It wasn’t quite the ‘Magic Weekend’ atmosphere at Höljes this week, but it was racing. The proper stuff, with some of Sweden’s best rallycross drivers taking part in what was the first competitive action in 2020 so far.
Of course, it was just “a fun event to get our drivers time in the cars” according to Kevin Eriksson, team manager of the Olsbergs MSE team, who put on the meeting “but once the helmet goes on, everyone is super competitive.”
It’s easy to see why. Not since the end of 2019 had any of the drivers competed in a rallycross event, with precious few even having driven a car for any significant time before traveling to Höljes.
“We were having this test at Höljes, with the Supercar Lites as well as the Supercars and it was quite late a decision, but I called the guys I knew and asked if they wanted to have a race,” Eriksson explains.
“I believe this was a positive thing to do, as it brought many drivers together and it’s what people want as well, to see live, real racing.
“We didn’t want to make it too professional; it was always meant to be just a little bit of fun and I think it was a successful couple of days.”
Both Kevin and [team owner] father Andreas Eriksson were able to hold the event under the watchful eye of the Swedish authorities, making sure that enough police and medical staff were present should circumstances require them. In accordance with government rulings, no more than 50 people were at the circuit.
With Sweden’s approach to tackling the COVID-19 coronavirus differing from the majority of other European countries, Olsbergs was able to attract some of Sweden’s best rallycross talents to take part.
Among them, was double World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson, who enjoyed his first runs in a car at Höljes since winning there in 2018.
“I only did Q1 on Wednesday, but it was very, very nice to be back in a rallycross car,” Kristoffersson told DirtFish.
“It was the first time I had been in a race car since Rally Sweden, so a long time. Probably the longest break I have had in my career but it was very, very nice to be back in a car.
“I got to do about eight laps of practice before the qualifying heats started, and after the first four laps already, I just had a big smile on my face.
“Just thinking about analyzing about what to do, how to make the car quicker. So many things were going through my mind and when that happened, I knew that I had really missed driving.”
A rejuvenated Kristoffersson is something which surely sends shivers down the spines of his likely World RX title rivals Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud, but it goes to show that even the very best in the game can experience moments where confidence lacks after a prolonged period away.
For Kristoffersson though, the enforced racing lockdown has guaranteed him more time with his son Colin, who turns five later this week.
“I haven’t been at home that much since my child was born in 2015, I even missed the birth, so it’s been nice to spend some more quality time with him at home,” Kristoffersson explains.
“He’s turning five this Sunday so we are trying to organize a nice party for him and spend some time together. It’s been nice to also wake up in the morning and do things with him as well.
“So, it’s been a long time not racing but I try to focus on the good things, which I can control.”
The control aspect is certainly a big factor in putting more of these types of events on, with Andreas Eriksson telling DirtFish that it had, in effect, been something of a ‘test event’ for how to return to full-time competition.
“We see a lot of championships not racing at the moment, and it’s hard to see how things will restart,” Eriksson said.
“For sure, there has been a positive reaction to this event, and we have seen what is possible to be able to host something like this in the future.
“We will see, but hopefully people will see how we are thinking and it might give them some ideas. We had TV and local radio here all day yesterday, so it can be done.”
Whether that means Eriksson is backing a quicker return to action across the board or simply providing an option for domestic championships to expand their options is unclear, but the fact that real-life rallycross made its long overdue return to action is no bad thing.