Olsbergs MSE left the latest RallyX Nordic event in Arvika with plenty of trophies, with the headline news coming following Oliver Eriksson taking 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.
Eriksson was leading the way until 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 although incredibly somehow he held onto third place.
“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.
McConnell threw everything he had at Kristoffersson in the first qualifying round, but a broken wheel in Q3 and a first corner squeeze in the final curtailed his podium charge. Michalak was on course for a good result too until gearbox issues intervened.
Linus Östlund spearheaded OMSE’s bid in Supercar Lites. 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 a suspension breakage dashed his hopes of a strong result.
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.
He said: “It was obviously good to defend my SM title. “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.“
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 podium finish after having to overcome an electrical problem in Q3 and an unfastened door in Q4.
Kallio said: “I was stoked to achieve my first podium, especially coming so early on in my Supercar Lites career. 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.“
He continued: “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 the weekend of 4-6 September.