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27 Mar 2013

Vikings return to take Europe

Category: ERC, News Posted 27.03.13 13:42 by

Drivers Preview: Norwegian SuperCar drivers get set to return to the European stage to challenge the ERX title and prove that after a one year SuperCar title drought they are ready to follow in the footsteps of the drivers of their rich Rallycross heritage.

 

Norwegian dominance has long been a tradition in European Rallycross. To name just a few, champions such as Eivind Opland, Ludvig Hunsbedt, Bjørn Skogstad, and Egil Stenshagen. ‘Mister Rallycross’ himself, Martin Schanche, one of the most decorated and perhaps the most loved Rallycross driver in the sports history, has been the most influential Norwegian. Many more have graced the European circuits, bringing with them from the shores of Norway both Scandinavian skill and Viking tenacity.

The sports modern day legend, three -time champion Sverre Isachsen, who won his first division one title in 2009 and won two more consecutively. But a shake-up last season left the SuperCar class without a Norwegian top three finisher, with the Russian Timur Timerzyanov proving to have the ability to be the next generation champion.

But this year, Norway is back to challenge. A combination of new-wave youngsters, promising SuperCar stars and the return of two WRC legends suggest that this may be Norway’s biggest Rallycross attack yet. With the potential for five SuperCar competitors this season, Norway looks set to challenge the European title.

 

Petter Solberg, a.k.a. ‘Hollywood’, has made his mark in the WRC, gaining the World title in 2003, and now returns to his Rallycross roots to compete in a brand new Citroën DS3. Solberg released pictures this morning of the car’s first European test held at the Circuit L’Ouest Parisien, on their route to Lydden Hill. Speaking to Norwegian site ‘Glomdalen’ he said: “The team has been working around the clock for two weeks and we barely slept. Now we have a two-day test in France. It is essential to set up the car how we want it before the races next weekend”, said Petter Solberg.

Big brother Henning, will also compete in Great Britain. Henning has previously driven the Norwegian rounds, and is set to drive in Norway and Sweden this season. Henning will race a Saab 9.3 SuperCar run by Eklund Motorsport, returning to the sport which he started his Motorsport career in. There will of course be brotherly rivalry, but Petter is a major threat to overthrow Timerzyanov’s recent SuperCar dominance. “I don’t do things by half!” “It feels a bit like getting back to my roots!” “My Motorsport career started with Rallycross”, says Petter.

 

Andreas Bakkerud, a.k.a. ‘Mr Baby-Blue’, is already a double-Euro champ, having driven home two Super1600 titles for ‘Set Promotion’. He was also crowned Norway’s Young Driver of the year in 2010, and has one of the biggest set of followers in Europe. Now a Monster Athlete alongside Brit teammate Liam Doran, Bakkerud finally made the step-up to SuperCar this year, after months of speculation. His form led many to believe that he would make the jump upon entering the 2012 season, but instead he undertook another year of ‘work’ experience in a new car (Renault Twingo Mk 2). He has claimed that this was great for his confidence and taught him how to learn to drive a new car fast. “Last year I learned about driving a new car and I taught myself to handle the pressure of being the one to beat and that has helped me so much”, said Bakkerud. He will drive a ‘Monster Energy Rallycross Team’ DS3.

 

Knut Ove Børseth, will drive in Hedström’s Motorsport’s two-car team. The team will enter two equal Skoda Fabia MkIIs in the championship. “I’m looking forward to driving a full season of rallycross again,” says Børseth who won the TouringCar title in the 2009 European championship. Borseth has substantial experience across the Rallycross circuits of Europe and is a proven quick driver.

 

Alexander Hvaal, the 20 year old from Larvik in Norway, is an extremely competitive Rallycrosser, and will drive again for the formidable Hansen Motorsport Team. Achieving two second place, and one third place event finish last season, and under the guidance of champion teammate Timerzyanov and Hansen, the most decorated Rallycross driver in the sport’s history. Hvaal has the best setup to challenge for the Euro title, and will also drive a DS3.

 

Mats Lysen, is yet another young Norwegian prodigy who moved up the ranks from Super1600 success, and has driven a Helmia Motorsport Renault Clio for two seasons. The Norwegian has been a consistent top flight challenger, finishing fifth and sixth in the championship standings over the past two years. Despite this, Lysen faces problems again this season. Petter Solberg has pubically come out in support for his fellow Norwegian, urging any people who can support to contact him. Speaking to ERC24 yesterday Mats said: “We will drive if the car is ready. We will work day and night to try our best to get finished in time.” To ‘Glomdalen’ Solberg said: “Those who want to watch Mats race next weekend should contact to help him. There is always something that can be done, and it is important that they also have people who can take the reins.”