Magic Weekend at Höljes this weekend will be the first major rallycross event of the 2020 season, which has been blighted by the coronavirus pandemic so far this year.
So it’s the perfect litmus test for the discipline this year, and will offer us a perfect insight into what we’ll be able to see over the rest of the year.
We got our rallycross writers together who picked out these five things that Magic Weekend will tell us about rallycross in 2020.
Will Kristoffersson be competitive as a privateer? – Alasdair Lindsay
We know how quick Johan Kristoffersson is when the car’s to his liking. Dump him in a Volkswagen on anything – an RX track, a race circuit in a touring car, a rally stage with a co-driver in the other seat, doesn’t matter – and he’ll fly. But his next challenge is a new one: competing for a title with no factory support on offer.
Volkswagen’s new-for-2018 Polo R Supercar was a cut above the rest upon launch. No wonder, given it was built by the same VW Motorsport organisation in Hannover that conjured up the unbeatable Polo R WRC. But that car has been sitting collecting dust for the most part since its record-breaking first season, with VW pulling out of rallycross and Kristoffersson switching to touring cars until VW pulled out of that too.
Meanwhile GRX has significantly improved its Hyundai i20 and Team Hansen was still adding upgrades to its 208 late last season. The Polo has been stood still, literally, while other cars have caught up.
Now the family team will be running a single car for Kristoffersson, and with only a part-time program confirmed before the COVID-19 pandemic struck due to budget constraints, will they still be at the sharp end of the grid?
He’ll be in a Marklund-built Polo usually driven by Sondre Evjen in Euro RX this weekend, so it’s perhaps not quite as fast as his World RX car. But if he can keep Niclas Grönholm, Oliver Solberg and co on edge, it’s a strong sign the Kristoffersson we knew in 2018 is back in business ahead of his 2020 World RX assault.
Has Niclas Grönholm got what it takes to be World champion? – Dominik Wilde
The short answer here is, of course, yes. Case closed, end of story. Right?
Last year Grönholm was one of just two drivers to win multiple races in World Rallycross, but medical issues forced him to miss two rounds, all but ending his title hopes. But had he seen out the year, he would have certainly been a very serious contender to eventual champion Timmy Hansen.
Now, Magic Weekend may be a RallyX Nordic round rather than a World championship round, but it boasts a stellar Supercar field which includes the likes of double World RX champion Johan Kristoffersson, double European rallycross champion Robin Larsson, and 2018 RallyX Nordic champion Oliver Solberg.
A lineup like that basically makes this a soft opening for World RX, and if the second generation driver shows well this weekend, you can bet your house that he’ll be a major threat on the world stage this year.
A true season preview for RX2 – Alasdair Lindsay
Magic Weekend should give us a strong insight into how one of World RX’s support categories will play out this year. Many of the drivers in RallyX Nordic’s Supercar Lites class are also expected to feature heavily in RX2 Series, with a new champion guaranteed so long as two-time title winner Oliver Eriksson doesn’t renege on his promise to move on for 2020.
Jesse Kallio narrowly missed out on second overall in RX2 last year when his car conked out on the semi-final grid in Cape Town, giving Ben-Philip Gundersen a clear path to demote Kallio to third at the end of his debut season. He’s back again with Olsbergs MSE, who manufacture the spec Lites cars and have won every RX2 title since Kevin Hansen was victorious with the family team in 2015.
Now Hansen’s back to do it again, only this time as a team owner. His YellowSquad operation is fielding Henrik Krogstad, who like Kallio finished third in his debut RX2 season in 2018. He sat out 2019 but has been one of the stars of World RX Esports during the lockdown season, so hopes are high he’ll be near the front straight away. His 16-year-old team-mate Dan Skocdopole is said to be quick too – he’s already been on the podium in a Supercar at national level.
Martin Enlund is making the step up from CrossCar to Lites this year and already has an RX2 deal in place for 2020.
And look out for other drivers who’ve either been in RX2 previously or are in prime position to make the step-up this year: Linus Östlund was quick on his two outings last year and Simon Olofsson was one of the better non-Olsbergs drivers last year. It would be little surprise to see them back again in 2020, nor potential new additions like Niklas Ankelev, who’s another new member of the Olsbergs Lites intake this year.
How good is CrossCar? – Dominik Wilde
CrossCar has been around for a mighty long time and is already hugely popular, especially in Scandinavia. But following the recent push by the FIA to have CrossCar as the perfect low-cost entry into off-road racing, the discipline is now getting extra attention.
The bumper Magic Weekend, which will be live streamed all over the world, arguably gives CrossCar its biggest audience to-date, and will also be helped by the inclusion of World Rally Championship event winner Thierry Neuville and World Rallycross champion Timmy Hansen in the field, giving it the sort of star quality you might not see in a typical regional or national event.
Big name drivers, a big broadcast platform, now’s the best chance to see exactly what the FIA’s vision for the future of grassroots racing looks like.
Will Magic Weekend format be the go-to solution for World RX? – Stephen Brunsdon
There’s one thing that is guaranteed about the return to racing post-COVID: it will be different, at least for the short to medium term. But quite how it will differ is the question on most people’s minds.
This weekend will be the third time Höljes will be hosting a rallycross event in 2020, but the first major competition since the corresponding Magic Weekend last year. Over 90 entries are set to take part, which means organizers will need to be on their toes in enforcing social distancing measures, split garages in the paddock as well as maintaining the show.
That has already been done on a smaller scale for the RX Quarantine Shootout in May and the opening two rounds of the Swedish National championship and has produced a fairly seamless operation. The tricky aspect now is making that transition to the international (and in August, the world stage).
The Magic Weekend is also the first indication of how TV output for the World Rallycross Championship might look as well, with NEP investing a lot in the production. Such is the scale of the event this weekend, it is likely we’ll get a better picture of how World RX can get their own show running in August.