Wed 28 Jun 2023

Comeback king Solberg to take on ERC’s new guard in Sweden

An FIA European Rally Championship title winner from the past will take on the ERC’s current star performers during the inaugural BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, a festival of high-speed thrills from 6 - 8 July.

Home hero Oliver Solberg is contesting the Karlstad, Sweden-based event in a Toksport WRT-run Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 having won the Junior ERC title for Rally2 cars in 2020, one year after he made history as the ERC’s youngest outright rally winner.

Now established as a WRC2 frontrunner in the FIA World Rally Championship, Solberg is among a stellar 24-car list of ERC-registered drivers in Rally2 machinery set for round five of the all-action season.

Mārtiṇš Sesks (below), the winner of the last two ERC events in Poland and Latvia for Team MRF Tyres, plus defending European champion Efrén Llarena will also be in the thick of the on-stage battles.

Swedish FIA World Rallycross Championship legend Johan Kristoffersson is expected to turn engineer in support of Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby (below). Like compatriot Frank Tore Larsen, Veiby will drive a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Dennis Rådström and ERC newcomers William Binbach and Kalle Gustafsson are among the Swedish drivers entered, while Lauri Joona and Michelin-shod Mikko Heikkilä (below) are preparing to fly high for Finland in their Škoda Fabias.

Jon Armstrong will rely on Swede Julia Thulin’s co-driving skills for his step up from Rally3 to Rally2 level in an MRF Tyres Dealer Team-entered Ford Fiesta Rally2.

French gravel champion and Michelin ambassador Mathieu Franceschi is in contention for yet more ERC points, as are Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Josh McErlean and Italians Alberto Battistolli, Simone Campedelli and Andrea Mabellini. Nikolay Gryazin and Filip Mareš, who preceded Oliver Solberg as the Rally2-based Junior ERC champions in 2018 and 2019 respectively, will also be in action on the fast-paced gravel contest.

Hungarian Martin László, Bogdan Cuzma from Romania, Italy’s Rachele Somaschini and Saudi driver Rakan Al-Rashed will also tackle the sweeping roads of Sweden’s Värmland.

William Creighton, the FIA Junior WRC Championship leader, takes over the M-Sport Poland-run Ford Fiesta Rally3 Evo previously driven by Jon Armstrong (see above), while Latvia-based Dmitry Feofanov will also challenge for ERC3 honours on his first outing of 2023.

Title leader Ola Nore (below) from Norway heads the FIA Junior ERC entry with the 16 young talents all using Hankook tyres, the championship’s official partner.

Swedish quintet Simon Andersson, Patrik Hallberg, Victor Hansen, Mille Johansson and Isak Reirsen will be vying for strong results on their home event, while gravel novice Alfred Kramer’s co-driver Jeannette Kvick will fly the Danish flag.

Roberto Daprà, Miko Jalava, Norbert Maior, Max McRae, Aoife Raftery, Timo Schulz, Patrice Spitalier, Mark-Egert Tiits and Matteo Zanin complete the highly impressive Junior ERC entry. Meanwhile, Norman Kreuter starts the event targeting ERC4 points for the fifth rally running.

BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia ticket information is available at https://ercroyalrally.com.

The line-up includes BRC Racing Team’s Hyundai-powered, Pirelli-equipped provisional points leader Hayden Paddon (below) and Norwegian Citroën ace Mads Østberg.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM