Just over a year ago, Sebastian Eriksson toasted the biggest success of his career to-date when he won Höljes’ legendary ‘Magic Weekend’. In only a few weeks’ time, the understated Swede will return to the track for the 2020 FIA World Rallycross Championship curtain-raiser (20-23 August) – with his eyes once more fully focussed on the prize.
Eriksson had made only three starts at the top level prior to his appearance at Höljes last summer, but in a high-calibre, 25-strong field, the Olsbergs MSE ace was irresistible and – from Q4 onwards – unbeatable. When the ‘quiet man’ of rallycross – just as famed for his off-track mechanical expertise as his on-track prowess – took the chequered flag first in the final, there was scarcely a dry eye in the house.
This year, the 27-year-old will rejoin the World RX fray in defence of that hard-fought triumph not behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta that he piloted to victory, but in OMSE’s Honda Civic with which he claimed six podium finishes – including a race win – in GRC in 2016/17. As he prepares to return to the scene of his breakthrough World Championship achievement, it is clear that he has more silverware firmly in his sights.
“It felt like everything just went our way at Höljes last year,” reflected Eriksson. “It was the race I wanted to win more than any other and the biggest result of my career, and it was nice to see the reaction of everybody in the paddock – that meant a lot.
“I’m really excited to be going back again. Höljes is the most iconic rallycross track in the world, and this year, we get double the chances to win and double the fun. It’s the first time the World Championship has staged a double-header so the regular drivers might not be so used to that format, but I did a lot of it in GRC back in the day so hopefully that might give me a little bit of an advantage.
“It will be interesting to see how the Honda shapes up on the World Championship stage. It’s obviously a completely different shape and has different characteristics to the Fiesta, but in testing, we’ve achieved very similar lap times with the two cars. We’ve worked hard to update the Civic in recent months, which should make it a bit more competitive so I’m positive we can be up at the sharp end again – and how cool would it be to win back-to-back in two different cars?!
“I might be the guy with the target on my back as the defending race-winner, but I actually don’t feel under any pressure. For me, this is a one-off event so I can just go all-out. The drivers entered for the full season need to be a bit more conservative and think about the points situation, but for me, points don’t matter.
“I haven’t seen the full entry list yet, but there’s no question that it’s going to be fiercely-contested – this is the pinnacle, after all. Johan Kristoffersson is back in the game, we saw how quick Niclas Grönholm and Robin Larsson were at Höljes in RallyX Nordic earlier this month and then, of course, you’ve got the likes of the Hansen brothers and Andreas Bakkerud so it’s clearly going to be an extremely tough field – but I’m definitely up for the fight!”