champion Tommy Rustad of Norway and young Finn Jere Kalliokoski behind the wheel: on their last outing at Hell, Norway, Rustad showed competitive pace throughout the weekend, until suspension failure prematurely put him out of the final. Kalliokoski, meanwhile, secured a place in the semi-finals on what was only his second competitive outing at international level, on a track he had never raced on before.
The Swedish race, well known among fans and drivers as the “Magic Weekend”, is expected to attract a crowd of 40,000 spectators, and on last year’s edition, Rustad closed the event in third place overall, under challenging weather.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to Höljes, I really like the track, Rustad says.
“All the corners are great, plus the jumps, and I’m sure it will suit the 2017-spec Albatec Peugeot. All the corners are challenging, it’s a track where you need to take every corner right as they all flow into the next one.
“The car is very good at the moment. The team has made some changes, the most significant being with the suspension which has made a dramatic difference in the tight corners making it easier to turn, which will be necessary in Sweden.
“Last year we had difficult conditions across the weekend. Several times it rained just before my race, where the possibility of tyre and set-up changes can add to the pressure before the start, but in those situations it’s important not to lose the focus and just concentrate on the driving.”
Kalliokoski, despite never having raced at Höljes, has had the opportunity, back in 2014, to join a Supercar Lites test on the same track, and he too is enthusiastic about racing at the “Magic Weekend”:
“I was happy to reach the semi-final in Norway, from now on the target definitely needs to be first to reach the semis and then make it to the final. It will be very tough in Sweden but in order to progress you need to take each race step by step and not settle for targets you’ve already achieved.
“I feel very good with Albatec and being part of the team. The more mileage I get in the car the more comfortable I feel with it. The Peugeot 208 RX is very different compared to my Skoda [the car he drives in the Finnish RX Championship] so I need time and testing to get the maximum out of it. Euro RX is a very tough series this year, 30+ cars regularly competing makes it a challenge to be in the top 12 in every race. Consistency is the key word.”
And Albatec’s team boss, Andy Scott, claims Höljes to be his favourite race on the World and European Rallycross calendar:
“Jere has had a great start to the season. I’m really pleased to see the potential I could see in pre-season testing really come out, particularly in Norway where he had good pace and qualified for the semis. I believe there’s more to come and I’m sure at Höljes he’ll lift his game and come away with even better results.
“In Norway Tommy had a near perfect weekend, but sadly we had the small technical issue which prevented him from getting the result he and the car were capable of. We go to Sweden now very much focused on a win.”
Free practice for the Euro RX of Sweden starts right this afternoon at 16:50. Tomorrow, Saturday 1 July, qualifying rounds 1 and 2 will start from 14:00. Sunday morning, starting from 10:00, time for Q3 and Q4, while the semi-finals will start at 12:00. The all-important final, also to be broadcast on live TV, will take place at 15:00 the same day.